One of the unusual perks of living in a tourist town is a special event known as “Shades of the Past.” If you like old, restored cars you’d love this. Each September hundreds of antique and classic car owners gather in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for several days of this car show. Some buy, sell, or trade autos, parts, and stories of restoration.
Some classic cars are like new, and some have been customized to be ‘better’ than their original design.
The greatest restoration project, however, is one of cosmic proportions. God is in the process of redeeming and restoring ruined people and a groaning planet (Rom. 8:18-25). In this study, let’s consider God’s plan of salvation using this theme of restoration.
1. God has restored the believer’s spiritual life.
When we were born into this world, we inherited the spiritual corruption that was passed down from mankind’s first parents. As God had warned, when Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he died that very day. Although he physically lived for 930 years, Adam died spiritually in Eden; he became separated from the life of God. This alienation was further demonstrated by their ejection from Paradise, which prevented their access to the tree of life (Gen. 2:16,17; 3:22-24; 5:5).
So we show up on planet earth with a spiritual birth defect–spiritual separation from God. As the apostle Paul reminded the church in Ephesus, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
The need for salvation is rooted in the tragic fact that everyone naturally needs forgiveness of sin as well as the restoration of spiritual life. This bad news sets the stage for the Good News of the gospel. Christ was sent into this world to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). Through Jesus’ sacrificial death in our place, divine justice was satisfied and holy wrath against sin was resolved. When we come to repentance and faith in His finished work, Christ becomes our personal Lord and Savior–all because of God’s amazing grace! (Luke 19:10; Rom. 3:19-26).
There is no greater miracle of restoration than the action of the Holy Spirit whereby He makes us spiritually new: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Everyone who is restored in Christ has been made alive forever! As Titus 3:4-7 states, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
2. God is restoring the believer’s ‘soulical’ life.
There is an adjective for soul (psuche) in New Testament Greek, but not in English, so we’ll expand our vocabulary to include this new word– ‘soulical.’ As we saw above, the unsaved person’s spirit is not alive to God, so he/she is identified “soulical” in 1 Corinthians 2:14 (translated as the ‘natural’ man). James 3:15 refers to earthy wisdom as ‘sensual’ (literally, ‘soulical’).
After the new birth, God has determined to work in and through us to restore our mind, will, emotions, and affections (the soul) to conform us to the perfect nature of Christ: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” Rom. 8:28, 29).
However, we still have the the sinful tendencies of “the flesh,” an ungodly culture, and a demonic Adversary that all conspire to hinder of growth in love and virtue. “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal. 5:17). What ‘you wish’ in your new spirit is to please the Lord and walk in love (Rom. 7:22; 1 John 3:9).
Our only hope for God to ‘restore our soul’ is to discover that our union with Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has broken the authority of Sin over us (Rom 6:6b, 8:2). As we choose to reckon true our identification with Christ, He will live His triumphant life through us by faith: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14; See Rom. 6:10-14).
Through abiding in Christ and applying God’s Word to our lives, we continue to experience renewal: “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col. 3:9, 10). This process will continue as we cooperate with God, culminating when we see Him face to face.
3. God will restore the believer’s physical life.
One of the consequences of the fall (Rom. 5:12) is the catastrophic plague of physical death that afflicts every descendant of Adam. Although we try to resist and ignore the aging process of aches, pains, grey hair, failing eye sight, etc., such signals remind us of the ultimate appointment that awaits everyone: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
“But God…” A profound phrase in the Bible… “But God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead” (Acts 13:30). And because He conquered death, Christ can assure us of our eternal salvation, which includes the resurrection of the body! As 1 Corinthians 15:20 puts it, “But, in reality, Christ has risen from among the dead, being the first to do so of those who are asleep [physically dead]” (Weymouth trans). In this chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul was defending the scriptural promise of a glorified body, although such a concept was ridiculed by the Greek philosophers of his day (Acts 17:32). Grasp the following predictions of the believer’s restoration to immortal bodily life:
“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound [at Christ’s Second Coming], and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:52-57).
In this world moth and rust corrupt; thieves break in and steal (Matt. 6:19). You have probably experienced this kind of loss first hand. Car owners certainly have! (I have a couple of rust spots on my minivan that I should repair before I sell it…)
Apart from God’s redemption, every other possession and worldly attainment will eventually fade into insignificance of disintegration.
So we have seen in our threefold salvation; God saves, sanctifies, and glorifies His people. This vital hope makes our new birth, spiritual growth, and final resurrection assured and triumphant. As you become committed to God’s grand restoration project, your spiritual blessings will be shades of the future, when God will also remove the curse from our planet and usher in the full glory of His eternal Kingdom.
This week I took pictures to give you a glimpse of some of these cars from yesteryear– “Shades of the Past.” See them at http://www.kodakgallery.com/gfi
Copyright 2009 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Please credit GraceNotebook.com. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.