Monday, August 18, 2014
Triplets of Salvation: Renew
Periodically all of us have to renew legal documents, whether for employment contracts, passports, or even a driver’s license. In each case, the privilege of working, traveling, or driving has to be re-evaluated and updated to reflect life changes since the previous document.
These may include new responsibilities, training, or benefits related to the job; aging necessitating a new photo on the passport for accurate identification; or the need for corrective lenses, use of a specially equipped vehicle, or the wish to be an organ donor annotated on the license.
But my favorite sense of “renew” is that offered by Merriam‑Webster: “to make (something) new, fresh, or strong again; to make (a promise, vow, etc.) again; to begin (something) again especially with more force or enthusiasm.”
That is the spirit in which couples renew their wedding vows, promising once more to spend the remainder of their lives with one another. They vow again to be faithful to one another, loving and supporting one another in sickness, health, and all life circumstances, until death parts them (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12), if only temporarily in the case of couples who are born-again Christians (John 3:16; 11:25-26). The renewal is not only a repetition of the original vow, but a desire to recapture the joy, vigor, and excitement of newlyweds, yet tempered by the maturity, wisdom and strength of two lives shared together as one (Ephesians 5:22-31).
The church, or body of believers in Jesus Christ, is His bride (Revelation 21:2; Matthew 9:15; 21:1-10), so why should we not periodically renew our vow to love, follow, and obey Him? Sometimes those who feel they have drifted away from God’s will “rededicate their lives to the Lord” at the altar. But even for those who try to “die daily” to our sin nature (1 Corinthians 15:31) so that we can yield to His Spirit, what better way to start each day than by renewing our commitment to Him?
As we have seen, triplets of salvation in Scripture can be described with the terms redeem, restore, and renew, with the terms used literally as well as symbolically. In the literal sense, “renew” in the Bible means to take something up again, such as the kingdom renewed by Samuel at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14), or Asa renewing the Lord’s altar in a land polluted by idols (2 Chronicles 15:8).
In his tirade questioning God, Job says that witnesses are renewed against him, or accusing him again (Job 10:17), but then he remembers his glory days when his bow was renewed in his hand (Job 29:20).
Physical renewal in the sense of regaining the strength of youth (Isaiah 41:1; Lamentations 5:21) can be likened to the lofty flight of an eagle, soaring not in our own power but on the powerful wind of the Holy Spirit. If we wait upon the Lord to renew our strength, we shall mount up with wings as eagles; we shall run and not be weary; and we shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
The Psalmist speaks not only of physical renewal but also of spiritual renewal when he writes (Psalm 103: 2-5) that if we bless God, He will renew our youth like the eagle's, heal all our diseases, and satisfy our mouth with good things. Spiritually, He forgives all our sins; redeems our life from destruction; and crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies.
Paul speaks of spiritual renewal of our inward man, yielded to the Holy Spirit and thus being renewed every day, despite the inevitable effects of aging, disease, and injury to our physical body (2 Corinthians 4:16). We believe, or have faith, because we have read and heard God’s Word and testimonies of believers (v. 13) that God raised Jesus from the dead, that He shall raise believers from the dead, and that He shall present all believers to Himself (v. 14).
We thank God for His abundant grace, to His glory (v. 15). If we focus on eternal things, our temporary physical suffering will bring forth eternal glory (v. 17-18). By keeping our eyes fixed on those things of eternal significance, we can renew our mind in the spiritual sense, which will transform us, so that we are not conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). In so doing, we can present our bodies to God as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
Being renewed in the spirit of our mind (Psalm 51:10) means putting on the new man, which the Holy Spirit creates within us, resembling Him in righteousness and true holiness. To do this, we must take off or lay aside the old man, which is corrupt because of deceitful lusts (Ephesians 4:21-24; Colossians 3: 9-10).
The new man has his identity in Christ, free of national labels, religious customs, or servitude because he is God’s chosen, holy and beloved (v. 11-12). In this state we should renew ourselves and one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, doing all to the glory of the Lord Jesus, God (Spirit) and the Father (v. 16-17).
Not only does God renew His children who are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) with new compassions every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), but He will also renew, restore and regenerate the heavens, the earth, and His Kingdom (Matthew 17:11; 19:28; Mark 9:12; Acts 1:6; 3:21; Ephesians 1:10; Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-5).
Praise God that He renews us as we are born again, that He renews His children physically and spiritually, and that we can eagerly await His renewal of the heavens, earth and His kingdom!
Revelation 21:5 …Behold, I make all things new.
© 2014 Laurie Collett