March 14, 2019

Three Stages of Restoration

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End….’”Revelation 21:1-6 (NIV)

There are moments in our lives that are filled with inexpressible joy, peace and love.  We treasure those moments and live for them.  There are also moments in life that are ugly, devastating and painful – death, loss, betrayal and brokenness.  The beauty is mixed with ugliness in our fallen world because this human race is a broken place.  From the beginning, God planned a redeemer, One who would come to restore all things!  The One who created us knew our need for restoration and provided such a redeemer.  He is pictured in the love story of Ruth as the Kinsman Redeemer where the Bible says,

“He shall be to you a restorer of life….” Ruth 4:15 (NRSV)

God’s restoration process falls in three stages:

Stage 1:  Initial Restoration – Salvation

When man fell in the garden and sin separated us from our Creator, God promised to send a Savior to restore that relationship with God that was lost.  This initial restoration culminated at the cross where Jesus paid the price for our sin to reconcile us back to God.  In Christ, our brokenness finds healing and wholeness.  Major W. Ian Thomas put it like this: “He bore our sins in His own body on the tree.  He suffered, the just for the unjust.  Then He rose again from the dead, because His reason for dying was to allow us to share His resurrection. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us.  His presence puts God back into the man.  He came that we might have Life – God’s Life.”

Stage 2: Restoration Process

Having been initially restored by faith in Christ, we begin the process of living a new life – His life, the life He lived then, lived now by Him in us!  In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul describes it like this:

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

We learn a new walk, a new talk, a new desire.  God changes the way we think by renewing our minds and transforms us from the inside out. God is maturing us to conform us to the very image of His Son.  He is restoring our soul through our identification with Christ. 

In his book, The Indwelling Life of Christ, Thomas adds, “In the years leading up to His death, the life Jesus lived was sinless, complete, perfect, and beautiful. Was that then all Jesus came to do – simply to give us a beautiful example to emulate?  Was he saying, ‘Keep your eyes on Me and do your best to follow along?’  No. That would have been a message of futility. It could bring us nothing but despair.  It is not a matter of our doing our best for Him, but of Christ being His best in us.  All that His is in all that we are!  We can never have more … and need never enjoy less.  Just receive and say, ‘Thank You!’  This is the good news that is ours to tell.” 

Stage 3:  Final Restoration

The revelator, John, writes of the final restoration.  Like most books, when you jump to the last chapters, you see how it all ends.  In the end, we win!  God triumphs over evil and He restores all things!  In Revelation 21:5, the Bible records the promise:

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (NIV)

I love that phrase, “I am making everything new!”  Just reading that gives me hope!  He didn’t say He was making all new stuff, but He is taking all that He has made, all the things that were broken and restoring them as new!  This is a game changer!  It changes my perspective in the here and now and gives me hope!  Hope to cope with loss and pain, disappointment and brokenness.  In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that, if it were not for this future and final restoration of all things, we would have no hope.  But, because of the promise of final restoration, we have a hope that is greater than all our hurt.  It is the great restoration of all God’s creation!  In Hebrews 6:18c-19, the Message paraphrases it like this: 

“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline….” 

This hope shines brighter than our darkest night!  It is our lifeline that holds us when we’ve lost our grip!  A new day is coming where there will be no more pain! No more sickness! No more death!  No more crying!  This is your destiny!  You were made to be restored!  Grab hold of that promised hope and never let go!  We’ll look at three ways to do that tomorrow.