|- J. Preston Eby -
Duality, division, imbalance, fragmentation - pulled in all directions trying to satisfy multiplied desires, this is a mark of this world's system. But there are those who have been apprehended of Him, to become firstfruits of a new creation, and they shall know the joy of oneness, unity, harmony.
Shortly after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter and John visited the temple in Jerusalem, where they came into contact with a man "lame from his mother's womb." Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked alms of them. Peter, "fastening his eyes on him with John, said, Look on us." Then Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." Peter took this man by the hand, "and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God" (Acts 3:1-8).
We read that "as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering." It is not surprising that the people wondered, for here was a man who they knew had been unable to walk from the time of his birth, but who was suddenly walking and leaping and praising God. Peter observed the situation and said to the people, "Ye men of Israel, why marvel yea at this? or why look yea so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; whom yea delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But yea 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 His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom yea see and know; yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him the PERFECT SOUNDNESS in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance yea did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled."
Thus Peter set squarely before the men of Israel that fact that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead, and that it was through faith in His name that the lame man had been given soundness of limb. He was made WHOLE, all the parts of his physical being quickened, balanced and harmonized into the state of health, vitality, and well-being. Then Peter presented a marvelously comprehensive lesson from this incident of divine healing, a lesson which embraces the great objective of the Creator's design for the redemption of mankind from the division, fragmentation and imbalance of this world of confusion, limitation, sickness and death and the restoration of the WHOLENESS of union IN GOD. He said, "Repent yea 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 RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:19-21).
Restitution means restoration of reconstitution. Something had been lost. One of the evidences of that loss was the condition of the lame man who through faith in Jesus had been restored to health; and Peter explained that in the conclusion of God's wonderful plan there would be TIMES OF RESTITUTUON OF ALL THINGS. Jesus had healed a few of the sick in Israel during the short period of His ministry, and now Peter and John had restored another to health. But the people were not to suppose that these token blessings represented God's total design for the sin-cursed and dying race, nor for the whole vast creation, for later in His great plan there would be TIMES OF RESTITUTION OF A-L-L T-H-I-N-G-S. The restoration of a human body back into the state of wholeness was but a weak type and shadow of the restitution that would ultimately restore ALL THINGS.
What was lost, when was it lost, and how shall it be restored? We hear much these days on the subject of restoration. Some churches are built on the foundation of restoring the "New Testament Church". In fact, all Christian groups, movements and denominations are, to some extent, looking wistfully back to the glory of the early church. But the restoration of the New Testament Church cannot be the restoration the scriptures speak about, for Peter preached this grand message on the day of Pentecost, and we read it in Acts 3:21. At that time, THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH TO RESTORE! There never had been, in the history of the world, a New Testament Church, and the church was only then ready to be birthed. You cannot restore something that never has existed, and this restoration is one of which all the holy prophets spake SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN.
Some entertain the notion that there is to be a restoration of mankind back to the state of Adam in the garden of Eden. There are beautiful types in the garden of Eden, and much precious reality, with the presence of God and the tree of life in the midst of the garden, but really we have no desire to be restored to the Adam of the second chapter of Genesis, in the garden of Eden, for it is plain that he had but little to lose. He had already been lowered from his pure spirit existence in God; the image and likeness of God in him had already been fragmented and become marred; and even the dominion given into his hands never was exercised or consolidated, before the dark specter of sin thrust him rudely from the garden. We have received this idea of restoration of all that Adam lost in the garden, through the erroneous supposition that the Adam of the second chapter, and the man of the first chapter, were the same man in the same state of being, and that the man of the second chapter sinned, and thereby fell from the perfection of the man of the first chapter. We have already seen that such was not the case, so will not labor the point. But restoration back to Eden would, in effect, be no restoration at all!
Therefore, the restoration MUST GO BACK FARTHER EVEN THAN EDEN. Farther back than we have ever dreamed or even considered, for Acts 3:21 says, "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." If the prophets began to speak about this great restoration from the very beginning of the cosmos and all time, then it must be conceded that this restoration goes back beyond any of their prophecies, beyond the foundation of the cosmos, and beyond the first moment of time.
We have been prone to think solely in terms of the natural, physical realm. But everything that has happened in this gross material realm, came out of something in the heavenly realm. All things are of God. All have their source in Him, and all have come out of Him. These things I now write and these blessed hopes I set before you that your spiritual eyes might be lifted far above the dimness of tradition and the outer darkness and foolish senility of the Babylonish church system. May the blessed Spirit of Truth somehow enable all who read these lines to understand that we speak of a restoration, not so much of what Adam might have lost, but of WHAT GOD LOST, for the Son of man was sent from the beauteous, bounteous and harmonic celestial realms above "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10). "That," in the Greek text, means "the thing." Christ came to save, not merely he who was lost, but that, the thing that was lost. Here is REAL RESTORATION spoken of by the mouth of ALL the prophets SINCE TIME BEGAN. The restoration goes far beyond whatever Adam may have lost in Eden; back to a loss that God suffered when all things were lowered out of Him. There must be restitution of all into Him, with the healing of all the separation, division, fragmentation and imbalance, with a rectification of the loss suffered by each part.
"And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Col. 1:20). The phrase "things in heaven" suggests to us one startling step further. The sphere of reconciliation is not only man - not only the created beings in the heavens above him - it is that of the very Being of God. Remember the words of the Psalmist: "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Omitting for a moment the fact that they have met and kissed, let us consider them separately. They all exist in the nature of God. If we reverently think of God as apart from the mystery of evil, we recognize the perfect harmony of these: mercy, the tenderness bending over in love; truth, which is uprightness, stable, and builds; righteousness, which is a straight line without deviation; peace, which is absolute safety. All these co-exist in the nature of God. But the breaking up of the harmony of these in creation, the fragmentation of the very nature of God Himself in the things made, necessitates not only the restoration of creation, but A RECONCILING WITHIN THE VERY BEING OF GOD.
It is most important that we thoroughly understand the meaning of the word "restitution". The Greek word is APOKATASTASIS and does not occur anywhere else in the New Testament besides Acts 3:21; but the kindred verb occurs in eight other passages, and in each is rendered "restore". Dr. Young, in his Analytical Concordance, gives the clearest meaning of all, and, in fact, gives only one simple meaning: RECONSTITUTION. Reconstitution is an interesting word. The New Webster's Dictionary defines it thus: To constitute anew, as whole milk from dried powdered milk; to reconstruct.
Let us UNDERSTAND! Nothing can be re-constituted except that which has been taken apart, separated, or fragmented. Nothing can be re-constituted but that from which some ingredient is MISSING! It has been said that should you ask a chef for his secret recipe, he will give it to you - minus one key ingredient! Because of the absence of that one ingredient your dish will never be quite as tasty as his! In most grocery stores today one can buy "reconstituted orange juice" in half-gallon cartons. "Reconstituted" is just another way of saying that the juice is made from concentrate. To make concentrate, the water is removed, leaving a strong, syrupy substance sold in super markets as "frozen concentrate". The concentrate is pure orange juice, minus the one key ingredient - water! Now you can buy the concentrate, add back the water, and you have reconstituted orange juice. Or, the company will take the water out, then put it back, call it "reconstituted orange juice", and sell it to you at a higher price to pay for all this service!
The simple truth of the matter is this: Restitution means reconstitution, and the reconstitution of all things bespeaks the reconstituting of all things back into the unity, harmony and wholeness they had in God in that long-ago beginning when all things were created IN CHRIST JESUS. It means that God will restore to each man individually, and to all men collectively, the fullness of His nature, mind, will and purpose until there is no lack in anyone, anywhere in all the unbounded heavens. Every attribute of God will be so perfectly synchronized and balanced in every creature until there I are no excesses, no imbalances, no extremes, no diseases disorders disability, dis-tress, dis-aster, dis-obedience, dis-cord, dis-couragement, dis-harmony, dis-orientation, dis-union or dis-integration whatever. All the negative attitudes, emotions and state of being, the result of fragmentation, are swallowed up in HIS FULLNESS. The more we enter into Christ the more we enter into singleness, for He IS oneness in every aspect. "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" ( II Cor. 11:3). Literally, "from the SINGLENESS into the Christ."
From the pen of another ready writer comes these words of confirmation: "Everything in today's confused, complex system seeks to turn us away from that singleness which leads us back into Christ. We get so entangled and frustrated by every confused work, that we hardly know which way is up, or down. Only in the central supremacy of Christ can true oneness be found. He is to be the Center, Source, and the Goal of the universe. So long as the will of man is in contra-distinction to the will of God, we do not have oneness. But the more we are brought to that place of submission, 'not my will, but Thine, be done,' then there is a unification taking place which brings us into this blessed oneness. Oneness must eventually be established in ALL, everywhere, that God, WHO IS ONE, might be ALL IN ALL. This means true unification, with singleness of mind and purpose, because everything is IN HIM.
"As soon as Christ becomes the total Center of our life, and everything is swallowed up into Him, then He is all in all for us. We shall not stroll through the ages together just hand-in-hand, but He said, 'I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK IN THEM; and I will be their God and they shall be My people' (II Cor. 6:16). Furthermore, He has 'purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together IN ONE all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him' (Eph. 1:9-10). But where does the fulfillment of this purpose begin? IN A FIRSTFRUITS COMPANY. Those whom He apprehends and leads out from the midst of the world, and its corruptness, into a path of righteousness, to become HIS people. And then, every man in his own order, rank after rank, until all have been brought into the fullness of His life.
"Thus, ultimately it is not just His mind controlling our mind, but it is our possessing HIS mind. This is His central supremacy within. It is more than just a 'fill me' with more of God, but a being swallowed up into Him, henceforth to be AS HE IS, a vessel that shall be truly a revelation of His life. This is not becoming a 'little Christian robot', with the Lord on high pulling the strings. Flesh and Spirit do not operate in unison when the carnal mind seeks to control. But when man is joined in one spirit to the Lord, and the Spirit of Christ fills all of man, there is a NEW CREATION which is able to fulfill God's purpose for mankind. Oh, to possess HIS mind, HIS will - becoming one in HIS purpose. This is what we are admonished in Eph. 4:23, to be 'renewed in the spirit of your mind.' This renewal, which brings the mind into oneness with the spirit realm, breaking down all the barriers of the carnal, results in a new state of being, 'to make in Himself of twain ONE NEW MAN, so making peace' (Eph. 2:15).
"The first man, Adam, was made a living soul. A division was wrought between soul and spirit, and Adam moved in a soulish realm. The new man, the last Adam, became a life-giving spirit. In Christ we see the swallowing up of the soulish man into the realm of the spiritual. Thus, when our mind is fully renewed, into the mind of Christ, we shall no more think thoughts which are different than that of the Spirit, but we shall think the Spirit's thoughts. And since all actions are thoughts expressed, it follows that all that we do will be right, for our actions shall spring out of a Christed mind". - Ray Prinzing.
Restitution is God putting things back together in UNION IN HIMSELF until all separation and division is healed, every deficiency replenished, all imbalance corrected, and all extremes harmonized. In this state of being selfhood, self-will, duality, sin and death forever cease to exist. God becomes ALL-IN-ALL.
Let us consider now in conclusion, the steps, stages, and processes by which God performs this grand work of restitution. The very first reality experienced by men who turn to the Lord is that of RECONCILIATION. Reconciliation always involves a turning UNTO, a movement TOWARD. "And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things UNTO HIMSELF" (Col. 1:20). "And that He might reconcile both UNTO GOD in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Eph. 2:16). "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us TO HIMSELF by Jesus Christ, and hath given unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world UNTO HIMSELF ... we pray you in Christ's stead, be yea reconciled TO GOD" (II Cor. 5:18-20). "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled TO GOD by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom. 5:10).
Webster's dictionary defines the English word "reconcile" to mean: to unite; to bring back into harmony; to settle; to make consistent or compatible. Now this leads to a point of immense importance. We often hear it said that "the death of Christ was necessary in order to reconcile God to man." This is a pious stupidity, arising from inattention to the language of the Holy Spirit, and indeed to the plain meaning of the word "reconcile". God never changed - never stepped out of His normal and true position. He abideth faithful. There was and could be no derangement, no confusion, no alienation, so far as He was concemed; God was still ONE within His own Being, all was wisely planned by His omniscient mind, and man was lowered into the world of sin and strife and hostility in the hope of redemption and the restoration of all following the outworking of His purpose; hence, there could be no need of reconciling Him to us. In fact, it was exactly the contrary. Man was the one fragmented, out of balance, marred and scarred, walking in self-will and rebellion, a slave to sin and death, the enemy of God. God never ever became an enemy of man nor does He need to be reconciled to man. The opposite is the truth and always the teaching of scripture. It was God who provided redemption! God so loved the world that He gave His Son! The God who so loved the world could never have been man's enemy! But man is an enemy of God and man must be reconciled to God. Oh, that sinners would be told that it was God the Father who gave His Son, not to appease some awful anger and vengeance on His part, or to reconcile Himself, but to appease and reconcile man! Therefore, the scripture loudly proclaims, "We beseech you in Christ's stead, be yea reconciled to God" (II Cor. 5:20).
A reconciliation is for the purpose of bringing people of opposing ideals and desires together. The way God does this is by means of the ministry of reconciliation. Jesus came that He might reconcile us to God; that means that all the barriers that exist between man and our Creator, will be taken away; and that which separates us from God will be destroyed, and we will be brought back into a friendly relationship with Him. Reconciliation is needed between two persons who are not on friendly terms. Something exists between them that keeps them apart, and whatever it is, has to be removed, so they can come together again, and enjoy each other. "For if, WHEN WE WERE ENEMIES, WE WERE RECONCILED TO GOD by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom. 5:10). What wonder there is in these few words! We were ENEMIES, yet reconciled to God, and that reconciliation came through the death of the Son of God. We were not converted people when we began to be reconciled. We were not saved people at that reconciliation. If we had been saved or converted or righteous at the time of reconciliation, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO NEED FOR A RECONCILIATION. On the other hand, we could never come to God to be saved without first being reconciled! This is why I stated earlier that reconciliation is the very first reality experienced by the man or woman who turns to the Lord. Praise God, one glad day the Spirit of God touched our heart-strings and by the transforming power of the blood of Jesus our enmity, variance, and hostility were washed away, neutralized, destroyed, and we came broken-hearted, weeping, repenting back to Father's house. We were reconciled to God!
Reconciliation is unto God, but SALVATION, on the other hand, involves an altogether opposite principle. Salvation is not basically unto, but FROM. Salvation embraces a term of which most professing Christians, though familiar with, have confused understanding. The term "saved" comes from the Greek verb SOZO and is found in the New Testament 106 times and means save, keep from harm, preserve, rescue. The noun SOTERIA is found 45 times and means salvation, deliverance, preservation. The compound verb DIASOZO is found eight times and means to bring safely through, save, deliver, rescue. In no way does it mean merely to have one's sins forgiven, or a good feeling, or be bom again, or a ticket to heaven - the meanings usually associated with it in most Christian circles.
It should be self-evident that first and foremost salvation involves a deliverance from something. If I say, "Robert saved the boy from drowning," or "The Park Ranger saved the girl from the clutches of the bear," I am describing a rescue, a deliverance, an emancipation, and escape FROM a power that would harm or destroy. Salvation is uniquely from. Let us consider a few scripture passages which confirm this fact. "And thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people FROM their sins" (Mat. 1:21). "And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves FROM this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40). "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved FROM wrath through Him" (Rom. 5:9)." He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death" (Heb. 5:7). "He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul FROM death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (James 5:20). The scriptures reveal that salvation brings deliverance from the world, from sin, from the flesh, from the devil, from wrath, from death! This salvation is being wrought out in us now from experience to experience, from glory to glory. As has often been said, we have been saved, are being saved, and shall be saved. Every step of the way it is a salvation, a deliverance FROM a former state or condition.
RESTITUTION is more than reconciliation and more than salvation; it is greater than all. Reconciliation is the abolishment of our hostility toward God or our estrangement from God. Salvation is our deliverance out of the kingdom and power of darkness. Reconciliation means the removal of something from us; whereas salvation removes us from something; but restitution is greater than both! Restitution ADDS SOMETHING TO US - and the sum of that "something" is A-L-L that we were made to LACK FROM ELOHIM!
On the morning of November 1, 1952, an event took place which was to forever change our world. It happened on Elugelab, a small island in the Pacific, about one mile wide. On it were a number of buildings and weapons. Floating in the bay were several ships. Early that moming the first full-scale hydrogen bomb was exploded there and the island of Elugelab forever disappeared from this world. In its place was a hole in the bottom of the ocean, a hundred and seventy-five feet deep and over a mile in diameter. The buildings disappeared. The tanks and ships in the bay were totally vaporized. One who watched the event and sailed over the scene a few hours later, saw that the waters were perfectly clear. There was no debris, no sand, no material from the ships or buildings. There was nothing but a gaping hole in the bottom of the sea. The first fusion bomb had been exploded with a power equal to seven hundred and fifty times that which leveled the city of Hiroshima. The hydrogen age - the fusion age - began!
It had been speculated since 1934 that such a thing as fusion energy or a fusion explosion was possible. Fission was first discovered whereby the heavy element of uranium was split in two. It was known, however, that it was possible to create energy in the way stars create energy, by taking the light element of hydrogen and fusing the atoms of hydrogen together into an atom of helium. That is the way suns create their energy. But it was considered to be entirely impractical and impossible because in order to produce this fusion it was necessary to create a heat of twenty million degrees centigrade. Such a thing was totally beyond the realm of possibility in 1934. But after 1945, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the possibilities became very real because in the center of an atomic explosion there is created for a moment a temperature of one hundred and fifty million degrees centigrade. So the possibility of fusion was again examined.
We have been apprehended today to participate in an event of SPIRITUAL FUSION, whereby we are told that we are being fused together into ONE IN GOD. "He that is joined to the Lord is ONE SPIRIT" (I Cor. 6:17). How does this come about? It comes about because of the white heat of the passion of Jesus Christ causing a spiritual fusion in three parts: First, the tremendous heat of the love of Christ; then the breaking down of the duality and division of selfhood; and finally the fusion of a whole new element, our spirit joined to His Spirit, and next the release of the tremendous energy as a result of that fusion. That is what Christ has called us to experience. That we, being many, should become ONE IN HIM: one body, one spirit, one loaf, one family, one mind, one will, one nature, one purpose, one power, one glory, one word - ONE ELOHIM! This is what it means to be a son of God - to be fused together into Him who IS THE MIGHTY GOD.
GOD ALL IN ALL - this will be the grand conclusion of the great drama of the world's history and of Christ's redemption. There will come a day - the glory is such we can form no conception of it, the mystery is so deep we cannot realize it - when the Son shall deliver up the Kingdom that God gave Him and which He won with His own blood and established and perfected from the throne of His glory. "He shall deliver up the Kingdom unto the Father ... that God may be all in all" (I Cor. 15:24-28). ALL IN ALL - such is the grand goal of our God! He will yet be everything to everyone of His creatures, as it is fitting He should be. Nothing less will satisfy His heart for "He has created all things, and for HIS PLEASURE they are and were created (Rev. 4:11). Nothing less will vindicate His love or form a fit conclusion for the sin and sorrow and death of the ages. Let us with joy believe it! Let us exult as we receive it! Let us be "laborers together with God" to accomplish it! May this simple phrase, that the smallest child can utter, become the very basis of our being, the background of every act, the key to every occurrence, a light in every darkness, a balm for every wound, and our ages-lasting consolation and good hope.
Let us awake from the terrifying nightmare of Babylon's delusions and let us wing our spirits to God's glorious consummation. Here is a vision worthy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - GOD ALL IN ALL. And now, this ultimate reality must begin in us who have received the call to sonship. If this is what fills the heart of Christ; if this expresses the one end of the work of Christ, then, if I would have the Spirit of Christ in me, the motto of my life must be: Everything made subject and swallowed up INTO HIM "that God may be all in all." What a life that will be when that reality becomes our banner! To serve the Father fully, wholly, only, to have Him all in all! That He is not ALL in all at the present is quite obvious, for only a fraction have faintly felt that God was indeed ALL to them. Some have known Him as their Saviour, some have experienced Him as their Healer, some have received gracious gifts from His hands, some have acknowledged Him as their Lord, but some have found Him as their ALL. Happy are they who know Him thus! They have tasted of the cup ineffable, which quenches every thirst and satisfies completely and forever.
When Christ ascended on high after His resurrection, He led many captives out of the pit and also set forth this greater purpose: "Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, THAT HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS" (Eph. 4:9-10). The message is clear - redemption does not include only the salvation of mankind, wonderful and glorious as that aspect is, but it also includes the complete transformation of the entire universe so that God shall FILL ALL THINGS. There shall not be left one corner of this vast universe where He shall not be LORD AND KING. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE SHALL BE RESTORED TO THE BEAUTIFUL HARMONY AND ORDER OF THE LOVE OF GOD. Indeed, HE SHALL FILL ALL THINGS SO THAT "GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL." And ALL will find its home again IN HIM.
This, precious friend, is the RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS!
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