In Acts 3:21 the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of Peter, revealed unto the people of God, a blessed Divine Truth
“WHOM THE HEAVEN MUST RECEIVE UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS, WHICH GOD HATH SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN.”
Note what the speaker added in Acts 3:24:
“YEA, AND ALL THE PROPHETS FROM SAMUEL AND THOSE THAT FOLLOW AFTER, AS MANY AS HAVE SPOKEN, HAVE LIKEWISE FORETOLD OF THESE DAYS.”
“The restitution of all things.” “These days.” What days they will be! These days will make up years. Let us carefully, prayerfully, spiritually read and study this wonderful message of Peter in the third chapter of Acts. He begins “Ye men of Israel” Acts 3:12. The message concerning “the restitution of all things” mentioned by all the holy prophets since the world began concerned Israel primarily. But the kingdom blessings will extend to all the nations of the earth. We quote Acts 3:19 to 21:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord: And He shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”
Now note in Luke 1:70 the same language that is used in Acts 3:21:
“As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” Luke 1:70.
Note the context:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people.” “That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us: To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham; That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear.” Luke 1:68 and 71 to 74.
What will that mean for the poor scattered persecuted Jews who are now the football for almost every Gentile ruler and government in Europe and other countries?
“The times of the restitution of all things” will mean for Israel deliverance from Gentile dictatorship and persecution and humiliation. Then note what is going to take place:
“And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” Amos 9:14 and 15.
“And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one.” Zechariah 14:9.
Some time after Peter proclaimed the truth of Acts 3:12 to 26, he again addressed Israel and said:
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” Acts 5:30 to 32.
Christ was exalted to be Israel’s Prince and Saviour to give them repentance. When we read of the awful judgment which Christ pronounced upon Israel in Matthew 23:13 to 39, we should then ascertain why the Lord changed His attitude toward Israel and offered them forgiveness and the restitution of all things, if they would repent. Note some of the things Christ said to Israel in Matthew 23: “Ye fools and blind” (Matthew 23:17) “ye serpents, ye generation of vipers” (Matthew 23:33) “the children of murderers” (Matthew 23:31). Then note Matthew 23:38,
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
But now let us remember the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 10:23: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye may not have gone over the cities, till the Son of man be come.” Then following the. death and resurrection of the Messiah the apostles asked Him a question, “wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6. They could have put this question in these words, “wilt Thou at this time bring about the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began” They meant, “are we going now into those days spoken by Samuel and the other prophets?” Acts 3:24.
Let us keep in mind that none of those twelve apostles knew one single thing concerning “the dispensation of the grace of God” of Ephesians 3:1 to 3; or “the dispensation of the secret” of Ephesians 3:9, or “the Joint-Body” of Ephesians 3:6. The risen Christ revealed to Paul these vital, new precious truths for Gentiles saved by grace. During this parenthetical period, while the King is absent from the earth and the Messianic kingdom is in abeyance, the dispensation of grace will continue. The Scriptures speak of these messages of grace for Gentiles as “the unsearchable (untraceable) riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8. These days of grace were not spoken by the mouth of Israel’s prophets since the world began. These days of grace in which we live are altogether different from “these days” mentioned in Acts 3:24.
Thus we see that before God ushered in this parenthetical “grace” period and began the Church of the Mystery (Colossians 1:24 to 26) He gave to Israel another opportunity to receive Jesus as Messiah and King. This is the message of Acts 3:12 to 26. Christ had prayed for His murderers on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. This prayer brought to Israel this new opportunity to repent. Note Acts 3:14 and 15, 17 and 19
“But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you: And killed the Prince of Life, Whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:14, 15, 17 and 19.
Even after the Lord Jesus had called those wicked men, “the children of murderers,” “a generation of vipers,” “serpents,” after He had said, “your house is left unto you desolate,” God was willing to forgive all and send Christ back, if they would repent. God was willing to forgive and forget all of their wicked deeds on the grounds of ignorance, even their murder of His Son. But they imprisoned the apostles and killed Stephen and stoned Paul.
Note Paul’s words to them:
“Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets: Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” Acts 13:40 and 41.
They blasphemed against the Holy Spirit again and again. Acts 18:5 and 6. Then the Divine judgment fell:
“(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day.” “Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.” Romans 11:8 and 10.
The Messianic kingdom was postponed and another apostle then became the chief messenger of the Lord; the Apostle Paul. He wrote
“For this cause, I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” Ephesians 3:1.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Romans 11:13.
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24.
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” I Corinthians 3:10.
This new apostle wrote of “the Church which is Christ’s Body,” “the Mystery unknown to Israel’s prophets,” “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” “the Mystery of God’s will.” He stated that members of the Church of the Mystery, were one with Christ, seated with Him in the heavenlies, and blessed with all spiritual blessings. He wrote concerning “One New Man.” All of this is in Paul’s Epistles, especially in Ephesians.
Members of Christ’s Body constitute “the household of God.” “In Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord In Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21 and 22. Church members are spoken of as “the fulness (or the filling up) of Christ.” Ephesians 1:23.
Concerning their heavenly position and these heavenly possessions of members of Christ’s Body, Samuel and Israel’s other prophets said nothing, because they knew nothing. Colossians 1:24 to 26—Ephesians 3:5 to 11.
We do not rightly divide the Word of Truth when we confuse “the Church of the Mystery”, “the Joint-Body” of Ephesians 3:6, unknown to Israel’s prophets, with “the restitution of all things” spoken by all the prophets. These days of grace are different from the “these days” of the Messianic kingdom concerning which Samuel and all the prophets spoke and wrote.
The dispensation of the Mystery is identified with the Mystery among the Gentiles. Colossians 1:27. During the first nine chapters of Acts it was not even lawful for an apostle of Jesus Christ to preach to a Gentile. Acts 10:28. Therefore it is a great blunder to begin “the dispensation of the grace of God for Gentiles” or “the dispensation of the Mystery” on the day of Pentecost. This dispensation is mentioned in connection with “the unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles;” that is, the spiritual blessings for Gentile believers not prophesied in Israel’s Scriptures.
Everything which Peter and the Eleven preached in Acts was in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Paul began his ministry by first preaching truth in fulfillment of these same prophecies. But it behooves us to learn at what time in the ministry of Paul he began to preach the “unsearchable” riches of Christ; the unprophesied ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
After God has accomplished His eternal purpose during this present reign of grace, after the Church has been taken to glory, God will set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people Isaiah 11:11. That will be the restitution of all things. Until then the heavens will retain Jesus Christ.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.