#4 (THE "DON'T BE AFRAID" SERIES)
"DON'T BE AFRAID OF GOD'S TRANSFORMING POWER!"
TEXT: Matt. 17:1-8
INTRO: There are many reasons why some people won't consider becoming a Christian, but most of them involve fear of some sort:
a. Fear of having to dramatically change their lives
b. Fear of commitment, some Christians even have this with church membership!
c. Fear of the unknown
d. Fear of having to face trials differently
e. Fear of having to be strong
Almost all these fears are based on their own misunderstanding about Christ's power to save, they think they have to do all these things in their own strength or power, or they are afraid of God's transforming power in their lives!
God's power isn't harmful and it doesn't remove from us the things that are precious, it simply protects us from the storms of life devastating us. God's transforming power submerges us into the person of Christ which gives us transforming power to be strong!
ILLUS:SEVERAL YEARS AGO A SUBMARINE WAS BEING TESTED AND HAD TO REMAIN SUBMERGED FOR MANY HOURS. WHEN IT RETURNED TO THE HARBOR, THE CAPTAIN WAS ASKED, "HOW DID THE TERRIBLE STORM LAST NIGHT AFFECT YOU?" THE OFFICER LOOKED AT THEM IN SURPRISE AND EXCLAIMED, "STORM? WE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THERE WAS ONE!" THE SUB HAD BEEN SO FAR BENEATH THE SURFACE THAT IT HAD REACHED THE AREA KNOWN TO SAILORS AS THE "CUSHION OF THE SEA"! THERE IS A BAND OF WATER IN THE OCEANS WITH THIS NAME THAT NEVER STIRS, ITS DEEP WATERS ARE UNAFFECTED BY THE STORMS ABOVE. CHRIST'S TRANSFORMING POWER PROTECTS US FROM THE DISTRACTING WAVES OF WORRY AND FEAR, AND THE STORMS OF LIFE! - Source, Unknown
God's transforming power will only do us good, it will not rob us of anything ... except the pain of being powerless against this world! God's transforming power should be welcomed into our lives!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that Christ's transforming power is real, and that His power will enable us to be more than conquerors for Him!
I. TRANSFORMING POWER! 17:1-3
A. Prayer 17:1
1. All transformations in our lives must begin with prayer!
a. Jesus often took the disciples to places of prayer!
b. Jesus understood how fundamental praying is to spiritual health!
c. Often our faith is weak because this area of our life is neglected!
2. Jesus Himself often found places of private prayer!
a. Jesus almost never talked about public prayer meetings, but He did put great emphasis on private prayer lives!
b. Jesus would often retreat alone to a place of prayer, even He needed this transforming power!
3. Success is often measured by God through these fundamentals of spirituality, not the usual things we use to judge success in ministry! So often we use the following false criteria to judge success:
a. large numbers to indicate success in this world
b. large budgets to indicate success in this world
c. large political power to indicate success to this world
4. YET, Jesus' success was found in His transforming power, not the large numbers!
ILLUS:BY CURRENT STANDARDS OF SUCCESS, JESUS MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A FAILURE! WAS HE POPULAR? NO! HE WAS NOT WELL LIKED. IN FACT, AFTER ONE OF HIS SERMONS, ALL OF HIS FOLLOWERS DESERTED HIM, EXCEPT FOR THE 12 APOSTLES, AND JESUS ASKED THEM IF THEY WERE GOING TO LEAVE TOO! DID HE HAVE POLITICAL POWER, NO! HE WAS A POLITICAL FAILURE! ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT REJECTED HIM! THEY EVEN CONSPIRED TOGETHER TO KILL HIM. DID HE HAVE LOTS OF FRIENDS? NO! HIS FRIENDS OFTEN HURT HIM, EVENTUALLY ABANDONING HIM, AND ONE OF THEM BETRAYED HIM! DID HE HAVE MONEY OR POSSESSIONS? NO! NO HOUSE, NO "WHEELS," NO WORLD HEADQUARTERS, NO CHRISTIAN AMUSEMENT PARK! THE PROFESSIONALS DESPISED HIM AND REJECTED HIS WORK. DESPITE ALL THIS "FAILURE" HOWEVER, JESUS CHRIST HAS TRANSFORMED MILLIONS OF LIVES OVER THOUSANDS OF YEARS! HIS TRANSFORMING POWER IS STILL GREAT TODAY! - Source, Unknown
5. Transformation begins in prayer!
6. Jesus took only Peter, James, and John on this occasion, they would be the leaders one day, they needed transformational power!
B. Power! 17:2-3
1. Once in the mountains, they get sleepy (Luke 9:32) while Jesus' true nature reveals itself!
a. Christ's true character is clearly revealed!
b. Christ is transfigured before them with all His true glory!
2. Even though these disciples had accepted Christ before, this was something new to them, to really see Christ as He is!
a. This wasn't the only time they were sleepy when it was time to pray!
b. Had they fallen totally asleep they might have missed Christ's transfiguration and seeing Him in all His glory!
3. Never underestimate the influence of a transfigured Christ in the lives of those who see Him in all His glory!
ILLUS:THE FAMOUS MISSIONARY ROBERT MOFFAT RETURNED TO SCOTLAND TO RECRUIT HELPERS TO THE MISSION FIELD AFTER YEARS OF FAITHFUL SERVICE IN SOUTH AFRICA. WHEN HE ARRIVED AT THE CHURCH HE WAS TO SPEAK AT ONE COLD WINTRY NIGHT HE WAS DISMAYED THAT ONLY A SMALL GROUP HAD COME OUT TO HEAR HIM. WHAT BOTHERED HIM EVEN MORE WAS THAT THE ONLY PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE WERE WOMEN, AND ALTHOUGH HE WAS GRATEFUL FOR THEIR INTEREST HE HAD HOPED TO CHALLENGE MEN. HE HAD CHOSEN FOR HIS TEXT, "UNTO YOU, 0 MEN I CALL." FROM PROVERBS 8:4. HE HARDLY NOTICED THAT THERE WAS A YOUNG BOY PRESENT WHO WAS PUMPING THE BELLOWS FOR THE ORGAN THAT NIGHT. MOFFAT WAS SO FRUSTRATED AS HE GAVE THE MESSAGE THAT NIGHT, HARDLY NOTICING THAT THE BOY WAS LISTENING. WHEN THE CALL WAS GIVEN, NOBODY RESPONDED SINCE THEY WERE ALL WOMEN AND HE WAS ASKING FOR MEN AND THERE WERE NONE THERE! HOWEVER, THE YOUNG BOY WAS DEEPLY MOVED BY THE CHALLENGE MOFFAT HAD GIVEN, AS A RESULT HE PROMISED GOD HE WOULD FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE MISSIONARY FROM SOUTH AFRICA. WHEN THIS BOY GREW UP HE SENT AND MINISTERED TO THE UNREACHED TRIBES OF AFRICA, HIS NAME: DAVID LIVINGSTONE! MOFFAT NEVER CEASED TO WONDER THAT HIS APPEAL WHICH HE HAD INTENDED FOR MEN HAD STIRRED A YOUNG BOY, WHO EVENTUALLY BECAME ONE OF THE GREATEST MISSIONARIES USED BY THE POWER OF GOD! THOUGH FRUSTRATED THAT ONE NIGHT, A YOUNG BOY SAW A TRANSFIGURED CHRIST AND WAS NEVER THE SAME AGAIN! ... AND NEITHER WAS AFRICA WHEN DAVID LIVINGSTONE WAS DONE! - Source, Unknown
4. Our ability to see a glorified Christ can make all the difference in our lives!
a. As long as the world avoids seeing Jesus as nothing more than a man they can live comfortably with Him.
b. When they see Christ in all His glory it makes them uncomfortable!
5. A glorified Christ will transform us!
a. Hence why the world tries to avoid seeing Jesus this way!
b. This is why the world likes to avoid Church; they might experience Christ's transfigured power!
ILLUS:THE PRINT MEDIA OFTEN INTENTIONALLY DISTORTS WHAT CHRISTIANS WRITE. CHUCK COLSON REMARKED HOW OVER THE YEARS SINCE HE HAS BEEN A CHRISTIAN HE ALWAYS CLEARLY STATES IN A STORY DONE ON HIM HOW HE HAS COME "TO ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST" AS HIS SAVIOR, HOWEVER, WHEN THEY GO TO PRINT IT THEY ALWAYS CHANGE THAT REMARK TO SOMETHING LIKE "COLSON'S PROFESSED RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE." HE EVEN MENTIONED THAT ONE U.S. DAILY AS A MATTER OF POLICY WILL NOT PRINT THE TWO WORDS "JESUS CHRIST" TOGETHER ... THEY BELIEVE THAT COMBINING THEM REPRESENTS AN EDITORIAL JUDGMENT!! SUCH IS THE POWER OF A TRANSFIGURED CHRIST, THEY FEAR HIM! - Source, Unknown
6. Standing next to the transfigured Christ were two others: Moses & Elijah.
a. Moses stood as the great "lawgiver"
b. Elijah stood as the great "prophet"
c. Why were they there? ... Because the glorified Lord will fulfill the LAW AND THE PROPHETS!
d. They stood there as witnesses, that the supreme Christ who was glorified before them was the fulfillment of all that they had come to do!
7. There was power in Christ!
II. TERROR & PERSPECTIVE! 17:4-8
A. Problem! 17:4-5
1. In Mark's account here, Peter speaks because he is afraid! (see Mark 9:6)
a. Peter is frightened by this glorified Jesus, this wasn't how he had really seen Jesus before ...
b. And, in his fear he attempts to keep Jesus from trying to die for him by asking to erect three tents, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah!
2. Because Jesus had been talking with Moses and Elijah about his plans to die and suffer, Peter hopes that by holding them for a few days he can get Jesus to avoid this!
a. People don't like a Gospel that includes suffering!
b. People don't want to see a Savior that died for them, it makes them uncomfortable!
c. This is why so many cults arise to reinvent Jesus in a way that they can be comfortable with!
d. Sometimes even Christians will reinvent Jesus in such a way as to avoid the concepts of suffering or sacrifice, they want all glory!
3. Peter's request would have caused a problem, for it would have interfered with God's plan of salvation!
a. Peter simply did not understand that his future authority could only come from a crucified Jesus, one who dies and then rises again!
b. There is no victory without the cross of Christ!
4. Peter's power could only come from the end of conflict with sin, something only Christ could accomplish!
a. And once done, Peter would have a new authority!
b. Jesus has set us free; we now can have power over sin which once kept us prisoners!
ILLUS:AFTER GENERAL WAINWRIGHT WAS CAPTURED BY THE JAPANESE, HE WAS HELD PRISONER IN A MANCHURIAN CONCENTRATION CAMP. CRUELLY TREATED, HE BECAME A "BROKEN, CRUSHED. HOPELESS. STARVING MAN." FINALLY THE JAPANESE SURRENDERED AND THE WAR ENDED. A UNITED STATES ARMY COLONEL WAS SENT TO THE CAMP TO ANNOUNCE PERSONALLY TO THE GENERAL THAT JAPAN HAD BEEN DEFEATED AND THAT HE WAS FREE AND IN COMMAND. AFTER WAINWRIGHT HEARD THE NEWS, HE RETURNED TO HIS QUARTERS AND WAS CONFRONTED BY SOME JAPANESE GUARDS WHO BEGAN TO MISTREAT HIM AS THEY HAD DONE BEFORE. WAINWRIGHT, HOWEVER, WITH THE NEWS OF THE ALLIED VICTORY IN HIS MIND DECLARED WITH AUTHORITY, "NO ... I AM IN COMMAND HERE! THESE ARE MY ORDERS!" HE HAD BEEN TRANSFORMED BY THE VICTORY OF HIS SIDE. FROM THAT MOMENT ON, GENERAL WAINWRIGHT WAS FULLY IN COMMAND! THIS IS WHY JESUS COULD NOT HAVE LET PETER HOLD HIM UP! - Source, Unknown
5. Had Peter gotten his way, there would have been no victory, and thus no transformation in his life!
6. The problem however is solved:
a. Moses and Elijah disappear as the cloud covers Jesus and them!
b. God now speaks directly to Peter, James, and John!
c. the message is clear: "LISTEN TO CHRIST!"
7. This "Listen to Him" was a clear message to Peter not to avoid what Jesus had just talked to Moses and Elijah about, His coming suffering and death!
a. While Peter didn't want to face this, this is what was important!
b. A glorified Christ now was nothing without the death and resurrection later!
c. While Peter liked Jesus as he was before, he had to accept the crucified Jesus first!
8. The world today still doesn't like to talk about a Messiah who died for them!
a. They will gladly talk about Jesus the great teacher.
b. They will gladly talk about the Jesus who gave us great moral teachings.
c. But talk about Jesus who died for our sins and see what kind of reaction you get!?
B. Panic! 17:6-7
1. This kind of Jesus terrified Peter!
a. If a glorified Jesus would face death what about His followers!?
b. If God would not meet Peter's demands, what did this mean?
2. Peter was terrified to see a glorified Jesus, this meant that Jesus was more than a mere man, this meant the need to take a serious look at his own relationship to Christ!
3. How do you see Jesus today, as just a mere man, a great prophet, a possible King, or the glorified Lord!?
4. How the world wishes to avoid this Jesus!
ILLUS:LISTEN TO HOW EXPERTS TODAY TRY TO EXPLAIN THE APOSTLE PAUL'S CONVERSION EXPERIENCE WHEN HE SAW THE GLORIFIED CHRIST ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS: IT HAS BEEN EXPLAINED BY THE EXPERTS IN THESE WAYS:
3. AND NOW, LIGHTNING!
DR. JOHN BULLOCK FROM DAYTON, 0HIO RECENTLY DELIVERED A PAPER ON THIS NEW THEORY AT THE ACADEMY OF OPTHAMOLOGY AND OTOLARYNGOLOGY CONVENTION HELD IN DALLAS LAST OCTOBER (1995). THE LIGHTNING BOLT CAUSED SCAR TISSUE IN PAUL'S EYES. ANYTHING EXCEPT SAYING PAUL SAW THE GLORIFIED LORD AND THIS WAS WHAT TRANSFORMED HIS LIFE!!! - Source, Unknown
5. Seeing a transfigured and glorified Christ will transform your own life! This is why the world is afraid to see this!
6. Jesus however did not want them in fear, so He goes to them and "touches" them and tells them "to not be afraid!"
a. Notice Jesus goes to them, in fear they stay far away from Him, so He comes to them!
b. Fear will often keep us away from God!
c. God's love however will come to us, He will find us and when we accept His touch in our lives, the fear will go and the transformation will begin!
ILLUS:OSCAR CERVANTES IS A DRAMATIC EXAMPLE OF CHRIST'S POWER TO TRANSFORM LIVES. AS A CHILD, OSCAR BEGAN TO GET INTO TROUBLE. THEN AS HE GOT OLDER, HE WAS JAILED 17 TIMES FOR BRUTAL CRIMES. PRISON PSYCHIATRISTS SAID HE WAS BEYOND HELP, BUT THEY WERE WRONG! DURING A BRIEF INTERVAL OF FREEDOM, OSCAR MET AN ELDERLY MAN WHO TOLD HIM ABOUT JESUS. OSCAR PUT HIS TRUST IN CHRIST AND WAS CHANGED INTO A KIND, CARING MAN! SHORTLY AFTER, HE STARTED A PRISON MINISTRY. INMATES NOW COME FOR OVER 2 HOURS TO HEAR AND SEE A TRANSFORMED OSCAR SING AND PREACH, AND MANY TURN TO CHRIST! ALL BECAUSE OSCAR SAW THE GLORIFIED LORD! - Source, Unknown
7. Jesus makes His ministry personal, even after being glorified right in front of their eyes!
a. Just like Israel in the Old Testament, when they heard God speak from the cloud, when Moses went into the mountain, they drew back in fear!
b. Peter does the same, but this time God comes to him and the others, and to US!
8. A glorified Lord is not something to be afraid of; He will transform our lives for the better!!!
a. God will touch us!
b. God will take away our fear!
C. Personal 17:8
1. Notice that when they looked up the only thing they now see is Jesus!
a. With their fear gone the only thing to focus on was Christ!
b. Jesus is the focal point of all history and life!
2. After everything is said and done all that is left to see is Jesus!
3. Jesus is the one who will transform their lives, for He alone has the power to transform, we need not be afraid!
ILLUS:IN ENGLAND THERE IS A PAPER FACTORY THAT MAKES THE WORLD'S FINEST STATIONARY! IF YOU VISIT IT AND ASK WHAT THIS STATIONARY IS MADE FROM YOU WILL BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT THAT MUCH OF WHAT MAKES THIS PERFECT HIGH QUALITY PAPER IS DIRTY RAGS! IN ONE AREA THERE IS STOCKPILED OLD DIRTY RAGS IN HUGE PILES! ONE MAN WHO VISITED THERE WOULDN'T BELIEVE IT ... THEN 6 WEEKS AFTER HIS VISIT HE RECEIVED A PACKAGE OF PAPER FROM THE COMPANY WITH HIS INITIALS EMBOSSED ON IT. ON THE FIRST PAGE WERE WRITTEN THE WORDS: "DIRTY RAGS TRANSFORMED!" CHRIST DOES THE SAME TO OUR LIVES, HE TAKES OUR "DIRTY RAGS" AND TRANSFORMS US INTO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST! - Source, Unknown
4. After your fear is all gone and you look up all you will see is Jesus!
5. Christ will transform your life for the better, don't be afraid!
CONCLUSION: Peter, James, and John had spent a great deal of time with Jesus, but when He was transfigured before them they were transformed! At first they were terrified when they realized Jesus was God ... but Christ told them to "not be afraid" and then He touched them! When Jesus touches our lives, we too will be transformed! Is there now power where there used to be fear in your life!? DON'T BE AFRAID!