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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 3:20-21 by Robert Dean
One of the most popular heresies today is that we are in some form of the Kingdom: a spiritual kingdom, an already-not yet kingdom, a partial kingdom. Yet none of this is based on the Bible. Acts 3:19-21 makes it clear that Jesus must be here for the kingdom to be in existence. Not only that, Israel must be all back in the land, or there is no kingdom. Moreover, Israel must be fully regathered, or there is no New Covenant yet. This is clear from this passage. Learn this issue because it is a root of much error in the church today!
Duration:1 hr 4 mins 10 secs

The Time of Refreshing and the Kingdom. Acts 3:20-21


Peter is not talking about the prophets just in terms of those who gave prophecy about Jesus but about those who were the divine representatives who challenged the nation with its disobedience of the Mosaic Law. In doing that the prophets always foretold the time in the future when Israel would be removed from the land and would be disciplined and scattered throughout all the nations. Then there would be a restoration of the people back to the land and the Messiah would come and establish His kingdom. In terms of these prophecies related to the Messiah Peter said that Christ would suffer. "Christ" is an Anglicized form of the Greek word christos [xristoj] which means anointed one or appointed one, and christos is translation of the Hebrew word for "anointed one" or "appointed one." The prophets announced two things. There were messianic prophecies that talked about the glorious future reign of the Messiah and then there were others who talked about the fact that the Messiah would suffer. They talked about the crown and they talked about the cross. What happened in the first century was that the Jewish leadership was so focused on the Messiah coming as ruler to overthrow Rome that they completely ignored all these prophecies related to the suffering Messiah or the cross, and they put the crown before the cross rather than the cross before the crown. 

Peter is making a very strong case to his Jewish audience based on a shared foundation, and that is the belief that the Hebrews Scriptures are from God and are true. He doesn't have to worry about and audience that doesn't believe that the Torah was inspired by God. Everybody there believed that God revealed His Word to them. On that foundation he could go to the Old Testament prophecies and show that they were all fulfilled in Jesus. Then he comes to the challenge in verse 19 NASB "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." He is offering the kingdom and he offers it on the term that Moses used in Deuteronomy 30:2 which is telling the Jews that when they have been scattered through all the nations on the earth and they return back to Him, then He would restore them to the land. But the full restoration was based on the fact that they turned back to Him away from the false gods and idols. As a result of that God would forgive the nation of their sins. In Acts 2:38 he used the word aphiemi [a)fihmi] related to forgiveness of sins and here he uses a different word but one that means pretty much the same thing, something being wiped out or cancelled out.

People get really confused about this word "repent," and that is because down through the centuries this has been used as a salvation of justification verse that before you can be saved you have to repent of your sins, and if you don't repent of your sins then you can't be saved. The word in the Greek does not have any kind of emotional attitude, it doesn't talk about repentance in the sense of doing something that somehow assuages your guilt complex and also satisfies God that you are serious about doing business with Him with regard to your sins. That is not what the word means. metanoieo [metanoiew] has the idea of changing your mind. It is often translated "repent." If we look up the word in an English dictionary it has the idea of remorse or sorrow, but that is not what is present in the Greek word. The Greek word metanoeo is used by Paul in 2 Corinthians and is distinguished from another word he uses in the same context—metamelomai [metamelomai], which means to be sorry for something; it is an emotional word; metanoeo is a thought word. In the Old Testament the word "repent" occurs 46 times and in 37 of those God is the one repenting. God doesn't sin!   

So Peter comes here and is challenging them using a word that is loaded. It has so much baggage from the Old Testament that they should be hearing this in the light of what Moses said, i.e. until you turn God is not going to restore all the Jews to the land or bring in the kingdom. He says: "Repent and be converted [NKJV]." He uses the two primary words that mean change and turn that are used to translate the Hebrew word from Deuteronomy 30:2. The best way to translate this would be, "Change your mind and turn." Then there is an aorist passive infinitive with an eis [e)ij] preposition, indicating a purpose clause: "for the purpose that your sins be blotted out." It is a passive because we don't blot out our sins or erase them; God does. We simply receive the benefit of that action. "…so that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." The Millennial kingdom will only come if Jesus is on the earth.

There is no kingdom without Israel, all the Jews, being back in the land and a nation Israel. No kingdom unless Israel is in the land. Secondly, the kingdom isn't there unless Jesus is there—"that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Not His presence in heaven; not His presence spiritually; but His physical presence in the land. Peter tells us there is no kingdom without the presence of the Lord. The other thing to remember is that if there is no King present there is no kingdom. Secondly, if all the Jews are not back in the land there is no kingdom. Third, if there is no kingdom with the Jews in the land there can't be a new covenant. The new covenant comes when God restores the Jews to the land; that is when He initiates the new covenant. The cross was the foundation sacrifice for the new covenant but the new covenant doesn't go into effect until there is the kingdom with the Jews back in the land, Jesus on the throne, and it is a literal kingdom. That is all future. 

What does it mean to blot out your sins? This same word is used in Colossians 2:13 NASB "When you were dead…" This is a temporal participle which expresses the condition of every one of us at the point just before we trusted in Christ. It is an aorist participle. "… in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him…" That is the main verb. So the action of being dead precedes the action of the main verb. "… having forgiven," the 'ing' is indicating a participle, but a participle has a number of different nuances. When Paul says "having forgiven" it is a causal participle—because He forgave you. He made you alive together with Him because He had already—it is an aorist participle again which means the action of the participle precedes the action of the main verb. The main verb is also in the past tense. He made you alive, but before He made you alive He had to forgive you of all trespasses. The word there for "forgive" is charizomai [xarizomai] which is also used as an economic context of wiping out or eradicating a debt. He had already forgiven you by eradicating all your trespasses—"all our transgressions." Then we have another participle at the beginning of verse 14. Again it is an aorist participle, which means the action of wiping out here has to have preceded being made alive—"having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." So sometime before we were regenerated our transgressions were wiped out. "Wipe out" or "cancelled out" is the same verb as used in Acts 3:19 for blotting out. When did He do that? He did it, we learn from the last part of the verse, because He nailed it to the cross. So in this verse our sins weren't blotted out when we trusted in Jesus, they weren't blotted out when we were regenerated or just before we were regenerated; they were blotted out when they were nailed to the cross. They are not the issue anymore. The unbeliever is still spiritually dead; that is the problem. And he is still minus righteousness; that is the other problem. You can't get into heaven unless you are righteous and unless you are regenerate and not spiritually dead, and unless the penalty is paid. What Jesus did on the cross was pay the penalty, which only He could do; but that still left us experientially spiritually dead, and it left us without a new nature.

So we see in Colossians 2:13, 14 is the use of this word "blotting out" to refer to one of the four kinds of forgiveness that we have in Scripture. The first one is called forensic forgiveness. This applies to everybody because what Paul says in Colossians 2:14 is that our sins are blotted out when they are nailed to the cross. In 33 AD all sins for all humanity are blotted out, but that doesn't make you saved. You still have a problem because you are still spiritually dead and you still lack righteousness. The second way in which forgiveness is used is positional. When we are in Christ we are forgiven, so at the point of salvation when we trust in Jesus that forensic forgiveness is actually credited to our account positionally because of our position in Christ. Third, we have experiential forgiveness. When we sin and are out of fellowship we then confess our sins we are experientially forgiven. The fourth category is relational when we forgive one another as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us.

What we are talking about in Colossians 2:14 is a forensic forgiveness which applies to all, and it occurred at the cross. What we are talking about in Acts 3:19 is the blotting out in terms of what we would call positional for the Jews by turning to Jesus. This is not a justification verse per se. It is implied there but he is addressing them in terms of the Old Testament promises. He says you have to turn back to God and accept Jesus as the Messiah so that He can send Jesus Christ who was preached to you before. There has to be a turning of the nation to God so that He can send Jesus Christ: Acts 3:20 NASB "and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, [21 whom heaven must receive [ascension-glorification] until {the} period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time." So the chronology is that Jesus has to turn and accept Jesus as the Messiah. That has to happen before the restoration of all things, which is the kingdom. This whole process, Peter says, was "spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time." Going all the way back to Abel this has been the message.

The key, the focal point in v. 21 is the restoration of all things. The Greek word is a noun apokastatasis [a)pokastatasij] and it means the restoration of all things, the renovation of all things. The verb form is apokathistemi [a)pokaqisthmi], and it is used in Acts 1:6. Jesus has been teaching the apostles about the kingdom of God. "So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'" They understand that the kingdom is not here yet. But in Acts 3:21 Peter says the Jews have to repent and turn so that the times of refreshing can come, the time of restoration, and the kingdom can be restored. In Acts chapter three which is a week or two after Pentecost it is very clear from Peter that they are not into even a little bit of the kingdom, because in order for the kingdom to come the Jews have to turn and accept Jesus. When they do then the times of refreshing will come, and the times restoration of all things will happen. But the times of refreshing and restoration doesn't happen until after Jesus comes. No Jesus on the earth; no kingdom.

This is really important for a number of people who are getting into that already-not-yet view of the kingdom and being suckered into a lot of really distorted teaching about the future; because it is not just about the future, it always ricochets back in terms of their understanding of the church. Then it impacts their understanding of the spiritual life of the church. The whole concept of progressive dispensationalism is built on this idea of the kingdom is already here but not yet. What they mean is it is here in some ways but not fully.

This is even more clear in Acts chapter fifteen which describes what is known as the Jerusalem conference. There was a meeting of the Jerusalem Council and the issue really is: What is the relation between the Gentile Christians and the Jews? What is happening in God's plan?

Acts 15:13 NASB "After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, 'Brethren, listen to me. [14] Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name'—a second people other than the Jews [15] 'With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written.'" Then he goes back into the Old Testament to document this, to Amos 9"11, 12. [16] "AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT." That is not exactly what Amos said, he began the verse "On that day." Amos was talking about the day of the Lord. Now in Acts the Holy Spirit causes James to restate the verse. He says, "After these things." After what? After God has taken out a people for His name from among the Gentiles.

In Acts chapter three Peter is clear that the Jews have to change their mind and turn, and accept Jesus as the Messiah before the times of refreshing will come. And of they do that then He will come. But now by Acts chapter fifteen God is doing a work among the Gentiles, bringing out a new people for His name, and it is only after He does that that He will return and rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. The term "tabernacle of David" is the dwelling of David, which is a picture of the Jewish nation based on the Davidic covenant. The house of David has fallen down. You can't point to somebody out there and say, He is the son of David; He is the heir on the throne. It has fallen down, it has collapsed; the nation is going to be out under discipline. 

So he says: "AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT. [17] SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME, [18] SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM LONG AGO." There has to be a process. There is going to be something that intervenes between now and the restoration of the nation. There is a calling out of the Gentiles. 

One other passages talking about these times of refreshing is what Paul alludes to in Romans 8:22, 23 NASB "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for {our} adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." What Paul says in this passage is that the creation awaits the manifestation of the sons of God so that the times of redemption will come to the creation. This terminology comes from Isaiah 28:12 NASB "He who said to them, 'Here is rest, give rest to the weary,' And, "Here is repose [refreshing],' but they would not listen."

Isaiah 28, just like Amos 9, is a condemnation of the northern kingdom of Israel. There is a rebuke by Isaiah in chapter 28. Verse 1 "Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim, And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty, Which is at the head of the fertile valley Of those who are overcome with wine!" They were in the last stage of grace before judgment and the opportunity of prosperity before God would bring the judgment from the Assyrians.

Isaiah 28:7 NASB "And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter {when rendering} judgment." Isaiah is speaking right through verse 9, and then in verse 10 the false teachers respond with their sarcasm. Then Isaiah throws it back on them in vv. 11-13. They are drunk. We would say to day they are into all the pleasure drugs because all they are about is their own personal pleasure, their own personal power and success; they don't care about the people. [8] "For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a {single clean} place." What God is picturing here is basically the teaching in 99.9% of the universities in America. They are drunk on their own sense of self-importance and their own arrogance, and what they are teaching in terms of human viewpoint is just vomit and filth.

They come back and say, You think you know so much Isaiah. There is real sarcasm in vv. 9, 10—who will he teach knowledge to?  Isaiah 28:9 NASB "To whom would He teach knowledge, And to whom would He interpret the message? Those {just} weaned from milk? Those {just} taken from the breast?" Then they imitate and mock what Isaiah was saying in verse 10 "For {He says,} 'Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there.'"

Then Isaiah throws it back on them and announces judgment. Isaiah 28:11 NASB "Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue." That is the verse that Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 14 for the purpose of tongues. It is a sign of judgment to a nation. Isaiah announces that when the Assyrians come you are going to hear this foreign language and that is a sign that God is bringing judgment upon you. Isaiah is saying they were going to be hearing truth from a Gentile language.

Isaiah 28:12 where we get this idea of refreshing NASB "He who said to them, 'Here is rest, give rest to the weary,' And, 'Here is repose [refreshing],' but they would not listen." Isaiah is the one He is talking tom here and the message of Isaiah is the message that if you are going to have the rest of God (a term for the kingdom) then you have to trust in God and turn away from these idols and false teaching. From Isaiah 2 he is talking about the future kingdom. This is his message; he is offering the refreshing—a term that summarizes the kingdom.

Isaiah 28:13 NASB "So the word of the LORD to them will be, 'Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there,' That they may go and stumble backward, be broken, snared and taken captive." Remember is the one who told Isaiah that when he preached the Word people were going to either accept it or reject it; either act on it or react against it. What we see here is that they are going to react against it. There is nothing harder than to be a prophet or a preacher to people who react all the time to what you are saying. What Isaiah says in these verses is that the message that was given to him was a message related to the future time of rest when the Messiah would come. Yet it was rejected.

Acts 3:19 NASB "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away…" That is, the sins of the nation Israel. "… in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Until the sins of the nation are dealt with the times of refreshing can't come. No national forgiveness; no kingdom. [20] "and [so] that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you." We saw from Acts 15 that He is not going to send Jesus until He has called out for Himself a people from among the Gentiles. So this time of turning is some time in the future. 

Notice how Peter has grounded everything he said in the Old Testament. If you don't understand the Old Testament you can't understand the New Testament. If you don't understand the Old Testament you don't understand the messianic message, which is that God promised an anointed one who would come and would do exactly what Jesus did.