We are being shaped into something by something. Whether it is TV we watch, an Instagram we follow, a book or a blog we read, we are being formed by it. And the question is “what are we being shaped into?” And “what are we being shaped by?” God’s vision for his church is that we become more like Jesus who reflects the glory of God. As the second Adam, Jesus reflects what God’s image-bearers are to be like. God created us in his image—to reflect his glory through our life, relationships and work here on earth. And we were created to do that as vice-regents under the authority of God. We were to live, love and rule according to God’s good and perfect will. And we were to do that by abiding in and obeying his good word—his life-giving word for us.
At the heart of sin is failure to glorify God through a life of love and obedience by trusting in his goodness. The essence of sin is doing life without regard to God and his word. The first parents sinned by choosing to do life on their own terms by disobeying God’s clear word to them (i.e., not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil). Since then, we see the pattern of distrust in God’s word and attempts to grasp the “good” on our own rather than to trust God to provide it for us. Distrust and disobedience is so ingrained in our DNA that we need a miracle. We need a “circumcision of the heart” (Deut 30:6; Rom 2:29). We need a “new heart and new spirit,” so that we can love, trust and obey God and his word (Ezek 36:26; Jer 31:33). God has provided Jesus Christ to forgive us of all of our sins and he has also given us the Holy Spirit to give us the desire to know and obey God. He has given his word to know his will and to walk in the path of righteousness.
We have been given a new heart, and a new desire to love God—in Christ and through the Spirit. If you are a Christian, you will have the desire to glorify God, serve God and to grow in holiness. That desire is given to us supernaturally as we are born again by the work of the Holy Spirit. And all born-again Christians in turn have a natural desire to know God, love God and obey God. And the question is, what means does God use to foster and deepen that desire to know, love and obey him? It is mainly through the word of God which reveals Christ and shows how to follow Christ. God has graciously provided us with his word to know him, love him and obey him. As we abide by the Word of God, we will be shaped by it. As we do that over weeks, months and years, God will have shaped us more and more into the image of Christ.
Paul encourages the church to be saturated with God’s word: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your heart to God” (Colossians 3:16). As the word of Christ dwells in us richly, we will be sanctified and shaped by it to become more and more like Christ. And we are to have the word of God dwell in us richly by “teaching and admonishing one another.” That’s where College Groups, Life Groups (L.G.) and Bible Reading Accountability Groups (B.R.A.G.), and other formal and informal groups like them come in. We have pastors who preach God’s word on Sunday; we also have members (that is, you!) who have been given the Bible and the Spirit to encourage and admonish one another from God’s word as you read, meditate, apply, and pray with each other.
One new thing I anticipate God doing at New Hope this year is that there will be a movement of mutual edification and encouragement through Bible reading, and that we will be shaped and sanctified by his word as a church.
This week’s bible reading schedule:
|☐||Sun: Genesis 13, Matthew 12||☐||Thu: Genesis 17, Matthew 16|
|☐||Mon: Genesis 14, Matthew 13||☐||Fri: Genesis 18, Matthew 17|
|☐||Tue: Genesis 15, Matthew 14||☐||Sat: Genesis 19, Matthew 18|
|☐||Wed: Genesis 16, Matthew 15||☐||Sun: Genesis 20, Matthew 19|