Four Doors to Renewal

Written by Paul J. Bucknell on March, 11, 2021

Four Doors to Renewal

Each door leads us into a moment of meditation, leading us to appreciate God’s active work in our lives more deeply.

The Awakening of our Souls

The most significant problem hindering revival is the unawareness of our need for the Lord to awaken us. Our souls’ dullness lulls us into spiritual unresponsiveness. We are spiritually alive, so it seems, but we have very little reflecting it. Jesus’ numerous exhortations to His people draw our attention to this caution (Matthew 13:35; 25:5, 26;40, 43, 45).

I will share from God’s Word and my recent experiences how to keep our souls spiritually alert. Will this help awaken us? If we apply it, yes, but it’s much easier to stay attentive and desirous for spiritual things than to awaken someone from a spiritual coma.

Our Heart’s Preparation

There are four doorways, each leading into its room to maximize our attention on one significant spiritual truth theme. Think of a fine arts museum where each room has a distinct motif, such as art from a certain region or by a renowned artist. In this case, we explore each area by paying close attention to what God’s Word teaches.

Can spiritual dullness still come? Of course, it threatens each of us, but spiritual sensitivities come alive by daily entering these doors, catching our attention, and bringing needed correction to our perspectives.

This article’s premise is that the more God’s truth streams into our lives, the stronger and more spiritually alert we will be. The less intake of God’s truth, the less His truth renews our minds, resulting in lessening commitments and ensuring spiritual lethargy.

These four doors follow His truth’s unique paths to stream into our minds, thus causing spiritual renewal. The problem, in most cases, is not that we don’t know the truth but that we forget its importance, value, and presence. By regularly reminding ourselves of biblical truth, the streams of grace can freely flow, touching our fast-hardening hearts.

Identify those times when you have been spiritually inattentive or not immensely grateful for your salvation. Though this is familiar, it’s not normal! Spiritual lethargy causes us to despise and forget God’s truth. By rerouting our attention to God’s truth, the Holy Spirit graciously enriches our souls and minds, eventually affecting our emotions.

Renewal comes as God’s truths pours into our souls.

I hope these four doors become means for you to find refreshment from the Lord. A daily revisit to one or more of these glorious rooms filled with vibrant “truth art” will keep us spiritually alert in these last days. These explorations also enable us to make discoveries that refresh our preaching, prayer, and teaching ministries.

Here are the names of the four doors.
Like in real life, when a door seems locked or stuck, we can often use another, allowing us to see why the first door wouldn’t open. Don’t get discouraged; persist!

  • Physical Life
  • Spiritual Life
  • Life’s Purpose
  • Christ’s Work

First Door : Physical Life

Opening the first door, we begin to study our physical lives. I admit that this is the most hidden truth from my life, even though it is the most obvious.

To help me gain perspective on my physical life, I think of what my “life” would be without God’s breath of life. I would be physically dead. God’s life-giving breath sustains our physical bodies, though physical death surrounds us. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). God animates man, keeping him breathing and alive. The instant that breath departs from any of us, our bodies begin to decompose.

By entering this first door, I contemplate the gift of life and God’s sustaining power. Worship begins with the acknowledgment that I owe all to God. His special creation of my life, and the lives of all, making me either male or female, able to see, hear, eat, move, breathe, etc., all lead to increased appreciation of how He has made me a unique individual. The mind, the soul part of me that enables me to think, assess what others say, and make objective decisions, is part of this life, made in God’s image.

Accompanying our bodies’ awesome design comes the startling truth of how dependent I am on God. We cannot start life or maintain it but only tweak its system—despite the many advances in modern science. These thoughts remind me not to take even one day for granted and strip off any self-pride or bold confidence in my short-lived life. I need God to breathe and function.

The physical sabbath, Jesus says, purposely rests our physical bodies so that we can step back from the busyness and ponder life and our Creator’s presence (Mark 2:27).

This mindset releases a refreshing view of God’s work which actively renews my life. My life becomes a testimony of His willingness to work in me (cf. John 3:21) as well as His purpose for my life, which we will address later. The Spirit uses such thoughts, prompting me to give thanks to Him, which becomes praises from the heart. This exploration into our physical lives, then, becomes one door by which we answer the long-sought question, “How do we praise God even we don’t feel like it?”

Even when my body is weak, sick, or faces tensions, I can step further through this doorway, remembering that the life He gives me is associated with my need for healing. Without that life flow, health, rejuvenation, and my life quickly departs and faces death’s end. It’s here we find that the Lord is Your Healer, not drugs or exercise programs (though I am not criticizing their use).

I am amazed to ponder on these elementary truths because I was never taught to think of my life’s dependence on God. There remains no way to escape the facts of life (note: in my mind, evolution and the denial of God’s creation are not at all viable notions). Secularism has ripped this consciousness from us, even from the church (Rom 1:20). However, the welfare of my body and life is dependent upon the Lord. It’s this discovery that directs a floodlight at my “boastful pride of life,” making it look ugly, perverted, and arrogant.

16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:16-17).

This foundational mindset brings much-needed light to lead me out of the spiritual fog by spotting faulty conclusions and doubts which dull my soul. Truth-like light shines and eliminates the shades of grey which often confuse us, pointing me into the brightness of God’s truths as Creator (Eph. 5:8-13).

As the Spirit renews my mind with truths about my fantastic body and God-given life, I am not only filled with delight for my body and mind but can excitedly rededicate my whole body and existence to Him. The Lord made me; my body is His. I commit myself to work for His purposes for my life. How amazing!

By entering and pondering upon all the sights in this room of life, my mind discovers extraordinary delight in a God who made and sustains me.

Spiritual alertness develops when we acknowledge God’s special gift of life and its accompanying healing.

Second Door: Spiritual Life

Opening the second door, we peer at our spiritual lives. There is some confusion between physical life and spiritual life. The Gospel of John distinguishes between the existence of physical life and spiritual life, spiritual communion with God.

9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him” (John 1:1-10).

The world was made through Him, Christ, and exists by Him. This is the physical life. Spiritual life, in its absence, is noted by the words, “But it did not know Him.” Their bodies live, yet their souls were disconnected from God. As John goes on, he speaks about spiritual life given to “those who believe in His name” and are “born of God” (John 1:13). Jesus further differentiates physical and spiritual life in John 3 in His discussion with Nicodemus.

To spur my meditations on spiritual life, I must stare at my own casket. Paul emphasizes mankind’s spiritual unresponsiveness and deadness toward God apart from Christ (Ephesians 2:1-3). As I think on that, I step up my appreciation of God’s hand in restoring my relationship with Him. I was spiritually unresponsive.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins”

(Eph 2:1).

Do you remember when you were saved? I do. I instantly began to pray and speak to God, not because I was any better than before. The Spirit regenerated my soul, and I repented from my sins, bringing an absolute and beautiful peace with God through the forgiveness of sin.

We need to remind ourselves regularly what we were like before Christ saved us. I remember clearly the day and events that spawned my new life in Christ, so it is easier for me to reflect on my salvation. There is a very clear before and after. Before, I could not tolerate reading the Bible, but after salvation, I couldn’t take my hands off the Bible! Before, I used curse words regularly; after, they were gone. The change might not be so evident for those brought up in a healthy Christian family and believed when a youngster, but even without such a startling view of our personal salvation, we equally need to meditate on what our lives might look like without Christ. This contrast heightens our appreciation of our new life (spiritual) in Christ.

The best way to remember our lives without Christ is to consider what kinds of temptations you have fallen. The expressions of our old nature become the hallmark of our dead spiritual lives. Without spiritual life affecting us, we live for our self-serving interests. When we forget our salvation, the newness of our spiritual rebirth, our interests in the things of God, etc., can fade away from the forefront of our minds. It’s so easy for our hearts to get dull to the things of the Lord and become spiritually unresponsive.

These insights into our spiritual birth result from Christ’s life within us, the Spirit of Christ now living in us (Rom 8:1). Because He caused us to come alive in Christ (Eph 2:5), we have faith in God and believe in His Words. God amazingly comforts, guides, heals, and speaks to us. We can then delight further in His patient work with us as His beloved children.

This second door enables us to refocus on the joy of knowing God’s choice of us (John 6:37, 39-40) in Christ daily. We become eager to have the Spirit of Christ fill and lead us. Without Christ, we are spiritually dead, but in Christ, we have life eternal!

Spiritual alertness further deepens when we remember the amazing way God worked in us to birth us into His spiritual family, in contrast to what we would be like without Him.

Third Door: Life’s Purpose

Opening the third door of life purpose, the Holy Spirit leads us into a room that tears off another veneer that causes spiritual dullness. Life purpose naturally follows the gift of life. Conception produces life; life brings purpose. No creature is an accident; its DNA code so cleverly made and packaged testifies to its design.

Each individual’s awareness and desires lead him on a quest to know for what purpose he was made. This is the reason people attach so much importance to life’s significance. The ability to search for meaning stems from being made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Even those who deny God, still seek to impress others and leave a legacy that follows them.

Having physical life, we engage in a pursuit to know why we live. We are not animated blobs existing without a purpose. Humanity desperately searches for the meaning of life. People might not find purpose without the light of spiritual life, but we can be sure that God has His purposes for all of us (John 1:5).

Ignorance of God’s part in their lives, causes many to choose to live for the pride of wealth and success, while others live for sensual satisfaction. The more adamantly our world rejects God, the more they follow their consuming passions, which in time destroy them (Rom 1:19-28). They look desperately to find meaning in life apart from God but become overwhelmed with their consuming desires—which is opposite to the purpose of loving others. Being made in God’s image, man, even apart from Christ, seeks to discover God’s purposes for him.

Mankind does a good job pretending all is well, living in the superficialities of life, but many are wretched, filled with anxiety, fear, or bitterness. A falling stock market, personal conflict, drastic mood changes, or loss of self-confidence stun, shake and alert us to our unrealized pursuits.

Our bodies without purpose and meaning become useless! This is one main reason many commit suicide. Without purpose or significance, people can’t keep staring at life’s meaninglessness. Death seems better than a purposeless life.

I remember one teacher, Bill Gothard, who spoke about how he told juvenile delinquents about their names’ meaning. By exploring these meanings, He often helped them recover some existential meaning and direction for their lives.

The joy of believers brightly shines as they join together, finding instant adoption as children into God’s family. Sure, at first we don’t understand this underlying sense of peace and joy, but upon learning of His love and acceptance of love in Christ, we can trust Him with questions on the purpose of our lives.

If physical life, leads us to search for meaning, discovering spiritual life even more so reminds us of God’s good purposes for our lives as His children. Paul attempts to summarize the excellence of this compelling truth, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” in Ephesians 3:14-19.

The richness of life abounds when we discover for what reasons God has marvelously fashioned and saved us. We are important to Him—deeply loved, knowing Christ died for us. And so Christians seek to know and follow God’s will for their lives.

19We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:19-20).

As our trust in Him grows, we gradually open our lives to find His larger purposes. Our physical and spiritual lives are wonderfully bound together in God’s eternal plan. Confidence in His plan grows as we see His love for us in light of His greater redemptive plan. Past fears and wrong interpretations of life’s circumstances might have gotten us off track, but He truly shepherds us as His sheep. By disengaging from the empty pursuits of the past, we can dismiss them as not having any significance for our lives, especially compared to God’s glorious purposes in Christ.

It’s better not to get caught up thinking that our lives are summarized by one large purpose—God’s will. Our lives are better understood and worked out when we consciously seek His purpose daily. However, when looking back, we will undoubtedly gain a better viewpoint of why God has brought us through that challenging experience or our need to suffer a particular trial.

Let us fully delight and prayerfully engage in His purpose for our lives. Like a blossom unfolds before the bright sun, so we daily open our lives before Him, eagerly entertaining His purposes so that we might glorify Him (Eph. 3:20-21).

Meditation on His purposes for us then redirect us to God’s purposes for our lives, guarding us from wasting our time and refining our understanding. Jesus occupied Himself with seeking God’s will, and though having to bear the cross ahead, He never forgot to prepare Himself to live each day for His Father’s will.

“Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work”” (John 4:34).

Spiritual alertness blossoms when we see God accomplish His works through our lives, fulfilling His purposes in our lives.

Fourth Door: Christ’s Work

One last door waits for us to enter and explore—Christ’s redemptive work. There is no end to the exploration found here, a place where angels long to gaze and ponder. The angels stand on the outside of God’s redemptive plan, while we, His children, are the very objects of God’s great mercy (Heb 2:16).

Although this doorway might appear to be the same as the gift of our spiritual lives, we turn in another direction. Before, we focused on having or not having spiritual life—its existence, and the wonderful changes that come with gaining spiritual life. This fourth doorway, however, causes us to stare at God’s eternal plan of redemption. Check out my book that develops biblical themes of redemption throughout the Bible: Redemption Through the Scriptures: Gaining a Clearer Picture of Christ and His Saving Work.

Our minds turn to the plain, oft-needed repeated observation that we, in no way, deserve salvation. There was, and is, no inherent goodness in us that calls or demands God to adopt us as His children and spare us from the wrath we deserved.

It’s not only right that we think of ourselves as poor and desolate but as reviling and rebellious. No matter how others might comment on how good a person we are, we are disgusted with ourselves as sinners. The true Christian’s experience is opposite to the “religious” who assume and pretend righteousness. All have fallen short of God’s glory—rejected His purpose for our lives, and thus live under His wrath (John 3:36).

When we focus on our unworthiness of salvation (Mat 5:3), God’s great mercy in Christ shines forth. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Eph 2:4).

God’s redemptive plan is so broad that whichever way we turn, we are astonished at the richness of God’s mercy. Dare to daily ponder the incredible truths embedded in God’s eternal plan and in earth’s history of time. Like Jacob, God forechose us in Christ before our births (Eph 1:4). Such meditations are not to be fought or frowned upon, but wonderingly entertained.

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes (John 5:21).

Of course, these thoughts can make us feel quite vulnerable, thinking that apart from His choice of us and securing us in Christ on the cross and His resurrection, we would have no hope. Some tremble at this thought so that they dare not expose their thoughts, but there are too many scriptures confirming these underlying truths and causing us to praise God.

Begin each day thinking of, not only of our unworthiness, but also of God’s perfect plan of sending His Son to die for us sinners, drawing us close to Him, our hearts and minds renewed in Christ, and bringing glowing thoughts of God’s love, power, and wisdom (Eph 3:14-19).

God not only created us but redeemed us; we not only have physical life but spiritual life! God’s love has forever sealed us to Himself, reminding us of the prime purpose for the universe, to bring praise to His Name. He displayed His grand, eternal, never-ending mercy upon us meager and unworthy vessels. But the story doesn’t stop with He has already done but continues on as He daily intercedes for us, pouring forth further grace upon our lives.

Despite the fiery plans against God’s people, we are safely sealed in His hands, allowing a deep inner joy to overflow in our inner lives.

Conclusion

We cannot know of the greatest blessings of God until we regularly view how needy and desperate we all are. Each doorway leads us into rooms where we can further explore life in God’s presence, thus wonderfully refreshing our minds and throwing off scales of dullness, excitingly preparing us for each day’s challenges and opportunities.

Questions on our life’s purpose follow life.

Discussion Questions for the Four Doors to Renewal

  1. Where do the four doors generally lead?
  2. Identify times when you are spiritually inattentive or not incredibly grateful for your salvation.
  3. Why is the analogy of a door used?
  4. Describe where the first door leads. What are your first thoughts when considering your life as something He maintains? How might these thoughts prepare us for our new day?
  5. Describe where the second door leads. What are your first thoughts? How might these thoughts prepare us for our new day?
  6. Describe where the third door leads. What are your first thoughts when you contemplate His purpose for your life? How might these thoughts prepare us for this day?
  7. Describe where the fourth door leads. What are your first thoughts when considering the depth of God’s love, mercy, and grace poured out on you and others? How might these thoughts prepare you for this day?
  8. Have you, at times, entered into each of these rooms or spheres of meditation? Explain.
  9. Describe any problems or hangups that keep you from being overwhelmed with God’s goodness in any one sphere of meditation.
  10. Make a prayer, seeking God to help you grow in your knowing Him and the excellencies of Christ.



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