The picture you see here is of a 1928 Whippet 96 roadster, built by the Willys-Overland Corporation of Toledo, Ohio. (Notice the rumble seat!) I saw one of these vintage automobiles recently – one exactly like this one, color and all. My mechanic was doing some work on it for the owner. People take great delight in restoring classic antique automobiles and other interesting and historic bits of our past. But human beings are not the only ones to do restoration. God it is the business of restoration also.
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” (Acts 3:19-21).
Peter and John, as they were going to the temple in Jerusalem to pray, encountered a poor lame beggar whom they healed. Because of the healing of this man, a crowd came together, curious as to what had occurred. Peter tells them that they could enjoy “times of refreshing” from the Lord by repenting and turning to Him. Peter mentions that Jesus, whom God had raised from the dead must be received by heaven until “the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke” through the prophets. What did Peter mean by this? What would the Jews to whom he was speaking have understood it to mean?
The word “restore” means “to restore a thing to its former situation,” as restoring a “strained” or “dislocated” limb to its former soundness. Hence, it is used to restore, or to heal, in the New Testament: (Albert Barnes, on Acts 3:21, eSword). We understand what it means to restore an antique automobile or piece of furniture. There are people who specialize in restoring homes damaged by fire, floods or storms. A thing that has been restored has been put back into original condition – it looks and works as if it were new.
What is it that is “broken” or “dislocated” that God needs to restore to it’s former position or perfection? What was to be restored was that of which the prophets had spoken in the Old Testament. Whatever it was had been spoken by the prophets from “long ago” or “from the beginning of the world.” So we have here a reference to the eternal purpose of God that had been carried down through the ages that will only be accomplished in its fulness when the Lord comes again. It was something spoken of by the prophets and it had not yet accomplished all that it is meant to accomplish.
The one thing the prophets all spoke of was the coming of the Messiah, (anointed, king), and the establishment of the kingdom of God. The coming of the Messiah would have included all he did to carry out the eternal plan of God to redeem man and restore him to a right relationship with himself. The kingdom has to do with the rule of God over all he is entitled to rule over and was established when Jesus was announced as Lord and Christ (Messiah, King – Acts 2:36).
God’s plan for the redemption of man was fully operative at the moment of the announcement of the Kingdom of Jesus, but the full development of both those will not be realized until all who will be saved are saved. The full realization of the benefits of both salvation and being under the rule of God will not occur until Jesus comes again. At that time ALL the consequences of sin will be undone. Everything that was made wrong by the presence of sin in the world will be made right. I am sure I do not understand all that is involved in that but it is enough to know that God “who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” (Ephesians 1:11), is in charge and will do what is absolutely best for all that has been adversely affected by sin.
Paul, in writing of that time when the Lord comes again, says that the last enemy to be conquered will be death. That is the last and worst consequence of sin and it will be destroyed when the resurrection of the dead occurs. When Jesus comes and the dead arise, then he will return the rule over the kingdom to God “that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
What are we to do in view of the fact that the Lord is coming again? What can we do knowing that God will restore all things at the time of his coming? What else can we do but content ourselves with preaching the gospel – the good news that God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth has come into the world, was crucified, has risen from the tomb and has ascended to the throne of heaven where He now reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. This is what Peter did on Pentecost. We should do the same and allow that message to have its transforming effect in the world.
That gospel is the power of God to shape and transform everything it touches. Preach it and let it make real followers of Jesus. Let them be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live the gospel out in their lives and then watch what happens in the world! This is what happened in the first century and it “turned the world upside down.”
Today people need to be just what people were in the first century – Christians and only Christians. Just followers of Jesus. After all, that is what took place in Jerusalem in Acts 2! The gospel was preached and people became his disciples. Those who responded to the gospel by faith, repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38) were added by the Lord to the number of the saved. Together they began to serve and glorify God as he desires of all men to day.
Lets preach the simple gospel of God’s kingdom and wait for him to restore all things according to his perfect, immutable plan.