Read the New Transcript Below
- How does the Gospel renew individuals, churches, and communities?
- How do we develop a more biblical and practical perspective toward personal, church, and community renewal?
Vision for Renewal
Because of the Fall of humanity into sin, things are not the way they’re supposed to be. But the good news is that God is continuing the mission he began at creation to establish his kingdom on earth and rule over it with his people forever.
While no single definition of the gospel can do it justice, the gospel is nothing less than the good news that the Father’s creation, ruined by the Fall, is being redeemed by Christ and restored by the Holy Spirit into the Kingdom of God.
This is the good news that in the first century the Father’s kingdom broke into this world in a way like never before, through the Son and by the power of the Spirit, to renew all things lost in the Fall.
Therefore, the ultimate goal of salvation is not merely to forgive and relocate believers to heaven, but to restore fallen humanity and creation so they will flourish according to God’s design not only today, but on a new earth forever.
When sin entered the world, something terrible happened—not only to people, but to all of creation. Humanity became alienated from God and under his just curse because of our guilt and moral corruption. This alienation and curse then flowed like a polluted river into all our other relationships in life.
For example, our alienation from God flows into our alienation from ourselves when we experience shame and fear. (Gen. 3:10) And it flows into alienation from others, resulting in enmity and a loss of intimacy in all our relationships (Gen. 3:10, 11-13).
Our alienation from God also brings about our broken relationship with creation. Our work is now cursed with toil and vanity. The curse of sin has also spread to our physical bodies, resulting in disease, sickness, and death. (Gen. 3:16-19) All of creation and nature itself is now subject to decay. (Rom. 8:18-25)
But there is good news. God now promises to apply the riches of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ to all the broken relationships of those who believe in him and follow him as Savior and Lord.
Therefore, a biblical vision for renewal is a vision for the restoration of all things lost in humanity and creation because of the Fall. It’s the vision of a day when “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).
We’ll hear King Jesus say, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5). It’s the hymnwriter’s vision of “joy to the world” when all of God’s blessings in Christ will flow “as far as the curse is found.”
Since God is redeeming and renewing all things in Christ, a biblical vision for renewal must include a vision for the renewal of individuals, churches, and communities through the transforming power of the gospel.
Our primary source of power for personal renewal is found in God’s Spirit at work in and through the gospel. Since the word “gospel” is a description of “the person and work of Jesus Christ,” the primary source of power for personal renewal is the work of God’s Holy Spirit through the person and work of Jesus.
So the key to personal renewal is understanding and applying the gospel as God’s ultimate solution to all problems of life, both personal and social. This requires understanding that the gospel brings not just our regeneration but also our transformation into the image of Christ.
The purpose of the gospel is not merely to forgive us, but to change us into true worshippers of God and authentic lovers of people. The same gospel that saves lost sinners also sanctifies devoted followers of Jesus.
However, we often reduce the gospel to “God’s plan of salvation” for lost people to be saved from sin’s penalty, not realizing that it’s also “God’s plan of salvation” for Christians to be saved from sin’s domineering power.
So coming to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith must be more than a one time event by which we are saved from sin’s penalty. Repentance and faith in Christ is also the God-ordained process by which we are to be continually renewed by coming back to Jesus Christ daily, moment by moment, to be saved from sin’s domineering power and have our lives transformed into his image.
A vision for renewal also includes seeing the renewal of churches through the gospel. Our primary source of power for church renewal is also found in God’s Spirit at work in and through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The key to church renewal includes developing a healthy church by strengthening the gospel renewal dynamics that restore people to God, one another, the community, and world.
Restoring people to God includes developing God-centered vision, biblical worship, Christ-centered preaching, and kingdom prayer. Restoring people to one another includes healthy community groups and effective discipleship pathways.
Restoring people to their community includes helping them integrate their faith and work, doing acts of mercy and justice, and effective evangelism. And restoring people to the world includes world missions and developing leaders who will equip others for ongoing renewal.
A vision for renewal includes seeing the renewal of individuals and churches as a means of seeing the renewal of their communities and nations through gospel movements. God means for healthy followers of Jesus and healthy churches to be compelling signs of his kingdom to come when Jesus returns and effective instruments through which his kingdom comes on earth today.
This is why individual renewal must include and lead to church renewal. And church renewal must include and lead to the renewal of communities and eventually the discipling of all “nations.” (Matt 28:19)
Ironically, individual renewal does not normally take place when the primary focus of renewal is only on the individual. And church renewal does not normally take place when the primary focus of renewal is on the church.
God takes great pleasure in manifesting his presence and pouring out his power on individuals and churches who dare to radically align their purposes with his for the sake of the world.
So a vision for gospel renewal must extend beyond a vision for individual and church renewal to include a vision for the renewal of whole communities and nations through gospel renewal movements.
A gospel renewal movement is a supernatural work of God’s Spirit that glorifies his name and advances his kingdom through his church by the power of his gospel in word and deed. It results in the spiritual, social and cultural renewal of individuals, churches, communities, and nations. This is what it means to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19).
We must recapture this biblical vision of the great church leaders and churches in history through which God brought widespread renewal, reformation, and awakening. Then we must unite our prayer with theirs: “Lord pour out your Holy Spirit on us and our churches to bring great renewal so that your name will be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.” Richard Lovelace, writes:
Do not pray only for your own spiritual renewal. Pray for a springtime of the Spirit which will enrich the church and the world, an awakening for which all earlier renewal movements have been only rehearsals.
In our next lesson, we’ll take a deeper look at what the Bible teaches about personal renewal.
Registration closes July 15