THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
Chapter 5.....At Pentecost
We are now to consider the final fact of Pentecost. Final, let it be noted, in this sense only, that Pentecost inaugurated an era which is still proceeding. Pentecost is the last fact rather than the final one; the end is not yet. The Cross was a terrible crisis in the experience of the disciples. It contained a challenge, the power of which was largely mitigated by the subsequent resurrection. Our Lord's appearances certainly conveyed assurance and hope, but they did not minister vitality. Peter, indeed, turned round on his brethren declaring: " I go a fishing," and they went with him. It seemed to their minds that they must regard the three or more years then closed as an episode in life and that nothing was left but to resume the calling they had pursued until that day when He had commanded them to follow Him. That retrograde tendency, however, was arrested.
They were to wait for the promise of the Father; they should be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence. Pentecost came and with it the filling of the Holy Spirit, the incoming of a mighty life which transformed them into giants of the Gospel of the Grace of God. Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost is a model for modern preachers. His preaching was concerned not with ethical principles, not with organisation, not with imperial affairs, but with Jesus. Being filled with the Spirit his message could be no other than Jesus. Being focussed on Jesus it could not be otherwise than blessed of the Holy Spirit. And Peter's first concern was to set forth the present exaltation of the Lord in Heaven. He declared, " Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made this same Jesus, Whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ." The writer to the Hebrews says of Him: "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." These were affirmations of faith. Jesus the Crucified had been received, in heaven as bearing the body of Man, having in that body been slain and in that body raised by the Holy Spirit, living for evermore.
The fruit of the tree of life being His by obedience in the Spirit, God received Him into heaven as God-Man and gave Him the Throne, being anointed in His Glorified Body with the Holy Spirit even as He had been anointed at the Jordan. And in this He received the promise of the Father, in this He found the consummation of the joy set before Him. For as at the Jordan the Holy Spirit came upon Him for the purpose of death, so now the Holy Spirit came upon Him for the purpose of life to such as should believe in His Name. This was the joy set before Him, this was the promise of the Father: power to confer the Life Spirit on sinners redeemed in His precious blood. The Spirit that quickened our Lord in Calvary descended upon Him at the Jordan, empowered Him in the wilderness, agonised in Him at Calvary, raised Him out of the tomb becomes the Spirit of the Son poured out from heaven upon all flesh. The Spirit, of course, was eternal with the Father and the Son.
He it was who moved upon the face of the waters. He was essentially the Spirit of creation, but He was not the indwelling Spirit until Jesus came into the world. When that Indwelt Body of the Son was taken to Calvary in the mystery of Divine wisdom the Spirit was set free to enter and possess all who should name the Name of the Son and call Him Lord. The Spirit of the Son was sent forth because Jesus was glorified. He is here essentially because Jesus is there! Peter set forth this truth clearly on the day of Pentecost (Acts ch.2:33) and, therefore, any true understanding of the Spirit is dependent upon a clear recognition of our Lord's present exaltation in the mystery of His Being as God-Man in the Body of His glory.
The Spirit of the Son then, has been sent into the world with creative powers. In order to reproduce in willing hearts that holy life which was manifested by our Lord on earth, that power over sin and hell demonstrated by our Lord in the flesh, and which by the Spirit is available to every believer. Let us mark it solemnly; it cannot be emphasised too much: " Greater things than these shall ye do because I go to my Father." Where the Spirit makes sin a reality and Calvary a reality, the heart of the sinner breaks even as did the heart at Calvary. There will be a godly sorrow on account of sin and the Spirit will lead to faith in the Crucified to trust that finds its peace in the blood. Repentance and faith being thus exercised by the aid of that light shed by the Spirit on Calvary, God sends forth the Spirit of His Son into the heart sealing the adoption as a child of God. That happened on the day of Pentecost. Men were regenerated.
The disciples were already " clean " through the word which our Lord had spoken unto them, but when the Spirit came upon them they became witnesses in Jerusalem of the Jesus enthroned in the Glory and thousands were converted. " This," then, was shed forth. This," said Peter, " which ye now see and hear." Evidently " this" was not the Spirit Himself, but the phenomenon of the disciples testifying to Jesus the Glorified One. And whenever and wherever the Spirit descends in power, there a company emerges to witness to the world of Jesus Son of God, Crucified, Risen, Glorified and Coming again. In reality there is no preaching, save that which is Pentecostal. It is not given to any man, however great his natural abilities to interpret Jesus, for the things concerning Him are hidden from the natural mind. The truths that are vital operate in the realm of faith by the enlightening grace of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit alone can give utterance that is vital, utterance that not only reaches the mind but pierces the conscience. The preacher taught of the Holy Spirit, being truly a vessel for His utterance, must inevitably witness to Jesus as Peter witnessed on the day of Pentecost.
On the day of Pentecost the universe witnessed two remarkable phenomena. In heaven God's Beloved Son, now God and Man, glorified in His Body, anointed and exalted: on the earth common men and women, filled with the Holy Spirit, the new Body of Christ functioning the Divine life, indwelt by the Divine Spirit and testifying to the truth of that Glorious Body of the Son of God in heaven. They shared His life and power and thousands were converted. Are we wrong in suggesting that these facts teach us wherein lies the explanation of the present poverty of blessing in our churches? But we must not forget that the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh. It is not in the province of the present study to consider the extent of effectual calling and cognate matters, but we may deduce from this statement that Pentecost created in all men a susceptibility to the truth of Calvary. In the realm of being, deeper far than reason can plumb, the truth of Calvary is brought home to the conscience.
He comes as the Spirit of grace, but if that truth is refused, the Spirit becomes the Spirit of judgment. In the parable of the Great Supper the servant would seem to be the Holy Spirit, for none but He can compel men to come in. If this is so, then the testimony of the Spirit is the evidence on which those invited were thrust out from the banquet supper. He is the Spirit of grace, but no less of judgment. There is in this great encouragement. The soul- winner never speaks to an " unsusceptible " man. The bitterness of men against redemption, the laughter and ridicule that salvation provokes are but the evidence that the Spirit has been poured out. For the Spirit presses into a man's being where the defences of logic and self-interest break down, where the self is made to see its naked condition before the Cross of Calvary. And since a man cannot confute the testimony, he seeks escape by contempt, ridicule or bitterness. Paul tells the Corinthians that our Lord, after His resurrection, " was seen of above five hundred brethren at once." What became of these? There is no record of them at Pentecost. Is it possible they did not wait for the promise of the Father? They loved Jesus, they mourned His death, and they saw Him alive after His passion, but they did not wait and they were not filled, and the foundation facts of the Gospel were never vitalised by the Holy Spirit. It is possible to know the truth of the Gospel, and yet to be without the dynamic of its power in the Holy Spirit. In all Pentecostal blessing, the testimony is to Redemption and even more to the Redeemer.
The crisis of the ages is Christ. The issue that divides is whether a man is "in" Christ or whether he is "without" Christ. Upon these two prepositions an eternity depends for every soul that hears the Gospel. If that is realised by the believer then nothing in this wide world matters, save redemption. And in all Pentecostal blessing the testimony to Jesus will be according to the fullness of Scripture revelation. All that the Spirit has revealed in the Word written concerning the Word Living must be confessed and proclaimed without reservation and without shame. It is the Pentecostal blessing we need and that means the Pentecostal life. That Life can only function in our bodies as self ceases to function there. Self will struggle until it is crucified and sin is surrendered, but when we put sin and self to death by the Spirit we shall enter into life even by the same Spirit. From that moment the believer becomes not only a member of the Body of Christ, but an active member through whom the Holy Spirit can reach out to the world for the ends of Calvary and the consummation of the Church of the Redeemed. It is a glorious prospect compared with which all present sacrifice is as dust in the balance. Being perfected in obedience as members of His Body mystical, we shall be prepared to stand before Him in the body like unto His glorious Body, even by the same Spirit.
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