Restoration through wholeness in Christ

By Kempton Turner

Restoration is a beautiful thing — whether it be a house or a heart. If you take the word ‘restoration’ and break it down, you have re which means “again,” and store which means to put back into align- ment with its original purpose. To restore is to bring back a soul, a person, an environment, or a community to its originally intended plan of peace and wholeness with the Creator God.

Several years ago, God set into motion a restoration plan that I never expected. He sent me back home, to East St. Louis, Illinois, to plant a church. In East St. Louis, we ultimately want to see broken, sinful humans, like myself, restored to a right relationship with God by turning from sin and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for free and full forgiveness. From that outflow, we believe we will see the gospel transform the community in such a way that multitudes of lives are rescued from God’s wrath and welcomed into God’s peace and love.

Emotional and spiritual healing

Closely related to the concept of restoration, healing is a common theme in Scripture. If you look at the Hebrew word shalom — meaning peace and wholeness — you begin to see the restorative, holistic beauty of the gospel. The lasting wholeness and healing this world longs for, only comes through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:24 says: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

On the cross, Jesus did not just die to bring us to heaven, but to also bring heaven to us, by healing our broken hearts. Christ offers real healing from even our deepest cuts. Because God is perfect in love and power, He does not partially rescue and restore His redeemed people. He restores us completely, from the inside out. He takes both the spiritual and emotional aspects of our hurt and does a complete overhaul to restore even the pieces we thought were unredeemable.

Words like peace, joy and love — the fruit of the Spirit — capture God’s heart to restore our spiritual and emotional wellbeing. When weary souls truly encounter this kind of love, joy, and peace offered in the gospel, inward transformation begins as God gradually restores the whole person, not just parts.

The ultimate purpose of restoration

Restoration is an attractive topic and theme, but ultimately, it’s all about who we’re restored to. Jesus didn’t come just to create a beautiful word or idea called restoration. He came to restore us back to God (1 Pet. 3:18). God is the Healer and Soul-satisfier to whom Jesus came to restore our souls. Jesus has brought those redeemed by His blood to a delicious bu et of living soul food — loaded with living bread and living water. And now we get to invite starving souls to taste and see that the Lord is good (John 6:35)! And it should be our great joy to invite all people — from our neighbors to the nations — to this healing and holy feast.

Gospel restoration is contagious, because when you have been loved, rescued, healed, restored, and satisfied in the deepest places of your soul, it compels you to invite others into it! I want to invite everyone to experience this Jesus. The Good Shepherd who “restores my soul” (Ps. 23:3) in the fullest, deepest, sweetest sense of the word. The way He has satisfied my heart compels me to invite others to praise and exalt the Lord with me!

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
(Ps. 34:1-3)

In East St. Louis we long for the Lord to holistically redeem and restore a broken city back to Christ. By God’s grace, this is happening as we identify the broad, tangible needs of the community. Love moves us to be present in people’s everyday lives and struggles. We are simply striving to incarnate and dwell in the messiness of life, loss, and laughter with real people in our community — like Jesus did. He went to the well, met with the women, went to the streets and festivals, and hung out where the people were. With the Spirit’s help, we should seek to mobilize people who love Jesus to go out and love for the sake of gospel restoration.

Psalm 23 is a beautiful picture of restoration: the Shepherd and the weary, wandering sheep. Our gracious Lord reminds us that He is our shepherd, and we don’t need anything. He beckons us to stop nibbling in other pastures and pleasures that are poisonous to our souls and to stay close to Him. It is a great mercy to have a God who promises to restore our souls! The Good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep ( John 10:11), and He delights to restore wholeness, peace, and joy to the part of us that’s going to live forever — our souls.

And He does His shepherding, restoring work in our communities through His Church — one soul, one house, and one block at a time.

A story only God could write

I have personally experienced so much restoration in my own life. Much of the brokenness we encounter in our present comes from the family hurt from our past. I am so thankful that when God redeems broken sinners like myself, He begins to transform us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I have experienced God’s deep love healing emotional scars caused by childhood pain.

I was taken from my birth mother as a young child, due mainly to her drug addiction and imprisonment. And yet, when God called me back to East St. Louis to preach the gospel and plant a church, the last person I expected to walk through the doors was my mother. She came, heard the gospel, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ! She was the first person ever baptized at City of Joy Fellowship! Now, in her 60s, she’s beginning to see that God has a wonderful plan for her, and no matter her age or past sins and struggles, Jesus forgives and heals and restores. I never anticipated the restoration of a broken mother and son relationship, but it’s been a beautiful illustration of gospel restoration. It’s truly a story only God could write … and I pray He would continue to write in my life, family, church, and city. I pray the same for you, as together, we praise the God who restores.

And soon, He will return to restore all things to Himself. Even so, come Lord Jesus!,

Published November 29, 2018

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Kempton Turner

Kempton Turner was raised in East St. Louis, Illinois, but has spent most of his life in Houston, Texas. Most recently, he served on the pastoral staff at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for seven years before becoming the Church Planting Pastoral Resident under the oversight of the elders. Kempton’s prayer and hope is that the Lord would establish a joyful, loving, Christ-magnifying local church in his hometown. Kempton and his childhood sweetheart Caryn have been happily married since 1999 and the Lord has blessed them with four children: Christian, Carysse, Kalia, and Caleb.