Suppose that your car stalled in the middle of the night at a bad part of town - drug trafficking is known to be heavy, and you have heard of people who have been shot and killed in broad daylight in this particular section of town. You look around, and there's nobody out there, the street is deserted. But then you notice to your right, five or six tough looking young men come out of a building and they are heading toward you. Your heart starts pounding in your chest, and you are sweating profusely, and you're thinking: Oh, no, what shall I do?
But suppose you know that these men had just finished a Bible study, would your feelings be now different than it was before? But why do you suppose that it would be different?
Isn't it because of the fact that when people study their Bibles, there's bound to be a change in the natural bend of the human heart to do evil (Jer 17:9)? Instead of desiring to do evil, the Bible student now desires to love and do loving deeds.
"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." --Rom 1:16.
Yes, there is power in the Word of God. There is power in the blood of Jesus that was shed at Calvary. The Word of God is able to change even the most hardened criminal into a person reflecting the beautiful image of Christ. When the principles of the Word of God are followed, the person receives instructions in righteousness. He becomes obedient to the Law of God; and, therefore, will not kill, will not steal, will not covet, will not commit adultery, or commit anything contrary to the Word of God.
Let's look up some more texts in the Bible to prove this point.
I Tim 3:16,17 - "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
Heb 4:12 - "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
This is a powerful text. As very powerful, sharp instruments and tools are used by landscaping professionals to shape and beautify a place by mowing grasses, trimming trees and hedges and cutting down unsightly briars and bushes, the Word of God acts in the same way in our lives. It pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow--cutting, separating, and throwing away unsightly flaws in characters, bad attitudes, bad spirits, bad motives, lusts, and other evils from the life.
"The knowledge of God as revealed in Christ is the knowledge that all who are saved must have. This is the knowledge that works transformation of character. Received into the life, it will re-create the soul in the image of Christ." --Acts of the Apostles, Page 475.
"By His words and His works, Christ testified to a divine power that produces supernatural results."--Desire of Ages, Page 605.
The transformation of a vile person to a godly person, a selfish person to a benevolent person, a cruel person to a loving person is supernatural--it's something not done by human power but by God. Just as the landscaping professional with sharp instruments and tools recreates an unsightly yard into something beautiful to behold, the Word of God, sharper than a two-edged sword, will re-create the soul into the image of Christ.
It seems that I'm forever relating the story of the amazing relationship George Muller had with God and the incredible answers to his prayers. But what was George Muller like before his conversion? A story is told that he was a selfish and covetous man, he was dishonest, he was a cheat, and he was a thief. He would go to one town and charge up all kinds of things from the merchants--clothes, groceries, etc., then he would leave town without paying for any of them. He would do the same thing at the next town. I don't remember if he was ever caught, but amazingly, he was stopped in his tracks by God. The redeeming power of God's grace worked upon his faulty character and caused it to develop in symmetry and abundant fruitfulness. In the multimillion orphanage that he operated in England at the turn of the century, he never asked anyone for one red cent; he knelt and asked His Heavenly Father to provide, and his Heavenly Father provided.
"The whole Bible is a revelation of the glory of God in Christ. Received, believed, obeyed, it is the great instrumentality in the transformation of character. It is the grand stimulus, the constraining force that quickens the physical, mental, and spiritual powers and directs the life into right channels." --Mind, Character and Personality, Page 93.
"Transformation of character, purity of life, efficiency in service, adherence to correct principles, all depend upon a right knowledge of God." --Ministry of Healing, Page 409.
"This is life eternal," said Jesus, "that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." --John 17:3.
"The knowledge of God as revealed in Christ... will impart to the whole being a spiritual power that is divine." --Ministry of Healing, Page 425.
Where do we get a right knowledge of God? From the Bible! A right knowledge of God is essential if we are to have perfection of character. A correct knowledge of God imparts to the whole being a spiritual power that is divine. Do we have this spiritual power in our lives? Do we want to have this power? Then, we must read and meditate upon the Word of God. There is no other way to gain perfection of Christian character than through the reading, meditating, and obeying the principles laid down in the Word of God.
"Christ delights to take apparently hopeless material, those whom Satan has debased and through whom he has worked, and make them the subjects of His grace. He rejoices to deliver them from suffering, and from the wrath that is to fall upon the disobedient." --Gospel Workers, Page 515.
Harry Orchard was probably one that society would label a 'hopeless material'. He was a notorious criminal. His face was etched with evil put there by years of lawlessness. He had committed over twenty murders--the last one murdered was the ex-governor of Idaho Frank Steunenberg. For this murder Harry was caught and imprisoned. In prison, Harry was given a Bible. He would not have read it, but the words kept ringing in his ears that no murderers will inherit eternal life. He read the Bible to find out those words. He didn't find them; however, he found something or Someone more important. He found the Lord Jesus Christ!
Sometime after the murder of the ex-governor, his wife had sent her young son to the prison to visit Harry and to give him a package as well as relay a message from her. At first, when Harry Orchard heard that he had a visitor who was a relative of the ex-governor, he became frightened for he thought that this was retaliatory in nature. But the package and the message from the ex-governor's wife was all of love and forgiveness. The book that Harry Orchard received was Steps to Christ, and the message was plain and simple--that she had forgiven him and now she encouraged him to give his life to the Lord. She asked him to read Steps to Christ. Harry was amazed at the love and forgiveness that was manifested towards him after cutting short the life of a husband and father to this family. He promised that he would read the book.
At about this same time, the judge who was familiar with Harry Orchard took a leave of absence for one whole year. Upon his arrival, Harry Orchard was summoned to appear before this judge as a witness for a crime that was committed. When the judge saw Harry Orchard, he exclaimed: 'This is not Harry Orchard. You're not Harry Orchard.' The judge did not recognize him because the countenance that was once etched with evil through and through was now calm and serene and beaming with the light of the countenance of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
Is there power in the Word of God to change even the most vilest of criminals? Yes, there is power! There is power in the Blood, wonder-working power!
"By beholding we are to become changed; and as we meditate upon the perfection of the divine Model, we shall desire to become wholly transformed, and renewed in the image of His purity. It is by faith in the Son of God that transformation takes place in the character, and the child of wrath becomes the child of God." --Selected Messages, Pages 338,339.
"When the grace of God reigns within, the soul will be surrounded with an atmosphere of faith and courage and Christlike love, an atmosphere invigorating to the spiritual life of all who inhale it. . . " --God's Amazing Grace, Page 238.
What kind of atmosphere are we emitting to those around us? Is it full of faith, courage and Christlike love? Do people enjoy being with us because they are invigorated in their spiritual life by our presence? This is what the Word of God does to people who read, meditate and obey its sanctifying principles.
Again, from something I read: Two men--one a Christian and the other an atheist--were living together somewhere up in the north country where it was cold. There was a great blizzard and the prediction was that the bad weather was going to last a long time. Sure enough, they were snowed-in. The Christian spent his time reading his Bible. The atheist busied himself with his pursuits. Unfortunately for him, he was a chain smoker, and he ran out of cigarettes. With the nicotine addiction, he had to have a cigarette, but there was none to be had, and he couldn't go anywhere to get one. He asked his Christian friend if he would give his Bible to him to tear, roll up, and smoke its pages (as if the paper would satisfy his addiction). His Christian friend thought how sacrilege for him to even think about smoking away the Word of God. How dare he make such a request? He would not do it. But then, he changed his mind because he thought of something. He would give him a page at a time to smoke but before he smoked it he would need to read it first. They made a pact, and the deal was on. Every day the atheist tore off a page of the Bible, read it, then smoked it. This went on for several days. As he was reading the pages of the Bible, the Holy Spirit of God was working upon his atheist-heart softening and mellowing it until finally he surrendered to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and he gave his heart to the Lord.
Is there power in the Word of God? Yes, there is power in the Word of God to change even an atheist! By reading the pages of the Bible before smoking them, the atheist was beholding the beauty of the character of Jesus. It is a natural law that by beholding we become changed into the likeness of that which we behold--whether it be good or whether it be evil.
"We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory." --2 Corinthians 3:18.
When Charles Darwin was giving his lectures on evolution, a man by the name of Thomas Bridges attended one of his London lectures. At that particular meeting Darwin spoke about a wild tribe he had visited at the southernmost tip of South America. These people lived very primitive lives in the jungle. Most significant about these people, as Darwin described, was that they were wild, animal-like creatures. Darwin went on to say that no power on earth could tame them, and that the wild dogs could be tamed more easily than those people could be.
When Thomas Bridges, being a Christian, heard Darwin's description of these people, he decided to visit them.
He found them exactly as Darwin has described. Gradually Thomas preached Christ to them. He told them of the love of Jesus and the power of Christ to change lives. As time went on, the divine power of Jesus started changing those people. Finally, the whole tribe, that were once wild and brutal, became followers of Christ. A change took place in them that no human power or wisdom could do. --taken from Reformation Herald, Year 2000 Week of Prayer edition.
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17. Through the power of Christ, men and women have broken the chains of sinful habit. They have renounced selfishness. The profane have become reverent, the drunken sober, the profligate pure. Souls that have borne the likeness of Satan have become transformed into the image of God. This change is in itself the miracle of miracles. A change wrought by the Word, it is one of the deepest mysteries of the Word. We cannot understand it; we can only believe, as declared by the Scriptures, it is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." --Acts of the Apostles, page 476.
Click here to read about the efforts of missionaries to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in heathen lands and the changes that were wrought as a result.
If you feel that you are having difficulty reflecting the image of Christ fully in your life, do not despair. You can experience the miracle of miracles--the life-changing power of the Gospel of Christ to change a sinful human being into the likeness of Christ. Persevere in your reading and meditating upon the Word of God, and it will surely happen just as it did to George Muller, Harry Orchard, the atheist, the wild and brutal primitive people of the southernmost tip of South America, and many, many others.
Why is transformation of character possible? Because there is POWER, wonder working power, in the precious blood of the Lamb!