Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content


Home > Sermons

Extreme Makeover

Jesus came to offer us the true extreme makeover.

From the editor:

Looking for an example of how a sermon can speak into the energy of the New Year? This is the one to check out. One of the more powerful things about this sermon by Huffman is that he indirectly points out the shallow nature of our typical dreams for extreme makeover. A new house, a new hairdo, a new wardrobe? Too small. There are deeper, salvific changes to be made.


I've been fascinated by the reality television approach to extreme makeover. One morning on the Today Show, they took a somewhat ordinary-looking woman, sent her off to another room and, a little later, on that same three-hour show, brought her back with a whole new look: hairdo, makeup, clothes, and accessories.

The December 20, 2004, issue of Time magazine had an article describing the television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It told the story of Alice Harris of South Central Los Angeles. She still remembers the day the good people from ABC volunteered to demolish her house. In 2003, a flood had left the community activist and her family, who had no insurance, living in one bedroom. Worst of all, the waters had ruined a stash of Christmas toys Harris had collected for poor children. Harris said, "I figured no one was going to come to Watts and help us. No one had ever done that." But Extreme Makeover: Home Edition found her. Its bullhorn-wielding host, Ty Pennington, shipped Harris and her family off for a week's vacation in Carlsbad, California, while over one hundred workers and neighbors tore her home down to the foundation and built a new, bigger one. They replaced the Christmas toys and donated appliances, mattresses, and landscaping to her flood-stricken neighbors. They even threw in a basketball court for the neighborhood kids. Now that's an extreme makeover.

All of these extreme makeovers have something in common: an outsider comes in with a one-two-three program. First, that outsider sees the possibilities you couldn't see. Second, that outsider does what you couldn't do. Third, that outsider pays for what you could not afford to pay.

Extreme makeovers are God's business.

God is in the extreme makeover business. He's in the business of transforming your life and mine. He has a similar three-step program. One, he sees possibilities in you and me that we're not apt to see in ourselves. He also is able to do for you and me what we cannot do for ourselves. And he's able to pay the price for what he does. We can't afford the price. He paid it for us. But his makeover is a little bit different in one area. The reality show makeover is an external job. God's is an internal job. He makes you a new person from the inside out.

The Bible is primarily a book of good news. It's the story of God's extreme makeover on your behalf. The story starts in Genesis 1 and goes all the way through the end of Revelation. It's a good news story of a God who is totally other, who created us in his image. He created us with the capacity to make decisions, to choose to go God's way or our own way or Satan's way.

We see the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, placed in a pristine situation. They are given every opportunity two people have ever had, and they chose to disobey God. God's only message was this: Don't reach and eat of the fruit of that tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

But Satan slithered up and said to the woman that God didn't want her to be God. And they both reached, ate, and discovered evil. We've been reaching ever since. In fact, the Bible says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," and "None is righteous. No, not one." We know that about ourselves. We don't have to be told. None of us is perfect, and that imperfection separated us from the ground of our being, the God who created us. Here is a righteous, holy God, and there is a chasm between us.

The good news is that God has taken action on our behalf. He promised Adam and Eve that someone would come—a second Adam who would crush the head of the serpent. The Old Testament people lived in anticipation of the Messiah. That's what it's about—God coming and dying for the sins of the world. The Scripture says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." This is God's extreme makeover.

A new creation makeover

This extreme makeover involves us becoming new creations. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "So if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Everything old is passed away. See, everything has become new." In other words, you can be a brand new you!

This extreme makeover also involves spiritual rebirth. In John 3, a religious man named Nicodemus came to Jesus. He came by night, it said, because he didn't want to be seen by his religious colleagues in the presence of this upstart rabbi from Nazareth. He asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said, "You have to be born again." Confused, Nicodemus said: Wait a minute. I'm an adult. I can't crawl back into my mother's womb!

Jesus said, "What is born of the flesh is flesh; what is born of the Spirit is Spirit." Jesus is saying: The first time you're born, you're born with water. Your mother's water breaks, and you're born. The second birth is a spiritual birth. So, do not be astonished that I say to you that you must be born from above.

Someone asked me one time, "Are you a born-again Christian?" I said, "What other kind of Christian is there?" You can't be a Christian without being born again. You have to open yourself to Jesus Christ, admit your need and your sin, and put your trust in him alone. That's the rebirth Scripture talks about.

This extreme makeover also involves salvation. In John 3:17, Jesus says, "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him." It's all about salvation. I came across a statement that goes like this: "Jesus died on the cross; that's history. Jesus died for me; that's salvation."

The forgiveness makeover

This extreme makeover also involves forgiveness. In John 3, the same chapter that tells the story of Nicodemus, it says, "Those that believe in him are not condemned, but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God." That's forgiveness.

Are you aware that there is only one unforgivable sin? It's to refuse to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. The Bible calls it blaspheming the Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ who's wooing you, welcoming you to come to him in repentance. To say no to that, to harden your heart to Christ's invitation, is the only unforgivable sin.

This extreme makeover also involves reconciliation. Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, says:

All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ. Since God is making his appeal through us, we entreat you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.

A gap exists between the holy God and humanity, but there's a bridge over the chasm. By the Cross of Jesus Christ we become reconciled with the Father.

The eternal life makeover

Finally, there is the extreme makeover of eternal life. Perhaps the first Bible verse you ever learned was John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life." Some Bibles translate it as "everlasting life," which means life that goes on and on forever. That's okay, because that's part of eternal life. Eternal life is the God-quality life right now in this world, as well as the God-quality life in the life to come. In essence, Jesus came to equip you to live in this life, and Jesus also came to equip you to die with the knowledge that you will live again in the next life—a life that's better than this life. The apostle Paul said, "If for this life only we have faith in Jesus Christ, we're most to be pitied."

The coming of Jesus makes this extreme makeover possible. In Listening to Your Life, Frederick Buechner writes:

When the Child was born, the whole course of human history was changed. That is a truth that is as unassailable as any truth—art, music, literature, Western culture itself with all its institutions, and Western man's whole understanding of himself and his world. It is impossible to conceive how differently things would have turned out if that birth had not happened, whenever, wherever, however it did. And there is a truth beyond that for millions of people who have believed since. The birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life, but a new way of living it. The truth of this incarnation should never cease to amaze us. The mystery of the Eternal cradled in a manger elicits awesome wonder and grateful praise.

I think of Chuck Colson. He was a New Englander who went to Brown University before becoming a Marine. He went on to law school, but his goal was politics. It wasn't long before he became the lawyer of the President for the United States at the time, Richard Nixon. That was the peak of everything he had dreamed of in this world. But he saw his hero begin to spiral downward, caught in the web of Watergate. Many at that time had a suspicion Chuck Colson was behind the Watergate break-in as well as the cover-up. When Colson realized he was going to be subpoenaed, he didn't know what to do. So he talked with a friend of his, Tom Philips, a CEO. Colson told Philips of the dilemma he was in and what was happening at the White House. Philips said, "Chuck, you need what I've discovered." "What's that?" Colson replied. "You need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

Colson was a nominal Roman Catholic believer at best. He was not at all active. He was a cynic. He was suspicious of people who had religious conversions, and he would have shaken off his friend Philips if it weren't for two things: Philip's life had changed, and he was a friend who was trying to help. Philips gave him a copy of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. Colson agreed to read it.

Colson was touched by Lewis's exploration of the essence of Christianity. He began to see there were answers to some of the faith-oriented questions that he had never really investigated. In the darkness of his own hour, he asked Jesus Christ into his life. He admitted his sin and put his trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and asked him for this extreme makeover.

When Colson was eventually subpoenaed to testify, he was hammered by the questions thrown at him: "Did you know anything about the break-in in advance?" "Did you have anything to do with the cover-up?" To every question he answered, "No." Suspicious that he was hiding behind a religious conversion, they kept asking the questions. Finally, they gave up. Colson said, "Wait a second. I have come to faith in Jesus Christ, and that demands I be honest with you. The answers honestly are 'no' to all of the questions you asked. But you haven't asked the right questions. Let me tell you what I did wrong." Colson then confessed to criminal activities of which they knew nothing, and he went to jail for them.

Evidence of a changed life

Soon after Colson's conviction and subsequent time in prison, I was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had a monthly, prime-time NBC local affiliate television show that probed the ethical, personal, and spiritual dimensions of life. I got permission from management to go to Washington to do one of the very first interviews with Chuck Colson when he got out of prison. I confess I was a cynic about him. With him at the interview was Senator Harold Hughes of Iowa, a recovering alcoholic and vital man of faith. Hughes had been mentoring Colson. I peppered Colson with questions, and he came right back with answers. Finally, I said, "Colson, I'm a Christian. I've been a Christian quite a few years. I resent people who use Jesus to get out of a jam and then drop him and go on with their life. How do we know that this thing is real? Prove it to me." He stopped, thought for a minute, and he said, "John, the only thing I can say is, 'See what I'm doing ten years from now.'"

That was 1974. It's 35 years later, and you know that Chuck Colson went on to start the Prison Fellowship program. You know that in certain states he's been given the opportunity to engage in prison reform, actually running certain prisons in a faith-based mode. The recidivism rate is much lower in those prisons with those prisoners than in the secular incarceration. He works with the spouses and the children of prisoners, and he has a successful writing ministry. Here's a fellow whose life had an extreme makeover.


God's in the business of changing lives. But you know one thing God always does? He always woos you, never overtakes you by force. He urges you to come to him. Jesus even says, "I stand at the door of your life knocking." He wants in, but he won't break the door down. You've got to open it. And he's willing to do an extreme makeover if you want it. The question you and I have to answer is, "Do we want it?" Do we want to be a new creation, spiritually reborn? Do we want salvation, forgiveness, reconciliation? Do we really want eternal life—the God-quality life in this life and the life to come?

To see an outline of Huffman's sermon, click here.

Skill growth: What did this sermon teach you about how to preach? ___________________________________

Exegesis and exposition: Highlight the paragraphs in this sermon that helped you better understand Scripture. How does the sermon model ways you could provide helpful biblical exposition for your hearers? ____________________________________________

Theological Ideas: What biblical principles in this sermon would you like to develop in a sermon? How would you adapt these ideas to reflect your own understanding of Scripture, the Christian life, and the unique message that God is putting on your heart? _______________________

Outline: How would you improve on this outline by changing the wording, or by adding or subtracting points? ______________________

Application: What is the main application of this sermon? What is the main application of the message you sense God wants you to bring to your hearers? ____________________________________________

Illustrations: Which illustrations in this sermon would relate well with your hearers? Which cannot be used with your hearers, but they suggest illustrations that could work with your hearers? ___________________________________________

Credit: Do you plan to use the content of this sermon to a degree that obligates you to give credit? If so, when and how will you do it? (For help on what may require credit, see Plagiarism, Schmagiarism and Stolen Goods: Tempted to Plagiarize.

John Huffman was pastor of the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California, for many years, and is the author of Forgive Us Our Prayers.

Related sermons

The Grieving Heart of God

Divine judgment is sprinkled with the tears of divine pain.

It's Not How You Start; It's How You Finish

Finishing well is just as important as starting well.
Sermon Outline:


All makeover require an outsider sees the possibilities you couldn't see, then that outsider does what you couldn't do, and third, that outsider pays for what you could not afford to pay.

I. Extreme makeovers are God's business.

II. A new creation makeover

III. The forgiveness makeover

IV. The eternal life makeover


The question you and I have to answer is, "Do we want God's extreme makeover?"