TIMES OF REFRESHING
Acts 3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 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; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 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.
We have here the privilege of seeing the power of the gospel preached and applied by the Holy Spirit upon some of the most religiously hardened sinners. First of all they wrongly thought that their national election was their salvation! They would never stand for the message of repentance to be preached to them, for they realized no personal, or national need for it! Listen to them even argue with the most glorious Preacher the world has ever been provided: John 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
Dear Reader, election is not salvation! Election is unto salvation! And none can make their election sure except those who have the fruit of the Spirit bringing forth practical holiness to evidence it! 2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
And secondly, they were more given to miracles for the flaming of their inordinate affections, than to the word for mortifying their emotional traditions, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. And this problem that Peter was here experiencing with these Jerusalem sinners was the same as the Lord Jesus had with Nicodemus. For Nicodemus clearly states that his ability to identify the Lord Jesus was based on miracles!
And then the Lord presents to him the gospel in order to recover him from the natural mindedness that possessed him. His only ‘spiritual’ insight came from those unregenerate, inordinate affections enflamed by miracles. The result? John 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
Sadly most of todays ‘religious experiences’ are derived from sinful affections, and not from the Spirit’s impressions! Pastor Barrett Holloway of Wedowee, Al. has written: “How often have we asked the right thing(s) of God but our requests are contaminated by selfish motives? The natural senses have muddied the stream in our reaching after God. Example: The woman at the well asked for the water Christ was speaking about but it was to quench her thirst & to limit her physical journey to the well.”
There in our verse twelve, listed above, Peter is informing these religionists, excited about this miracle, that they were as wrong about himself and John as all Israel had been concerning Jesus of Nazareth and all his miracles!
And providing Nicodemus as a representative “man,” the Lord reveals that he will not commit himself in divine revelation on the basis of miracles! John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (Please notice that the Greek word for believed in John 2:23 is the exact same Greek word translated commit in John 2:24. So they may have had some shallow acknowledgement of Him, but he did not believe in their ‘belief!’)
This is a serious matter of eternal consequence! For it is stated that “many” shall be falsely convinced that they are ‘Christians’ even as they enter into eternity. But the Lord speaks to them with the same clarity as he did to Nicodemus. Only then it will be too late. Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Peter is used of the Holy Spirit to introduce these emotionally excited, nationally confident religionists to the concept of being individual sinners in need of personal salvation! And it was just as the Lord abruptly stopped Nicodemus’ flattery of Himself with the sobering words, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Then he tells them of the wonders of the gospel! That even though they were, without doubt, guilty of the death of the Holy One and the Just, they could now be forgiven upon their repentance and conversion! And he reminds them that God had intended His Son’s death, for those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Therefore the purpose of God through the Son’s death would most certainly redeem all who were granted repentance and belief! For even the sins of those granted repentance and faith, including killing the Holy One, was atoned for on the cross!
He can now make them aware that, through ignorance ye did it, due to his Master’s dying prayer as he hung on the cross. Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And he did so as they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Due to the mighty grace Christ showed in restoring that which he took not away, (Psa. 69:4), these, as well as sinners throughout the world, have opportunity to be recovered as the gospel is preached unto them.
And Peter then made them aware of two different times. Upon their god-granted repentance (2 Cor. 7:10), there would be the times of refreshing that would truly introduce each believer individually to the Person of the Lord! Jesus Christ would actually be sent to them, as it was previously preached unto them. They would come to know the riches of the glory of the mystery of the gospel, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Col. 1:27). And only by partaking in the times of refreshing through individual regeneration, a personal belief in the heart, and a confession with their mouth unto salvation, would they ever be prepared to be presented faultless in the day of the restitution of all things!
Then Peter preaches to them of those times of restitution of all things. And he assures them of this time as having been spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Therefore both of these ‘times’ were revealed to their nation from Samuel and all the succeeding prophets! And being made aware of this last time of restitution caused them to know that even now as their Old Testament days, with it’s literal, physical sacrifices, priesthood and temple was over, even so this gospel age would have a quicker ending! For upon them now, with the coming of the gospel age, the ends of the world are come. (1 Corin. 10:11). For the gospel with its powerful effect would proceed as the lightning in comparison to the days of the law. (Matt. 24:27).
The Apostle Paul preached these same things to the Greeks on Mars hill. In Acts 17:30, 31 we read: And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
The Lord God passed over the times of ignorance in all nations, during the days of the law in Israel. But now that the atonement was complete and the gospel was presented He ‘commands’ all men everywhere to repent! Then he preaches of a day, like Peter’s time of restitution in which the entire world would be held accountable for their standing before Him. And he gave evidence that such a day was coming by giving them the most amazing confirmation – Christ’s resurrection!
And in his epistle Peter also returns to this message of presently repenting and preparing one’s self spiritually now before the Lord, due to the approaching of that last day. For in 2 Peter 3:10-14 we read: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Dear Reader, the one man (Moses), whom God raised up to set forth the law that those thereafter preached, spoke of the One Man in the New Covenant (Testament) whom all must hear for eternal well-being! In Acts 3:22 and 23 Peter preaches that Christ must be heard or there will be eternal destruction for every soul who refuses his voice. We find the same thing in other passages!
John 3:34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Hebrews 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Faith cometh by hearing, and without faith it is impossible to please God! Therefore the only hope for the individual soul; the only hope for America as a nation, is to hear and bow to the gospel and it’s demands! Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
For Americans, like Peter on the mount of transfiguration seem to only want to set up more needless religion! But God, the Father interrupted him as he was planning his building program! May he do so again for us in this day! Matthew 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Pastor Gene Breed