Sermon: The Change You Need - 2 Corinthians 5

Transformation is a sermon series by Ed Stetzer, Thom Rainer, and Philip Nation. This is part one - The Change You Need.

Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, says he enjoys the element of discovery that comes through the research projects. He adds, "Our work on Transformational Church was no different. But it was different for me because of one large factor - I was serving as an interim pastor during the conclusion of the study."

"As Thom Rainer and I were writing the book, I was also guiding a church through a comeback. They had experienced grief, hardship and decline. I could see in them what I saw in the study - the desire in churches to experience transformation. So we led and taught and guided the church toward the gospel that delivers hope. Toward the end of my time with the church, I invited Thom Rainer and Philip Nation to share in a sermon series simply titled 'Transformation.'"

Below is a message outline of the series. Access a link to a full manuscript at the bottom of this page.

Transformation sermon series

  1. The Change You Need
  2. When Transformation Stalls
  3. Living a Changed Life

Change is something we all need. It is an ongoing part of life. With its constant flux, life demands adjustments for our schedules and plans. Essentially, change is the new norm. But people's spiritual lives call for more than slight changes to the calendar. Their lives are in need of transformation.

I. Real change starts with new life, not just a new leaf

The apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17, HCSB). The very heart of the Christian faith revolves around change, but it is not turning over a new leaf - it is living out a new life.

In the Old Testament, we see how this cycle played out in the life of Solomon. He tried to change through human ingenuity when he needed divine intervention. And he was the smartest person - ever.

(Read Ecclesiastes 1:12-18.)

John 3:3 Jesus calls it being "born again."

II. Real change is a process, not a destination

"I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

"By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires" (2 Peter 1:4)

"We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

III. Change is letting go and grabbing hold

"Be holy as I am holy" sound like an impossible task. Its possibility comes by the work of God and not the work of man.

"But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, assuming you heard Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus: you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new man, the one created according to God's likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth" (Ephesians 4:20-24).

Here are some of the reasons that change is difficult for people:

a. Because we are stubborn
b. Because we are trapped
c. Because we are comfortable
d. Because we are afraid
d. Because change hurts
e. Because we lack power

"But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, assuming you heard Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus: you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new man, the one created according to God's likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth" (Ephesians 4:20-24).

Read Ed Stetzer's Full Sermon on SermonCentral.com


Transformation: Power for change

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"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms," (Ephesians 1:18-20).

"But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith" (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).

I. Transformation is from God's outside power

"And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you" (Romans 8:11).

II. We're changed to change

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:1-2).

III. We present and are transformed

"Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).

IV. Transformation changes our focus

"He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them & was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:15).


Transformation: The community of change

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"And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25).

I. Be concerned about community

"And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works," (Hebrews 10:24).

"So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God's household" (Ephesians 2:19).

II. Be present in community

"not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do," (Hebrews 10:25).

"One another…"

III. Be encouraging each other in community

"but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:25).

"But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin's deception" (Hebrews 3:13).

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as executive director of LifeWay Research.