RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS
Peter spoke of “the period of restoration of all things” when preaching to a crowd after the miraculous healing of a lame beggar (Acts 3:21 NASB). God’s great restoration of creation takes place in four stages:
- Spiritual rebirth of people who accept the gospel.
- The redemption of our bodies, which is when we’ll receive glorified bodies and (primarily) takes place at the Rapture.
- Christ’s millennial reign on Earth after the seven-year Tribulation.
- The establishment of the new Heavens and new Earth, the eternal home of righteousness.
Let’s go over each stage and the scriptural support for each.
STAGE ONE: Spiritual Regeneration through the Gospel
The Messiah noted the restoration of all things here:
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The Greek word for ‘renewal’ in this verse is paliggenesia (pal-ing-hen-es-EE-ah), which means “new birth, regeneration or renewal.” It’s only used twice in Scripture. The other occasion is Titus 3:5, where it refers to the regeneration of the human spirit. This occurs, of course, when a believer accepts the gospel through repentance and faith (John 3:3,6 & Acts 20:21).
Spiritual regeneration is the first stage of God’s “renewal of all things.” You see, the restoration of all things is jump-started in our current age through the spiritual rebirth of believers. When a person experiences spiritual regeneration they are transferred from the dominion of Satan to the kingdom of God (Acts 26:18). In terms of physical appearance it doesn’t look like anything has changed, although their new attitude about life undoubtedly changes their demeanor. This is because, spiritually, they’ve swapped kingdoms and are no longer slaves to Satan, which naturally has an impact on one’s disposition.
Think about it in terms of those sci-fi flicks based on Jack Finney’s book The Body Snatchers; the first two were called Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The same basic principle is at play except that the extraterrestrials are wholly good because they’re God—Father, Son & Holy Spirit—who want to snatch people from Satan’s dominion. The way they do this is through inward regeneration.
STAGE TWO: The Rapture
Spiritual rebirth culminates with Christ’s return for His Church, which is the second stage of the restoration of all things. All believers are promised this blessing providing they persevere in faith (Colossians 1:22-23 & 1 Corinthians 15:2).*
* This is just common sense; after all, if it takes faith to be saved, a person can no longer be saved if they give-up at some point and no longer believe.
This second stage concerns Jesus’ return for his Church where believers’ bodies are finally redeemed:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
The “redemption of our bodies” occurs when Christ snatches up His Church, as detailed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. When this Rapture takes place, living believers will be translated to Heaven with new, glorified bodies while believers who physically died previously will be bodily resurrected with the same kinds of awesome bodies. How awesome will these bodies be? The Bible describes them as imperishable, glorified, powerful and spiritual in nature (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Chew on that.
While some claim that the word ‘Rapture’ isn’t biblical, it is. It refers to a phrase used in the main passage that details this event:
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
1 Thessalonians 4:17
‘Caught up’ in the Greek is harpazó (har-PAD-zoh), which means to “snatch up” or “obtain by robbery.” It’s translated in Latin as “rapio” in the Vulgate, which is where we get the English “Rapture.” With this understanding, when the Bridegroom, Jesus, comes for His bride, the Church, He’s going to obtain us by robbing us off the Earth!
STAGE THREE: Christ’s Millennial Reign on Earth
The restoration of all things continues after the seven-year Tribulation when Christ returns to Earth and establishes his millennial kingdom, which is what Jesus was specifically referring to in Matthew 19:28 (quoted above). This is the third stage of the restoration of all things at which time Old Testament saints will be resurrected while Tribulation martyrs will be bodily resurrected. Both will receive their immortal bodies at this juncture. As for the mortal humans Christ allows to enter the Millennium after The Judgement of Living Nations (aka The Sheep and Goat Judgment—Matthew 25:31-46), their lifespans will return to the lengthy lifespans of people before the flood of Genesis 6.
Glorified believers will be priests of God and will reign with Christ during the Millennium. Such believers will not be able to propagate because, as Jesus taught, “they will neither marry nor be given in marriage… for they are like the angels” (Luke 20:34-36). This doesn’t mean, by the way, that we’ll be angels; simply that we’ll be like angels in the sense of not marrying and that we’ll attain intrinsic immortality, which we don’t currently possess (Romans 2:7 & 2 Timothy 1:10).
Isaiah 11:6-9 shows what life will be like during the Millennium: Carnivorous animals will become herbivorous and therefore wolves will live with lambs and leopards will lie together with goats; calves and lions will ‘hang out’ and be led by little children. Cows and bears will feed together and formerly carnivorous beasts, like the lion, will eat straw like an ox. Furthermore, children will play by the cobra’s den and the viper’s nest without fear because poisonous creatures will no longer be poisonous.
At the end of the Millennium Satan is released and immediately deceives the nations, inciting a mass attack on the righteous government of Christ in Jerusalem. This rebellion is easily defeated and the devil is cast into the lake of fire forever. Revelation 20:1-10 details these events.
God’s Purpose for the Millennium
The Millennium is basically a transitional phase between this present evil age (Galatians 1:4) and the eternal righteous age-to-come (Luke 18:29-30). But what exactly is God’s purpose for the Millennium? It’s simple when you think about it:
The Millennium is the LORD’s irrefutable proof to humanity that the religion of secular humanism is a lie. As you may or may not know, secular humanism is atheistic in nature and therefore anti-God. To those who embrace this godless religion there’s no sin problem because there’s no God for whom to sin against. To them, the problem of evil isn’t humanity’s sin nature and the corresponding alienation from our Creator, but rather a negative environment. As such, they believe evil, crime, poverty, war and other ailments will largely be eradicated when the right government is in place and every person is provided an education, a decent job, a nice living environment, protection from crime, and so on. While these things are good, they don’t actually remedy the sin problem or reconcile people to their Creator. They cannot set us free from Satan’s dominion and the slavery thereof. After all, a white collar man living in a rich suburb is still perfectly able to commit fraud due to a greedy heart, not to mention be a drunkard, drug addict, wife-beater, slanderer, hypocrite, adulterer, murderer, blowhard, oppressor, porn addict or practicing homosexual.
In the Millennium the LORD is going to provide the perfect government and environment for nations of mortals. It will be a veritable worldwide utopia. Since Jesus will be the King over all the Earth and his assistants will be glorified believers who don’t have a sin nature there will be zero corruption in the government (imagine that!). Yet, as the population increases over the course of the thousand years, many of the offspring of the original “sheep”—the mortals whom Christ allows to enter into the Millennium (Matthew 25:31-46)—will just go through the motions of being faithful to the Lord while their hearts aren’t in it. This is legalism—putting on the airs of godliness without the heart of godliness. Because legalism is an “outward job” it’s decidedly inauthentic. As such, when the devil is unleashed at the end of the thousand years these covert rebels will naturally embrace the lies of the kingdom of darkness and unite for war in a harebrained attempt to take over the completely righteous government of Christ! (This shows that Satan is thoroughly incorrigible; he never learns from his mistakes).
Of course the rebellion is quickly quelled and, after the Great White Throne Judgment, the eternal age of the new Heavens and new Earth will manifest (Revelation 20:9-15 & Revelation 21-22).
So the Millennium is the Most High’s eternal showcase in disproving the religion of secular humanism.
STAGE FOUR: The Eternal New Heavens and New Earth
As wonderful as the thousand-year reign of Christ will be, it’s just another stage in the “restoration of all things.” The fourth and final stage takes place when God wholly renovates the Earth & Universe and the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, comes “down out of heaven from God” to rest on the new Earth (Revelation 21:1-4). Thus the renewal of all things climaxes with the renewing of the Earth & Universe. This is the new Heavens and new Earth, the eternal “home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
The Greek word for ‘restoration’ in the phrase “the final restoration of all things” is apokatastasis (ah-pok-ah-TAS-tah-sis), which appears only once in the Bible:
For he [Jesus] must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration (apokatastasis) of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.
The root word for apokatastasis is apokathistémi (ah-pok-ath-IS-tay-mee), which means “to set up again” and “restore to its original position or condition.” That’s what the “restoration of all things” is about—restoring the Earth and Universe to its original condition before the fall, which is the way God originally intended it to be.
Creation Itself “Waits in Eager Expectation”
The Bible stresses that creation itself yearns for the redemption provided in the restoration of all things:
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
What does creation “wait in eager expectation” for? Answer: The children of God to be revealed, which is part of the restoration of all things, as detailed earlier.
What exactly is “the creation” in this verse? It refers to the Earth and Universe and all living things thereof, including the animal kingdom and even the plant kingdom. They will all be partakers in this redemption of the physical Universe. Why else would all creation “wait in eager expectation” for this great restoration if they were not included in it? Of course, animals and trees aren’t literally yearning for this renewal, but they yearn for it in a figurative sense because they’re included in it.
Consider something interesting, noted by David Reagan: When the high priest sprinkled animal blood on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant once a year to atone for the sins of the Hebrews, this blood covered God’s Law, which was represented in the Ark via the tablets of the Ten Commandments. This ritual resulted in God’s mercy year to year, covering the Israelites’ sins. But the blood of animals could only temporarily cover sin, not cleanse it away forever (Hebrews 10:1-4).
The good news is that Jesus Christ, who is the believer’s High Priest, offered his own blood when he went to the Most Holy Place in Heaven, not merely the blood of animals (Hebrews 9:23-28). Reagan points out that Leviticus 16:15 shows the high priest sprinkling blood on the ground in front of the Ark after sprinkling it on the cover. At the time, the Ark was housed in the tent Tabernacle and so the blood was literally poured on the ground. Why is this significant? Because the entire ceremony pointed to Christ’s blood atonement in Heaven and the high priest didn’t just sprinkle blood on the lid of the Ark for the redemption of humanity, but also on the ground for the restoration of all physical creation.
So “the final restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21) refers to the LORD restoring everything in creation to the condition it was originally intended. The Greek word for ‘all things’ is pas (pass), which means “all, the whole, every kind of.” So God is going to restore all creation to its initial condition, as He originally intended it to be before Satan duped Adam & Eve and usurped power-of-attorney over physical creation. Revelation 21:5 adds an interesting insight in that God will be “making everything new” and not making new things. There’s a difference.
Of course, the LORD won’t restore those condemned to the lake of fire. This includes damned human beings, the devil & his filthy angels or anything else cast into the lake of fire, such as death and Hades (Revelation 20:10-15 & Matthew 25:41). The lake of fire is basically God’s garbage dump. The good news of the gospel of Christ is all about escaping this eternal condemnation and partaking of “the restoration of all things.”
Needless to say, make sure YOU are a partaker and do everything in your power to get those linked to you to be partakers as well. As “Christ’s ambassador,” YOU are a “minister of reconciliation” called to share the “message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
Here’s a diagram of the restoration of all things to help you visualize the four stages (click to enlarge):
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