In Acts 3:19-24 the Apostle Peter was calling to the attention of the Jews the promise that God had made to Abraham, saying, “In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18) The word “restitution” in the text means restoration; or, as Rotherham states it, “the times of the due establishment of all things... But indeed all the prophets ─ from Samuel and those following after, as many as have spoken have announced these days.” The Apostle here is contrasting the “refreshing times” to come with the present dry and dying condition of the human race ─ likened to grass that withers and sears for lack of rain. And he proceeds to stress that the Prophet Samuel and all who came after him had spoken of these “refreshing times” to come. This was one of the first public speeches that came from any of the Apostles after Pentecost, and it is in fact just another way of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Often it is recorded of Jesus that He “went about preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14), which the Apostle Peter here declares to be the “times of restitution,” so the question is properly in order, What conclusions are we to draw from this?
It would seem that such an important and far-reaching doctrine as this should have prominent recognition wherever and whenever the Christian religion is preached. But what do we find? So far as we are concerned, we have never once, over the past sixty years, heard Acts 3:19-24 even mentioned from the pulpits of Big Babylon; much less has any attempt been made to explain it. Since men usually preach the things they understand and love, we can but conclude that the silence on this part of Scripture is due to the lack of knowledge of those who should be declaring it.
Perhaps the most of us who have any understanding at all of Harvest Truth would testify that one of the first things we heard from the platform and in private conversation, too, was discussion of the “times of restitution”; and this is still a very prominent and favorite discussion among the various groups of Truth people who were emanated from Parousia Truth. But, tragic though it be, some of them have perverted the real Truth on the subject and have twisted it out of all recognition to the way That Servant gave it to us ─ prominent among them are the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
All during the Age, since the death of the Apostles (or shortly thereafter), the doctrine of Restitution was completely lost, as represented by the woman in the parable of Luke 15:8,9, who had ten pieces of silver, had lost one and sought diligently till she found it, then “called her friends and neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” The woman in the parable is the Church, which had lost sight of one cardinal doctrine of the Bible ─ Restitution ─ and it was not until the Harvest that this great truth was once more recognized with great rejoicing. After the Harvest work had attracted a following, and the Pilgrims began to circulate, That Servant often urged them all to preach Restitution. That was especially emphasized with those Sunday speakers that were sent from the Bible House on weekends. It was indeed “Good Tidings of great joy” to all who received it with grateful hearts.
Those of us who are at all familiar with the situation know that That Servant gave a very clear and convincing presentation of the times of Restitution; and his entire following was almost a solid unit in accepting it the way he taught it. But what do we find since his death? We find many who once seemed to understand the subject have now perverted it out of all recognition to the manner in which they had once accepted it. Chief among these is Jehovah’s Witnesses, who now have consigned Adam to annihilation, which idea is actually a denial of the Ransom ─ although they would not admit that. However, since Adam was the only perfect man on earth aside from Jesus Himself; and since the word Ransom itself means a corresponding price, an exact duplicate, Adam is actually the only one who could be ransomed. Therefore, St. Paul gives the philosophy, “As all in Adam die, so all in Christ shall be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22) When ransom is provided for Adam, that act becomes the inheritance for all of us ─ just as all of us inherited the death penalty for sin which was passed to him. But the Witnesses now leave out a very large section of the human race in their presentation of Restitution. To all who understand the philosophy of the Ransom, it is an elementary conclusion that if Adam wouldn’t be awakened, none of the rest of the world would be awakened.
They are now telling us that all living today who do not accept them will never be awakened ─ never experience restitution ─ at a time when the Devil is bound, and nothing but Truth will be taught. In Isaiah, Chapter 35, there is this: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. (v. 5) And an highway [an easy way] shall be there, and a way [Christ the Mediator], and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men [the restitutionists], though fools [“fools” according to Psa. 53:1 are atheists], shall not err therein.” (v. 8) Also Rev. 22:5 tells us, “There will be no night [error] there.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses admit that Satan is still blinding the eyes of those who believe not. Yet, they are dividing the Sheep from the Goats during this Time of Trouble when Satan is more active than ever before “blinding the eyes of those who believe not.”
When they say all present “unbelievers” in them will be annihilated in the approaching Armageddon, it is a far-cry from the “good news” taught by That Servant, who had a message of hope for the groaning creation; and they claim That Servant as their founder! He is not the founder of their errors, but is the founder of The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which the errorists took over after his demise. This simply reveals that they do not understand, or will not accept, the meaning of “the gospel of the Kingdom,” as St. Paul so clearly states it in Galatians 3:8: “The Scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed.” Most of these heathen have never even heard the name of Christ; and there are quite a few today who have never heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses despite their world-wide ministry.
So this “annihilation” in Armageddon, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, will include the majority of the people living ─ quite a few of whom are honorable, benevolent and kind to all with whom they have to do ─ their besetting sin being that they cannot accept the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their errors. We continue to teach the Gospel of Christ, the Good Tidings to all mankind, the grand and glorious restitution work of that blessed Kingdom, which will include all unbelievers as well as believers in Jehovah’s Witnesses. Those who teach the Truth are far more generous to those who teach error than the errorists are to them.
They can no longer teach John 5:28,29: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (Damnation is a mistranslation: Judgment is the correct translation, which is for all Restitutionists. See Diaglott.) Also, Acts 24:15: “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”
Many of our readers are familiar with the teaching of the Witnesses, by which, for a number of years, they put forth their “Jonadabs” as the Restitution class. They still retain much the same view, except that they now call their Jonadabs the Great Multitude of Rev. 7:9-17. All Bible logic is against such an interpretation, because the language and setting of Revelation 7 clearly depict a class on the spirit plane ─ “before the throne” ─ which is in Heaven. They have set aside That Servant’s interpretation of this text and substituted their own interpretation, which is error. There is another Truth group, The Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, that also teach a superior Restitution class that is being developed now ─ Consecrated Epiphany Campers. To refute these errors we need only bear in mind that we are still in the Gospel Age, the Faith Age; and during this Age the merit of Jesus is only for Himself and His house ─ for all those who honestly accept Him as their Savior and walk a “narrow way.” And during this Faith Age there is only one place where His merit can be obtained, tentatively or reckonedly; and that is in the Court of the antitypical Gospel-Age Tabernacle. Both groups have their non-existent classes outside the linen curtain of the Gospel-Age Tabernacle ─ outside the righteousness of Christ in this Faith Age.
“I am the way” (John 14:6); and there is only one manner in which that “way” can be obtained, and that is by taking the step from the Camp, through the antitypical Tabernacle Gate, and into the Court, whereby “justification by faith” has been obtainable all during the Faith Age; and it still is the only way, because we are yet in the Gospel (faith) Age. We would emphasize that a place in the typical Tabernacle is a condition in antitype in this Faith Age.
There would seem to be little excuse for such distortions for those who have received Harvest Truth. According to Malachi 3:3, one of the specific missions of Jesus at His Second Advent would be to “sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” The “silver” in this text is the Truth; and all familiar with the situation know that the Truth has shone with great brilliance during the Harvest period. The meaning of the text is better revealed by the following: “refiner and polisher of silver [the truth].”
While the truth on Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the state of the dead, etc., were understood fairly well by some groups in Christendom before 1874, it remained for the Harvest Messenger to refine and elaborate upon every one of them with telling force. This is better understood when we consider that the word “purifier” in our text would be better rendered “polisher.” It is from the Hebrew metaher, one of whose meanings is brightener or polisher. Thus, at His Second Advent our Lord not only refines, purges the dross of error from the Truth, but He also brightens or polishes it.
Our text says He “shall sit” as a refiner and polisher. At the time of the First Advent the speaker usually sat down, as the audience stood up; and in the Talmud to sit is almost synonymous with to teach. Jesus was indeed the teacher; but when He said the Scribes and Pharisees “sit in Moses’ seat,” He meant they were setting themselves forth as the teachers of the people ─ just as Moses had done when he gave them the Law at Sinai. Also, Jesus now sits on His throne, as does a king, a judge on his bench, etc. Thus, He is the executive, the authority, the official opponent of error and developer of Truth. And this is not only true of religious truth, but it is also true in great degree of secular truth, as is apparent on every hand. Satan has done an excellent job of corrupting secular and religious truth over the centuries; and none but our all-powerful Divine Lord would be capable of undoing the damage. But He has come with the golden crown on His head as evidence that He has the power and the authority to extirpate the damage of the past.
To polish anything requires a cleansing agent to be applied with muscular strength. And how has this been especially done since 1874? Mainly through much controversy. In controversy the Truth comes out ─ just as necessity is said to be the mother of invention. Therefore, those who object to controversy are actually objecting to one of the special missions of our Lord since 1874, and are imposing a deception on those who listen to them. But our chief purpose in giving this explanation is to focus attention upon the “outer darkness” (See Matt. 25:30 on the “unprofitable servant” and the Berean Comment.) of those who once saw Restitution in its bri11iance and clarity, but who have now sullied it so badly by their perversions. We can but conclude that this reveals something woefully wrong in the hearts of such; the evidence clearly points to just that.
SEEKING THAT WHICH WAS LOST
In Luke 19:10 we have the words of Jesus, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The question now properly arises, What was lost? We would answer that four things have been lost ─ things which man once had in his pristine purity. First of all, after the transgression in the Garden of Eden, he lost his intimate and friendly relationship with his Creator. Secondly, he lost his perfect home in the Garden. “The Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So He drove the man out.” (Gen. 3:23,24) Thirdly, man’s dominion was lost: “Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the cattle, and over the fowl of the air... and over ever living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:26-28)
In Hebrews 2:8 St. Paul quotes from Psalms 8:4-8: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet... But now we see not yet all things put under him.” It surely needs no argument that man has lost his dominion; animals often trample man under foot, instead of man dominating them. We have been told that the Kodiak bear (a brown bear larger than the grizzly) is so ferocious that it is not necessary for the hunter to look for him; once the bear knows there is a hunter in his locale he will come looking for him, and often with deadly results to the hunter. And the fourth thing that man lost is his life: “Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” (Gen. 3:22) Man was not created to die; he was created to live; and the Scripture is clear enough that he would have continued to “live forever” had he remained in his perfect Edenic home. And all four of these things Jesus said He came to “seek and to save.”
THE RESTITUTION PROCESS
Just as there were four things lost, so we have four component parts to accomplish the Restitution, the restoration. These are clearly set forth in Psalms 103:2-5: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:  Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;  Who healeth all thy diseases;  Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;  Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies... Thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
The first two of these processes come to man without any effort on his part; and, generally speaking, with little, or no knowledge that he is receiving these “benefits.” St. Paul says of us, who presently believe, “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) Thus, He made Himself an offering for sin for us before we knew anything about it being done. And, “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:10) In “due time” all men will recognize what we now know ─ that a propitiation for sins was provided by the Redeemer without men asking for it ─ Christ “forgiveth all thine iniquities.”
And the same may be said for the second restitution process, “healing all thy diseases.” In the resurrection day it is self-evident that the disease which brought man to the grave must be cured before his awakening; other-wise, he would immediately die again. The natural and artificial causes that have caused death for centuries must be eliminated in all men before they are returned from the grave. This also will be accomplished without men asking for it. If a man has died by having his head shot off, he will certainly have it back when he returns from the grave.
The third and fourth processes will operate somewhat differently. The third: “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction,” will require cooperation on the part of the recipient. “God will have all men to be saved, and come to an accurate knowledge of the Truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4-6, Dia.) But this “knowledge of the Truth” will not be forced down the throats of the unwilling; they must all show some desire, and willingly cooperate, in the educational process. That educational process will not only teach men the religious truth on the facts of life and death, it will also teach them the physical, mental, moral and religious philosophies of life which will enable them to live forever in perpetual youth. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave [that power which now turns man to destruction, to the grave, will be stayed]; I will redeem them from death: O death I will be thy plagues [by depriving it of its present power over all]; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” (Hosea 13:14) Then will come to pass the prophecy of Job 33:24,25: “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth.”
The fourth process will also require man's cooperation, and will receive it with a clear understanding of its import: “Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” This is emphasized in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats: “Then shall the King say to them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” (Matt. 25:34) Today, in earth’s affairs, when a prince inherits a kingdom from his father, he is seated on the throne, and a crown placed upon his head. Figuratively speaking, this same procedure will be followed when the restitution process has completed its work. Each one of the “sheep” will then inherit a kingdom ─ his full right to life and its accompanying life rights ─ just as Adam had it in Eden, when he was given dominion over all things on earth. He was then in every sense monarch of all he surveyed, Lord of the fowl and the brute.
However, this cannot become true in the full sense of things until the causes that now send men to the grave have been eliminated. St. John states this very graphically in Rev. 21:3-5: “I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men... And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” And the Angel who gave those words to John evidently realized the disbelief with which the message would be received by the present sick and dying race, for he then emphasized it with these words: “Write: for these words are true.” This forces the logical conclusion that the Restitution processes will eliminate all crime, all thievery, physical violence, moral depravity, sickness; no more need for locks on doors; no more destructive armies; no more rigid police protection. “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:4)
THEN COMETH THE END
Confirmation of the foregoing is graphically stated by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 15:20-26, which we quote from the Improved Version: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become a firstfruit [Jesus] of them that slept. For since by man [Adam] came death, by [a] man also [Jesus] shall come the resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die [this would exclude Jesus, for He was never “in Adam”], even so all in Christ shall be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ a firstfruit [meaning the entire Christ Company, and not merely Jesus only]; afterward they that are Christ's at His presence.
“Then cometh the end [the end of the Little Season, when He shall have ruled over the earth to the full elimination of death and the dying process], when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and all power [complete elimination of Satan and his evil acts]. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
The “last enemy,” death is not only evil persons, but their evil characteristics, which include Adamic defilements, the dying process ─ all the mental, moral, physical and religious ills now prevalent in the human race ─ is the last great enemy, which will finally be destroyed at the end of the Little Season.
The foregoing is vividly illustrated in Ex. 14:26-31 ─ a picture which is probably the grandest type of the entire Old Testament: “And the Lord said unto Moses [type of Christ], Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians [Pharaoh and his hosts being typical of Satan and his henchmen]... and the sea returned to his strength... and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea... All the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one.” Then the conclusion of St. Paul in Heb. 2:14 will be realized: “Jesus through death [His sacrificial death] might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” And the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea typically sets forth how and when that will be done. At that same time the “goats” of the parable in Matt. 25:41 will come to their complete annihilation from earth’s activities, leaving the “sheep” the unmolested and perfected rulers of all they survey ─ free from all the evils that Satan’s deceptions have inflicted upon the human race during the past 6,000 years. Some one said when hearing this “good news” of the Kingdom, “It is too good to be true!” And an old woman exclaimed, “It is too good not to be true!”
SOME CONTRARY VIEWS
“God will have all men to be saved.” (1 Tim. 2:4) Like all other fundamental teachings of the Bible, this text has been given the extremes of erroneous interpretation. Some contend that if God will have all men to be saved that is a guarantee of eternal life for every human being that has ever lived. Universalism goes even further, insisting that even the Devil and his angels will also eventually be saved, despite the clear statement of St. Paul quoted above. Others contend the text to mean that God would like to have all men saved, but He just can’t seem to accomplish it. These perversions are based upon a misunderstanding of the salvation process.
God will have all men to be saved. But saved from what, to what? St. Paul offers the proper help here in Rom. 5:12: “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men.” All of Adam's progeny inherited the death sentence from him ─ through no fault of their own; and it is relief from that sentence from which God wishes all men to be saved. Often in human affairs we hear of a condemned man being “saved from execution” by official decree; but that does not mean that he shall continue to live forever. It simply means that he is saved from the sentence that had been passed upon him by Judicial process.
Much the same explanation may be given for the entire human race being saved; they will be saved from the sentence now hanging over them, and thenceforth will be given the privilege of regaining perfect life, as Adam had it, if they wish to take advantage of it. If they do, they will be classified as the “sheep” of the parable; if they do not, they will be classified as the “goats” of the parable, and will be sentenced to death once more ─ that time for their own transgression, and not for something they have inherited. This is well stated in Jer. 31:29,30: “In those days they shall no more say, the fathers have eaten a sour grape [sins of the fathers visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation], and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every man shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”
Some years back we exchanged quite some correspondence with a preacher in Jamaica, who insisted that St. Paul’s words mean that every man will eventually receive eternal life ─ although there is just nothing in the text to warrant such a conclusion. Man will be relieved from the present load upon his back, and given the opportunity, under favorable conditions, to free himself from its effects if he will take advantage of the opportunity. Nothing more than that; nothing less. During our exchange of letters the brother cited Matt. 25:46, and argued that “everlasting punishment” simply means age-lasting; that man will continue to receive one opportunity after another ─ for a full Age ─ until he eventually avails himself of eternal life. But the same adjectives are used for the righteous as are used for the unrighteous ─ which forces the logical conclusion that the life received by the sheep will also be limited to the Age. It is well to note here the footnote for verse 46 in the Emphatic Diaglott:
“The Common Version, and many modern ones, render kolasin aionioon, everlasting punishment, conveying the idea, as generally interpreted, of basinos, torment. Kolasin is derived from kolazoo, which signifies to cut off; as lopping off branches of trees, to prune... Thus, the righteous go to life, the wicked to the cutting off from life, or death.”
If we cut the limb from a tree, we know that limb no longer will continue to live; it withers and disintegrates ─ in much the same manner that Adam withered for 930 years, then disintegrated in the grave. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19)
At the birth of Jesus the angel declared, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) In 1 John 2:2 this is elaborated: “He is the propitiation for our sins [those who accept Him in this present Age]; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” “He forgiveth all thine iniquities.” (Psa. 103:3)
As we look back with joy at the Savior’s birth and subsequent atonement for “all men,” so the ancients looked forward to it. “Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) The 72nd Psalm gives considerable detail on the subject, too: “God shall come down like rain upon the mown grass [times of refreshing]: as showers that water the earth. In His days shall the righteous flourish [the “sheep of the parable]; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also [that which was lost] from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. The kings of Tarshish shall bring presents ─ the kings of Sheba shall offer gifts [“every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” ─ Phil. 2:10,11]: all nations shall serve Him... to Him shall be given the gold of Sheba... daily shall He be praised... they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth... All nations shall call Him blessed... Let the whole earth be filled with His glory.”
Biblical names are often significant of the character and accomplishments of the persons to whom they are given. Thus, Jesus is the Latin word for Joshua, or Jeshua, which means “Jehovah is salvation,” the name being very expressive of the work He would do. Thus, He not only delivers, or saves believers in this Age, but in the next Age He will deliver the world in general from the sentence now resting upon men. This He will accomplish by His Priestly, Mediatorial, Kingly, Legislative, Judicial, Prophetic and Paternal offices by His good Word and works. He is indeed mighty to save!
Then will be realized the words of Psa. 22:26-31: “The meek shall eat and be satisfied [none to hurt or make them afraid]: they shall praise the Lord that seek Him: your heart shall live for ever. All nations shall worship before thee. For the Kingdom [Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth] is the Lord’s and He is the Governor among the nations... A seed shall serve Him... They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born.”
(Brother John J. Hoefle, Reprint No. 500, November 1998)
LETTER OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Sister Marjorie and all the loved ones,
Great joy peace and saving grace be yours through Jesus our Lord.
I just wish to let you know that it is with the utmost joy I receive each and every copy of the “Epiphany” paper you so kindly send without fail. I almost devour them from the moment they arrive and later I regularly reread, and ponder the precious truths there in. The extracts from the reprints always seem so appropriate and timely and also the reasoning of Brother Hoefle is so good to reflect upon. I was wondering if there may be any of his books that it may be possible to purchase. I do find the comments of Brother Hoefle and the other insights added to the articles exceedingly apt, clear and clarifying.
Please add a small greeting to all those who receive the newsletters. I do hope they all get as much spiritual edification from them as I do, if not more. There is very little activity here in England, the number of “Bible Students” is only a few dozen at most and scattered here and there. Are there any other than myself you mail to here in England? It would be great to make contact if possible.
I wonder dear sister if a photo of the class there might be obtainable as it would bring me a little closer to you all and focus my prayers of thanks to “Our Heavenly Father” for your devotion to his honor and service.
I have enclosed a “widow’s mite” to help a little toward the print/postal costs. “Gods riches blessing be upon you all.”
As I regularly read the newsletters you are all often in my thoughts and although I don’t know you on a personal basis I feel I know you all through our “Dear Lord.” May he sustain you all, always. In “His” service with warmest love to you all. Brother Rick (LONDON, ENGLAND)