The Outpouring of the Sovereign Spirit

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” 

Acts 2:2

God is always exactly “on time” in all His works. This is true in the realm of the natural. Nothing happens by chance or unnecessarily. This is also applicable to the realm of the spiritual. Salvation appears in Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the moment of the “fulness of time.” When the Hour is come the Lord suffers and dies upon the cross of Calvary. He rises from the dead upon the third day. Forty days later He ascends to heaven. Ten days elapse between our Lord’s ascension and Pentecost. Upon this tenth day the Spirit is poured out into the whole Church. 

We read: “When the day of Pentecost was fully come,” or, “In the being fulfilled of the day of Pentecost.” The word, Pentecost, means: the fiftieth. The text probably means that the day of Pentecost had been completed. The Spirit was poured out immediately afterward. The Old Testament is completed before the New begins; the Old Testament lamb is slain, the last one, before the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. And the New Testament feast of Pentecost follows immediately upon the Old Testament feast, inasmuch as the latter was a symbol of the former and must make way for the fulfillment. 


Two things are emphasized in Holy Writ concerning the Holy Spirit. First, He was poured out upon Pentecost. We read in John 7:39: “The Holy Ghost was not yet given.” Notice that the word “given” appears in our King James version in italics. This means that it does not appear in the original. Originally we read: “The Holy Ghost was not yet.” And, secondly, many passages can be quoted which indicate that the Holy Spirit was also in the Old Testament. 

From this we may conclude, negatively, two things. On the one hand, the Spirit was not poured out upon Pentecost as the Holy Spirit of God, in His capacity as the Spirit of God. He is the Spirit of God. God is a Spirit. When we speak of the third Person of the Trinity as the Spirit of God, we understand that this must not be understood in the sense in which God is Spirit. God is Spirit. This means, negatively, that He is immaterial, exalted above and to be distinguished from all material and substance, absolutely invisible, and that He can never be worshipped with men’s hands. That God is Spirit refers to His essence and is true equally of all the three Persons of the Trinity. That the third Person of the Trinity is the Spirit of God denotes Him in His personal activity, as proceeding eternally from the Father and the Son. Moreover, He is the Holy Spirit of God. This, too, refers to His personal activity within the Trinity. If we understood “holy” in the sense of ethical perfection, all the three Persons of God are holy. That the third Person is called the Holy Spirit is because, in His peculiar function as the third Person, He is uniquely consecrated to the divine fulness, searching constantly the deep things in the Father and in the Son, testifying of the One in the Other. Pentecost, now, does not refer to the Holy Spirit in His capacity and activity as the Spirit of God. Of course, the Spirit of Pentecost is the third Person of the divine Trinity. However, He is eternal, was not “born” upon Pentecost. Pentecost is surely not the birthday of the Holy Spirit; neither is it the birthday of the Church. The Church has been in the world since the beginning of this world. If, then, we read that the Holy Spirit was not yet (John 7:39), this cannot refer to Him as He operates as the third Person of the Holy Trinity. 

On the other hand, the Spirit of Pentecost is not the Holy Spirit as He operated in the Old Dispensation. Then, too, He was the Spirit of life. In Him and through Him the sun, moon, and stars shine in the firmament of Heaven, and all things move, live, and have their being. Besides, then also He was the Spirit of grace. The saints of the Old Dispensation were surely saved in the same manner as we are saved. Their regeneration and faith were His gifts. We need not say more about this at this time. 

The Spirit of Pentecost is the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the glorified Christ. Jesus is come and is glorified. In the Old Testament He existed only typically and symbolically. . . . But now Jesus is come. The long awaited Hope of Israel, the Messiah of God, the Seed of the Woman, the Anointed Servant of Jehovah, the second Person of the Trinity, coeternal and coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, united in the second divine Person with our flesh and blood, Immanuel, God with us, has come. And now, having suffered and died, He is glorified. He Himself is glorified. And He is also glorified as the Head of Zion, to become the life-giving Spirit. 

Now we can understand the fulness of salvation of the Church as in the New Dispensation. Indeed, how comparably poor was the Church in the Old Dispensation! To be sure, also then the people of God experienced the salvation of the Lord. They experienced the communion and fellowship of God, the forgiveness of sins, were pilgrims and strangers in the earth. However, they were saved only in hope. The salvation of God itself they did not see; it had not yet been realized. They experienced this salvation only through shadows and types and symbols. This applied also in the Old Dispensation to the saints in glory. But now Christ has come and the Spirit of the glorified Christ has been poured out into the Church. Jesus has come. The shadows and types of the Old Dispensation are no longer needed. Yet, we see in a glass darkly. We are yet in the earthly house of our present tabernacle. Presently we shall see face to face. Then this glass will be done away with, and also all this earthly and sin. And the Church of God will be received up into heavenly glory and immortality; God’s tabernacle shall be forever with men. 


First, the Spirit is irresistible. This is emphasized in Scripture. And it is true in this text. When we read that the sound came from heaven, we realize that the disciples gathered there recognized its heavenly origin. Where else would a sound as of a wind without any wind originate? Notice, too, that the text speaks of the sound as of mighty rushing wind. There is no wind. And, it is the sound as of a mighty rushing wind. Besides, do we not read in John 3:8 that we cannot tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth. So, no man is able to control it. In this connection, we may also refer to Romans 9:15-16, 18-19, 21, 25-26

That the Spirit is irresistible lies in the nature of the case. This is, first of all, because of us. We are conceived and born dead in sin and in trespasses. Our hearts are hearts of stone. We are blind and deaf and dumb and lame. We are dead; there is no life in us. Hence, the world cannot receive Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him—see John 14:17. We do not read that the world does not will to receive Him, although this is also true. But the world cannot do so. Man cannot receive Him, embrace Him, pray for Him, desire Him, recognize and acknowledge and obey Him. Fact is, man does not see Him and he does not know Him. This “seeing” is to look upon something with interest. We do not desire Him. For, we do not know Him. Man has never tasted Him, experienced Him; he is a stranger to Him. The light of the Spirit was never kindled in his soul. He never knew the cross, his own sin, the consciousness of guilt, the power of the Holy Spirit. This explains why the world cannot receive Him. For the natural man to receive the Holy Spirit is and remains a spiritual impossibility. 

Secondly, that the Spirit is irresistible is because of the Holy Spirit. Is He not the Holy Spirit? As the Holy Spirit He is the Spirit of God, Who does not call things into existence after they exist but Who calls them into existence by the word of His power; He speaks and it is, He commands and it stands. He calls the dead to life, makes the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. His work is surely irresistible. Him no man can deny entrance. His work none is able to withstand. 

Consequently, this Holy Spirit is also sovereign. This, too, is emphasized in John 3:8. We read: The wind bloweth where it listeth. Indeed, He is sovereign. Sovereign grace or mercy is grace or mercy not dependent upon the will of the creature; it is determined solely by the living God. We understand: the grace of God is either irresistible and therefore also sovereign, or it is resistible and then it is not sovereign. The work of the Holy Spirit is surely sovereign. No man can thwart His operation. He saves whom He wills to save; He does not ask admittance; He does not knock before entering. He simply comes in. The question who will be saved is not determined by man and his free will but by the living God alone. How this is verified in history! He saves men, of high and low estate, rich and poor, strong and weak, learned and unlearned. His disciples are unlearned, but He also stops a leader of the Pharisees dead in his tracks enroute to Damascus. He passes by Athens and captures Rome by storm. Capernaum is sovereignly rejected, but in the heart of Lydia He plants the seed of the gospel. Everywhere He gathers His Church, according to sovereign election. Indeed, “of all whom Thou hast given Me I shall lose nothing.” 


We read: “And it filled all the house where they were sitting.” 

The Holy Spirit takes hold of the entire man, fills him according to his capacity, his mind and will and all his desires, dwelling in his inmost heart. He renews the heart, enlightens the mind, directs the will. He leads us so that we may confess our sins, confess that we hate all sin and have a delight in all righteousness. Indeed, He fills us. He causes us to hate ourselves completely, all of ourselves, so that no good dwells in our flesh and we do not cleave to any part of it. He enables us to walk in all the commandments of the Lord. He grants us to taste the fulness of salvation in Christ Jesus. Christ covers all our sins; He protects us against all our enemies; He gives us, of course, in principle, the fulness of joy and hope. 

Is it any wonder that we read what we read in verse 11? We read that they spake of the wonderful works of God. Of course! Of what else could they speak? Of what else can we speak? Is not the operation of the Holy Spirit irresistible and sovereign? Is He not the sole Author and Finisher of our faith and salvation? Is not this salvation the fulness of joy which all eternity will not be able to exhaust? Let us, then, proclaim these wonderful works of God. 

Let us do this, individually and personally, in all our confession and walk. 

Let us do this as churches, in all our preaching and teaching. 

That we may taste the blessed assurance that God is for us and nothing can be against us.