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RESTORATION OR CONVERSION?

January 6, 2011

I recently watched a YouTube video of a young man being ‘restored’ to ministry after he had fallen morally. The young man, along with his new ‘wife’, were surrounded by a dozen or so friends and leaders who were all there to release him back into ministry. Several prophetic words were spoken over them to the effect that they were going to be an example of integrity to the Body of Christ around the world etc.

This young man had told his first wife that God had told him he was to marry her. Now, after a couple or more children, he had left her and fallen for one of his younger team members. Within weeks of his divorce he was remarried and was shortly thereafter released to minister again.

Let me state emphatically that I am not opposed to restoration. The prodigal returned home to be given the Father’s kiss of welcome, the first robe, the ring of authority and the sandals for his feet. Heaven erupted into joy at his return and celebrated the day with music, dancing and feasting.

While in Europe recently I was pondering over some of these ‘quick’ restorations. I found myself comparing two similar and yet very different words, restoration and conversion. Are we as the Body of Christ truly restoring our fallen or are we simply converting them?

Suppose I fall in love with an old car and decide to restore it. Let’s say it’s a 1948 Chevy.  After numerous months of work I finally complete the restoration. Everywhere I drive the car people immediately recognize it because it has been restored to its original condition.  Now let’s say I lower the car several inches and replace the rear wheels with huge fourteen inch wide mag wheels. I remove the entire roof and shorten the overall length making what was once a four door into a two door. Finally I remove the hood and install an oversized engine.  Nobody in their right mind would say I had restored the car but they would all agree that it had been converted from its original design into what would now be considered a street rod or hotrod.

To restore means to bring something back to its original condition.   To convert means to change into something entirely different. Thank God for the miracle of conversion whereby we are changed and transformed by the grace of God into God’s new creation.

Are these cases of  ‘restoration’  really what God had in mind when we were told “You that are spiritual restore such a one” ?  William Barclay is considered by many to be one of the finest expositors when it comes to the etymology of Greek and Hebrew words.  Here is what he writes concerning katarizein the Greek word Paul used for restore in Gal.6:1.

In classical Greek it has a wide variety of meanings, all of which can be gathered together under one or other of two heads. (i) It means ‘to adjust, to put in order, to restore’. Hence it is used to pacify a city which is torn by faction; of setting a limb that has been dislocated; of developing certain parts of the body by exercise; of restoring a person to his rightful mind; of reconciling friends who have become estranged. (ii) It is used of equipping or fully furnishing someone or something for some given purpose. Now when we take this and apply it to Christian discipline certain most significant things emerge. (i) It is clear that Christian discipline is never meant to be merely retributory punishment, it is not simply vengeance on the evil-doer. (ii) Discipline is meant to ‘mend’ a man and to ‘repair’ him. It regards him more as something which has been damaged or injured than it does a deliberate sin. (iii) Discipline is meant to ‘equip’  him better to meet his temptations and to meet the battle and the demands of life. It regards him as a man ill and inadequately equipped and it regards the duty of the Christian society as being that of sending him out better able to deal with the things which defeated him.

In the case of the young man there is little question as to whether his marriage was restored – it wasn’t. As to whether his home was restored – just ask his children. It seems the only thing that was restored was his  ‘ministry’ .   But that begs the question, is he now Biblically qualified to teach and preach?  According to God’s Word an elder must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children in subjection etc.  This was clearly not the case here, nor is it in most cases for that matter. When we carelessly sidestep these requirements we send a clear message to the world that we value results more than integrity and calling over character.

Isn’t it time we started restoring those who have fallen instead of converting them?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Christy Fuentes permalink
    May 16, 2011 1:26 pm

    Yes, and they likened his “new wife” to Bathsheba. Who brought forth Solomon. It is repulsive to watch his webcasts that minimizes his sin. It sad so many people follow his ministry and the “prophets” who were in charge of his restoration process. If people have no better understanding of the Bible than this , the Anti-Christ will have no problem deceiving most.
    However, it would seem, if they watched 10 minutes of his crusades they would know he is just a con-man.

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