“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 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.”
The glorious feast of Pentecost reveals the abject poverty of the world.
There is a show of feasting by the world when the Church of God celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. And also the Cross gathers the Christianized (?) world in its gloomy shadows. There is even some celebration of Easter when they doff their new clothes and speak of the rebirth of nature. But they let Jesus ascend to heaven in a dark silence and they know nothing of Pentecost.
It is so severely spiritual!
If we are strangers to the Babe in the manger, we certainly are strangers to His return in the Holy Spirit.
There is nothing tangible in Pentecost. At Jesus birth there is the manger and the wondering mother,
When Jesus gave up the ghost He hung on a cross, and all external Christendom has talked and sung of that cross. But on Pentecost they see nothing but the fiery tongues and they hear the mystery of that rushing mighty wind. It is all so mysterious and strange. They can make nothing of it. And when they hear those fisher folk speak in strange tongues, even as the Spirit gave them utterance, they turn away and say: They are drunken!
Natural man knows not the things of the Spirit.
How different is this with the real church of God! They understand for they are a spiritual people. They are born from above and have the first fruit of that Spirit in their hearts. They are akin to that Spirit.
Let us meditate awhile on the first coming of that Holy Spirit of Christ.
Pentecost is for this dispensation the height of divine revelation.
Pentecost is the return of the beloved Lord. He fulfilled in its outpouring the promise that was given: And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world!
Also the Old Testament knew it. It was the day when the harvest of the grain was reaped. After Easter they began to count. Easter, when the Lamb had been slaughtered and when the first sheave of the crop was moved before the face of God. And they would count until the feast of the seven weeks had come.
And so we read that Pentecost, the day of Pentecost was fully come. It means that the day of the Old Testament was fulfilled. And after its Old Testament fulfillment, the New Testament Pentecost did come. And that is our New Testament day of feasting, the fulfillment of the old.
And on that day the church of the New Testament had assembled. They had received an injunction from the mouth of Jesus just before His ascension. They should not depart from Jerusalem, but they should wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me!
They had waited.
No, there was nothing that would have induced them to remain in Jerusalem. Jerusalem had crucified the Lord of glory. And they abided in their rejection of the Redeemer of Israel. Time and again we read that they were behind locked doors for the fear of the Jews. They realized their mortal danger in the wicked city of Jerusalem. But Jesus had forbidden them to leave. The fulfillment of the oft-repeated promise to the fathers would have to come in Jerusalem, and so they had waited.
The whole church is assembled in one place. That is emphasized. They are -with one accord in one place.
It is so long ago, and yet we can somewhat imagine the sweet unity that bound these hundred and twenty souls together. They all loved the Lord. Oh, how glad they had been when finally they had all seen the Lord, and had all believed His wondrous resurrection. There was plenty to talk about! They must have rehearsed and rehearsed again the various appearances of the Lord and what He had said at these appearances.
The love of God and of His Christ bound them together, and that unity in the love of God would shine the more brightly after the promise of the Holy Spirit had been realized.
They are together with one accord in one place.
And they wait.
They wait for the New Testament Pentecost!
Also note this: from heaven!
And: a rushing mighty wind!
There is something wonderful about that suddenness and that rushing act of Triune God.
God is in a hurry!
Again the fullness of time had come. There are many such fulnesses in the counsel of God. This was the fullness of time when God would send out His own love into the hearts of His beloved children. God had waited (?) 4000 years for this moment. And when it finally came God is in a great hurry to share His love with men, with men of His good pleasure.
Do not read over that word: suddenly. You would miss one of the most wonderful characteristics of the day of Pentecost.
There is something indescribably beautiful in the sudden rush of a mother when she spies her lost child, the child that had been in mortal danger. When the child is seen by the loving eye of mother, she rushes suddenly forward to grasp the darling to her bosom and envelops it in the embrace of sweetest love. There is no love like the love of a mother. That is, on this earth.
But hold on!
There is a love that far transcends the love of all mothers, multiplied a million times. It is the love Of God.
The fullness of time had come when the love of God would be spread abroad in the hearts of His children as never before. And so there is that tender suddenness and that loving rush, even in the sound as of a mighty wind.
Neither is the Lord miserly when He comes to give Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ unto His church. Note that this mysterious and joyful sound as of a rushing mighty wind filled all the house where the church was gathered.
God gives and He gives plentifully. Even in the Old Testament we see glimpses of that overflowing grace. My cup is overflowing. And Joel sings of the veritable flood of the Holy Spirit that would come in “those days”.
You see it also in nature.
Attend unto this wonderful fact: the Lord knows that His earthly creation needs the light of the sun. Well, He made a sun, and the scientists have figured out how much of the oceans of light of the sun are wasted (?). They have computed the amount of light that shines past the earth and that shines in other directions than toward the earth at all times. And the computed sums are staggering. You see, God is not niggardly when He blesses. He overloads us with His blessings.
It is in the very nature of the eternal.
When you go to a party to which you have looked forward with great eagerness, you are usually disappointed for the time comes altogether too fast when you must bid one another adieu. But God’s party will last unto all eternity and the rivers of God’s pleasures are full of wafer.
Pentecost is therefore the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of grace.
Pentecost is beautifully plenteous!
But what do we see there?
There appeared upon them cloven tongues as of fire and it sat upon each of them.
And what do we hear?
These common fisher folk begin to talk, and they speak strange languages.
And I am certain that no mistakes were made in grammar or pronunciation.
Pentecost is also God’s grammar school.
Mighty wonders of God.
Let us look carefully on these several signs. They have a story to tell. A story of the love of God and its marvelous work unto the children of men.
First, there is the sound of that rushing mighty wind.
No, it was no wind. Nothing stirred on that day. I think that it belongs to the wonder, as people must
have observed later, that Jerusalem enjoyed a great calm in nature when this mysterious sound came down from heaven.
That wind! It is the divine ruach, the sign of the Holy Ghost of God.
How fitting when God employs the natural and the earthy to reveal and teach the spiritual and the heavenly.
The wind, among us mortals, is the mysterious, that which is heard but not seen; it is the irresistible and the fitting symbol of almighty power. Ask this of the people that dwell in the middle West. They will tell you of the sudden cyclones and whirlwinds that come down from heaven upon them. And how the results of careful and long drawn-out labor is destroyed in a moment.
And so is the Holy Ghost which Jesus Christ received at His glorification in heaven, and which He is now pouring out upon His church.
That Spirit is the mysterious power which brings the Kingdom of heaven to fruition, which labors upon it and brings it to its final completion.
Christ spoke of that mysterious Wind to Nicodemus.
It is the power of God whereby the church is drawn from the depth of death and hell and damnation unto the loving arms of God.
It is through that Holy Ghost that we are born again.
The Holy Ghost is the Almighty Person, God out of God, who brings you all the blessings of God’s eternal covenant.
That mysterious power dwells in your heart never to forsake you again.
He takes the Bible and whispers that Bible in your heart, and comforts you in deepest night.
And, oh, He is in a hurry to acquaint you with all the goodness and all the love of God.
A mysterious, a loving, a rushing power is the love of God.
And then that column of fire!
I conceive of it as an appearance of a great column of fire, above the heads of the 120 disciples, and darting downward were those cloven tongues, each pointing to an individual member of that first New Testament Church.
And what does it mean?
First, fire purges, cleanses. It does that in the natural. I remember the day when the physician would give his needles and other instruments a baptism of actual fire in order to destroy all bacterial life that might inhabit his tools and endanger the incision he was about to make.
And so the fire of God’s love purges the church. It burns out all impurities and it heals. Did you ever hear of the effect of cauterizing?
Second, it sanctifies.
We speak of the fire of enthusiasm. And rightly so.
God’s Holy Spirit of Christ sanctifies the Church. He sets us on fire with divine and heavenly enthusiasm. And it is because of this heavenly visit of fire that the saints loved not their lives unto death. They had something in them that was more precious than the natural love a man has for his life on earth.
But fire also destroys, it burns and consumes.
Pentecost is loveable, glorious, heavenly. It sings of sweet strains of the music that is heavenly. But it also howls and roars of the wrath of God when by the Spirit of His mouth He will consume the wicked from off the face of the earth.
And, finally, there is that miracle of the tongues.
It comes last, and that is fitting.
You have all heard of the confusion of the speech of man. It is the story of Babel. We have heard of it in our first catechism classes.
Well, this Babel is now healed.
Attend to the speakers of the first day of Pentecost.
They all speak in strange tongues. And their speech is about the wonderful works of God.
Babel is healed. For the whole multitude hears but one sermon: the praises of God Almighty.
O Pentecost, thou art wonderful to us that live in this day.
The Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus dwells in us, in the entire church of Jesus Christ.
It envelops the entire church, not one is missed. (Did you note that the controversy of “false” brethren does not even come up?)
They are all filled with the Holy Ghost. They are all purged by that Spirit and they are all sanctified by that Spirit.
And the whole church unites in the praises of God. His wonderful works are proclaimed throughout the earth.
Do you think that it is any different now?
Oh no, God knows them who are His.
A controversy as to who has the promise and who has not? Let us reduce it to this question: Who has the Holy Spirit of Pentecost?
“Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His!”