The New Testament is clear. Our hope is rooted in the context of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-7, Paul asserted that the consistent nature of gospel preaching is one proof of the certainty of Jesus’ resurrection. He then followed that declaration by sharing the first implication of the resurrection: transformation.
In 1 Corinthians 15:8-11, Paul took an unpredicted turn. He had provided a listing of those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrection, but then suddenly cited his own personal testimony of encountering the risen Lord (cf. Acts 9:1ff). Paul equated his own experience with the experience of the apostles, et al, save for one detail: his birth was “abnormal.” The word here he uses was the word commonly used for a miscarriage or an abortion in the first century. But his emphasis was on the unlikely nature of his transformation. Unlike the other eyewitnesses who had walked with Jesus for up to three years, he had not “come to full term.” So why was it so unlikely that the risen Lord would appear to Paul? Because he had persecuted the church (15:9). Because of God’s great grace, even Paul could experience life change.
Paul’s point is simply this: the transformation he experienced from zealous persecutor of the church to the hardest working apostle in the first century was possible through the resurrection of Jesus, not through some form of personal reformation, like the kind so often sought today.
There is a big difference between personal reformation and spiritual transformation. For example,
Reformation is based on self-effort and self-improvement;
Transformation is strictly the result of grace.
Reformation focuses on behavior modification;
Transformation focused on transformation of the heart.
Reformation relies on rules and regulations;
Transformation relies on the law of love.
Reformation is accomplished through will power;
Transformation is accomplished through surrender.
Reformation seeks a “better you;”
Transformation seeks a “different you.”
Reformation lives as though all the world’s a stage;
Transformation lives for an Audience of One.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power to change your life. You don’t need to make resolutions or turn over a new leaf. You need a complete transformation that works from the inside out.