Saturday, October 14, 2017

Triplets of Salvation: Restore

Photo by mbboston 2009
As I am slowly recovering from my illness by God's grace, the word "restore" comes to mind for the physical, mental and spiritual healing only God can provide. Only in Him can we be made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), once we are saved by our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Hoping my readers enjoy this repost from the archives on the topic "restore."

In the comedy movie Bean, Rowan Atkinson plays a bumbling security guard assigned to protect the portrait of Whistler's Mother, bought by a museum for $50 million. When Bean is alone with the masterpiece for a few moments, he accidentally sneezes on the painting and then wipes it with his handkerchief, not realizing that it is soaked in ink from a pen that broke in his pocket. Things go from bad to disastrous as the ink stains the portrait; Bean tries to remove the stain with lacquer thinner, which dissolves Whistler’s mother’s face; and Bean “restores” it by drawing a cartoon face on the canvas.

In reality, the skill of fine art restoration is a highly technical, painstaking and detailed process requiring expertise, knowledge, and artistry. Man’s attempts at restoring broken lives, relationships and situations can be as clumsy as those of Bean unless they are guided by the Holy Spirit. Only God is the master Restorer, or Potter (Jeremiah 18:4; Isaiah 64:8; 29:6; Romans 9:21) who can reassemble the broken shards of our lives into a unified whole, remove the stain of sin from the canvas of our soul, and fill the empty spaces with an even better design than the one that was lost.

As we saw previously, three key words for salvation are redeem, restore, and renew.  Each of these is described in patterns of three in the Scripture, echoing God’s triune nature,

In the literal sense of the word, it may be necessary to restore physical property (Genesis 42:25,28; Leviticus 6:4,5; 25:27,28; Judges 11:13;17:3; etc.), animals (Exodus 22:1,4; Leviticus 24:21; Deuteronomy 22:1-2; 28:31; etc.), or persons (2 Kings 8:1,5; Isaiah 57:18; Matthew 12:13; Mark 3:5; 8:25, etc.) that are damaged, stolen or killed. Restoration may involve being repaired, replaced, or reunited with the rightful owner, spouse, or employer.

At God’s instruction, the pagan king Abimelech restored Sarah to Abraham as his wife and also gave him sheep, oxen and servants to make up for him desiring her, not knowing she was married to Abraham (Genesis 20:7,14).
Naomi lost her sons to starvation in the famine, but God restored to her, through her daughter-in-law Ruth, descendants who would not only bring new purpose to her life but who would lead to the blood line of Jesus Christ Himself! (Ruth 4:13-22)

When Joseph was imprisoned along with Pharaoh’s butler and baker (three prisoners), he correctly interpreted the butler’s dream of three budding branches on the vine, from which the butler plucked the grapes, pressed them into a cup, and gave the cup to Pharaoh (Genesis 40:11,12). Joseph accurately predicted that in three days, Pharaoh would restore the butler to his former position, as described in three verses using the word “restore” (Genesis 40:13, 21;41:13).

Joseph asked the butler to remember him when he was released, to be kind to him, and to mention him to Pharaoh so that Joseph would also be released (Genesis 40:14). Joseph also correctly interpreted the baker’s dream of three white baskets on his head filled with baked goods eaten up by birds to mean that in three days, Pharaoh would behead the baker, hang his body on a tree, and allow the birds to eat his flesh (Genesis 40:16-20). What a dark contrast to the butler’s dream foretelling restoration!

Moving from the physical to the spiritual realm, there are three main uses of the word "restore" as it applies to spiritual restoration: personal restoration of the believer by God; restoration of other believers by children of God led by the Holy Spirit; and restoration of God’s creation by Himself at the end of the age.

In the Shepherd’s Psalm (Psalm 23), David praises God for restoring his the midst of difficulties and trials, which involves God’s provision of green pastures (physical sustenance), still waters (spiritual peace), and paths of righteousness (deliverance from sin; v. 2,3).  Despite the dangers of death, evil, and enemies (v. 4,5), David thanks God for preparing a feast for him, anointing his head with oil, and filling his cup to overflowing (v. 5). He looks forward to God’s ongoing blessings of goodness, mercy and eternal life (v.6)

In Psalm 51, David begs God to restore to him the joy of his salvation (v.:12) as he repents of sinning wickedly against God in adultery with Bathsheba, deceit in attempts to cover his sins, and ultimately murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 11). This type of spiritual restoration involves God looking away from our sins, blotting out our sins (Psalm 51:9), and not rejecting us because of our sins (v. 11). Once this cleansingphase of restoration occurs, God can complete the process by creating a clean heart in us, renewing a right spirit within us (v.10), and upholding us with His spirit (v. 12).

The second type of spiritual restoration refers to born-again (John 3:3-8), mature believers restoring fellow Christians who have fallen into habitual sin, which is possible only through Holy Spirit guidance. This process has three goals: bearing one another's burdens, teaching one another from the Word, and doing good to everyone, but especially to fellow believers (Galatians 6:2,6.10).

However, Paul gives three warnings concerning this. Firstly, only spiritual Christians living for God, and not carnal Christians led primarily by their sin nature (Romans 7:15-25; 8:1-17), should attempt this process. Secondly, they must correct the fallen Christian in meekness and humility, not committing the sin of pride with a “holier-than-thou” attitude. Third, they must avoid temptation themselves, remembering the ever-present sin nature that may make it easier for a carnal Christian to pull a spiritual Christian into his own wayward lifestyle or habit than for the spiritual Christian to restore the backslider (Galatians 6:1,2).

Paul expands on these three warnings regarding restoration of other believers by counseling the one attempting the restoring not to think too highly of himself (v.3), not to sow to his own flesh (v.8), and not to get tired and give up on helping others (v.9). For those following Paul’s advice in restoring fellow believers, three rewards await: eternal life (v.8), spiritual harvest (v.9), and being a new creature glorying only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.15). They will be blessed with God’s peace, mercy (v.16) and grace (v.18).

The third type of restoration in the symbolic sense refers to God’s plan for His creation at the end of the age. May we trust God to restore us from sin and to joy in Him, enabling us to encourage and guide one another!
© 2014 Laurie Collett


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Although this, as you say, is a re-post, I think this is the first time I come across this article. Yes, I think Rowan Atkinson was brilliant in all his comical scenes. I have watched most of them, including the museum portrait scene.
As for for the subject of restoration, only today I was challenged over a specific matter by someone much younger than myself. Now normally I don't mind correction, for I wish to remain teachable to our congregation. When I perceived that he was actually making judgement, and I mentioned this to him, he got rather stroppy and declared that he won't have anything to do with me if I don't accept his correction. I then pointed out that there is a difference between correcting in a meek and gentle manner, and passing judgement as if from a lofty level. Fortunately, he saw my point and all ended well.
An excellent post about the Triune formula of restoration. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thank you for sharing your testimony. It reminds me of when I approached a mentor about her opinion over what had happened at a ladies' function. The speaker, who was married to a prominent evangelist, told in considerable detail of how she had felt ignored by her husband to the point that she hated him and had an extramarital affair, although now he had forgiven her and they were continuing in their marriage and ministry together. Some women accepted this openly as a testimony of God's mercy, grace, and restoration, but I was troubled by a public revelation of what seemed to be destructive to the ministry this couple had shared. I was particularly troubled since there were many visitors from other churches, and even young girls present, and I feared that the story was almost like glorifying the transgression. Had she merely said that their marriage encountered a great obstacle, and yet God restored their marriage and ministry, I felt that would have sufficed. But when I approached my mentor with this, she accused me of being judgmental, to the point that I felt she was judging me for being judgmental! Anyway, we are still good friends.
Praise God that no matter what our conflicts with one another, He is in the restoring business!
Thanks as always for sharing your insights and encouragement.
God bless,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Greast post, Laurie.

Unfortunately, many try to restore people using psychological principles rather than seeking God's forgiveness and guidance. The result is often worse than the original problem. As you pointed out our efforts at restoration need to be made by spiritual people who can put away their pride and are aware of their own tendency to sin.

Laurie Collett said...

Great point, Donald! Even so-called Christian counselors can make matters worse if they use psychology rather than Biblical wisdom. We know of a couple who sought "Christian" marital counseling; soon the counselor suggested separate sessions with each spouse, and he ended up having an affair with the wife and encouraging her to leave her husband, which she did, only to have the counselor end their affair. Biblical counseling needs to be done in humility and constantly seeking God's face for wisdom and His Spirit to refrain from sin.
God bless,

Aritha said...

Thank you!

Laurie Collett said...

You're very welcome! God bless.