Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change
Three excerpts at a time from the new book by Brian G. Hedges

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Excerpt 1 of 22

By the time David Garrett was eight years old he was studying violin with the world’s finest teachers, practicing seven hours a day, and making solo appearances with legendary orchestras, including the London Philharmonic. As an adolescent, he studied at the Juilliard School in New York City.

In 2003, for the price of one million dollars, Garrett purchased a Guadagnini, a rare 236-year-old violin made by a student of Stradivarius. But on December 27, 2007, after a brilliant performance at the Barbican in London, David Garrett tripped, fell down a flight of stairs, and landed on the valuable instrument. Though still in its case, the violin was smashed, sustaining damage to the body, neck, and soundpost. Restoration was predicted to take eight months and cost more than $120,000. Experts doubted the finely crafted instrument would ever sound the same.

Garrett’s unfortunate accident and crushed violin recall a darker tragedy—the Fall of Man and the devastation that followed. We live in the rubble of the world’s resulting brokenness. Pain, sickness, suffering, sin, crime, violence, war, alienation from God, shattered relationships, disease, natural disaster, and death are on every side, the ruins of our broken world. Can it all be made right? Is restoration possible?

Scripture teaches that restoration is not only possible, but a certain reality, secured by God himself through the redeeming death and resurrection of his Son and realized in our lives by the power of his Spirit. The gospel is about nothing less than the redemption of fallen human beings and the perfect, complete restoration of our broken world. As Christ himself says in the closing pages of Scripture, “Behold I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

Restoration through the gospel is the hope of all Christians. But the practicality of the good news for personal transformation here and now sometimes escapes us. Someday, everything that is wrong with the world will be made right forever. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes; mourning, crying, pain, and death will be no more (Rev. 21:4). But is genuine change in my life possible now? And if so, how does it happen?

I believe transformation is possible. This goal of this book is to explain how. More than that, I hope to bring together various aspects of the Christian life in a way that is somewhat unusual in Christian books. As I mentioned in the Introduction, many books do a wonderful job of clearly presenting the content of the gospel so that we might clearly understand what Christ did for us, or helping us grasp the practical significance of the gospel for daily life, or offering us fresh motivation for the Christian life in God’s purpose to glorify himself and satisfy our souls, or teaching us to embrace the various means of grace—such as spiritual disciplines, suffering, and community—by which God matures us in the faith. This book attempts to bring all these approaches together, presenting a single, unified vision for how to change.

To best understand and fully experience the transforming power of the gospel, we must begin with the end in mind. What is God’s ultimate goal in saving and changing us? To answer this we need to grasp why God created us in the first place, what has been lost by human sin, and what God through Christ and the Spirit has done and is doing about it. In other words, we need to frame our concerns about personal change in the larger story of God’s saving work: the story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.

See the complete Table of Contents, or the author's Introduction.