Below is a summary of some of the points found in Chapter 13 about Biblical Restoration from my book CHRISTIAN HOPE THROUGH FULFILLED PROPHECY:
Many Christians await the Second Coming in which Jesus restores all earthly things to an idyllic world with no more sin, death, crying, or pain—from a literal reading of Isaiah 11:1-9; 65:17-25 and Revelation 21:1-4. These Christians challenge full preterists with this statement: “Jesus cannot have come yet because we still see sin, suffering, evil, and death all around us.”
Concerning sin, the Bible says that Jesus appeared at his First Advent to put away/remove sin (Hebrews 9:26; cf. Daniel 9:24-27; Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; Acts 5:31; Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 1:22; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5; Revelation 1:5)—and to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Did Jesus fail? Think about that for just a moment.
Jesus did not fail. He conquered the REIGN, that is, the POWER of sin over us, not the EXISTENCE of sin (Romans 6:6-22)! This was the promise all along from Isaiah and Revelation regarding the new covenant world of heaven and earth—and it has been fulfilled. Sin continues to exist in the new age (Matthew 12:31-32; Romans 3:10; 1 John 1:8-10; etc.), but it is no longer master over God’s people. Note that sin continues to exist in the world per Isaiah 65:20 and Revelation 22:14-15 even after the arrival of the New Heaven and New Earth of Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21.
Concerning death, the Bible says that Jesus destroyed/abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10; cf. Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:14-15). Did He fail? Again, no.
The Last Enemy (spiritual death, condemnation, alienation, or separation from God), which is the result of sin’s reign over us, has been conquered. We now have access to the presence of God (Hebrews 9). Even though we may still experience sin, it can no longer hold the true believer in its web. The objection to the ongoing nature of sin in this worldly life fails to understand the depth of man’s sin and what needed to be restored—our relationship to God. Believers have been RESTORED IN CHRIST through the cross (Romans 5:8-10; etc.) and Parousia (Luke 21:28; Hebrews 9:29; 1 Peter 1:3-9; etc).
Indeed, not only spiritual death, but also bodily death has been conquered. Jesus said, “If anyone keeps my word, he shall never see death.” (John 8:51) Jesus made several such statements as found in the book of John, including, “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26) Every Christian understands this on one level, so should not have to ask the question: Why do we see death all around us? Jesus assured the believer that he will never die. Physical death on this earth is but a step into the afterlife for the faithful believer.
In Acts 3:18-24, Peter speaks of the RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS:
“But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. . . . Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.” (NKJV)
Here Peter refers to the Second Coming as the time of restoration, which we have argued was in AD 70. The passage is reminiscent of the statement by Jesus in Luke 21:22 (cf. Matthew 10:23; 16:27-28; 24:34), in which He said that all prophecy would be fulfilled in his generation. Peter confirms this time frame, placing these events specifically in his day—reinforcing what he just stated a few verses earlier in Acts chapter 2 about the last days being in his time.
Peter seems to be lumping together the First Coming and the Second Coming and applying them to his own time. This was the time of the restoration of all things(Acts 3:21)! If this seems impossible, perhaps you have had in your mind a concept of restoration that is not biblically accurate.
The word translated in some Bibles in this passage as “restoration” is translated passage as “restitution” in others, including Young’s Literal Translation. Restitution, defined as compensation for what was lost rather than returning what was lost, which better captures what happened in AD 70. Restitution is about justice! Verses 23-25 are clearly about justice and judgment. So, what some Christians consider to be the restoration of the planet, at least from this passage, is really about restitution in AD 70, when Jesus returned “in judgment” against Old Covenant Israel. Pastor Glenn Hill argues the case for past fulfillment thusly:
- Since the “times of restitution” were prophesied by the prophets (Acts 3:24), and
- Since their prophecies have all been fulfilled (Luke 21:22; Acts 3:24),
- Then the prophesied “times of restitution” have been fulfilled too.
- Since Jesus would return when “the times of restitution” arrived (Acts 3:21),
- Then Jesus has come again too!
Will we return to a time on earth in which nobody sins? No. Does the physical creation need restoring? The answer, again, in our view, is NO. The physical creation was pronounced very good by God himself (Genesis 1:31)! As suggested in previous discussions, what happened at the Fall was the emergence of mankind’s sin, and thus our separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). While it had ramifications about man’s life afterward and how he related to his surroundings, it was not about the decline of the physical creation.
Adam and Eve did not mess up God’s earth; they messed up their relationship with God. The physical creation was not corrupted by the fall of Adam and Eve, except perhaps in a figurative sense, and hence is not in need of restoration. (The Bible often describes spiritual things with real world images.) Thus, we are arguing that RESTORATIONISM—defined as a future return to an imagined pre-Fall utopian earthly world—is an interpretive error. Christianity explains history as a linear progression rather than the cyclical view of eastern religions.
So, just as the individual believer is a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), there is a present reality for the Christian that death has been abolished (John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:26, 55-57; 2 Timothy 1:10)! We do not “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). “No tears” refers to statements in the Bible about the long-awaited Messiah; Jesus has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4; cf. Isaiah 25:8; 35:10)! The Messianic promise of no more weeping of Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21 is fulfilled in Jesus.
The kingdom of Christ is not a worldly kingdom, but rather a spiritual one (Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36). The hope of the believer is not in a restored earth, but rather in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:19; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:5; Titus 1:2).
For more, see the articles in section B about the New Heaven and New Earth at my website: