On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
announces that the Lord is nigh.
Awake and harken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings!
Then cleansed be every life from sin:
make straight the way for God within,
and let us all our hearts prepare
for Christ to come and enter there.
We hail you as our Saviour, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward.
Without your grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.
Stretch forth your hand, our health restore,
and make us rise to fall no more.
O let your face upon us shine
and fill the world with love divine.
All praise to you, eternal Son,
whose advent has our freedom won,
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Spirit, evermore.
This morning I watched the latest video from White Dove Ministries and found myself reflecting on its message (Opening Blind Eyes). What is the cost of restoration? A central part of the Biblical story is the motif of restoration. God creates Man, Man goes astray, and God restores Man. The cost of restoration is the blood of Christ and the repentance of Man. Nothing less will deliver us from the Lake of Fire, where all unrepentant sinners will burn for eternity, alienated from God, and tormented by the sight of the bliss they could have enjoyed, had they recognised Christ as their Redeemer.
As God pours out His Spirit in these last days, to restore the Church, to bring more people into it, and to bring about the promises He gave to Israel, the path remains the same: the bloody trail of crucifixion and repentance. If Christ, the unique Son of God, who was equal to God, and who was without sin, condescended to be baptised by John the Immerser, then so must we.
I believe that, though the darkness is great upon the world, the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon us. He is the Spirit of restoration and renewal, the Spirit of Life, and the Spirit of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. We all have aspects of our lives that we must hand to God or that we must rethink. The aim of our communal life is to grow together to form the image of Jesus Christ, just as Jesus Christ is the image of the Father. This is a work of God, but also requires co-operation on our part with God and with other believers.
We are dependent on God: without Him, we can do nothing. God’s grace is given us not only as endurance, kindness, and boldness, but also as revelation, a clarity of vision that helps us see better. Repentance is an example of this: God shines a light on our sinful thoughts and deeds and we see them as they really are: shameful. Wanting what is better, even if the will is imperfectly formed, we turn from the shameful to the sublime.
Now is a time when we need vision in two senses. Firstly, we need to focus our eyes on God, and not on all the terrible things around us that can sap the strength of our Gospel conviction. Secondly, we need clarity on how to navigate these end times. The basic principles of our faith were handed to us from Christ via the Apostles. The deposit is there, and its main theological and ethical outlines are clear. This fresh vision we require is not about re-laying the foundations of our faith. Rather, to change metaphor, it is about crossing over from the Wilderness into the Promised Land. Entering this rest is what the author of Hebrews was concerned with, and in our own times, that metaphor takes on a global meaning at the transition from this Age into the Millennium.
Lord, we ask you to help us adopt an attitude of humility as we seek and wait for a vision from you that will guide us as we prepare for your glorious return.