Restoration of all things

[Scott W. wrote this and sent this by email in consideration to be a post on HI4LDS.  I took him up on his offer.  It is a good post. – Todd]

The Apostle Peter proclaimed the coming of “the period of restoration of all things” in his sermon to the unbelieving Jews:

Acts 3:19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 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.”

What is this restoration and when will it take place?  It is almost without question that this passage teaches that “the restoration of all things” takes place when the Lord Jesus Christ returns from heaven to judge the world and bring in everlasting righteousness through a renewed earth.  This interpretation – if not clearly established from the context of Acts 3:19-21 – is further confirmed by a similar word and context found in the Gospel According to Matthew.

The Lord Jesus Christ encouraged Peter and the other apostles who had left everything to follow Him that they would be given responsibility to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.  When will this take place?  First, you will want to read the text:

Matthew 19:27 “Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” 28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

The Lord explains, “in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne.”  This is a clear reference to the triumphant coming of Christ to judge the world.  The Greek word translated “regeneration” here is described in the Friberg Lexicon as follows:

 “paligenesia` (fr. Palin and ge,nesij a birth again) regeneration; (1) of the fut., as the restoration and renewal of the world new age (MT 19.28); (2) as spiritual and moral renewal of an individual new birth, regeneration (TI 3.5).”

In summary, the “restoration of all things” and “the regeneration” both refer to the same event and time, namely, the coming of the glorious kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ and all of the changes that will occur then.  The whole earth will be “restored” and “regenerated” into righteousness and obedience.  The knowledge of God will be magnified and everything will speak “Glory!”  This blessed revival is spoken about by many prophets from the days of old.

It is true that the Bible foretells an apostasy and the coming of an antichrist, but it never predicts a total apostasy.  The apostasy is described in relative terms, like “some will depart from the faith”, and “many will fall away”.

The following verses teach that the kingdom of God will continue from the time of Christ until the “regeneration;” I will post them without comment.

Matthew 13:24 “Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 “The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 “But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.””‘ 31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” 33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” 34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” 36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49 “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

26 comments

  1. Yes, indeed. Absolutely. But, without simply vindicating the Roman Church, this analysis also calls the various forms of Protestantism into question, does it not?

  2. FrGregACCA,

    Well, I suppose that if we assume that, say, the 3rd century church is the same church as the modern Roman Catholic Church; and if we assume that the NT church is identified by sacraments administered by priests whose authority is linked back through history, then maybe.

    The problems with these assumptions are that church history doesn’t affirm the first assumption and the NT doesn’t legitimize the second. But these are Protestant vs Catholic issues, aren’t they?

  3. Todd

    You are making the assumption that the restoration of the earth is one of the things referred to in Acts. It seems obvious to me that would be an exaggeration.

    The term “all things” isn’t as comprehensive in Scripture as we like to think of it as. For example Paul claimed he could do “all things”. Paul claimed you can know all things. And so it goes.

    Christ came and restored the fullness of his gospel to the earth. There was a re-introduced the Melchizedek Priesthood (as noted in Hebrews). The Holy Ghost became general among the saints. Etc.

  4. Scott:

    As I implied in my note, it isn’t just Protestantism vs. Roman Catholicism, but Protestantism vs. ALL the pre-reformation Churches, including Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, and the Assyrian Church (and their independent branches). Now, if there is no historical continuity in faith and practice between the early Church and these Churches (or one of these groups, take your pick), then this calls into radical question the words of Christ which you quote above, and opens the door for a “restoration” a’la, first, the Protestant Reformation, and then Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith, if you will recall, did not invent the concept of a “great apostasy”. It came about as a way to justify the Reformation.

    Doug:

    Since this continuity exists in the succession of bishops from the Apostles, when and how did this priesthood disappear?

  5. Doug,

    It’s true that in the NT “all” (Gk., “pan”) doesn’t always mean “all things without limit”, but the context of Acts 3 in which “the restoration of all things” appears links the retoration with the second coming of Jesus Christ.

    Since Jesus’ parousia didn’t come about in 1820, Mormons may not use Acts 3:21 to justify their view of “the Restoration”.

  6. Scott and Greg, popping back in here tonight, I have bibliology on my mind. Just came away from this blog dealing with Catholic/Protestant issues:

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/08/15/is-our-canon-of-scripture-a-fallible-collection-of-infallible-books/

    In the sense of the restoration of biblical truth, well, scripture has always been there. And I think that there has always been followers of God’s word and fervent confession of ‘Jesus is Lord’ since the beginning of the Church.

    Doug, this restoration that Scott has been discussing is yet to come. And I am picking up signals of this incredible restoration in Isaiah.

    Wow. Heaven. Earth. Mountains. Woodlands. All erupt in shouting and singing.

    All is everything that owes its existence to the Maker – “the LORD who maketh all”.

    I put no restrictions on the “all” in this context.

  7. FrGreg,

    Let me guess…admidst all the confusion and competing claims, the true church of Jesus Christ is the Universal Oriental Orthodox Church, right?

  8. Scott:

    Actually, our ecclesiology is broader than that. See the strands mentioned above. This is one reason I’m not EO.

    “Where the bishop is, there let the people be, just as where Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” Ignatios of Antioch, martyred c. AD 110

  9. FrGreg,

    Does the RCC and EOC recognize your church’s bishops as in communion with Christ’s church? I noticed that you’re in favor of the ordination of female bishops: would the RCC and the EOC recognize these bishops?

  10. there are too many lables here to keep up with..
    are we all christian?
    Are some “Christian” Churches false?

  11. Scott:

    We are not in communion with either. The RCC recognizes that our bishops are in fact bishops. The EOC, not so much. Obviously, the statement about the RCC does not apply to female bishops.

    That said, the core of the faith as taught by all these Churches is identical.

  12. Ditchu, welcome to HI4LDS.

    To your last question, I would say ‘yes’ when they are contra to the truth claims coming from lips of Jesus Christ in Scripture.

  13. I have yet to find from the “lips of Jesus Christ in Scripture” Paul’s teaching of so-called justification by grace alone through faith alone as has been interpreted by the Lutheran/Reformed traditions Todd (which seems to be your own position as well). Is Paul (and by implication you) not a “Christian”?

  14. And I was just about ready to ask where did Paul and the others in Acts and the epistles get their doctrine from?

    So within the pages of inspired scripture, you would say that Paul and Jesus harmonize in the divine revelation?

    There is a beautiful harmony here that Scott has provided between Luke and Matthew.

  15. FrGreg,

    If your very small denomination isn’t in communion with the RCC and the EOC, how do you differ significantly from being “just another Protestant denomination”?

  16. Scott, hang on . . . one of the emergents today is trying to humor me about Baptists and all their flavors. Let me post it tonight in a separate entry for some comic relief. Yes, the author did get me laughing on this point.

    I need a little a laughter because most of what I read today in books made me weep. I will put that on HI4LDS, too.

  17. I will still wait for you to show your Reformed/Lutheran reading of justification by faith alone through grace alone/transferral of Christ’s righteousness “from the lips of Jesus Christ in Scripture” Todd.

  18. Scott:

    As with the EO, OO, the Roman Church, the Assyrians, and other independent branches thereof, continuity of bishops in apostolic succession and continunity with the apostles in faith and practice.

  19. Sorry, Todd, but such stories prove little or nothing. For every one concerning conversion away from Rome, there is at least one about conversion from Evangelicalism to either Rome or, especially today, Eastern Orthodoxy.

  20. Greg, how God sovereignly works in the life stories is just as important as the propositional words of truth He lays out in Scripture.

    I love to hear the stories. They reveal an abundance of heart issues.

    But the visible numbers are not as crucial to me at the moment.

    I know how it is all going to turn out in the end.

    THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS

    😉

  21. FrGreg,

    So you are asserting that each of these “pre-Reformation” denominations have bishops traceable in succession to the apostles, and yet each denomination doesn’t recognize the other as legitamate. Sounds like the Protestant vs Catholic paradigm but with different actors.

    At any rate, the NT doesn’t identify Christ’s church by its bishops; also, the NT doesn’t require that each (future) church have bishops with a “continuity of priesthood authority” traceable to the apostles.

  22. Scott:

    Re: your first paragraph: The situation is a bit more complex than that. Rome recognizes the bishops of the others as being actual bishops as does the Assyrian Church. The OO, in general, tend to do so as well (posssibly not those of the Assyrian Church). Among the EO, there is no consensus. In general, the EO tend to recognize OO clergy as being real bishops and priests, and the Russians those of the Roman Church also. Among Protestants in general, clerical status is not a major issue, and for those for whom it is, they would recognize these priests and bishops as genuine Christian clergy, even if that recognition is not reciprocated.

    Re: second paragraph: In the New Testament, Christ gives “blank check” authority to Peter and the other Apostles – Matt 16:19, 18:18. (John 20:22b-23 is a specific application of this general authority) We see this authority used in Acts; first, Peter and the others chose a successor for Judas (1:15-26). Then, they create the office of deacons (6:1-6). After this, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to [them]” to admit Gentiles to the Church by faith and baptism only, not requiring circumcision (Acts 15:1-29) The apostles, and they alone, are shown throughout the New Testament, ordaining Presbyters and Bishops to whom they delegate the exercise of their authority (I will address the differentiation of the two in a later comment if you’d like, and if Scott continues to show forebearance for this discussion in this thread). This understanding is confirmed by Clement of Rome, writing about AD 96 to the assembly in Corinth. The Corinthian Church had revolted against its apostolically constituted leadership and had replaced it, on their own initiative, with others. In admonishing the Corinthians, Clement writes the following:

    “The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ… Christ… was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. ” (Chapter 42)

    This simply recapitulates what we know from the NT.

    And then, in Chapter 43:

    “Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.”

    Apostolic succession, then, while only implied in the New Testament, is documented in the Church before the death of the last apostle as being of apostolic origin, instituted by the apostles under their mandate from Christ. So therefore, yes, by apostolic institution, the NT requires this continuity and the history of the Church from the beginning bears this out.

    Now, having said that, let me give you guys (Evangelicals) your due. (I used to be one of you, after all.) You have the Scriptures (at least in an attenuated form); you have a form of the faith that is basically correct where you have not attenuated IT (or have accepted things from Rome which you really should have rejected, such as the Anselmian understanding of the atonement, late in appearing and unique to the West); you have true Baptism, by which you are in “imperfect communion” with the Church (even though you deny its importance and effects); y’all have lives of prayer within the above context. You are therefore brothers and sisters in Christ, but you have deprived yourselves of so much that could be yours if you were living in the center of the Church.

    Further, I am of the opinion that the rise of Mormonism (and restorationism in general) was only possible because of the lack of any substantial presence of any of the pre-reformation traditions in the rural United States in the early 19th century.

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