Toward the Day of Restoration

We need to master two disciplines.

The Reconciled World (7)

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Acts 3.19-21

The restoration of all things
The “restoration of all things” is a theme that runs throughout Scripture, as Peter noted. The Bible from Moses through all the Writings, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles, and Revelation points our attention forward to a day when the Lord Jesus Christ will restore the cosmos to its “very good” (Gen. 1.31) condition, in which all that is evil, corrupting, decadent, and opposed to God will be no more.

The writer of Hebrews insists that the great saints of Scripture lived toward that day, longing for the City to Come, when all things will be filled with the fullness of God (cf. Heb. 11.8-16). Peter explained that the world to come will consist of “a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 1.13). In the light of that, he called his readers to be always “looking forward to these things” and to “be diligent to be found in Him in peace, without spot and blameless (2 Pet. 1.14). He calls us to be “holy in conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet. 3.12).

The anticipation of and longing for a coming day of the restoration of all things should have observable effects in our lives in the here and now. If we fail actively to live toward this coming day, Peter says, we will be in danger of “being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Pet. 3.17). Instead, we are to be working for the restoration of all things unto Christlikeness, beginning in our soul (2 Cor. 3.12-18), working out into every aspect of our lives (1 Cor. 10.31-11.1), shaping our churches (Eph. 4.11-16), and bringing the salt, light, and leaven of Kingdom living to bear on the world around us in all its aspects (Matt. 5.13-16).

Jesus Christ, exalted at the right hand of God, is making all things new now. The day is coming when He will complete that work, but He is working even now, by His Spirit, in His saints, according to His Word, sending and dispatching His faithful servants to bring days of repentance and refreshing to the world, sure as the morning dew (Ps. 110.1-3).

What this entails, and how we must live toward the coming day of the restoration of all things, will be the subject of subsequent installments in this series. For now, two foundational attitudes and practices are essential for us as we live toward that great day.

A time of repentance
First is repentance. The word for repentance in the Greek is μετάνοια, metanoia, and it means something like “a change of mind.” More to the point, metanoia is a change of thinking – of outlook, disposition, thoughts, and inclinations. Repentance involves recognizing and turning away from everything that denies God, transgresses His Law, refuses to submit to Jesus, lacks faith, and insists on doing things one’s own way. All such rebellion is sin, and repentance looks at such thinking and living with disgust, even hatred (Ps. 97.10), and resolves to be done with it, once and for all.

Repentance is essential for coming to faith in Jesus Christ. We will not be converted to Christ, Peter says, without repentance. But repentance is a discipline that we must engage daily, as often as it is needed. By the work of repentance, we identify areas of our life that are yet tainted with sin, prevented from serving the Lord Jesus, caught in the web of worldliness, or otherwise devoted to merely self-serving ways. All such ways of thinking and living become the object of eradication, wherever they show up in our lives. We cannot run the race of our salvation, nor do the work required by the ministry of reconciliation that has been given to us, as long as we are continuing to be entangled by sin (Heb. 12.1, 2). Sin will snare and hinder us (Prov. 1.17). Sin impedes our prayers, so that we cannot obtain the mercy and grace essential for all our times of need (Ps. 66.18; Heb. 4.16). Sin prevents the work of restoration from going forward because it continues to feed the corruption and decay that blind us to the beauty, goodness, and truth of God.

We must embrace and practice the discipline of repentance, that our conversion to Christ, and His conversion of everything in our lives to the glory of God, can continue and increase in godliness and righteousness toward the coming day of the restoration of all things.

A time of refreshing
Second, we must avail ourselves of the Lord’s refreshing for every area of our lives. Think of this refreshing not so much like getting a cool drink on a hot day, but like refreshing your email.

What happens when you hit the refresh button on your email? Old messages, no longer relevant or needed, drop away, and new messages arrive, fraught with information, opportunities, and next steps.

The refreshing of the Lord is like that. It comes from His Presence in the form of grace and truth, mediated through the Scriptures, the Spirit of God, and other believers whom the Spirit moves to encourage us. It has the effect of reviving our souls, renewing hope and resolve, and strengthening us for every next step of faith. The refreshing of the Lord lifts us into His peace and joy, opens up to us prospects for service and growth, and emboldens us to live as witnesses for the Lord. The Lord’s refreshing thus spills over into every aspect of our lives. When our soul is refreshed, that refreshing comes to expression in our words and deeds, making us vessels of God’s grace and truth to the people around us and the world we inhabit.

We position ourselves to receive the Lord’s refreshing as we repent of our sins, submit to His Word, listen for His Spirit, and determine to live for His glory in every area of our lives. The Lord’s refreshing is not something merely to indulge, as though He intends His grace and truth to end with us. Rather, having indulged in it, with joy and thanksgiving, we go forth as earthen vessels to communicate the Lord’s grace and truth, so that thanks and praise redound to Him wherever we go (2 Cor. 4.15). Thus, as we are refreshed in the Lord, the world we inhabit, and over which we are set as rulers in our own spheres (2 Cor. 10.13-18), begins to reflect in prospect that restored world that is to come.

We must daily give ourselves to learning and practicing these foundational disciplines. Repentance and refreshing in the Lord are indispensable to carrying out the ministry of reconciliation which has been given to us, and which consists in our daily and continuously working to restore the reconciled world to the Lord, for His Kingdom and glory.

For reflection
1. How would you counsel a new believer to practice repentance? Why should he?

2. What is your approach to receiving the daily and continuous refreshing that comes from the Presence of the Lord?

3. How do repentance and the Lord’s refreshing work together to help us carry out the ministry of reconciliation?

Next Steps – Transformation: What is one thing you can do, beginning now, to bring more repentance and more of the Lord’s refreshing into your life?

T. M. Moore

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This is part 1 in the series, Restoring the Reconciled World. All installments in this series may be downloaded for further study by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore