Why is the Bible special? What makes the Bible different from all other books? Yes, there are many ways to answer that question but for this blog entry one word stands out: “power.” The Bible introduces us to a power that is unknown from any other book.
But does the Bible have the power to transform lives? Atheists loudly protest this claim. “A leopard cannot change its spots,” according to atheists. But for two millennia the Bible has shown the part it takes in transforming lives.
What I mean is, the Bible itself does not have the power to transform a person’s life. When a person becomes a Christian, he is transformed through the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. However, the Bible does play an essential part in this conversion. The Bible provides us with the knowledge of Christ necessary for salvation. After conversion, the Bible gives the Christian guidelines for following Jesus and living as a Christian.
But is this claim for real? Does the Bible play an essential role in a Christian’s transformation? Let’s look at two examples of this change — John Newton and Charles Colson. These lives were totally transformed through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. And the Bible exists as the only authoritative source for this knowledge
Transformed From Slave Trader to Abolitionist
Did you ever hear of a man named John Newton? Perhaps you have heard of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” You may have heard this hymn played on bagpipes at the funeral of a policeman or fireman. So people think it is the best known hymn in the world.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see.
But John Newton did not start life as a writer of hymns. He started as a rather wretched person.
Newton He was born on August 4, 1725. Then his mother died when John was seven years old. At age 11 he began his life on the sea. In 1744, Newton was “press-ganged” into the Royal Navy.
Newton became known for his “unsettled behavior and impatience of restraint.” He deserted from the Royal Navy but was arrested and returned in irons. In 1747, he joined the crew of a slaver ship. The ship was the Greyhound out of Liverpool. On its journey home from delivering slaves, the Greyhound was overtaken by an enormous storm. Newton turned to Jesus during this storm and was converted.
Be aware that, during this time, serving on a slaving ship was considered an honest profession. Newton saw nothing wrong with continuing to serve on these ships even after becoming a Christian. He felt he could prevent the excessive violence and suffering taking place the ships where he served. But his exposure to the Bible gradually transformed his attitude toward slavery.
In 1755, he left the seafaring life and took an office job. He began leading Bible studies in his home. Finally, Newton was ordained an Anglican priest in 1764. He became known for his pastoral care and for the help he gave to the poor.
Over time, Newton became convinced that slavery is wrong and must be stopped. In 1788, his book Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade exposed the horrors taking place on slaving ships. He wrote, “It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”
This slave trader was transformed into a leading abolitionist through Jesus Christ. The Bible played and important part in his transformation.
A Prisoner Goes Free
Does the name Charles Colson stir any memories? People who lived through the Watergate Investigation in 1973 remember well the name Charles Colson. He was known as President Nixon’s “hatchet man.” He was considered the source of Nixon’s “dirty tricks.”
But Colson began as a lawyer. He graduated with honors from George Washington University Law School and founded a law firm serving Boston and Washington D.C. In January 1969 he left his firm and joined the Nixon administration.
On June 17, 1972, five burglars were caught breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel. After the 1972 presidential election mounting evidence revealed a connection between the White House and the Watergate break-in.
The Nixon administration took steps to conceal evidence. Eventually, several members of the administration were charged with obstruction of evidence. Colson was charged with conspiracy to cover-up the Watergate burglaries.
While waiting to be arrested, Colson read a copy of C. S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. After additional study of the Bible, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. Critics immediately expected this was a trick. Colson, they said, pretended to “get religion” in order to receive a lighter sentence from his trial. He was convicted and spent seven months in prison.
However, contrary to the predictions of naysayers, Charles Colson’s Christian life-change continued. After his release from prison, he started a religious organization named Prison Fellowship. This prison ministry resulted in thousands of prisoners accepting Jesus Christ and their Savior and Lord.
Colson became a leading evangelical. He received many honorary doctorates. In 1993 he received the Templeton Prize. This award features the world’s largest cash gift (over $1 million). It is awarded each year to the one person in the world who has done the most to advance the cause of religion.
Charles Colson was transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ as introduced through the Bible. .
The Power of a Restored Relationship
The real power in the Christian’s life comes from a restored relationship with God and the indwelling Holy Spirit. But the Bible remains an essential resource in promoting this change.
The Bible has the ability to accurately and authoritatively introduce us to God and to bring us before the throne of God. So, the Bible provides us with the information we need to be saved. The power comes from God.