Lessons on Renewal
By James Broad, first printed in “The Compass”, May 1987
Renewal is something God does at conversion (Titus 3:5). Renewal is something that is also to happen on a daily basis; something we are to participate in (Ephesians 4:22-24). Renewal is something which Jesus Christ is working at continually within us (Ephesians 5:25-27).
In Revelation, Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church is speaking to the churches, encouraging, disciplining, warning . . . renewing the churches.
Renewed Perspective of God (Rev. 1)
The author was John the Apostle. His personal circumstances were very bad, exiled to Patmos, a large clump of volcanic rock. The religious climate was very bad. The Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96 A.D.) went furthest in claiming divinity. We can fall into the trap of judging God by our circumstances, rather than our circumstances by God.
J. Oswald Sanders, in “Problems of Christian Discipleship”, identifies four causes of wrong stress and strain:
- a sense of inadequacy
- an attitude of anxiety
- a condition of fear
- a wrong attitude to others
These lead to physical disabilities, mental turmoil and spiritual depression. The cure out of this prison house is a rediscovery of God together with recognition of self. We need to rediscover God as El Shaddai, God all-sufficient, and identify self in the centre as the problem.
A renewed perspective is to see things as they really are—God in the centre, and we His servants and children, very dependent on Him and His unchanging love and provision.
In Revelation 1:17 John’s vision is a terrifying one of absolute truth and purity. Yet the hand that reaches out to him is the hand that touched a leper, held a child, had a nail driven through it. Jesus is both all-powerful and all-loving. In Acts 17 we read that God gives life and breath to everything. God has every situation in hand. Where are you feeling the pressure these days? Where are circumstances hitting you? In 2 Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat demonstrates what to do. First he turns to God and acknowledges who He is, the attributes relevant to his circumstances. Secondly, he recounts before God what He has done in the past. Finally, he totally surrenders himself to God in the situation.
Renewed in Love (Rev. 2:1-7)
In verse 2 we see that Jesus knows absolutely, with total knowledge, our toil and patient endurance. He endorses the church’s strong adherence to truth and reaction to sin. However, they have allowed their love for God and one another to fade. So often love for something else comes in; this can be the work of God, family, lifestyle, which we come to love more than God.
The remedy in verse 5 is very practical and specific. First remember from what you have fallen, go back to where you went wrong. It is not what others don’t do now, but what I don’t do. Secondly, repent, that is, a change of heart and mind both toward God and toward sin. Sin can be defined as the sinner’s decision that there is something better for him than the will of God. Repentance is to recognise that the will of God is better for me than anything else. Finally, renew. Do the works you did at first. Change your actions, stick to it even if it feels unnatural at first and allow it to become part of your life.
In summary, we need to be renewed in our perspective of God, that He is central, and renewed in our love for God and one another.