In today’s scientific world, we don’t talk much about “miracles”. When we do, we often mean something wonderful, but not actually supernatural – like a “miracle cure” of a disease, or the “miracle” of a child being born.
In my previous post, we looked at how humanity’s pressing problems of evil and death are an outworking of our spiritual problem of rejecting God. We also saw how God himself has fixed this problem, and reconciled us back to him, through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our biggest problem is not, I think, our alienation from God. It’s our unwillingness to accept God’s way back – Jesus.
In this post, I want to talk about what appears to be a surprisingly ordinary miracle – the miracle of sincere, wholehearted faith in Christ.
The miracle of supernatural transformation
Only God can overcome our stubborn, wilful blindness. Jesus sends his Spirit into a person’s life and changes them from the inside so that they believe and accept Jesus. This work of the Holy Spirit is a miracle because nobody can accept Jesus or be saved without him. Jesus said “nobody can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” – John 6:44. That’s the great miracle of the Holy Spirit – to draw us to Jesus.
This is the greatest transformation. This is the transformation that everyone needs, and without which we cannot be saved. The Bible describes this transformation in a few different ways:
- Jesus famously described it as being “born from above” – we often translate that as being “born again” (John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:3, 23);
- This is what it means to be “called” by God (e.g. Mark 1:16-20, Romans 8:30);
- The Apostle Paul calls it a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17) or being “raised with Christ” (Eph 2:6; Col 3:1), and the Apostle John in the book of Revelation called it “the first resurrection” (Rev 20:5-6). This means we have to be raised spiritually, in this life, before we can be raised physically to new creation life.
The sign of this supernatural transformation is confessing Jesus Christ as Lord
How would you know if you have received God’s Holy Spirit? 1 John 4:2 says “every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God”. That means the Holy Spirit will convince us about Jesus – who he is, and what he’s done for us – so that we will be willing to speak up and identify Jesus as our king, our Lord. The Holy Spirit will make us willing to publicly say, out loud, “Jesus of Nazareth, the man, the Son of Mary, is Lord and God, and is now raised from the dead to heaven, to rule the world and judge every person” (Compare Romans 10:9). It is not possible to believe this in your heart and speak it with your mouth, apart from the Holy Spirit. If you do believe this sincerely, if you own the name of Jesus as his follower, then you have the Holy Spirit of God. And that is a complete and utter miracle!
I’m not talking about the millions of Australians who tick ‘Christian’ on the census sheet, but never do or say anything to identify themselves with Jesus. I’m not talking about the people I meet who think they’re Christian because their parents and grandparents are Christian, or because they married a Christian. I’m not talking about the thousands who attend a mass or a church on Sunday as a mere ceremony but don’t believe in their hearts.
The Holy Spirit isn’t interested in institutions, denominations or human cultures. The Holy Spirit binds us to Jesus himself! When we receive the Spirit of Jesus he makes us one with Jesus. Then Jesus’ death is our death, and Jesus’ resurrection life is our life. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).
This is the greatest miracle that you can experience in this life. Many Christians chase miraculous experiences of God, tongues, physical healing, or seek to be swept up in a vision of God or something like that. They have failed to understand the significance of Spiritual transformation! Capital “S” Spiritual – transformation by God’s Holy Spirit! The simple trust in Jesus which even a child can have, and which the greatest theologian must have if he is to be a real theologian – that trust in Christ only comes through the supernatural work of God’s Holy Spirit.
A new life, a new you
That faith may be simple, but do not underestimate it. It is powerful! It completely reorients our lives. It makes us turn our lives over to Jesus, and acknowledge him as our ruler, our king, and our only saviour. This miraculous, Spirit-worked faith addresses the core issue, the spiritual issue, in our lives. It makes us friends with God once again, no longer separated from him, but one with him through his Son Jesus. This miracle of God’s Holy Spirit sets us on thrones, alongside the risen Jesus, in heaven.
And this all-encompassing Spiritual transformation gives a new meaning, a new purpose and direction, for our life in this world. And that’s what we’ll look at in my last post in this series.