256. The Period of Restoration of All Things

Mike Parsons
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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217. Redemptive Gifts (1)

Mike Parsons

In this series on ‘destiny’ we have looked at ‘who I am’, and it is time now to move on to our redemptive gifts or ‘how I am made’. After that we will go on to ‘what I am made for’.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

If we want things to work together for good (and not just our own good but for the good of everything and everybody), then we really need to know that we are called and that we have a purpose.

Do you know His purpose for your life?

Have you accepted His call?

His purpose and His call will work together to enable us to see our lives outworked for the glory of God and bring transformation to this earthly realm. If we know His purpose for our lives and know what He has called us to, both in this realm and in heaven, that will enable us to be a gateway of heaven on earth.

Transformed or conformed?

‘A redemptive gift is the grace of God woven into who we are; that when we are made right with God we become able to honour Him with how He has made us to be’.

Sadly there may have been other threads ‘woven into us’ which have affected us negatively.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is… (Rom 12:2).

God’s will is for an open heaven over us, for us to engage with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in intimacy, and for that we need to be transformed (not conformed). The world wants to conform us to a particular pattern and rob us of what God intends us to have and experience.

The world may have masked, damaged or perverted our identity, our gift and our destiny, because of our own experience and that of our generations. If we don’t know who we really are we will forever be asking ‘where do I fit?’ and ‘where do I belong?’

God desires to transform us to outwork who we really are, in His service. In that way we will be able to fulfil our part in restoring the whole of creation.

Redemptive gifts

Redemptive gifts are different from the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 (healing, words of knowledge, wisdom, distinguishing of spirits, tongues etc.), and from the offices appointed for the church in 1 Corinthians 14 (apostle, prophet, teacher, miracle worker etc.), and from the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4 (apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist, shepherd).

Redemptive gifts are found in Romans 12.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy , according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who rules,  with diligence; he who shows mercy , with cheerfulness (Rom 12:6-8).

There are seven different gifts, and these are given to ‘each of us’, which leaves nobody out. We are to line up with what God has given, rather than what the world has attempted to impose on us. Each of us is to exercise the gift(s) He has given us; and as we do we are to be that gift to the rest of the body.

The seven gifts are: prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler and mercy.

Paul writes that faith is intrinsic to being a prophet and that a servant will actually serve (you cannot be a servant in theory). The same with teacher and exhorter – it is only in teaching or exhorting that they express themselves. The next three are interesting. ‘With liberality’ describes how a giver gives. ‘With diligence’ describes how a ruler rules. Finally, mercy operates ‘with cheerfulness’, indicating that the mercy gift may perhaps struggle to be cheerful. We will look at each gift in more detail in coming posts.

Why ‘redemptive’ gifts?

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be redeemed from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:19-21).

Everything God created, both in the spiritual realm and in the physical realm, is waiting for God’s sons to be revealed, and to bring back to creation what is missing. So ‘creation itself will also be redeemed’, and we are called to be part of God’s plan to do that. That plan includes the gifts God has given us, and when we discover who we are then we can discover how we fit in to God’s overall purpose. The way we are wired and designed enables each of us to fulfil our destiny and engage in the process of restoring creation.

Redemptive gifts are dealt to each person in differing measures of faith.
God gives people as the different gifts.
God gives these gifts as necessary to fulfil his redemptive will on earth.
Each of us is a gift, differing according to the grace given to us by God.

Each person is and has a primary gift, but will have others as well, and the mix and degree of the various gifts in each of us is a unique combination.

Received at conception

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Redemptive gifts are received at conception, rather than salvation. We are born with them and they will influence the course of our lives, regardless of whether we become Christians or not (though they will be more effectively expressed if we do). Psychologists term these differences in people ‘basic temperaments’ or ‘personality types’.

We are designed on (and with) purpose.

Redemptive gifts tend to shape our personality. They also affect the way in which we may receive or express one or more of the spiritual gifts, offices or ministries.

So my redemptive gift is how I am intrinsically made to function, ideally with spirit and soul in harmony. But because of separation from God, my soul or heart personality traits developed independently of my spirit. I need to discover the gift, then purify and refine the heart to define and polish it, so that it begins to shine.

There are some common behavioural characteristics which can help us identify our redemptive gifts (primary and secondary). Compassion, for example, may come more easily to servants and mercies than prophets and rulers. However, we must not use our gift as an excuse for not growing in love! We are all called to walk out the fruit of the Spirit, whether it comes naturally or not.

Arthur Burk has done a great deal of research into redemptive gifts. Here are some of the characteristics he has identified and how he correlates them with other sevens in the Bible (click here or on either image to view or download them both in one PDF file):

slide-1-hd
slide-2-hdGod is your Father and designer, and He desires to call forth your identity as His child. He desires to reveal your redemptive identity. He wants you to know who you are and how you are designed. You are called to be a world-changer.

As you exercise your own gifting you are free of the need to compare yourself (favourably or unfavourably) with anyone else. You can be comfortable in your own skin, not having to try to be like other people.

You are you.

You are unique;
Everyone else is also unique.

You are messed up in some way;
Everyone is messed up in some way.

You are a mixture;
Everyone is a mixture.

Every one of us is in a process of being refined, purified and transformed so that we can be ‘us’ as designed by God.

We must learn to respect and honour the differences and uniqueness in each other. As members of the body we will not all see things the same way, but when we put it all together we (as a body) will see things as Jesus does.

Next time we will begin to look at each of the gifts in more detail.

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89. Seed Wars

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

When Satan fell, he was seeking to overturn God’s eternal plan that Man should inherit the heavens. He wanted that place of rulership for himself.

Here is a diagram I used when I taught about spiritual warfare in Freedom Church:
I realise that some of the writing is quite small to read, so you can click on the image above to view or download it as a PDF file, if that helps.

Time and Eternity

On the left you see eternity, the setting for Genesis 1:1. Before time, if you like. God created the earth to be inhabited, but then Lucifer rebelled, as we saw last time, and was cast down to the earth, where he brought down God’s judgment upon it in the first flood.

Moving to the right, you find Genesis 1:2. Inside the bracket of time, now. The earth is without form, and void (that’s really just another word for ’empty’). God begins again, He recreates the earth. How long is the time between verse 1 and verse 2? We have no idea. Nor do we know how long a time elapsed between verses 2 and 3. It could have been microseconds; it could have been 14 billion years. We don’t know.

The Fall of Man

Then comes the week of (re-)creation followed by the story of Adam’s fall, as Satan now engages with Adam and Eve. And what he is offering them is the only thing he has to trade with: information. He offers them the opportunity to become like God, but without God. The opportunity to know, without God. To rule, without God (he would later try the same thing on Jesus in the wilderness). This is the root of humanism.

Trading for Seed

He offers to give them information in return for something. They did not trade by eating a piece of fruit from a tree – that is very symbolic language when you go back into the original language. Satan overshadowed them, and took their DNA. He knew that DNA was the only thing that could inherit the heavens.

Now that he has DNA, he produces a seed. That may be an unfamiliar idea, but it is right there in scripture. In Genesis 3:14-15 we find the first prophecy of the coming of a Messiah, a Redeemer, and in verse 15 we read about Satan’s seed: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel”. God is talking to Satan, and says, “Your seed and her seed”. It is made really clear that Satan has seed.

Seed Wars

This is how he came to get that seed. Cain and Abel, who were twins, had different fathers. Abel’s father was Adam, and his DNA was to produce what is called ‘the seed of woman’. Except that Cain killed him, and God had to reinstitute that line through Seth. Cain’s father was Satan. Cain was the seed of Satan. So you can view this whole period as one of seed wars, during which Cain’s seed seek to rule.

Polluting the Seed

Then, in Noah’s time, we have fallen watcher angels – Ben Elohim (sons of God) – falling to earth, leaving their proper place (Jude 1:6). They do a similar thing with human women, overshadowing them (this is not sex as we know it, but overshadowing of their DNA) to produce the race of giants called the Nephilim. Spiritual warfare becomes intense, fighting for the purity of the seed. Judgment comes again in the flood, but God preserves the seed of woman.

Jesus the Seed

We know that Jesus was the prophesied seed who was coming, who was to crush Satan’s head (though he would bruise His heel). Satan did not know that, but every scheme and intention of his was to prevent the fulfilment of that prophecy by eliminating or corrupting the seed line before it could happen.

Abraham and his Seed

Remember the covenant God made with Abraham. It was a covenant with Abraham ‘and his seed’ (Gal 3:16). And throughout the Old Testament period, Satan threw everything he had at frustrating God’s plan. From genocide under Pharoah to the massacre of the innocents under Herod, he tried everything to prevent the fulfilment of God’s words in Genesis 3:15. Even when Jesus was ready to enter His ministry, as I mentioned earlier, he attempted to derail His destiny in the wilderness.

The Prophecy Fulfilled

The cross, he thought, was his moment of crowning triumph. Only to find that, despite his best efforts, all he had done was fall in with the eternal purpose of God, and co-operated in bringing down that promised crushing blow upon his own head.

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