In this first number of a new series, to replace The Wayside Pulpit, we need to examine the word “Restitution” in the 3rd chapter of Acts, quoted in the Title of this series. The Greek word is Apokatastasis pronounced Apokatastasis, made up from three words APO, KATA, and STASIS. APO means “away from”, KATA means “down”, but is often employed to mean “utterly, completely”, andSTASIS is a noun derived from the verb meaning “to stand”. Putting all these thoughts together produces a word meaning “a complete standing away from,” in other words, a restoration from the present condition to that of its pristine state, a re-instatement of that which has been unlawfully obtained, or a return to normal existence after people/circumstances cause an abnormality. There are many occasions in life when the word “restitution” could be applied, or even hoped for.
See how Peter used the expression. He spoke about heaven receiving the Lord Jesus until the “times of restitution of all things.” Many Christians have awaited the second coming of our Lord and Saviour with great joy and expectation, and Peter tells us that when He returns a whole new system of government will operate, which he calls “the times of restitution.” Hence, whilst the Lord’s return remains a future hope, these “times of restitution” do not operate. This is why the subject is of such importance to us. We need to know exactly what Peter implied when he uttered these words to the assembled crowds just after Pentecost.
To begin this study, let’s have a look at a bit more of Peter’s speech. He addressed his Jewish audience, asking them to repent, be converted, for their sins to be wiped away, so that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Hence we have two expressions of a similar nature, “times of refreshing” and “times of restitution.” However, in the Greek original, the word for “time” is different in each. The first expression uses kairoV, the second kronoV. Kairos denotes a “season”, whilst Kronos means “time.” In this present age we have experienced “seasons of refreshing” when revivals have swept across the land. They seldom last for more than a few years, and after about 30 years all trace of the event vanishes. But in the Coming Age of Gold there will be “times of restitution”, not just seasons, but continuous activity from heaven in this great work.
This is the great difference between God’s present working and that which is about to replace it in the Kingdom. At this present time we are still under the administration of God’s grace in gathering His elect from all nations. In the Age to come we shall see a great work of restitution occurring. It behoves us therefore to examine what this “restitution” will consist of. And the meaning of the Greek word given above is our foundation stone upon which we can build. Restitution means the returning to that which obtained originally, before Satan took over the controls of this world, before he began to imprison God’s people, physically and mentally, before he snatched precious nuggets of truth from the minds of believers and imposed them on the church as heresies.
The Lord Jesus spoke of restitution when He said, “If I, by the Spirit of God, expel demons, then the Kingdom of God is come upon you. How can anyone enter into the strong man’s house and seize his vessels unless he first binds the strong man?” (Matthew 12:28-29) Our Lord must therefore have bound Satan in order to release the Strong Man’s hostages. He encouraged His disciples to do the same. Even in our day one hears of such activity accompanying the glorious release of those imprisoned by Satan. But the important point in this passage is our Lord’s assertion that every time demons are expelled, the Kingdom of God invades the earthly scene. These are examples of what it will be like continually when the Millennial Kingdom is fully manifested. As the writer to the Hebrews put it, “Those who have tasted the powers of the age to come.” (6:5)
Therefore it is not good enough to say, “Let’s wait and pray for the Kingdom to come, then we shall see all these marvels.” Of course we are waiting, of course we are praying, but we should also be binding the Strong Man and plundering his goods. Every time a man is released from his sin, to receive “life in His name”, a soul is snatched from the clutches of Satan. Every time a servant of the Lord casts out a demon, a soul is released from bondage. Every time a man is cleared from mental stress, depression, and misery into the sunshine of God’s love, he is restored to “power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Tim.1:7) Every time a person is released from ancestral bondage, he is freed from the shackles of the flesh to serve the Lord without handicaps. The list goes on. And each time any of these events take place, “the Kingdom of God is come upon you.” These are the “seasons of refreshing” the Lord is looking for in this present age.
But there is also another area, briefly mentioned above . It relates to the way in which original truths have been rendered obnoxious to the church by Satan, so that the fulness of inheritance of God’s children is reduced. Anyone who has read church history will know how the Roman Catholics refused to allow the common people to read their Bibles. Only the priests were allowed to “interpret” the Scriptures. And the Bible was made to say whatever best suited the ecclesiastical authorities, to keep men under religious bondage, subservient to their priests under pain of dire threats, hell fire, and never-ending torment.
Martin Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Bullinger, and Knox were used by God to inaugurate a new state of freedom. We do not want to eulogise such men too highly, because they also made some terrible mistakes, but they were courageous, standing against immeasurable odds in their fight for freedom. Others, like Bishops Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake for their protestant beliefs. In fact these two men were ardent universalists, a fact that is seldom mentioned in church histories. This shows the strength and anger of the Strong Man, and the grip he has, not just over individual men’s lives, but also over doctrines.
During the 20th century we have seen a resurgence of gifts of the Holy Spirit, as they were found at Pentecost. This was another area of restitution. Sadly this has developed into a system of religion known as the charismatic church, which has a subtle bondage of its own, another aspect of Satanicdeception. The so-called Toronto blessing is just one expression of that, where “power, love and a sound mind” have been exchanged for spiritual drunkenness and juvenile excesses of various kinds.
Over the years my wife and I have written many papers on the subject of Universal Reconciliation, which we truly believe is an area which Satan hates with a violence and venom, simply because it suggests that even he, at the end of the ages, will come to his senses, and repent. The church, by and large, considers us heretical for espousing such a belief, but we see this response as a work of Satanicinfiltration, and are unmoved by it. We pray fervently that this great truth of understanding will grow apace as a result of wider preaching by numbers of God’s children. We have no quarrel with those who think we are way off the mark. We see it as part of a spiritual battle.
Paul referred to this type of warfare in 2 Cor.10:4-5 “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” We believe that there are many areas of truth yet to be liberated from Satanic bondage, whereby men may “know the truth, and the truth will set them free.” It is our ongoing work to pursue this task. We recognise that the Lord has given us a teaching ministry to advertise whatever He brings to our notice, as we “wrestle against principalities and powers, and the world-rulers of this darkness.” This will be the thrust of this new series of papers, and our friends will see that for us it’s nothing new, it’s been our continuing theme since the first number of The Prophetic Telegraph back in 1986. It will be towards the “restitution of ancient truth,” and we trust that God will use it to broaden the scope of the mind, and enlarge the heart at the wonder of God’s character and purposes. We are not alone in this venture. We realise that. But we sense the urgency of the Lord’s hand upon us, as the days draw ever nearer to the full manifestation of the Age of Gold, and so we hasten to obey His leading. The Lord is calling His children out of the Stalls into the Arena of life. Caterpillars do not sit around waiting for their wings, they go down into death and arise in resurrection.
“Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall ever be,
When the earth shall be filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.”