Since the Dark Ages, God has been restoring the Church to the power and glory that it demonstrated in the first century. This involves establishing its members in present truth (2 Pet. 1:12) so that the Body of Christ can become mature and prepared for the return of Christ.
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of REFRESHING may come from the Lord,
20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to RESTORE EVERYTHING, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
–Acts 3:19–21 NIV
What must we do when the Spirit moves as He did on that first Pentecost? Respond to the Lord through repentance and faith (v. 19). See also Acts 2:38; 17:30; 26:20.
What does such a response lead to?
- Our sins and shortcomings are wiped out
- Times of refreshing come from the Lord
- We draw nearer to the day when Christ returns to earth
Cleansing and conversion are not the only benefits of responding to the moving of the Spirit. Receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit self-perpetuates revival.
Times of refreshing
Times or seasons of refreshing speak of continued revival.
Refreshing in Greek is the word anapsyxis, used only here in the New Testament. It carries the sense of “to cool by blowing, to refresh, to relieve, to strengthen.” It connotes alleviation and liberation. It refers specifically to the “definitive age of salvation.” This refreshing wind of the Spirit, this reviving with fresh air, comes from the presence or the face of the Lord. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament)
Seasons of revival are promised before the return of Christ. But we must accept them through repentance and faith and then walk in the truth revealed (2 John 1:4).
God desires to restore to His Church all that was lost during the Dark Ages. Accepting each new restorational move of the Spirit prepares us and brings us closer to the return of Christ.
Christ will not return until God “restores everything” (v. 21). Restore means to renew, to bring back to or put back into a former or original state. If God must “restore” things, then things must have first fallen apart, deteriorated (2 Thess. 2:3).
We must take part in this restoration by welcoming new outpourings of the Spirit and moving in the restored gifts of the Spirit: “Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (1 Cor. 1:7 NIV).
God is restoring His Church from the “falling away” of A.D. 400–1500 through repentance, the restoration of sound biblical doctrine, and revivals of His Spirit.
Restoring the glory
Jesus must remain in heaven UNTIL God restores everything to His Church. If we’re not walking in the power and authority of the Church in Acts, then we’re not yet fully restored. That means there will be more change.
25 …Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
–Ephesians 5:25–27 NKJV
God is restoring the Church to maturity and perfection so that He can release Jesus from heaven to return to earth! But Christ is not coming back for a broken, helpless Bride. She’s going to be powerful, glorious, and holy!
The first century Church had the full revelation of New Testament Christianity (Jude 3), much of which was lost during the Dark Ages. Since then, God has been progressively restoring what the Church abandoned so that it will become mature so that Christ can return.
We’ll learn more about his maturing process next time.