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The Goal is Transformationby Duane Mabee on April 26, 2023
The Bible is not a textbook to study, or a collection of proof texts to support what we believe. It is a manual to live by. It is not a source of trivia to amuse us. It is God’s love letter to show us Who He is and how much He loves us. It is a relationship manual that shows us how to love God in return.
The church isn’t an organization to serve us or a theater to entertain us. It isn’t a self-help group to make us feel better. It is the body and the bride of Christ that is to grow together spiritually through mutual encouragement and discipline. Jesus’ purpose for the church is to sanctify her through the Word, so He can present the church to Himself as a radiant church, holy and blameless, without spot or wrinkle, (Eph. 5:27).
Our bent, though, is to reverses all of the statements above. When we do, we put ourselves at the center and we shape the Word and the church to suit us rather than allowing them to shape us to suit Christ.
It is too easy for us to sit outside the experiences of life and critique them without applying them to ourselves. Oftentimes when we go to church, we critique the message and the choir. But we aren’t supposed to sit in judgment of the message; the message is to sit in judgment of us! We’re not supposed to criticize the music; we are to join together with the corporate body of Christ and worship God. We aren’t supposed to study Scripture just so we can indict others; we are to first appropriate Scripture into our own lives and then share from our heart the truth of God’s Word. Anything less is dead orthodoxy which falls on deaf ears. (Neil Anderson and Robert Saucy, The Common Made Holy).
God’s desire is to conform us into the likeness and character of His Son, (Rom. 8:29). His purpose for the church is to mold us together into a living temple that glorifies Him and is inhabited by the Holy Spirit, (Eph. 2:21-22). His tools for accomplishing His goals are the Word, corporate worship, teaching, preaching and active participation empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.
We cannot become what God wants by sitting outside of the Word and using it to fulfill our purposes. We must put ourselves under the Word, allowing it to inspect and correct us. We cannot conform to the likeness and character of Christ by sitting outside of the worship as critics and consumers. We must become active participants focused on honoring and pleasing our Heavenly Father through our worship. We cannot become what God desires by listening to Biblical preaching and teaching as spectators and consumers. We must seek to be transformed by what we hear.