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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50. And Then The End Will Come

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

I suggested to you last time that Matthew 24 is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted of all chapters in the Bible. This is because people read into it what they expect to see, and do not come with an appreciation of covenant language and covenant understanding.

Good news?

We will look at the whole of Matthew 24 in due course, but for today I want to concentrate on two particular sections. Here is the first:

Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt 24:11-14).

This is Jesus prophesying, and He is talking about an awful time. False prophets, people being misled, lawlessness, love growing cold, needing to endure. Then He says, “This gospel shall be preached…”. And I thought the gospel was supposed to be good news! If this is how it is, then no wonder some Christians are so miserable and pessimistic. No wonder some have a siege mentality and are just holding on, waiting for Jesus to come and rescue them.

And verse 14, I have heard that preached on so many times. We have been taught that Jesus cannot come back yet, because not every people-group has heard the gospel. The end cannot come until we have preached the gospel to every nation.

The end of what? That is the question we ought to be asking. The end of the world? The end of time?

Clearly not, because we’re still here. Why do I say that? Let’s look at the second passage I want to highlight today.

Amen, Amen

So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place (Matt 24:33-34).

“So you, too…”- Jesus is speaking to his disciples directly here – “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (my italics). That phrase ‘Truly I say’ is the ‘Amen, Amen’, the ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you’ of the older versions, and it means ‘Listen carefully and pay special attention to what I am about to say – this is particularly important.’

‘This generation’. That means a period of up to about 40 years. You really have to twist the meaning of the word to make it mean anything else, which hasn’t stopped some people doing exactly that.

So everything that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 right up to verse 33 – ‘all these things’,  including preaching the gospel to the whole world –  were to happen in the next 40 years or so, during the lifetime of most of those disciples. False prophets, people being misled, lawlessness, love growing cold, enduring to the end – it has all already happened. Now, there is an application of that, and in a sense of course it is always happening, has happened throughout the history of the church.

But the fact is, it happened already. And the end came.

Now that has blown many of your theologies right out of the water. Around the world, prophetic people are struggling to fit what God is showing them into an eschatology that simply doesn’t work, because it is based on a false premise, and a misinterpretation of this passage of scripture, amongst others. As I say, that is because people have not approached it with a proper understanding of covenant and covenant language.

Next time, we will look at how ‘all’ was fulfilled in that generation, and explore the question ‘the end of what’? Once again, we will be looking at some very familiar scriptures, and you will likely already have a very clear understanding of what they mean, because of what you have always been taught. And once more, I’m going to ask you to look again…

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21. Conflict for Souls

Mike Parsons – 

One Sunday, as we were singing, I saw Jesus, and He was looking at me. He was the Jesus of Revelation chapter 1, with fire in His eyes; His gaze was penetrating, seeing into my head, seeing into my heart. There was love in His eyes, and fire, and He was looking deep within me.

The eyes of God

The scripture says that the eyes of God are going to and fro throughout the earth (2 Chron 16:9), looking for those who He can strongly support: those whose hearts are completely His. That is what He is doing in this time, looking for willingness; willingness to say, ‘My heart is Yours. There may be stuff in it that needs dealing with, but I am willing for You to do what needs to be done, to restore me and make me whole. I am willing to step out and do Your will’. God’s eyes will penetrate your heart. If He looks into your heart and mind, what is He going to see there? Certainly you are not going to be able to hide anything from His eyes. And because He is also a warrior king, He is coming with a sword in His mouth; His words too will penetrate your heart and life, bringing division between the positive and the negative, the good and the bad, what can remain and what must be got rid of.

God never acts without revealing his plans to His prophets. Some of you reading this, you are on a crash course. You have been saved into this environment, into this understanding of God’s revelation and His purposes in our days. It will not take you the twenty years or more that it has taken some of us to come into the reality of the presence of God. And things are only going to accelerate, if we are willing. We do have that choice – we can resist Him and stop Him having His way in us, prevent Him from purifying and refining us, clearing out the dross and revealing the image of His Son in us. My advice is, don’t hide, don’t resist; allow God to deal with what is in your heart. In what is coming, a level of holiness – a level of being set apart – will be required that we simply do not have as yet. The highway of holiness is higher than we have imagined.

Harvest

Jesus is returning. He will return, at the end, but He is returning all the time. He is coming to us all the time. Open your heart, and He will come to you. The reason He is coming is to prepare us for the conflict for souls. The harvest that is coming is a battle for souls, make no mistake about it, and there will be conflict. People are falling into a fiery pit every day, and they are making that choice to go there.

I had a vision while I was on my 40 day fast, a vision of people, hundreds and thousands of them, walking across a plain. In the distance I could see that fiery pit, and people were just walking straight up to it and falling in. And I saw other people, Christians, standing in front of them and planting a sword in the ground right in front of them and saying, ‘Stop!’ Some of them did stop, but they looked around them, then they stepped to one side and carried on going.

Others did turn around though. With some of them it took 3 or 4 people to plant a sword in their path and cry, ‘Stop!’ before they turned and went back. The enemy has blinded their eyes. Our part is to bring the light. This is a real battle, this battle for souls: we are not playing games, not just having nice times with God for our own personal enjoyment, for the sake of the experience. Yes, He wants us to experience Him, but He wants our hearts and lives transformed for purpose, for His eternal purpose. People’s destiny is at stake, and we must shine so brightly that we get their attention so that they see that God is real and that they too can be transformed through His love.

What did Jesus say? ‘Look around you, the fields are white but there are not enough labourers’. He is seeking out those who have a heart for the harvest, to bring it in. In everything God is doing and planning to do, this is what it is about: bringing in the full harvest, seeing all those people saved, and healed and delivered.

The first stage we have looked at in God’s Prophetic Timetable is that call to intimate knowledge of Him, to really know Love. But the second stage has already begun for some people, even as that first one continues. Every stage of this plan takes us closer to the return of Jesus. We have already seen that God has established forerunners of everything He plans to do, little tasters if you like, to give us an appetite for what he intends to bring about on a much greater scale. So everything we have seen so far is tiny in comparison to what is coming.

That second stage is the removal of stumbling blocks, and the revelation of a generation of those who will bring in and train the harvesters. You have to understand, there are two phases of the harvest. There will be a final harvest at the very end of the age, but first the harvesters themselves need to be brought in. We will consider this next time.

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