This week we have considered 3 men who remind us how God is able to transform lives in powerful ways. Moses, a man who ran away because he was afraid for his life, was transformed into a powerful leader who faced down one of the most powerful military leader of his time; Zacchaeus, a despised tax-collector who met Jesus and suddenly became one of the most generous person of his time; and Saul, who was so adamantly opposed to Christianity that he was attempting to have all Christians arrested and even executed in order to stop what he perceived to be heresy, who was transformed in one of the most influential Christians of all times, even changing his name to Paul to reflect his passion for taking the message of Christ to the Gentile World.
These three men are just a few examples of the thousands of men and women who over the course of history been transformed by the power of God. Hebrews 11, the Faith Chapter, contains even more examples of transformed lives.
But as we close our VBS program, I’m not here to introduce you to another person whose life was transformed. Rather, I want to lift up the One who was responsible for transforming these individuals. Of course, you must know I am speaking of Jesus.
After outlining various examples of People of Faith in Hebrews 11, we read in Hebrews 12:1-3 these words:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
For just a few moments, let’s consider the phrase in verse 2: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus…”
Jesus is God’s “Only Begotten Son,” the One who came to reveal to us what God is really like and then to make a way for us to have a right relationship with God. A quick survey of the Bible tells us that God created a sinless world, but when Adam & Eve disobeyed God, creation was plunged into a state of disarray and humanity suddenly found itself separated from fellowship with God and enslaved to Sin. But God, in his infinite love and Mercy, came to us as Jesus, faced down Satan and refused to yield to temptation, and then willingly sacrificed Himself by way of Roman crucifixion to pay the penalty for our sins. We know Jesus as Savior, Deliverer, Master, Redeemer, and Friend. And by accepting His provision, we become Children of God and joint-heirs of God’s provision with Christ. In the Old Testament Isaiah called Him, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace” (See Isaiah 9:6).
We saw this week the transformation of Moses, Zacchaeus, and Saul. How can we experience that transformation? Hebrews 12: 1-3 gives us directions:
1. “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” We often use the word “Repent.” That means instead of continuing our life of rebellion and disobedience, we turn our backs to that way of living and began to follow Jesus.
In Acts 2:38, Peter on the Day of Pentecost said it this way: “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” Boys and girls, Moms and Dads, Granddads and Grandmothers, and all the rest of us: We must acknowledge the fact that we have sinned, confess our guilt to God and then accept the forgiveness that He offers through Jesus Christ.
2. And then we read, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” it is not a quick sprint, a 50 or 100 yard dash that is being described here. It is a marathon, a long run that requires endurance, perseverance, and a defined path and goal. You see, God has a plan for our lives. First of all, we are to live as holy people, because the One who called us is holy. Secondly, we are to be his witnesses, his ambassadors, and in our VBS perspective, His Deputies. We are to demonstrate to others by our words, our thoughts, and our behavior that Jesus is the One who offers salvation from sin and eternal life!
3. And then, we read, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” By “Pioneer” we understand that God through Jesus initiated the plan for our salvation. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” We were lost and in rebellion against God, but He took the first step towards us, offering us forgiveness and deliverance through Jesus! As “Perfecter of our Faith,” we know that not only did Jesus take the first step towards us, but that He continues until the transformation is complete. 1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24 says it this way: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it!”
Today, hear the real message of this VBS: Not only did God transform men and women in years past, He is still in the Transforming business today. And He wants to change each one of you so that you may know Him personally and experience the fullness of life that he intends for you.
A wonderful way to complete our VBS would be if each one here made the decision to allow God to transform you into a champion of the faith. Is there someone here that would like to make that decision today?