Jentezen Franklin - The Two Elements Of Transformation
Matthew 16:13. "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, others Jeremiah and one of His, or one His prophets.' And He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'". "Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven'".
Now, watch, He changes His name in Matthew 16:18. "'Now I say unto you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades'", or hell: "'Shall not prevail against it'". I wanna talk to you for a few moments this morning on, "The Two Elements of Transformation", and I'll give you my two points right up-front. The two greatest elements of transformation in your family, in your weak areas, in your life, they're contained in this verse. The two greatest elements of transformation is the church and the cross. The church and the cross.
I think that we need a new look, we need to take a new look at church, especially in this generation. The room that I'm preaching to right now is packed, so I'm not saying this to try to get a crowd. I'm saying this, because I believe it's the truth. I'm afraid something is happening in people's minds with all of the access through internet and everything else, that church is not as important as it was a generation ago. That church is just something you do when you feel like it, and if it's convenient. I don't think that God ever intended the church that He wanted to build to be something that you sit at home in, in your pajamas, and eat corn flakes while you watch me on the internet.
That's okay on occasion, that's okay when you can't do it. But He never meant for us, as a matter of fact, the scripture forbids us, and says, "Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together", which is the manner of some people, but He said, "As you see the coming of the Lord and the signs of the times", like we've seen this week as a nation happening, even more you need to run to the House of God. And it's not just about you, it's about your family being raised in a climate and atmosphere that says church is important. We need to celebrate the church again. We need to celebrate and love God's church.
Let me say it like this. A good doctor will keep you out of the hospital. A good lawyer will keep you out of jail. And a good church will keep you out of hell. Is that clear enough for you? That's how important it is. That's how critical it is. You could be in some area where there's no good church, and no good music, no good preaching, no good ministry for your children, but you're blessed today, and I'm blessed today. Hallelujah. Glory to God. I'm about to preach myself happy. It's the truth.
Jesus shows us the power of transformation in the church when He made the connection to the church and a transformation in Simon Peter's life. He said in Matthew 16:17, He calls him Simon. Then, He calls him Simon Bar-Jonas, but when He gets a revelation of who Christ is, then He reveals something to him, and suddenly, He says, "I'm changing your name from Simon to Peter". Simon means weak, like sand, and Peter means strong, like a rock. The church has the power, through Jesus Christ and the Gospel, to transform lives. The weak become strong. The sand becomes rock solid in your life when you get in a church. It can, it will, if you will continue to faithfully attend. It will become a transformation power in your family, and in your life. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.
And Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6, he lists this horrible catalog of sin, from drunkenness to fornication, and then he says these words: "And such were some of you". But you got in church, you got washed, you got cleansed, you got baptized, and now, you're not who you used to be. A church is not a building with a steeple and a cross on it. A church is not a building with pews or seats, and a platform, and a choir and music. That does not mean it's a church. If it's not changing lives, if you don't see transformation, a true church is transforming lives. Weak people are becoming strong. People who are defeated and bound are becoming victorious, and their families are going from divorce to love, and forgiveness, and restoration.
If that's not happening in your church, it's not a church. People come in with all kinds of ugly messes in their life. They come in one way, but they leave another. They come in awful looking, messed up by life, but they leave a beautiful bride of Christ. That's what church does. It takes the weak, and makes 'em strong. The defeated, it makes 'em victorious, and you're in an atmosphere of transformation. There's hope for your marriage, there's hope for your addiction, there's hope for your weakest place. If you'll get in church, get around God, hear the Word of God, He can transform your life to a place of victory.
Let's praise the Lord for transformation. Tell somebody around you, "Welcome to the church". Here's what I've found at church. I've found a pardon for my past, I've found power for my present, and I've found promises for my future. And that's why I believe in it, and that's why I attend it, and that's why if I weren't a preacher, I don't care how much God blesses me, I'd have my family in church, because all of that comes only through the church. It is a priority, it is not second to something. Everything you have comes out of your connection to God's House. I firmly believe that. Everything lasting.
Genesis 2:18 says: "It's not good that man should be alone. I will make him", notice the wording: "A help-meet", M-E-E-T. That's not a misprint, it's not help-mate, it's meet. I'll help, "I'll give him", or make him: "A help-meet for him". You know what the words help-meet mean in the original language? You're not gonna believe it. God said to Adam, "I'm going to introduce you to your help-meet", and in the original language, it means I'm going to introduce you to your other self. I'm going to introduce you to your completed self.
Eve is a type of the church, and the church is your help-meet. The church will help you meet every challenge in your life. The church will help you meet the sin challenge. The church will help you meet the family challenge, of raising children, teenagers. The church will help you meet that challenge. Do I need to go further? I can. The church will help you meet the financial challenges of life. The church will help you meet the physical challenges of life. It's at the church, it will help you meet every challenge of life, and I'm gonna tell you something else. It's at the church that you get introduced to your other self.
I was here, I was this, but I found a better me. I found my other self. The world and the devil said I was this, but I was introduced in a church service to the real me, the better me, the other me. Not the addicted me, not the defeated me, not the weak me, not the fearful and depressed me, but the me that I was created to be. And I get introduced to my other self through the church. It's in the church that I found out I am somebody. I'm going somewhere. And I'm gonna do something big with my life for God. You're gonna help me preach that. I'm on a campaign with those three lines.
Everybody shout, "I am somebody, I'm going somewhere, and I'm doing something big with my life for Jesus Christ". You learn that in the church. Your children will, too. Mark 4, the New King James Version of the Bible says: "Let us cross over to the other side". Transformation comes, number one, through the church. Secondly, it comes through the preaching and the power of the cross. And when He said to His disciples, "Let us cross over to the other side", He gave a revelation.
There's some things you will never get over without the cross. The only way you get over the abuse that you've been through is to cross over. The only way you get over the divorce, the only way you get over the bad deal that somebody ripped you off, and you're bitter about it, and you've been paying for it ever since, the only way to get over is to cross over. The only way over is to cross over. The only thing that will get you over is the cross. The only way to be free from your sin and your shame is to cross over. That's the power of the cross to transform your life.
In 2 Kings 6, there's a story of a building program for the sons of the prophets. They needed to enlarge their training center. And so, the Bible said they were enlarging the place, and a man had borrowed an axe, and he was chopping down trees. And the axe head got loose, and then as he went back to swing it, and went forward, the axe head flew off, after it got loose, and went into the deep, raging Jordan River, and it began to sink, and it went down into the muck and the mire of the Jordan River.
There's a real truth that I wanna give you. Before the axe head ever got lost, it first got loose. Before anything ever gets lost, it first gets loose. Every once in awhile, you need to ask yourself, am I getting loose in my convictions? Am I getting loose in my church attendance? Am I getting loose in my tithing and supporting the work of the Lord? Because when things start getting loose in your walk with God, and with the Word of God, every now and then, you need to get a brand new, firm grip on Jesus. A brand new, firm grip. You need to get a grip, and tighten your grip, on God. And I've never seen it, I've been around a long time.
Anytime you see people starting to get loose in their convictions, loose in their personal standards, loose with things they used to hold as a sacrifice and a way of saying thank You, Lord. Now, suddenly, they're getting loose with it. When you get loose, it's a matter of time before you start losing. Something's gonna be lost when you get loose. Now, watch this. "And the man said, 'Alas, master! It was borrowed.' And the prophet said, 'Where did it fall'"? And he said, "Oh, it's about right over there, right over there in that area. See, if you go out about ten feet, right in the middle of the river, that's where it went down. Of course, it's gone, but that's where it went".
And the Bible said the prophet cut down a branch off of the tree. Watch this. He takes off a part of a branch of a tree that represents the tree where Jesus shed His blood, the cross, Calvary. And he throws it in the proximity of where that loss took place, and suddenly, I'm telling you, when you get in an atmosphere where the cross is being preached in church, and the preacher, that's what I'm doing, I'm throwing tree limbs. You're watching me right now, and I don't care what you've lost, I'm telling you. I'm throwing you the cross of Jesus, a piece of the cross, and anywhere the piece, if you just get in the proximity.
If it can just get in the vicinity of where you are, then suddenly, something started, I can preach it like I want to. Something happened down there on the bottom of that river. I could see that old iron axe head whose nature was to go and find the lowest places and the lowest people you can find, and get in the muck and the mire, but when it got around that stick. If that stick can just get in the proximity of a drug addict, get in the proximity of somebody who's an alcoholic, or somebody whose family's falling to pieces, and they're stuck in the muck and the mire of bitterness and hate and unforgiveness, suddenly, that old axe head said, "I'm coming up". I could see it shaking off the muck and the mire, and your Bible, one of the most miraculous verses in all of the Bible, and the axe head did swim.
No, no, no. No, no. You don't understand what I'm saying. I believe the Bible. What was once a sinker became a swimmer. And when it said it swam, that means it was doing this. And it's coming up, and it's swimming, and the catfish see it, and says, "What is going on? Your nature is to plunge to the depths. Your nature is to go down there with the lowest of the lowest, but now, you've gone from being a sinker to being a swimmer". It's that tree. It's that tree. That tree is pulling me up out of my addiction. It's pulling me up out of my sin, it's pulling me up out of my condemnation. The turtle says, "What is going on"? He said, "I'm going up higher. I'm headed to restoration. I feel the power of the cross, and it's transforming me from a sinker to a swimmer".
How many of you remember when you were on the bottom? Oh, you've forgot? Do I need to pull some out and embarrass you, and tell your whole story that you told me? How many of you remember when you were in the muck and the mire? I was sinking, deep in sin. Far from the peaceful shore. Very deeply stained within. Sinking to rise no more. But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters He lifted me. Now, safe am I.
I don't know about you, but love lifted me. When nothing else could help, praise God. When I couldn't get the muck and the mire off my life, love lifted me, and it'll lift you to a place of victory. It comes through the cross, the mercy, the grace, the blood, the name of Jesus Christ. It can lift you. It can lift you. He's made me the head and not the tail. I am above only and not beneath. My nature is no longer to plunge through the depths of the lowest people and the lowest places I can find. I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind in the Word of God, and I am somebody, going somewhere, doing something big for God, with my life.
And you are, too. No matter how stained with sin, You're in the presence of Calvary. The cross, the church, can lift you. Don't take your life. I don't care how dark it is. I'm throwing the cross in your proximity. Praise God. Isn't that powerful that I'm going into 200 nations of the world? Every week, right through that camera right there, and I don't care if you're in India, I don't care if you're in South America. I don't care if you're in Europe, in sex-trafficking, and you've been abused, and you don't know how you're ever gonna get out. I'm throwing a stick from the tree of Calvary, and I'm telling you, you're coming out of the muck, you're coming out of the mire of addiction. You're coming out of the sin, the shame, the condemnation. The presence of Calvary is in your vicinity.
At every campus, right here in this room, I feel this thing. This can be the Sunday you write down and point hell back to, and say, "We were sinkers, but that Sunday, everything changed in our nature and in our family, and now, we're swimmers. And we're going up". Our direction is up, our destiny is up. You may be down, but down is not your destiny. Praise God. You're of the One who rose on the third day, and He said, "I give you My resurrection power today". It cannot you, the tomb, the grave, the muck, the mire, the bondage, the sin. It cannot hold you. A mistake, the bad choice, it cannot cover you. Reach up and grab that stick. It'll change everything in your life.
Stand to your feet at every building, no one moving please. "Pastor, I came in to this church to be honest with some messy places in my life. I came in one way, but I'd like to leave another. I came in with one name, but I'd like to leave with another. I came in with one reputation, but I'd like to leave with another. I came here with certain character, or lack thereof, but I would like to leave today with a Living Savior inside of me".
I need the presence of Calvary to change my nature from a sinker to a swimmer. I was not made to be at the bottom. Today, I've thrown that stick in your area. All you gotta do is say, "Yes, Lord". He's gonna help you, He's gonna raise you, He's gonna lift you. "Pastor, pray for me. I know I'm not right with God, but I sure need a change in my life, and I'm desperate enough to say, 'Lord, whatever it takes'".
I'm reaching up for that stick. I'm a long ways from it, but at least I feel something shaking off the muck and the mire enough to take one stroke of swimming, and reach up, and grab that stick. If you'll do that, the Holy Spirit will do the rest, and He'll begin to raise you this very day. "Pastor, pray for me. I'm not right with God, and I need to be. I need a transformation in my life. I want it, I'm ready for it". Boldly lift your hand if you know I'm preaching to you this morning, all over this room. Fantastic, fantastic.
All over this room, there's no shame in it. There's victory, but I'll tell you one thing. The moment you do it, a blessing is released on your life. Anyone else? Raise 'em high at every campus, raise 'em high, raise 'em high, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Say these words, out loud. Everyone under the sound of my voice. Those of you watching by television. What an opportunity for you to know Jesus, and to see His resurrection power in your life. Let's pray this out loud.
Lord Jesus, I come to You today. I am a sinner, but I know You love me. I was sinking, deep in sin, but Your love this day is lifting me. Your love won't let me go. Your love won't give up on me. Your love won't ever release me, from this day forward. I receive amazing grace, amazing love, the love of Jesus Christ, the One who died and rose three days later from the grave. He is resurrecting me. My dreams, my family, my purpose. I'm a swimmer, not a sinker, in Jesus' mighty name.