This morning I want to ask you, What is your greatest desire? What is the greatest thing that you want? Is it to be a millionaire? To drive a red sports car? Is that the greatest thing that you want? Is it to marry a wonderful person? Is that your greatest desire? To get married to the right person? Is the greatest desire to be famous? Maybe your greatest desire is to be in heaven? Now, if you said "Yes" to that one is that the greatest desire? Is that the greatest thing that you want to do is to be in heaven? Are you sure? If you get into heaven and you don't like Jesus, you're going to be miserable. I'll tell you my greatest desire is to be like my Savior Jesus Christ, fall in love with Jesus, to stay surrendered to Jesus. That's my greatest desire. I don't know about you. Here's a quote from the book, Education pp. 296,297 (1903) by E. G. White. "To honor Christ, to become like Him, to work for Him, is the life's highest ambition and its greatest joy." To be like Jesus, to serve Jesus is the greatest thing that you can have. My goal is to be like Jesus.
What is God's goal for you? Look at Romans 8:29. The New Living Translation says: He chose them to become like his Son... Now, some translations are different, but that's the gist of it. He wants you to be like His Son. That's what God wants you to be. God's goal is for you to become like Jesus. Satan's goal is for you to be like the Devil. And, your goal is what? The choice is yours of what you can become. My goal is to become like Jesus. The pursuit of Christlikeness is the most fulfilling thing in the world.
Now, Let me throw out a little disclaimer here. I can never be exactly like Jesus. Can I be omnipresent? Am I omnipotent? Hardly. Am I omniscient? Will I ever forgive the sins of others? Will I ever be able to bring folk back to life? Will I ever be a Savior, or will I ever have totally perfect works? Do I have totally perfect patience right now? Do you? How many of you love perfectly? I can never be those things, but my goal is to be as much like Jesus as I can be. That's the most fulfilling thing in the world. I can replicate it as much as possible.
Now, how can you become more like Jesus? That's the important thing. Well, in just one verse in the whole Bible is found the one key, the one secret, as to how you can be changed. 2 Corinthians 3:18. I'm going to read it from the King James version. But 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, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
How are we changed? What this text is telling us is that by beholding the glory of the Lord we are changed. That's how we're changed. The word for change is the Greek word Metamorphoo, which means metamorphosis. Like an ugly caterpillar is metamorphosed into a beautiful butterfly. That was changed. You can be changed. The hideous sinner is gradually transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. The theological term for this is called, sanctification. And that's what happens.
And, how does the Bible say it happens? By simply beholding Jesus. Not by efforts on our part, not by programs, not by new gimmicks. We become like Jesus by beholding His life, and by beholding His character. We get His works by beholding Him.
No, I realize here that the NIV says that we "reflect" instead of behold. But the NIV marginal reference says we "contemplate." That's a proper word, isn't it. It means we thoughtfully reflect on Jesus' life and characteristics. That's what it means. Just use your Logic a little bit here. Are we are changed into the likeness of Christ as the result of beholding Him or by reflecting Him like a mirror. It's by beholding.
Now, with what do we behold Jesus? What does this text say? We behold Him with an open face. What does that mean? An unveiled face. Certainly we should behold Jesus with an open mind, but it means more than that. We don't live in the day of the veil. We have an advantage that the patriarchs did not have, who lived before Jesus Christ who beheld Jesus in the Old Testament. Jesus hadn't even come yet. They beheld Him through the prophesies. We behold Him, looking back at the historical record. We don't have the veil of the Old Testament. We live in the day of the New Testament, no veil. So, that's what we behold.
Now, who does this transformation happen to? Let's look back here again at 2 Corinthians 3:18 that we read. Who does this happen to? The apostle Paul says: (KJV) But we all.. "We.." says the NIV. That's us. This change can happen to you. You can be changed. This miraculous metamorphosis, this transformation is available to all Christians. Everybody. To you personally! You can be like Jesus. It doesn't matter how deep you've gone. It doesn't matter how many times you've failed Him. You can become like Jesus Christ. It can happen to you.
Paul's "We all" includes your children. You teenagers, You can become like Jesus. This can happen. You can participate in sanctification. The Holy Spirit can help teenagers.
When does this change happen? Well, verse 18 says, "we are changed." Literally, in the Greek, it says "we are being changed." It is a continual process. In other word, if we keep beholding Jesus we will keep becoming like Jesus. As we keep beholding we keep changing. That's pretty clear, isn't it. Progressively, little by little, you will begin to be like Jesus. You character gradually will be changed. Maybe you won't even see the difference from day to day.
Imperceptibly you will be changed into the likeness of the lovely Jesus. You will grow up into Christ and unconsciously because you are beholding Him.
You know, pale-skinned folk go to the tanning booth. Have you ever been to a tanning booth? There they expose themselves to the light and they are transformed into something. May I tell you, Christians: stand before the brightness of Jesus. Expose yourself to the Light. Gaze upon His glory and there will be an inner transformation of your very life. The old ways will grow dim and they will disappear. And new life will come and you will be changed. What a wonderful thing that will be. Changed! Transformed!
Solomon said in Proverbs 4:18 that God's people become ever brighter as the days go by. Christians experience a life-long growth. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. Every day is sweeter than the day before. There is no fruit ( I know of ) which is not bitter before it is ripe. I that true? You are in the process of sweetening up. We're becoming ripe.
I love to garden. I like growing corn. I'm from Indiana. You might as well know that. I love corn. Pop corn, roasting ears, whatever you want to call them. Tomatoes! Beans! Potatoes! You dig those big ones, it's like finding gold down in there. I just love to see those things come up out of the ground. But I can't see my garden grow. I have never ever seen my garden grow. I get out there and stare at it, and it looks the same. When I come back the next day it sort of looks the same. But if I go away on a vacation and the I come back, it's been doing something. It's been growing. Imperceptibly, little by little those plants are growing. Now, if they stop growing they die. Is that true? When you stop growing, you die. So, don't be afraid of growing slowly, just be afraid of not growing. You may say, I'm growing so slow, it's taking so long to become like Jesus. Just make sure you're making progress.
When does the Christian stop growing? When do we stop? Do we stop when we die? Well, there's a temporary "hold" but when you get to heaven are you going to keep on growing to be like Jesus? Yes, you are. You're going to grow through eternity, and you'll never catch up with it. More like Him as the days go by and they roll throughout eternity. You're going to be like Jesus. High in the Alps is a monument raised in honor of a faithful guide who perished while ascending a peak to rescue a stranded tourist. Inscribed on that memorial stone are these words: He died climbing. All true Christians die while climbing up to the Divine model. Some day we're going to die, and die climbing. Die becoming like Jesus. Each day bring us closer.
That's what happened to Moses when he climbed up Mount Sinai to receive the 10 commandments. He spent a good deal of time up there. and his face started to shine. In the presence of God. His face began to absorb God's glory and It made his face shine brightly. If you spend time with Jesus Christ you're going to become like Him. Exodus 34:29 relates that story. When the Christian spends time with Jesus, she or he will take on the characteristics of Jesus. Your face will begin to glow. People will know you have been spending time with Jesus.
Look at John 19:5. (KJV) Here is the finest statement Pilate ever made: Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, "Behold the Man!" That's the finest thing Pilate ever said. Good advice. This Roman ruler gave away the all time secret of victory and Christian attainment in that short statement: the secret of sanctification.
How do you behold Jesus? There are many ways. I'd like to list five.
Number 1. You behold Jesus in the Scriptures. Isn't that true? In the bible you behold Jesus. How much should you read? Do you read an hour a day? Two hours a day? Five minutes a day? A verse a day? I suppose the answer is, how much do you want to become like Jesus? Remember the tanning bed? If you go down there and get in that thing and expose yourself for one minute a week, how much change will you get? If you read a verse a day, and you only take your bible to church and you put it back on the table, what good is it going to do you? One minute a day might be helpful, but if you really want change, be willing to spend time with Jesus. Read largely of the Bible. Behold Jesus in each page.
Number 2. "Beholding Jesus means not just reading, but it means studying. Study His life as given in His Word. We are to dig. We are to fix our eyes upon Christ. Thus we become changed, morally assimilated to the One who is perfect in character. When the image of Christ is cherished, it captivates the whole being.
Number 3. Another method is to meditate. Meditate about the life of Jesus. While you are out in nature, maybe while you are in a quiet nook, maybe while you are peeling the potatoes. While you read about Jesus, ponder His life. Think about Jesus while you pray to Him. Colossians. 3:2 (NLT) says, Let heaven fill your thoughts. That is beautiful, isn't it. Heaven should fill our thoughts.
We think about the earthly, the sensual, and base things of life too often. You are becoming like you think. In fact, what you think, you are. As you think about Jesus the Holy Spirit will replace your desire for trashy reading, TV, drugs, unclean things, junk food, exciting amusements or whatever, with desires that are noble and clean. Do you spend time reading novels? Do you spend time watching junk? Doing unclean things? The Holy Spirit will replace that with desires that are noble and clean and you will be changed. Every day choose to give your will to Him, and He who has begun a good work in you will complete it...Philippians 1:6.
We should dwell upon the life of Jesus and meditate on His mission. By constantly contemplating heavenly themes, our faith and love will grow stronger.
Number 4. We can study inspired books about Jesus. Behold Jesus in good books. Saturate your mind with Godly things and you will become Godly.
Number 5. Still another method is to talk to Jesus. You can expose yourself to Jesus by just praying to Him. Behold Jesus through prayer.
Is it hard to become like Jesus? I don't think so. As a youngster I was taught that becoming like Jesus was much harder than just beholding. A lot harder than that. You had to really work at it. We are changed by our efforts, I was told. And now I find out the effort is to stay surrendered to Jesus and to keep my eyes focused on Jesus. That's where the effort is. And I will be changed. The major effort that I must make is to keep looking to Jesus and to stay surrendered to Him.
In fact, come over here to John 6:40. Jesus said: "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life..." What do we have to do?
Our job description as Christians, our work as Christians is to behold the Jesus. John 6:28, the people asked Jesus a question: "What must we do to do the works God requires?" That's a good question, isn't it. In verse 29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: To Believe in the one he has sent." See how uncomplicated it is? That's your work. It's to believe. John 6:40. According to Jesus our job is two fold: 1.- Look to the Son and 2.- Believe in Him.
Jesus lived the life that we could never live that we might have the gift of Eternal Life that we could never earn. His righteousness is freely accounted to us. We stand before Him as though we had never sinned.
As we look away from self and look away from our weaknesses and stop focusing on our life of sin, and start beholding the beautiful character of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will work within us a wonderful transformation into His likeness. Ellen G. White says in Signs of Times Vol 2 p 519: "If we would behold Jesus, believing His words, we would reflect the image of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." That is so clear. That is so beautiful. I really like that. If we look away from self and we look to Jesus and we will be changed.
So, we need to think good thoughts because we are becoming what we think. It is what we think about that determines what we are becoming. We become like what we behold. It is what we look at and think about that determines what we are becoming. After you take a bath a layer of scum (soap and dirt) gathers on the tub. If your mind dwells on the dirty soap operas of life, a ring of filthy scum will stain your character! We are becoming what we think about all the time.
Do not look at evil. I want you to think about what you look at. Have you ever heard of pornography? Don't get started on that. Sixty million people visit those web sites every day. Every day that is available twenty four hours a day with just a click of a mouse. Every day almost four hundred new pornography sites come online. Your kids are also changed by beholding. Isn't that true? Now, none of you would drive down town to the adult bookstore and fill up your trunk with loads of videos and books and take them and put them in your teenager's room and arrange them on the shelf and say, "Now don't look at those. Don't read those. Those are bad. Leave them there." But on the other side of the room sets the TV. We go to bed, what are the kids doing? Kids, don't get started down that road! That road will lead you all the way to the devil. He's at the other end of that path. Don't get started on that.
Matthew 18:10 (KJV) Jesus said that in heaven the "angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." What a good habit to develop! The angels are setting the example for us. Those who behold Jesus in heaven will be those who have spent quality time beholding Jesus face on planet earth.
2 Corinthians 4:6. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Where is all this knowledge? We see it in the face of Jesus! If we behold His face we will become like Him.
Apparently the beer industry believes that we are changed by beholding. Have you ever watched a football game, or the Olympics? The beer industry puts their thing out there on the screen. They think that if they put it there, and you look at it, you're going to crave it. They believe that. They believe that by beholding you will be changed. And what people look at they want. And if we look long enough at Jesus Christ, we're going to want Him.
So, keep your mind clean. Look to Jesus and Jesus will change you. You will be a different creature. Behold His character.
By beholding we become changed. I want to urge you to start beholding the Lamb of God. JOHN 1:29 Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.
You cannot continue looking to Jesus and remain the same. A change will come! I urge you to behold the Master!
Galatians 5:22-23 lists some of the grand characteristics that Jesus possessed. Jesus was Loving, Joyful, Peaceful, Patient, Kind, full of Goodness, Faithfulness and self control. You can have each of these fruits of the Spirit in your life. 2 Corinthians 6:6-7 adds more: Purity, Understanding, Patient, Kind, Loving, and Truthful. Ephesians 4:2-3 - Humble, Gentle, Peaceful. Ephesians 5:9 Goodness, Righteousness. Col 3:12-15- Compassion, Forgiving, Thankful.
Jesus is our Great Example. You cannot go wrong following Him. As you discover what Jesus was like you will want to please Him and in this process you will become like Jesus. Ephesians 5:10 (NLT) Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
If you were raised a legalist like many of us were, I urge you to accept the beautiful truth of the power that can only come by beholding our wonderful Jesus. Concentrate on Jesus and His Love! You will never be the same again!
In fact, it's all summed up in Hebrew 12:1 and 2. Therefore. I wonder what that "therefore" is there for? It's the conclusion of the author of Hebrews. And he's saying that you're looking at all these people that are going to be in heaven, 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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus... That's the conclusion of the whole matter.
In fact we used to sing a little old song:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.
That's the key. Look to Jesus. If you forget everything, remember what the preacher preached today: Look to Jesus. Then you've got it. May you keep looking to Jesus.Bulletin
Hymn of Praise: #615, Rise Up, O Church of God Scripture: 1 Peter 2:23-25 Hymn of Response: #196, Tell Me the Old, Old Story 011013Gettys#312
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last updated 9/23/2001 by Bob Beckett.