Renewed and Revived Through Affliction

Seeing Our Transformation From God’s Perspective

I — Scripture Text: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:5-10; 17-21

 

II — Theme: Renewal and revival are crucial for the sake of transformation in the life of the believer; yet we must come to terms with the truth that, God’s perspective on these things is often counterintuitive to our own.

Since we’re being conformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29)—Who indeed bore His most effective fruit through His afflictions—we must expect that the primary way in which God will bear transforming fruit in our lives—fruit that benefits ourselves as well as others—is through our own suffering and affliction.

Jesus promises us that if He was afflicted, so will His followers be afflicted.

But take heart! For it’s through affliction that God chooses to renew and revive His people, so that they’ll be transformed; and He knows that this method of transformation works far better than if we had all the success and prosperity in the world! Why is that?

It’s because He knows that in our suffering and afflictions, specifically, we draw close to Him—which is the ultimate goal of why He saves us in the first place! In His Presence we are thus renewed and revived, though so often broken to pieces in these bodies!

III — Recapping Last Week

  • Before we unpack our theme, let’s remember a few key points Pastor Dan made last week, as a way of keeping a bit of flow through this 4 week series…
  • Pastor Dan’s focus was on Reflection and Redemption, as it regards the difference in the ways in which culture-at-large addresses these issues, versus the way in which God addresses these issues. One of Dan’s central questions for us was, essentially: “How do we get from where we are in our walk with Christ, to where we deeply desire to be?”
  • Such a question begs at the concept of personal transformation! Michael Gungor, in the song, “Beautiful Things,” desperately asks, “All this pain; I wonder if I’ll ever find my way; I wonder if my life could really change…at all?”
  • We absolutely do not agree with Gungor’s overall theological premise (or lack thereof); but we certainly identify with his desperation to find an answer to Pastor Dan’s question, “How do we get from where we are in our walk with Christ, to where we deeply desire to be?”
  • It’s huge to note here, that Michael Gungor holds to a theology that ultimately places man at the center of the universe, and God is, by implication, constrained to only being able to help those who help themselves. It should be no wonder that he and others who hold to similar thinking are deeply desperate in wondering if they’ll ever really be transformed—if they’ll ever really know what it is to be truly renewed and revived by Christ in a more lasting sense.
  • As well, Pastor Dan reminded us of a thought from Einstein, which, in paraphrase, goes something like this: “We cannot possibly expect change (transformation) within ourselves if we are seeking within the same faulty self to facilitate that change.” The transformation comes from an “alien” source. No, UFO people—Jesus is not an alien. But we use this term to describe anything that is not of the same core structure that we possess.
  • Therefore, as an example, Jesus Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteousness by faith in Him; and so it is an “alien” righteousness, because it is not something we can manifest from within our core being. It must be His, applied to us by God, through faith.
  • So Pastor Dan encourages us to honestly evaluate ourselves by asking ourselves the following question: “In seeking honest transformation, are we trying to simply be happy with ourselves, or are we seeking to be happy with God’s plan for our transformation—no matter how hard it gets?”
  • Finally, Pastor Dan made very clear what Scripture teaches us, and that is: There is absolutely no Renewal or Revival Without Redemption first! All the self-help books and shows and methods in the world won’t change you according to God’s perspective (or your own); you’ll actually only ever temporarily adjust. What God and His people seek is ongoing—eventually-permanent—looking forward into the future of this life and the next—Transformation of our entire being.
  • So that brings us now, to this morning, where we want to see how we’re transformed—that is, renewed and revived—according to God’s perspective and not our own. And when we find out what His perspective is, we then diligently pray He gives us the heart and mind to be absolutely satisfied with it, even when it’s so often completely different from our own perspective.

IV — Some Primary Goals of This Message

  • To stir up HOPE in our hearts! Every single person alive needs hope!
  • To clarify what the true Hope everyone needs actually is (Jesus Christ)
  • To direct that Hope of Christ, into the channels of our everyday lives, so we don’t just get excited on Sunday, and forget it all by Tuesday
  • To help each other understand that we absolutely must learn (and it is a slow and agonizing process) to view life through the eyes of God—as much as He has given us the ability to do so—if we’re to succeed in what we just said our goals are: (1) to “Stir up” our faith and hope. (2) To clarify Christ as that very hope. (3) And to direct (appropriate) Christ in every area of our lives.
  • We’ll only ever be proficient in these things if we do so by knowing and keeping God’s perspective on Renewal, Revival, and thus, Transformation in ourselves.

V — How Does The 2 Corinthians Passage Help Us With These Goals?

    • We’re seeking answers to what it means to be renewed, revived, and then, by implication, transformed more into the likeness of Christ.
    • Paul actually tells us of the fruits of his transformation, and then, afterwards tells us the basis for how he is being conformed more closely into the image of Jesus
    • (Read) 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 5:7, 16a
    • These passages tell us what it means to live daily, hourly even, with a sense of God’s perspective; for, if we know anything about Paul, his hardships are more than most of us will ever have to bear…if he were not seeing through God’s eyes, he would never be able to say everything he’s affirmed for us here.
    • And let’s know this, regarding what it means to “have God’s perspective,” or “see through His eyes:” There is certainly the gift of faith, spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12:9, which God gives to some, just as He gives each of the gifts described in that passage to different souls, to differing degrees. That is definitely one way of having God’s perspective.
    • Yet, not everyone possesses the particular gift of faith spoken of in that passage, so how do the rest of us who have other kinds of gifts actually “see through God’s eyes?”
    • Answer: God’s Word. By knowing and diligently applying God’s Promises to us—spoken through the Bible—we have then every ability to have and maintain God’s perspective on our lives.
    • So when Paul speaks in these passages we just read, he’s speaking, through God’s eyes, as it were, because he knows what he then tells us at the end of the passage: (Read) 2 Cor. 5:19 & 21: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them…God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
    • Let me ask you this morning: Can you sense the great weight that’s lifted off of you, when you take just a moment to breathe-in the truth, that God is not counting your sins against you—though you commit them every single day; and that the reason He’s not counting your sin against you is because He has already counted every one of our sins—for the rest of our lives—against Christ, who alone is able to bear them. Furthermore, God doesn’t count our sins against us because He doesn’t recognize them as belonging to us any longer, since He has also applied the righteousness of Jesus Christ to us. He simply cannot count sin against His Son, who covers us. I ask you, are you renewed and revived by that wonderful news this morning? Does it give you a refreshed hope that perhaps you really can be changed after all?
    • If you are in Christ by faith, then you have every reason to trust that God will bring forth fruit from your life! But we also have to rejoice in, is the fact that He will bring forth that fruit most visibly through our afflictions. Notice I said we have to “rejoice” in that truth. There is a certain sweetness—a renewing and reviving—that comes from drawing close to Christ because we are suffering. In it, He is indeed transforming us into His likeness!

VI — Living Upon God Who Is Invisible

  • As we come towards the end of this morning’s message, let’s look at three different stories of affliction and suffering, as examples that might connect with our own afflictions in some way that may inspire us to press on, into furthering transformation.
  • John Piper, in his book, The Hidden Smile of God,  writes about three men who were renewed, revived, and transformed more into the image of Christ—each, through their afflictions and suffering. These three men each affirm, that they would never exchange their afflictions and subsequent transformation for a life of comfort and plenty, if it meant that, in return, they lost their deep passion for their first love, which is Jesus. Piper encourages us by placing these men’s stories in a biblical context, regarding how God primarily works to produce fruit in the lives of His people, which is through affliction.

(In Summary)

A — The suffering of John Bunyan (1628-1688)

B — The affliction of William Cowper (1731-1800)

C — The affliction and suffering of David Brainerd (1718-1747)

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