The Results of Pentecost
Before Christ went away He said unto the disciples, "Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."
The Book of Acts, in its opening statements, refers to this promise in these words, "And being assembled together With them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence."
The coming of the Spirit was very vital to the ministrations of the Church. We know this, for the Lord said, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." For this cause they were to tarry until He came.
A great work lay before the saints. They were to be witnesses unto Christ in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. So great a work could not be undertaken apart from the coming Spirit. The task was too stupendous. They, unpanoplied of God, could never accomplish the work.
Is it not as vital for us, today, to work under the same power? Dare we go forth to our task apart from the Spirit's enduement? We have the same command to witness as they. We have the same difficulties to face as they, and the same Satan to meet.
The individual, or the church who seeks to serve apart from the anointing of the Spirit, can expect nothing but failure. The power of the Church does not He in its buildings, and in the equipment of its plants; the power of the church is not wrapped up in the choir, or the program of the pulpit.
When the church imagines that it can fulfill its God-commanded mission by men, money, and machinery, it is all wrong. We do not say that any of the things mentioned are not necessary in their place. What we do say, is that they, apart from the Holy Spirit, are useless.
The power of the church is in the Spirit of power, who came on Pentecost, and who came to abide for the age.
We remember the story of the old Methodist preacher who had been called by his parishioners, "Old Man Drysticks." He was so dry and unattractive that his people were preparing a petition, asking the Bishop for his removal. The old minister found out what was going on under the surface, and, with broken heart he sought the Saviour's face. All night he cried and prayed unto God, confessing his sin and seeking for the enduement of power. The next Sunday as he preached the fire fell. His people were amazed. A new grip came into his sermons; a new response came from his pleas. A revival broke out. From night to night souls were saved, and many were added to the church.
It is useless to say that his church ceased to call him "'Old Man Drysticks." They spoke of him as "a live wire from Heaven." They tore up the old petition, and, in the stead thereof, they wrote to the Bishop, urging his re-appointment to the church. May God give us men, filled with the Holy Ghost and power!
"Young men in Christ the Lord,
Be mighty in His Word,
Its truths declare;
And seek the Holy Spirit's power
By faith and persevering prayer,
That ye may witness anywhere
That sinful men are found."
I. THE HOLY GHOST AND PREACHING (Acts 2:4 )
The coming of the Spirit loosened the tongues of the saints. Immediately the "sons and the daughters" began to prophesy, and to proclaim the marvels of God. As we pass through the Book of Acts, we learn that "testimony" held a prominent place in the ministry of the saints. Time and again the rulers of the Jews commanded the Apostles not to speak, nor to teach in the Name of Jesus. To this demand, Peter and John were not slow to reply, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
Thus it was, that, being let go by their persecutors, they all glorified God. They even prayed, "Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy Word."
The disciples of the early Church realized that they were witnesses of Christ. They also realized that the Holy Ghost witnessed in and through them. Thus it was, that, daily in the Temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and to preach Christ, The preaching of those days did not circumscribe itself merely to the Apostles. In the 8th chapter, we read, "They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the Apostles." Therefore, they were everywhere, preaching the Word. Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ. The masses were scattered as far as Antioch, and they all preached Christ.
We need this same unloosing of the tongue in testimony among the saints of today. A Spirit-filled church is a church where the tongue testifies, both in the prayer-meeting and in the home. Young people need to have their tongues loosed for God. Indeed, we believe that when they are filled with the Holy Ghost, this is just what will happen.
"Young men in Christ the King,
Your grateful tribute bring
Of love and praise;
United in His royal Name,
With loyal hearts His words proclaim
Throughout the world to all young men,
'Ye must be born again!'"
II. THE HOLY GHOST AND PRAYER (Acts 2:42 )
Our verse says, "They continued steadfastly * * in prayers." Here is another marked result of the Spirit's coming. The natural man is not given to prayer, but the Spirit-filled believer is so given. The Holy Spirit helpeth our infirmity, for we know not what things to pray for as we ought. However, He maketh intercessions within us. We learn how to pray, in the Spirit.
In the Book of Acts, prayer pervades the whole ministry of the Church. In Acts 3:1-26, Peter and John went up together into the Temple at the hour of prayer. In Acts 4:1-37, and Acts 4:29, we read that when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled.
Stephen died praying, and calling upon the Name of the Lord Jesus. As soon as Saul was saved, we read of him, "Behold, he prayeth." Peter was upon the housetop in Joppa, in prayer. When Dorcas was brought to life, Peter knelt down and prayed. When Peter was in prison the saints met in the house of Mary, the mother of John, where they prayed together.
It was as the saints in Antioch prayed and fasted that the Holy Ghost said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul." It was when they had fasted and prayed, that they set their hands upon them and sent them away. It was at the place of prayer that Lydia was saved. It was when Paul and Silas prayed in the Philippian jail, that deliverance came. And so the story goes.
Has the church of today retained the power of the Spirit, then it has retained the prayer life manifested in the early Church. He who claims to be Spirit-filled, but knows nothing of prayer, denies his claim.
"Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Now to Thy saints appear!
Oh, speak with power to every soul,
And let Thy people hear!
Revive Thy works, O Lord!
While here to Thee we bow;
Descend, O gracious Lord, descend!
Oh come, and bless us now!"
III. PRAYER AND PRAISE (Acts 2:46 )
The fruit of the Spirit is joy. As we open the Book of Acts and see Pentecost in its power, we are not surprised to read the words, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." The cries of conviction and contrition which the people uttered, as they were pricked in their hearts, were changed into the shouts of praise as, with the new-found joy, the three thousand were baptized.
Not only this, but we read that they "continued daily with gladness and singleness of heart." Their joy was so great that even affliction and persecution never dampened it. They even rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His Name. One of their number, in the very agonies of being stoned to death, carried a face that glowed with the glory of an angel.
Paul and Silas were so joy-filled that they sang praises in the Philippian jail.
Once more we have discovered, on the one hand, the blessing of Pentecost; and, on the other hand, the need of the church. There is a contagion to joy, that is simply overwhelming.
It was when the trumpeters and singers were as one in making one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and, when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets, and symbols, and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, it was then that the glory of the Lord filled the house.
We fear that the formality and the coldness of heartless song, has had much to do toward emptying our churches today. Would that we might catch the breath of the Spirit, and once more sing unto the Lord "in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord!"
Praise is comely. It not only glorifies God but it appeals to men. It is still true, "The joy of the Lord is your strength."
"Let us sing of the wonderful mercy of God,
Of His constant protection and care;
Let our fervent devotions like incense arise,
When we gather before Him in prayer.
Let us praise and adore Him for all He hath done,
Let as tell of His goodness and care;
Let our fervent devotions like incense arise,
When we gather before Him in prayer."
IV. THE HOLY GHOST AND PAYING (Acts 2:44-45 )
We use the word "paying" merely by way of alliteration. What we mean is "The Holy Ghost and giving." One of the marks of the Spirit's coming was seen in this, The believers sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had need. This beneficence, on their part, was not commanded; it was not extorted by means of pleas and committees. It was simply one of the overflowing results of Pentecost.
One reason that large sums of monies are raised during Evangelistic Campaigns, is, that quickened spiritual life opens the purse-strings of the saints.
The churches who are spiritual, find no difficulty in meeting financial needs. The Macedonians abounded unto the riches of their liberality, even when deep poverty abounded, and great trials of affliction prevailed. It seemed that the more their suffering, and the deeper their poverty; the more was the abundance of their joy, as according to their power, yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves to make their gifts.
When saints are filled with the Holy Ghost, their hearts are open to their brethren who are in need. They think of others, live for others, consider others.
As spiritual life wanes, the unsolicited liberality of saints wanes.
If a church wants to raise large sums to meet real need, let them seek a deepening of the spiritual life. Let them hold special meetings intent upon Spirit-filling.
In a meeting called for prayer, "For revival and the quickening of spiritual life, in New England," as we prayed past the midnight hour, a sister in Christ arose and said: "I feel led of the Lord to give $100.00 for the Dudley Bible Institute." In a few moments, a second, and then a third gave like amounts. At the close of the service a fourth, unsolicited, gave $100.00. Not one word had been said of the needs at Dudley during that prayer-meeting hour. The raising of funds was not in the mind of the leaders. They gave under the compulsion of the Holy Spirit, and under the quickening of spiritual life.
Would that we had more spiritual life, we would have less trouble with finances.
V. THE HOLY GHOST AND PERSECUTION (Acts 4:3 )
When the Spirit of God came at Pentecost, and the blessing followed, we read that the saints praised God, "Having favour with all the people."
It was not long after that, that the enemy, alarmed at the sweep and sway of spiritual life, began to tighten the clamps upon the Apostles. The rulers, and elders, and scribes laid hands on the Apostles, and put them in hold until the next day.
This same spirit of persecution prevailed more or less throughout the whole history of the early Church. Peter was put into prison time and again. James was killed with the sword; Stephen was stoned.
After that, the persecution became general, and the Church at Jerusalem seemed almost depleted, for the saints were all scattered abroad. However, the deeper the persecution, the more did the number of the saints multiply.
Finally, even Saul the arch-persecutor, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, was saved. He who persecuted, now prayed. Immediately Saul began to preach in the synagogues, that Jesus was the Christ. Thus, the erstwhile persecutor was soon the persecuted. Certain Jews bound themselves together with an oath that they would not eat bread until Paul was slain. While God delivered Paul; yet, as he went from city to city, he was ever pursued by the enemy.
We believe that this spirit of persecution still prevails, wherever men and women are filled with the Holy Ghost.
If any one lives godly in Christ Jesus, he must suffer persecution. It is given unto us, not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for His sake.
"When through fiery trials
Thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient,
Shall be thy supply:
The flame shall not hurt thee:
I only design
Thy dross to consume,
And thy gold to refine."
VI. THE HOLY GHOST AND PURITY (Acts 6:3 )
The Apostles sought for men of honest report, and of wisdom; full of the Holy Ghost whom they might appoint over the business of the Church.
Every mark of honor and honesty, of goodness and of purity, comes from the Spirit-filled life.
Have we not read that the "fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance?"
A Spirit-filled life is a God-honoring, Christ-magnifying and Spirit-led life. From such a life, rivers of living water will flow. From such a life those sweeter manifestations of Christian character will come.
Peter's call at Pentecost was, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." The early saints were separated saints; they were saints who practiced purity in all manner of life. They adorned the Gospel by their conduct.
We know that the Corinthians were guilty of corrupt deeds, but that was because they were carnal and not spiritual; they walked as men and not as Spirit-endued and Spirit-filled saints.
The Book of Acts does not emphasize the positive perfections of the early saints, it does show God's sudden and strenuous judgments against wrong doing. Ananias and Sapphira, who sought to keep back part of the price of the land and lied unto the Holy Ghost, were slain in the presence of the crowd. Simon Magus, who thought to buy the Holy Ghost that he might work miracles and obtain praise of men, was terribly rebuked. Peter said unto him, "Thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness.... I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."
On the other hand, those who believed, came and confessed, and showed their deeds. They who used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men.
God help us who dwell in the church of today, to live holy lives, that we may adorn the Gospel which we profess.
"More holiness give me, more strivings within;
More patience in suffering, more sorrow far sin:
More faith in my Saviour, more sense of His care,
More joy in His service, more purpose in prayer"
VII. THE HOLY GHOST AND POWER (Acts 4:33 )
Before the Lord was received up into Heaven, He had told the disciples, "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." This certainly was verified in the ministry of the early Church. Our key text bears testimony, that, "with great power gave the Apostles witness." The rulers were not able to resist the power with which they spoke.
In the case of Stephen, he spake with such power of the Spirit that the people gnashed upon him with their teeth, and cried out with their voices, stopping their ears, and running upon him with one accord.
Paul summed up his own ministry with this word, "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power."
The power of the early saints is witnessed by the results of their preaching. At Pentecost about 3,000 were saved. Shortly after, the number of the disciples had reached 5,000. When Paul was speaking, they said of him, that he had turned the world upside down. He so spake that a great multitude of people believed, including many notable men, and honorable women.
The whole city of Ephesus was so stirred by the ministry of Paul, that many believed, and confessed, and showed their deeds. Then the city was turned into an uproar, and certain craftsmen seeing that their craft was In danger of being set at naught, were full of wrath, and they cried out, saying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Thus the whole city was filled with confusion.
We often sing of the old-time power; but, do we possess it? The Spirit prophesied that in the last clays there should be a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. If this is true in the circles where this lesson is being read or studied, let us not content ourselves until we receive power from on high.
"Come, Holy Comforter,
Now in our longing hearts
Oh, for Thy mighty power!
Oh, for a blessed shower,
Filling this hallowed hour
With joy Divine!"
THE FIRST TIME
"Ye are the light of the world." A large frame church building was burned down. Although the church had not been a very large or active one, there was much interest in the catastrophe. The fire occurred at night, and as the building was large it made an immense bonfire, and people flocked from far and near to see it, A member of the church said somewhat peevishly to a known skeptic who was in the crowd. "I never saw you come near this church before." "No," replied the other, "but then I never saw this church on fire before." The S. S. Times.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Acts 2". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter