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“We Are Being Transformed”
2 Corinthians 3:18

Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
The Transfiguration of Our Lord—February 22, 2009

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Our text is from today’s Epistle Reading in 2nd Corinthians.  Paul writes: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”

There is a show on public television called “This Old House.”  Each year they take an old house, usually run down and decrepit, and during that season we witness the renovation and transformation of “This Old House.”  Paul says that, like those houses on “This Old House,” “WE Are Being Transformed.”

Physically, most of us start out life healthy, and as we grow older we become physically run down and decrepit.  But, Scripture tells us that spiritually, it’s the exact opposite.  According to Scripture, we BEGIN life spiritually run down and decrepit. 

That seems counterintuitive, for the popular belief is that human beings are born basically good.  But, contrary to popular belief, Scripture makes clear that spiritually humans actually begin life like an old house in need of renovation, spiritually run down and decrepit.  The Lord declares in Genesis, “Every inclination of man’s heart is evil from childhood.”  David says in Psalm 51, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

Spiritually, we begin life run down and decrepit.  But, like those houses on “This Old House,” “We Are Being Transformed.”  This transformation, our spiritual renovation, is a progressive process that takes place throughout our lives.  A progressive process called “sanctification.” 

Sanctification is a Latin word which means “to make holy.”  But, before we can talk about sanctification, we need to look at another Latin word, “justification,” which means “to make right,” with God.

Paul says in Romans, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  God’s Son, Jesus Christ, justified you, made you right with God, by living a perfect life in your place, and sacrificing himself to pay for your sins.  His resurrection was God the Father’s announcement to the world that he has accepted his Son’s sacrifice as payment for all our sins.  “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Your sins are all forgiven, because of his life, death, and resurrection.

Peter says in Acts, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. . .  everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins in his name.”  That is justification, God giving you faith to trust in the Good News of forgiveness.  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus says, “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and will not be condemned.  He has crossed over from death to life.”    

Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, “He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again.”  That is sanctification, which follows in the Christian’s life after justification, living no longer for yourself, but for him, who died for you and rose again.  Justification and sanctification go together, as the old adage says, like “two sides of the same coin.”  Those who are justified, who trust in Jesus for salvation, will also desire and seek to be sanctified, to live for him a holy life.

Paul describes sanctification this way in 1st Timothy, “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith.”  Peter says, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. . .  make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The last episode each season of “This Old House” is always a big party to celebrate completion of the transformation.  But, there will never come a point in this life where you can sit back and say, “My spiritual transformation is complete.”  Sanctification is an ongoing, progressive process throughout your life.  As Paul says in our text, “We . . . are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”  Or, as another old adage puts it, “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.”

That is why you come to worship; hear, read and study God’s Word; receive the Sacrament; speak to the Lord in prayer.  Because God isn’t finished with you yet.  In this life your spiritual renovation, your spiritual transformation, your sanctification, is never complete.  In this life you will not attain perfect holiness.  You will remain a work-in-progress.

But, there will be a final episode, with a big party celebrating your complete transformation.  John puts it this way: “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  Just as Christ in his Transfiguration was transformed and for a time showed forth his heavenly glory, in heaven you will be fully, finally transformed forever, you will see God face to face, and like Moses you will reflect the perfect radiance of God’s glory.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”  Amen.

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