The Kingdom Offer & Conditional Wrath

Question:

I’ve done some looking at the idea that Peter was offering the kingdom to Israel at Acts 3: 19-21. As I read this, I think if anywhere there was an offer of the kingdom, it would be here, but I’m still not sure that is what is being offered. Peter does say that God will send Christ, but that statement has two bookend statements that both lead me to believe, the sending would happen at a certain time, not as a result of their repentance. Peter says repent and so forth, so that their sins would be blotted out “when” the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and then in vs 21 he says, the that heaven must receive Christ “until the time of the restitution of all things.” What I hear is that Christ will come back, but that is on a certain time schedule, which is immanent no doubt, but I don’t see where Israel’s response is given any influence on that timeframe, on where any indication is given that at that time “the restitution of all things, which have been spoken about by the mouth of the prophets” has taken place and therefore if they repent, God will shorten the schedule and send Christ back immediately. Perhaps I’m missing something. I’d welcome any further communication/ thoughts about this. I’ve been reading a couple of Stam’s books, Things that Differ, and his Acts books, and while he references this as the offer, nothing he has said makes it clear that God offered to shortcut the wrath and an immediate fulfillment.

Answer:

I deal with some of these issues a little more in Behold: A Brief Introduction to the Gospels, but let me just briefly hit some highlights.

Following up on our previous discussion on this topic, it sounds like we have larger differences about how we understand the nature of the coming wrath covenantally in God’s program with Israel. The wrath is a response to their unbelief – conditional. The nation is warned, both by Christ and his apostles, about prophetic wrath that is coming if they reject Christ. There are then layers and stages of doctrine and instruction for his remnant in light of the nation’s rejection and that coming wrath.

We also simply read those verses in Acts very differently (which must be seen in the larger context of the program and the wrath they are being confronted with). I see his being sent as plainly conditional, and perfectly in keeping with everything else going on in the program at that time. I see it as clearly tied to the “repentance” and there would be no reason for him to state it in this manner otherwise. If they had responded positively to this special time of “repentance to Israel”, they would have enjoyed the “times of refreshing” and the “times of restitution” -which they were experiencing the “taste” of (Matt. 12:28; Acts 5:31; Heb. 6:4-6)- without experiencing the covenantal wrath which is specifically a judicial response to their unbelief and unrepentance. Those kingdom times will come regardless of what the nation does. It all rests on the “when” and “until” and what will or will not intervene and why. The Son had returned to the Father and was waiting for a response from the nation during this time of repentance. When they identify themselves with his “enemies” and “foes” and are confirmed in that status, the time had come for the promised wrath to be executed in accordance with the “law and prophets” (Luke 13:6-9; 19:14,27; Psa. 1:4-5; 110:1; Acts 2:34-35).

In Acts 1-7 his servants are sent out “again” and the nation is told to “come unto the marriage” now that the “killing” has taken place and all things are now “ready” (Matt. 22:2-8; Prov. 9:1-5). While it had been preached as “at hand” before, it is only now in Acts that the kingdom can be “offered”. In connection with this offer, they are warned about the “destruction” that will come if they continue their rejection of the Son following the killing. Many dispensationalists teach that the kingdom was being offered during the Gospels, but this is clearly wrong for all things were not yet “ready” in connection with the new covenant and his work as the Redeemer. Their unbelief in the Gospels had been “forgiven” due to “ignorance”, but their continued unrepentance now would be “unpardonable” and “impossible” to forgive. The result, rather than the kingdom, is the Lord’s Day. You are quite correct about Stam. Neither he, nor anyone else that I am aware of, would share my understanding of the conditional nature of this wrath in Israel’s program and what I have detailed above. This is my own understanding concerning the nature of the Lord’s Day and what constitutes the unpardonable sin and to my knowledge my teaching and books are the only places you will find this – other than the Bible.

All that aside, the details of the Lord’s Day would be well nigh impossible to fulfill if Israel repented. It assumes, and is built upon, the existence of the apostate nation. If the nation does not reject Christ, there is no Lord’s Day. The schedule in particular is especially tied to the apostate nation and key elements in its apostate life. The Lord’s Day is both the judicial response to, and natural result of, the apostate nation’s rejection of Christ. Simply put, there is no “anti-christ” spirit and associated events if the nation does not reject Christ.

If the nation had repented, Christ would have returned to avenge the cause of his people and establish his reborn nation in their kingdom under the new covenant as he will at the end of the Lord’s Day in the “great and terrible” day of the Lord following the seventieth week. Through Paul we of course know that not only did God know about this unbelief and prophetic “stumbling”, but he had been planning a “mystery” response to it all along.

Seated in heavenly places with Him,

DWB

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