Rarely do I take the opportunity to post an entire sermon. However, this is a new year. You could consider this sermon on refreshing and restoring to be my last of the year, or my first of this year, depending on your perspective. We celebrate Advent as a family with some of our own readings. So for us, the Christian year has already begun. No matter your view of time, I pray that you’ll find this sermon to be a timely Word.
Happy New Year!
You probably recognize the story of the lame man (Acts 3-4). There are a number of ways to preach this passage and I’m sure you’ve heard some good ones.
Times of Refreshing & Restoring
The first way to preach it is as a story of healing and of salvation.
A second way to preach this story is to preach about Peter the man. This is a turnaround for Peter. In Acts 2 and 3 we see Peter speaking in profound ways the mysteries of Heaven, and revealing them to thousands of people.
A third great way to approach this Scripture is as a call to Christians from sin to repentance. Peter is addressing the Jewish leaders who should know better, but they’re being called on the carpet. At times we all need to be called on the carpet.
i. I’m going to focus on another theme in Peter’s sermon
We catch a glimpse of this in in the second half of the sermon (Acts 3.17-26). The Apostle Peter is talking to Hebrews who know the Scriptures. If you break down this one theme that I’m going to follow, they’re wrestling with this question.
What has Jesus already fulfilled according to Scripture (Hebrew Bible) . . . and what will Jesus the Messiah fulfill? What is left to fulfill?
This is the quandary that they and the Apostles are in, that they’re wrestling with. We see glimpses of this in this passage, in some ways an End Times message.
Have you ever wondered what Jesus has done in your life, or is doing now in your life, versus what Jesus will do in your life? It’s about timing. Do you ever wonder if Jesus lives in another time zone?
Do you think this may be a fair question to ask, because we’re trying to relate to a thread throughout these passages? What has Jesus done vs. what will Jesus do? There’s a tension that begins to arise.
ii. Let’s look at the 2nd half of Peter’s sermon with a greater focus
Acts 3.17-18: “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. (English Standard Version)
Just to be fair to Peter and to the other Israelites, there are basically three major strands of prophecy in the Hebrew Bible about the Messiah. Even though the Apostles are with Jesus for three years, they seem to get these themes mixed up. All of them, not just the Apostles but also the Hebrew leaders, seem to be ignorant of the Suffering Servant prophecies. They just don’t match up with the prophecies of the Messiah who will rule and reign over the whole world.
Question: What is God doing? When will He do it?
Acts 3.19-21: Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
Has you ever heard the phrase, “The Now and the Not Yet”? This is Christianese for a particular view of prophecy. Have you ever heard of the term In-Breakings, or good ‘Ole Revival? These terms are across different faith traditions, but they’re related ideas, and the undercurrent is this. They are seasons of shared experience, times when God comes near.
We believe that God has a revealed Himself in His Word, and He has revealed His master plan. We understand that there is a Not Yet, something that will take place in the future, some time when He will renew and restore in our world.
However, there’s also a Now. We are to experience Him in the Now.
Question: Today, the Church is asking these types of questions. We want to sustain the move of God. How do we maintain what God wants to do among us? How did the Early Church do it? Can we sustain what God wants to do, the Now and Not Yet, the In-Breakings, and Revival?
Acts 3.22-26: Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Peter is speaking about the Now and Not Yet. This is what has happened, but this is what’s going to be fulfilled, the promise of Abraham to reach all the families of the earth, and that’s us! God has reached out to us through this band of Disciples, but they didn’t see this promise at that point.
We want to know the end game, the bottom line, but this is sometimes the wrong focus.
I come from a rich faith tradition that focuses on prophecy. We focus on cataclysmic events that happen in the End Times. For instance, we want to know when this Second Advent will happen. Right now, we’re all celebrating Advent, but we’re also looking forward to the Second Advent. What will be some of the signs of that? We have studied many similar End Times prophecies.
That’s all right if it’s transformational, helping us become the kind of people that Christ will come back and find working in His fields. On the other hand, it can give us the wrong focus altogether. Our hymnbooks are laced with songs like page 32, which was my favorite as a child: When the roll is called up yonder (repeat); When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there. We have a hymnology that teaches us that it’s going to be bad, but God’s going to make it good someday. That’s a fallacy.
iii. Peter’s sermon is a prophetic sermon, but with a different focus
There are two different words for “time” in the Koine Greek. Peter mentions the phrase “times of refreshing:” time is kairos. Then he mentions “the time for restoring of all the things:” time is chronos. In a nutshell these terms are, chronos: quantity of time (chronological) vs. kairos: quality of time. To clarify these terms, I’ll let Scripture interpret Scripture.
Acts 1.6-8: So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Apostles are asking, “Jesus will You now restore? Is this the chronos? Is this the chronological moment in history when You are going to restore the Kingdom of Israel? Where are we at in the timeline?”
They just want to know. That’s all they need to know, so that they can go out and fulfill the mission.
If we can just know what we think we need to know, then we can do what we think we need to do, right?
Jesus throws them a curveball and says, “You are not going to have the chronos or the kairos. You will not know the times/chronos, and you will not know the seasons/kairos,” because kairos can also be interpreted as a season (i.e. fall, winter, etc.). “This is not going to be neatly packaged for you. Your bottom line is not mine. Your end game is not mine. My end game will happen in that Upper Room just a few days from now. You will be transformed. Transformation is my end game. You will become the type of people that can launch out and reach the world.”
Jesus has a different end game. Quit focusing on the timeline that God will do something someday. Become who He wants you to become today.
So I believe that this gentle rebuke of Christ is still ringing in Peter’s ears a few weeks later in chapter 3. Peter is trying to preach, under the Spirit’s anointing, a sermon that is prophetic. Peter is not sharing a prophecy timeline, a chronos. However, he does say there are kairos moments that you will go through. God wants to do greater things. He wants the quality of your time on earth to be profound.
Henri Nouwen, amazing Christian author last century, defines these terms:
Kairos, not chronos, kairos, the other Greek word for time, means opportunity to change your heart. There are as many opportunities to change your heart as there are events that you’re part of. Everything is an opportunity to change your heart – a friend to visit, the mother who comes to visit, the museum, whatever, that’s life. Looked upon from below, it’s chronos; I have to survive, and I have to fight my way through it. Looked at from above, it is kairos; it’s the opportunity to change your heart in everything you do.
I think that Henri Nouwen and the Apostle Peter could have met at a coffee shop and come to a great agreement over their understanding of time.
iv. So we look at this Text with a Now and Not Yet focus
The refreshing kairos you are hoping for is NOW.
There will be a time or chronos, a time for restoring, but that will be then, the Not Yet.
What you must focus on is the Now, “times of refreshing,” and allow God to do what He wants to do in your life in these days.
That’s why I believe this is a good thought for us to consider as we begin to enter a new year.
I wanted to cover more of this Scripture, but I believe this is the key theme. I truly believe some of us need to be reminded of this at times. We don’t have to wait for the chronos, for the role to be called up yonder, for the mansion that’s over the hilltop, or for the Great Day of the Lord. We don’t have to wait, because Jesus provides kairos seasons, times of refreshing, that we can have NOW, that stir our soul and transform us, no matter how long we have served Him.
Our focus becomes even greater when we realize our life and times are in His hands. The chronos is in His hands and the kairos is in His hands.
“times of refreshing may come from the presence of the LORD, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring”
notes: Jared V. Ingle, “Times of Refreshing and Restoring” (audio sermon, West Bay Covenant Church, Traverse City, MI, December 30, 2018).  Henri J. M. Nouwen and Philip Roderick, Beloved: Henri Nouwen in Conversation with Philip Roderick (Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans, 2007), 38.
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