From Theophostic to Transformation
When this ministry began in the mid-nineties, it was called Theophostic Prayer Ministry. The word Theophostic combines two New Testament Greek words: Theo, meaning God, and phos, meaning light: the light of God, or God’s light. We believed that a major component in this ministry process was God shining His light, or truth, into our darkness. After over twenty years of using this name, we have come to believe that a better name for this ministry process is transformation. When God shines His light—His truth—into our darkened belief, the outcome is a change or transformation in our thinking and our behavior.
Transformation is the fundamental and total change of one thing into another. Only God can bring about the genuine changes in our lives i.e. true transformation. Anyone can control his own behavior for a time, but only God can bring about effortless and lasting change. Acting like Jesus and being conformed into His image are two very different things. Anyone can act like Jesus (believers and unbelievers alike), but mimicking the behavior of Jesus is not transformation. Only God can transform us by producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Thus, the name “Transformation Prayer Ministry” more accurately describes the prayerful process of inviting God to supernaturally renew our minds.
Transformation is a Work of God
There is a stark difference between the biblical transformation brought about by God and our attempts at controlled behavior, spiritual performance, self-discipline and ardent obedience. If one tries hard enough, self-driven outward change can be accomplished by anyone and is a practice common to many world religions. However, transformation that makes it possible to live out the will of God is completely and absolutely a work of God. The Scripture is clear when it says, “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). The “so that” in this passage is pivotal for living out the will of God. When God renews our minds, we are transformed, resulting in the “so that” which follows, making it possible for us to “prove” His will. The Greek word translated “prove” in this passage is a term used by the ancients to describe the testing of their coinage for authenticity.
James the Apostle alludes to this same concept when he says, “… Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (Ja. 1:2-5).
I could very easily write an entire article on this one passage, but to be brief and to the point, James describes the necessity of having our faith refined in order that we might know God’s will or possess wisdom. This testing or refinement of our faith produces the Spirit’s fruit of endurance (hypomonḗ—to remain under; it is similar to patience—the ability to rest in God in the midst of difficulty).
It is with a purified faith that we can ask God for wisdom (knowing His will and what to do in any given situation) and He will grant it “…generously and without reproach…” All we have to do is ask. If we ask and do not receive, then “doubt” is the problem. Doubt is not an absence of belief, but rather the believing of something contrary to the truth. This constitutes an impure faith. If we ask for wisdom with an impure faith, we “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord…” (Jam. 1:7). When our faith is impure and contains doubting, we will be like the “…wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” This is the state of being double-minded. When our minds are renewed, we will be transformed and we will find that proving the will of God is as simple as asking (Jam. 1:1-8).
Biblical Transformation is Permanent and Eternal
The Greek word translated transformation is the word “metamorphoó” that means to change from one form completely into another. It is the same basic word from which we derive the English word metamorphosis that describes a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. No effort on the part of the one who has been transformed is required to bring it about or to maintain it. It is totally a work of God.
God’s transformation of us produces an effortless expression of the fruit of the Spirit. Believing the truth with our hearts makes this all possible. Only God’s persuasion of the truth will bring about heart belief. To the degree that we hold His truth in our hearts, transformation will follow.
To the degree that the believer knows the truth in his heart, this truth will transform him—always! This is described in the passage that says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). However, mind renewal that results in transformation goes well beyond knowing the truth intellectually. Anyone, whether a believer or not, can memorize a Bible verse, but this is not mind renewal. If Bible knowledge alone produced transformation, Jesus would not have compared the religious leaders of His day to whitewashed tombs when He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27). Bible knowledge has its place, but only God brings about heart belief that results in mind renewal and genuine transformation.
God has Won the Victory
God desires that we cease struggling to be like Jesus and enter into His rest. Rest is available to all who are in Christ, since “…we who have believed enter that rest …” and “… anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His” (Heb. 4:3, 10). We struggle because we don’t believe the truth. He has won the war, though we often struggle to believe, and He provides truth for our present victory, even though we may mistakenly believe that the battle still rages! To the degree that we know the truth and believe it in our hearts, we will cease from our warring and enter into the rest that the Lord has made available to us.
Some people have suggested that the Lord has indeed won the war, but there are battles that still remain. This make no logical or even military sense. If the war has been won and is over, then there are no battles to fight. However, if we are deceived into thinking that there is a battle to fight then we are assuming that there remains an enemy to fight. This is the bases for so much of the unnecessary spiritual warfare that is being waged with the devil. The truth is, Satan has been defeated, sin was overcome, our certificate of debt nailed to the cross, our hearts have been replace with His own, we are partakers of His very nature, and our minds are being renewed. Victory is ours completely and “this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith” (1 Jo. 5:4). However, if our faith is not pure —based upon His truth— then we may indeed view ourselves surrounded by the enemy and see no recourse but prepare for battle.
If we believe that there are still battles to fight with a warring enemy, then we are taking a victim position, probably blaming our difficulties on outside sources, and failing to see that the only real enemy that remains is “us” and what we believe.
Much of what we have traditionally described as victory still includes an element of work, struggle and self-effort. But victory is not something we have to struggle with to obtain or maintain. Victory occurs after the battle has been fought and won, not while the soldier is still fighting. We either have the victory or we don’t have the victory. If we are struggling to be victorious, then we cannot say we are walking in victory. Some of us see victory as the goal we work toward and occasionally achieve, in contrast to something Christ has already accomplished for us. If we say we have victory in Christ, yet continue to struggle, this suggests we do not understand the true meaning of living victoriously.
If the Bible says we are victorious, but our reality is contrary to what the Bible says, then we are believing something other than the truth. The focus of TPM is to identify the belief we have that runs contrary to God’s perspective, then invite the Spirit to bring truth, which results in effortless transformation and subsequent victory in Christ.