with Jeremy Westcott –
…and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Acts 3:20-21).
We are going to consider a number of questions which come up around what Peter said in this passage. As always, I am not asking you to believe what I say just because I say it, but to take your questions to God with an open heart and mind, and see what He has to say to you about them.
Before, during or after?
Is Jesus coming before, during or after the period of restoration of all things?
All three, I would venture to suggest. He has already come, He is continually coming as He promised, where two or three are gathered, and He is going to come.
So much of Christian expectation has focused on a future event which will change everything in a moment, and that event has usually been called the ‘second coming’ of Jesus. We are waiting for the ‘second coming’, and when that happens, then everything is going to be restored to how God wants it. However, it is not an event that is indicated here, but a period.
When is the period of restoration?
I have heard it suggested that we are in some special season now, in which it is possible for all things to be restored, and that this was not possible before. But there was one significant event in human history which made all kinds of things possible: the cross; the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. He took back everything Adam lost and restored it to us. We, though, have been very slow to realise and embrace the full extent of what He accomplished, or its implications.
The early church did a great job of taking this message and filling the known world with it, but then it was hijacked by religion. During the dark ages much truth was forgotten and lost. Everything became a matter of religious observance or duty for most people rather than the relationship of intimacy that God always intended. God has been restoring that, so we can now embrace that truth and continue with the process of restoration which has been going on all that time.
How far back?
How far back does the restoration of all things reach? Back to what?
Some will say, “We need to get back to the New Testament church. We need to get back to this amazing time when people were being added every day.” Others will say, ‘No, I want it to go back further. I want it to go back to the Garden. I want to go back to when Adam and Eve had this wonderful, intimate relationship with God, walking with Him in the cool of the day.” In reality, I believe God wants to go back even further than that, back to His original intent and purpose in creation.
And that is not the end, just the beginning. Think of all that is possible, if we co-operate with God as sons from that point on: it is beyond the scope of our imagination to conceive of, because what we can imagine is restricted and filtered by our pre-existing religious ideas and what we presently see. But when we engage in God’s heart outside of what we can already see, then our minds can be expanded. We are supposed to have the mind of Christ, which certainly contains everything that was God’s original intention. When we start to have that mind, it has the potential to explode the limitations and restrictions on our thinking.
What is restoration?
In English, a dictionary definition of ‘restoration’ is: ‘the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition; the act or process of returning something to its earlier good condition or position”. When we read ‘former owner’ we tend to think ‘God’, but actually creation has been given to mankind, to us.
Even the definition of the English word might limit our understanding. The biblical sense is ‘to receive back more than has been lost, to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition’. It means that someone or something is improved beyond their current or previous measure. We derive this from two Hebrew words and one Greek:
The Hebrew word chadash means renew, repair, restore.
Another Hebrew word, arukah, means restoration, recovery, repair, healing, health, perfected.
The Greek word apokatastasis is made up of two parts, apo meaning from and katastasis, meaning first or original order.
Apokatastasis: restoration, restitution, reestablishment, reconstitution. Properly, restore back to original standing, i.e. which existed before a fall; re-establish, returning back to the (ultimate) ideal. Figuratively, restore back to full freedom (the liberty of the original standing); to enjoy again, i.e. what was taken away by a destructive or life-dominating power.
Restoration involves reconciling, renewing, repairing, rebuilding, returning, restitution, resurrecting, relationship, revelation, and even resting. We all need a cosmic makeover of eternal proportions:
- Restoration of the identity that God intended us to have as sons, and of the revelation that flows from that intimate relationship
- Recognising that we have a reconciled relationship to God, to each other and to creation
- Returning to our original position of relationship and authority
- Repair of everything broken, damaged or fragmented
- Restitution of everything that has ever been lost or stolen
- Renewal of our destiny scroll and our minds and thinking to the mind of Christ
- Resurrecting our lives from all the effects of death
- Resting in the intimacy of love, joy and peace
What are the ‘all things’?
‘All’ is a big word. The Greek word pas means the whole, every kind of, each and every part that applies; the emphasis is the total picture, made up of each of its elements, one piece at a time, viewing the whole in terms of all the individual parts.
It is a little like making a jigsaw puzzle. You do not make the whole thing in one go, you have to place each piece in the correct position. Normally, people do that by looking at the picture on the box. And if we are to be involved in the restoration of all things, we need to look at ‘the picture on the box’ if you like, at what was God’s original intent and purpose. Then we can realise that God has been at work in this all along, restoring us from the position we have been in (and the image we have had of ourselves) back to the image that He has of us.
And we, mankind, are only a part of the picture. If God is restoring everything back to His original intention, what else might He want restored? We know that all creation is groaning, waiting for the sons of God to be revealed. Are we only talking about the physical realm? Are there things – or creatures – in the heavenly realms which are not as He originally intended, and are they to be restored? Would we have a problem with that?
If the concept of the restoration of all things does not stretch us, I wonder if we have really grasped it!
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