with Jeremy Westcott –
Let’s celebrate God! He lavished every blessing heaven has upon us in Christ! He associated us in Christ before the fall of the world! Jesus is God’s mind made up about us! He always knew in his love that he would present us again face-to-face before him in blameless innocence. God found us in Christ before he lost us in Adam! (Eph 1:3-4 Mirror Bible).
God lavished His blessing upon mankind, from the very beginning, to empower us to fulfil the plans he has always had for us. He had a plan, before ever things went wrong, to ensure that His original intention would be fulfilled. He always knew that we would appear before Him righteous – in what Francois Du Toit calls ‘face-to-face blameless innocence’.
To be ‘blamelessly innocent’ it must be as if we never did anything wrong. Is that how we think of ourselves? Or are we still thinking of ourselves from the perspective of the history of our life, all the things we may have done in our life that we are ashamed of, all the things that were not quite aligned with what God wanted us to do? He does not look at it like that! He found us in Christ before He ever lost us in Adam. I love that thought. Already, God was looking to restore everything, even before we messed it up. He has already made a plan for us to be face to face before Him, blamelessly innocent.
He is the architect of our design; his heart dream realized our coming of age in Christ. His grace-plan is to be celebrated: he greatly endeared us and highly favoured us in Christ. His love for his Son is his love for us (Eph 1:5-6 Mirror Bible).
If there is going to be a restoration, and He is the original architect, then surely that restoration will be in accordance with His original design. He had a dream in His heart, and He is going to bring that dream to fruition. This is cause for celebration! And it is grace, His divine enabling power, which causes that to come about.
The secret is out! His cherished love dream now unfolds in front of our very eyes. In the economy of the fullness of time, everything culminates in Christ. All that is in heaven and all that is on earth is reconciled in him… This is how we fit into God’s picture… (Eph 1:9,11 Mirror Bible).
Restoration is unfolding before us. It is not just an event that will happen some time in the future, but a process that is already in motion; a process in which we have a part to play as maturing sons. There is an element of past, present and future in all of this. If everything on earth and everything in heaven is reconciled, and reconciliation is restoration of relationship, and we are ministers of reconciliation, then can we begin to see how we fit into this picture?
Repent and return
Peter, leading up to his mention of the restoration of all things on the day of Pentecost, says:
“Therefore repent and return, so that the sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you…” (Acts 3:19-20).
In reality, he is already talking about restoration. Repentance, we know, has nothing to do with being sorry enough about something to cause God to respond, but everything to do with getting God’s perspective on our situation and agreeing with how He thinks about us. And we have seen what God’s perspective is: blameless innocence.
Returning has to do with coming back to our original identity and purpose. The sin is the loss of that identity, our losing sight of the original image of God within us, a loss which has caused us to act in ways which have damaged both ourselves and others. Our whole fallen identity has been blotted out and wiped away; every accusation against us nailed to the cross.
‘Refreshing’ is the Greek word ‘anapsyxis‘, which means a breathing space(1), an opportunity to catch your breath and breathe easily again. God breathed life into Adam in a face to face encounter, and he became a living being. In this promised refreshing, God is looking to breathe the breath of life into us again:
He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).
Jesus breathed on them; this was a face to face encounter in which the refreshing breath of God was imparted to the disciples after his resurrection. Continually refreshed in His presence, we will never need to try to draw from another source.
More than that, as Bill Johnson has remarked, “Whenever God restores something, He restores it to a place greater than it was before.”(2) Restoring our status as living beings is only the precursor to our being able to mature into the godlike beings which, as sons of God, He always intended us to be. He does not seek to restore us only to what we were on earth, but to what we were in the heart of God; in the ‘what was’, outside of time and space.
…and the God of the peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved unblameably in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:23 YLT).
Young’s Literal Translation has it right. Most translations say ‘at the coming’ of our Lord Jesus Christ, but that Greek word ‘parousia‘ is really rooted in ‘presence’. If you are only looking to be sanctified and without blame sometime in the future when Jesus returns, then you will likely miss out on the potential of it happening now. But if you see it as the ‘presence’ of the Lord which brings refreshing as He breathes into us and restores us on a moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath basis, then you can enjoy that as a present experience, here and now. Because …you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11, emphasis mine).
(1) Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, via biblehub.com
(2) Hosting The Presence: Unveiling Heaven’s Agenda (Bill Johnson; Destiny Image, 2012)
Soundtrack: Great Are You Lord – All Sons and Daughters
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only
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