Loading...
Larger font
Smaller font
Copy
Print
Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "undefined".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents

    CHAPTER II. THE POWER FROM ON HIGH

    “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49.SGOM 16.1

    The time spoken of by our Saviour in his promise in John 14:16, soon arrived. He had returned to his Father, leaving his disciples alone with their enemies. We can but faintly imagine how tedious were the hours of their tarrying at Jerusalem, and how many were the scoffs at their faith which they were compelled to hear. About ten days after his ascension came one of the Jewish solemnities-the feast of Pentecost. At this feast were gathered, according to the custom, Jews from every nation; for at their feasts they were all to “appear before the Lord.”SGOM 16.2

    The disciples were in one place. Circumstances as well as choice separated them from the vast multitude then assembled. Their hearts were stricken; they were a despised people, and they could find but little to interest them outside of their own company. The chief priests and the rulers, the Scribes and Pharisees, the first officers of the nation, and all the influence of the great city, were united against them. To these great men all looked for counsel, and the hosts of Israel could but be ready to echo their sentiments. The teachings and miracles of Jesus had been heard of by all; and the crucifixion, with the accompanying convulsions of nature, followed by the report of his resurrection, with the well-known truth that Jesus was not found in the sepulcher, though it had been surrounded by a trusty Roman guard, all together had created an intense interest and excitement. It was only to be expected that they who had led in the persecution of Jesus would endeavor to shield themselves by casting reproach upon his followers. It was unpleasant, if not even unsafe, for them to appear in the streets of Jerusalem.SGOM 16.3

    But the declaration that that which is highly esteemed among men is not regarded of God, was true in this case. God was bringing confusion upon the great and the proud, and preparing to lift up the heads of those who were stricken and bowed down. This little company, frowned upon by the world, were watched over and guarded by Heaven.SGOM 17.1

    “And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:2-4.SGOM 17.2

    The report of this phenomenon soon brought together a wondering crowd, who were confounded or perplexed.SGOM 17.3

    “They were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” Verses 7, 8.SGOM 17.4

    God had chosen this time to manifest this power; for it was well known that these were unlearned men, chosen from the humbler walks of life, and now they were speaking the various tongues spoken by the Jews who had come to Jerusalem “out of every nation under heaven.” To those who were thus gathered from the nations it was a wonder. But others, resident in Jerusalem and the country surrounding, were also gathered there, who did not understand the various tongues spoken. To them the scene presented a different appearance. They well knew that these humble Galileans had never been schooled in letters. To them it was but an unmeaning jargon of sounds, and it was but natural that, to all the follies which they had ascribed to the followers of Jesus, they should add the charge of drunkenness. But Peter repelled the charge, and thereupon opened the Scriptures to them as follows:-SGOM 17.5

    “Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words; for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.” Acts 2:14-20.SGOM 18.1

    There is much of interest in these words; some of the points introduced we will notice.SGOM 19.1

    The promise was that the Spirit should be poured out upon “all flesh.” This cannot be restricted to less than all the church. It certainly cannot be confined to the apostles. The effort made by many to find a complete fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy on the day of Pentecost is without even a show of reason. That Joel’s prophecy as here quoted by Peter covers the gospel dispensation, is evident from his reference to daughters and handmaidens, of whom there were none among the apostles, as well as to the signs and wonders, which reach down to the coming of “that great and notable day of the Lord.” If the reader will examine the following scriptures, Matthew 24:27-31; Revelation 6:12-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-3; Isaiah 2:10-21; 13:6-13, he will plainly see that that great and notable day of the Lord comes at the close of the gospel age, ushering in the terrible judgments of God and the second advent of the blessed Saviour.SGOM 19.2

    But we have chiefly to do with Peter’s application of the prophecy. He takes up the history of Jesus, in his life and miracles, his death, burial, and resurrection, proving this last by the words of David, and then refers to his exaltation as follows:-SGOM 19.3

    “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Acts 2:33.SGOM 19.4

    Peter here speaks of the promise of the Holy Ghost, which Jesus had received of the Father, and accordingly the Spirit is called the “Holy Spirit of promise.” Ephesians 1:13. And its gift is called “the promise of the Father.” Acts 1:4.SGOM 19.5

    When the people were assured that this was indeed the power of God upon the disciples, and thus became convinced that that same Jesus whom they had crucified was the Messiah, they were convicted of their sins and of their danger, and cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s answer was in every respect applicable to the occasion; it answered their question, and gave them definite information concerning the promise of the gift of the Spirit, to which he had referred, and which they had seen illustrated in the wonderful events of that day. He said:-SGOM 20.1

    “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38, 39.SGOM 20.2

    It is not possible to mistake “the promise” to which reference is here made. It was “the promise of the Spirit,” as in verse 33; that is to say, that which was fulfilled to the apostles should also be fulfilled to them if they would accept, and follow, the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth. The words, “all that are afar off,” have reference to the Gentiles, as Paul shows in Ephesians 2:11-18, in distinction from the Jews, who are addressed as “you and your children.” Thus the same promise of the Spirit is extended to the church at large, “even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”SGOM 20.3

    This whole instruction as regards both duty and promise is neutralized between two classes in the present age. The Friends (known as Quakers) reject baptism as being only an external ordinance. As this subject is quite foreign to the subject of the present argument I pass over the error of the Friends without examination. On the other hand the Disciples, and those holding with them, ignore the promise, making baptism the only point of interest in the text. When I say they ignore the promise, I mean they do not accept it according to the evident meaning of the text; for there is no real difference between the utter rejection of a text and the denial of its evident meaning. The Jews did not deny the Scriptures, directly; but they denied their plain and evident fulfillment, and thus they made them “of none effect.” That the promise of Acts 2:39 is identical with that of verse 33 is so clear that Disciple authors have been constrained to admit it, however strenuously they deny the conclusion logically deduced therefrom. Thus Alexander Campbell says:-SGOM 20.4

    “The promise is expressly said by Peter to be ‘the promise of the Holy Spirit,’ which is extended to all that are near, and ‘afar off.’ .... The gift of the Holy Ghost is the immediate antecedent to the promise, as any one may see from the slightest attention to the passage.”-Baptism, p. 383, ed. 1853.SGOM 21.1

    And McGarvey, in his Commentary on Acts, says of chap. 2:39:-SGOM 21.2

    “That we are right in referring the word promise in this sentence to the promise of the Holy Ghost just made by Peter, is evident from the fact, that this is the only promise made in the immediate context.”SGOM 21.3

    This is indeed evident, though it has been most strenuously denied by others of that body. Thus, Eld. Treat, associate editor of the Record, of Bedford, Ind., and highly recommended as an expounder and defender of their peculiar faith, persistently denied this fact in Gosport, Ind., in Nov. 1871, when the subject of “the promise” was under consideration.SGOM 22.1

    But Mr. McGarvey, while he admits the truth of the statement, robs it of all its force by making a distinction between “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” and “the Holy Spirit’s gifts,” and affirming that the former, but not the latter, is the subject of the promise. If we allow that that distinction is just, the inquiry then arises, Which did the apostles receive on the day of Pentecost? Any answer which includes either to the exclusion of the other, is only partial; it does not contain the whole truth. While all will acknowledge that they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, none can deny that they received the Holy Spirit’s gifts.SGOM 22.2

    And then another inquiry may properly be raised: Were not all included under one and the same promise? Or, were there two distinct promises of the Spirit? Only one. The promise which Peter held out to his hearers, in verse 39 , is identical with that of verse 33 , as both Campbell and McGarvey admit. But Peter said that that which they saw and heard, even the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon the apostles, was given by virtue of that promise. There is but one “Holy Spirit of promise,” and concerning it Jesus received but one “promise of the Father.” And by virtue of that, hut “one Spirit” was given. The facts here presented show that the pouring out of the Spirit upon the disciples was the cause of the wondering of the assembled multitude, and that drew out Peter’s discourse, which was aimed to correct their impression, and to teach them in regard to the promise and gift of the Spirit. He said the Spirit was poured out, as they then saw and heard, according to the promise which Jests received of the Father, and that they also might receive it, for the promise was to them and to their children, and to as many as the Lord shall call.SGOM 22.3

    Now if any can distinguish between the promise under which the disciples received the Holy Ghost on that day, and the promise under which the same Spirit was offered to the multitude, it will be by an exercise of ingenuity which we cannot comprehend. Nothing appears more evident than that all the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit of God are under one and the same promise; they are different parts of that promise; and to reject the parts is to reject the whole, and thus to annul the promise.SGOM 23.1

    In regard to the distinction referred to above, it is asserted that the Spirit’s gifts include only the miraculous, or power conferred specially on a few, in distinction from the general gift of the Spirit to all the churches. But this is not satisfactory. Says Webster: “Miraculous, of the nature of a miracle; performed supernaturally; effected by the direct agency of Almighty power, and not by natural causes.” It needs but little consideration to make it apparent to all that there is no such distinction as natural and supernatural gifts and operations of the Spirit in the church. Each and every one who receives the Spirit, in any manner or to any extent, receives it by the direct power of God. There is no natural reception nor operation of the Spirit of God in any case. Hence the distinction is claimed without regard to the proper use of the words.SGOM 23.2

    A more obvious distinction, apparently, is claimed between the ordinary and extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit. But again we ask, are there two distinct promises for these methods or operations? Or, does not the promise include both? One promise includes all. There is nopromise of the Spiritin the Bible which does not include the gifts or manifestations of divine power. This we shall claim as an established truth unless a separate and distinct promise is produced for a peculiar or distinct manifestation.SGOM 24.1

    The remark of Olshausen on 1 Thessalonians 5, relating to this subject, is worthy of notice. He says:-SGOM 24.2

    “But the question whether pneuma is to be taken here as an ethico-religious principle, or as the source of the Charismata [gifts], is to be altogether declined, because the two cannot be separated, or at least did not appear separately in the apostolical times. Where the Spirit was, he showed himself in moral and religious relations, and in the extraordinary gifts.”SGOM 24.3

    In confirmation of the view here taken we notice that the apostles, who received the gifts and power of the Spirit, did not all possess like power; the Spirit did not manifest itself through all alike. Therefore Paul says:-SGOM 24.4

    “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” 1 Corinthians 12:29, 30.SGOM 25.1

    These questions are asked concerning the church at large, as well as the apostles, which is an evidence that the same gifts were in the church at large, as we shall hereafter show, but not in all alike. Each has his own peculiar office; or, to use the language of inspiration concerning these manifestations, “Dividing to every man severally as he will.” Yet all were received under one promise; all were parts of one whole.SGOM 25.2

    What a blessing, a gracious privilege, is thus held out to us as members of the body of Christ-as called of God. When we consider that blessings and duties are ever closely allied, and that when blessings are offered to us it is our duty to labor for their reception, we may realize our responsibility to pray for the Spirit, so graciously promised by our Saviour. God never offers the blessings of his grace for our mere gratification, nor to satisfy curiosity, nor in any way to minister to our selfish feelings, but because they are necessary to our highest good and to his glory. That which concerns our good we need, and should embrace. That which concerns the glory of God it is our first duty to respect. And what a responsibility is thus placed upon us. May the Lord guide us that we never more quench the Spirit, “but covet earnestly the best gifts,” and so humble ourselves before God that we may be “endued with power from on high.”SGOM 25.3

    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents