Restitution

Jul 21st, 2009 | By | Category: Special Features (click on Article name)

Restitution

“And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the heavens must receive [retain] until the Times of Restitution of all things, spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:20-21 My topic is a continuation of that of last Sunday, delivered in New York City.  On that occasion we called attention to the “Times of Refreshing” pointed out by the Apostle as the hope for the Church and the world, and to be expected at the second coming of our Lord. We pointed out that this promised shining forth of divine favor upon the world means the turning away of the curse, the penalty for sin, which has been against the race for now 6,000 years, and that the antitypical day of atonement, a time for sackcloth and ashes and weeping and groaning and travailing in pain under the weight of sin and its death penalty, will soon be past, when the Sun of Righteousness shall shine upon the world to bless and to refresh.

The words of our text today follow those of last Lord’s Day, as explanatory, as teaching us in what respect the divine refreshments will come to the world, how the divine blessing will be poured out. The second coming of our Lord is the key to the entire matter. As the Scriptures declare, the Father hath confirmed all judgment unto the Son, who redeemed the world. Hence, our text declares that with the ending of the night of sin and death, the Heavenly Father’s favor will be manifested in the second advent of Christ, who cannot return until certain appointed times shall have arrived.

The suggestion is in accord with our Master’s words to the apostles when they inquired after his resurrection, “Wilt thou at this time restore the Kingdom of Israel?” He answered and said until them, “It is not for you to know the times and seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

FOREORDAINED TIMES AND SEASONS

The Father has these times and seasons in His own power, fore-known, fore-arranged, or, if we please, foreordained. When the fore-ordained hour shall have arrived, the second coming of our Lord will take place and the great work He is to accomplish at His second advent will begin. That will be earth’s new day—the Millennial day. How the Scriptures everywhere keep before us the thought that the present is a night time, in which sin and trouble prevail; that the new dispensation will be a glorious dawn of refreshment and awakening and reviving.

Well did the Prophet David speak of the present and intimate the future, saying, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” The night which sin and death have beclouded, darkness and trouble, ignorance and superstition in the world, has already lasted six thousand years, but the dawn of the new day is at hand.

Thank God for the prophetic testimony. “Joy cometh in the morning”—not only joy to the living millions who will then be brought under the sway of the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, but joy also to the twenty thousand millions who have already gone down into the darkness of the tomb, into the prison-house of death, to which, as we know, our Redeemer alone has the key—the power, the authority—that he may open and cause the prisoners to come forth. Isa. 49:9; Luke 4:18; Rev. 1:18

WHAT ARE RESTITUTION TIMES?

The Apostle refers to these times of restitution as though his hearers were all thoroughly familiar with them—as though they all understood that the divine promise of blessing through Christ implies times or years in which this blessing would be poured out upon the world. He seems also to take for granted that his hearers understood the meaning of the word restitution—that it signifies to restore, to put back again into a proper condition. It is somewhat remarkable that the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ has so far been lost sight of, and so far contaminated with the errors from the heathen, intermingling during the Dark Ages that remarkably few of the Lord’s people today seem to have ever thought of times of restitution.

Indeed many ministers of the Gospel, hearing our text quoted, have at first presumed that it was some peculiar translation, having overlooked it entirely in their Scripture readings, and never having caught the thought of restitution, which the Apostle here in our text declares has been “spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.” If any prophet failed to speak of the coming times of restitution, the Apostle Peter’s declaration implies that such a prophet should not be regarded as a truthful or holy one. In other words, this message of coming restitution blessings to the world is so important, and has so large a place in the divine revelation, that no prophet could be the Lord’s mouthpiece without referring to these times; and in harmony with this thought may we not inquire with reason, how can any of the Lord’s people today consider that they are in full accord with the Heavenly Father and His inspired revelation while they are neglecting and are comparatively ignorant of this most important subject—the coming restitution which will be inaugurated at the second advent of our Lord Jesus?

Leaven hidden in the meal

Leaven hidden in the meal

In one of His parables our Lord speaks of a woman who hid leaven in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. The three measures of meal represent the family baking, the spiritual food provided by the Lord for the household of faith. If any wish to divide the measures we may properly see in the first, the great truth of justification, in the second, the truth respecting sanctification, in the third, the truth respecting glorification, or the final deliverance. A sufficiency of food for the family of God was provided through the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles and the ancient prophets — “sufficient that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished.” But, alas! the parable shows the corrupting of this food by the intermingling of leaven, which in the Scripture is used as a symbol of corruption.

LEAVEN A SYMBOL OF CORRUPTION

As a woman in the Scriptures is referred to as a symbol of the true Church, and in that figure is represented as a pure virgin, so also a woman, a “harlot,” is used in the Scriptures as a symbol of an impure church or system. It was the impure system of the Dark Ages which mingled the corrupt doctrines of pagan philosophy with the pure food which God had supplied for the household of faith. And so successful was the mixture that, as the parable declared, the false doctrines are commingled with the truth on every subject to such an extent that the impure mixtures are everywhere called orthodox, while the little there is of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth is so unpopular that it is termed heterodox. But, however, the world and the nominal Church may misunderstand these matters, let us see to it that we follow the Apostle’s admonition and purge out all the old leaven, that we may be a clean lump, a pure loaf—that we may have the truth in its sincerity and purity, that we may be nourished thereby and not poisoned and made sick.

It is this corrupt bread that is turning the spiritual stomachs of the whole world at the present time. It is the leaven mixture that is causing the nausea that is becoming so prevalent throughout Christendom, and turning many away entirely from the Bible and from everything that purports to come from that storehouse of grace and truth. Even this foreseen and foretold by the Lord. Has He not pictured the present day and the various sectarian tables and the sour bread thereon and its nauseating effect upon those who sit at those tables? He has, indeed.

Note the statement of the matter as set forth by the prophet, and see that it fits most wonderfully to the conditions we see about us today. We see Christian people of all denominations at their own sectarian tables, ashamed of the “food” thereupon, not satisfied thereby, nauseated. The creeds of the Dark Ages are repulsive to them; they are turning from their tables. Their turning away from their creeds is not because they are worse than were their forefathers, but because they have truer and clearer ideas respecting divine justice and divine love, divine wisdom and divine power, and the exercise of these toward the world of mankind. Let me quote the prophet’s words on this subject, applicable today. He says:

“The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine they are out of the way through strong drink: they err in vision and stumble in judgment.” The language here is figurative; the wine and strong drink referred to are those symbolically mentioned in Revelation; they represent doctrines. The picture in Revelation shows the woman—the same woman referred to in our Lord’s parable as mingling the leaven with the food—having in her hand a cup full of abominable doctrines, with which she made drunk all the nations, with which she intoxicated with error to the extent of foolishness the people of Christendom. The Prophet proceeds with his picture, describing the various tables of Christendom today as represented in the various sectarian presentations of the truth, saying, “All tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.” Isa. 28:8

The world is not so well aware of these matters as are those who are closest to the tables. All sincere, earnest-hearted Christian men and women are perplexed and made sick as they seek spiritual food, nourishment, strengthening doctrines, at their denominational board, where the very best is supposed to be set forth. It is for this reason that so many of the most honest, most sincere, most earnest, most intelligent are turning away and being ensnared by hurtful snares of the adversary. Carrying out the same line of thought, the Prophet asks, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?’’ The answer is, “they that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.” Isa. 28:9

In other words, as the Apostle declares, we must be more than “babes in Christ” in order to be overcomers of the world. We need more than “the milk of the Word.” We need the strong meat of Truth, but that meat must be pure, free from the adulterations and contaminations of the Dark Ages. We must get back to the strengthening food which the Lord has supplied through inspired channels, the apostles and the prophets.

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