Scripture predicts the change of a Christian after his salvation by grace through faith. He conforms to the image of Jesus Christ. He changes into the image of Christ in a practical way in sanctification to match the positional change that occurred at justification.
I have seen amazing changes in individuals after they were saved. Their lives change. They listen to the preaching of the Word of God and they conform to scripture. They are sanctified by the truth, like Jesus prayed in John 17:17. As newborn babes, they desire the sincere milk of the Word that they might grow thereby (1 Pet 2:2).
I have changed as a pastor. I am still changing and growing. Our church has changed. I often tell people that there have been eight to ten major ways that I have changed in my life because of the Word of God.
Our church has changed. When we see something from scripture, we adapt to it. We start doing something we weren't doing. We are ready to change, because the Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice.
What I've noticed in my adult lifetime is that most of the changes in churches are slides. They are leftward changes away from scripture. They become less sanctified. The church becomes more lax.
When I look at the church as an institution, I see the church becoming more and more like the world. The church is decreasing the number of times it meets. It is adding entertainment. It adds gimmicks. It grows in its number of fads. It is becoming more casual. It is a more compromising church. I've noticed those types of changes are in general more acceptable.
Do you think that a biblical change mainly is a church becoming more liberal? Would you think that the change of the Word of God and the change authored by the Holy Spirit would be a liberal change, where something that was done is not done any more, where more and more former practices are being dropped? Changes toward laxness are very often acceptable changes. When a church becomes more conservative, why isn't that acceptable? It's usually frowned upon. Does that speak well?
My wife a few years ago had someone she was close to say that she, this other person, hadn't changed, but my wife had. It's true that my wife has. I have. It's not true that the other person hasn't changed. She has become more tolerant of sin and more tolerant of worldliness. Her own lifestyle is more worldly. My wife has gone the opposite direction, but has changed.
Change is necessary. Change will occur with a true Christian. In so many ways, it's good when a Christian stays the same, doesn't move, is very stable. That's good, but it's also good if that Christian is changing, because he is growing, is conforming to Christ, living a more holy, more obedient life.
After I wrote the above, I thought about it again during the day, and I want to add some things. Why is it that the changes we see happening in the church today are leftward and progressive, not conservative? Leftward changes relate to personal freedom and self-gratification. Actual conversion is death to self. It centers on God and not self. Self is pride. A church can't and won't change, that is, become what Christ wants it to be. Instead, it turns more into what people want it to be, which centers on getting its own way. Churches are more like they want to be and then justifying it by calling it liberty. It isn't liberty. It's lasciviousness.
When you challenge someone to change in order to conform to Christ, he can change because he has died to himself, like Paul describes in Romans 7 and Philippians 3. The church today is a worldly church that changes to conform and adapt to the spirit of the age. It won't and can't give up self, so it changes the meaning and application of scripture to conform to self. It is thorny ground. This is a gospel issue, related to something I wrote last week on the subject.
When you challenge someone with self on the throne, someone who is proud, he can't or won't change. He protects self. You can't even confront him to change, because that is intolerable. Generally, he won't listen. He can only hear about how good he is or that he is right. Almost all correction is rejected. When self is dead, which is what occurs with a true conversion, he is open to change to conform to the meaning and application of the Word of God.
Conservative changes are self-sacrificial. They want to represent God and the entrance of the light brings those changes. Liberal changes are self-aggrandizing. They start with what people want and how they feel. Changes are made, but they are changes to adapt to what people want. This is the direction of the church today. It is becoming more progressive and liberal, not conservative.