Pentecost is the great day of harvest.
The fruit of the suffering and death of the Savior becomes apparent. O, sure, the Resurrection and the Ascension are the result of that same suffering and death, for it proved beyond any doubt, that the work of Christ was accepted by God. God called His suffering Servant out of the grave, that He might appear as the Lord of glory, who received a name which is above every name. The new line begins with the resurrection, becomes more glorious in His ascension and must find Him exalted in the sitting at the right hand, in the highest heavens, until He shall return to judge the quick and the dead.
However, on the day of Pentecost, the church receives of the fruit of the labors of her Redeemer. True it is, objectively the church possesses all things with the Lord in the resurrection and the ascension and also in the sitting at the right hand. But on the day of Pentecost the objective fruit is poured out in the Church. Christ received the Spirit and on the day of Pentecost that same Spirit is poured out on His body. He fills her with the benefits of her Head and the results are clearly shown. Do they not speak in different languages concerning the great works of God?
The power of Pentecost becomes manifest in the testimony of the Church. First of all, in that the enemies are openly rebuked. “Let the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”. God, thus spoke Peter, raised this same Jesus and what is heard and seen by you, is God’s work, rather, is God’s work for Christ’s sake and the result of His labors.
Hence, on the same day this testimony of the church revealed the thoughts of many in Israel. Some said these men are drunk, others said, Men and brethren, what must we do? And Peter immediately answered them, that the way to the blessings of the kingdom of God and of His Christ were to be gotten by and in the way of repentance. Whereupon the Apostle points to the promise that was unto them and their children and to all that are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Significant, that the Apostle does not define the promise. The question can be raised, What does he mean when he speaks of the promise in such a broad sense? Was that promise a well-known fact, so that everyone immediately understood what he meant? To you men and brethren is the promise, because ye are the Church of God? So may we ask. However, to my mind the Apostle does not refer or does not single out one promise at the expense of others. In saying that the promise is unto you, he refers to the one central promise of Scripture.
Many were the promises given to the fathers of the Old Dispensation, on many occasions. Moses, David and others received such promises. God, in many ways promised to be the faithful guide and protector of His people. The word itself is most beautiful. The word means glad tidings, concerning the contents of the promise. These promises of God were the objects of the faith of the believer. They were closely connected with the messages of the prophets. Centrally, there was only one promise, Christ the Messiah. And when Peter speaks of the promise he refers to Christ, according to the context. Hence, if he speaks of the promise, Peter refers to Christ and all His benefits. We must not forget there are no promises besides this one promise, Christ and His work of redemption. And on the day of Pentecost, the day of completion, all these benefits of Christ were poured out on the Church.
Hence, this word is also beautiful, because in this word ‘promise’ is embodied the riches of Christ. This is possible, because Christ is centrally the “Promise” of God. Secondly, we could read also, unto you is the Gospel. A glad tiding, if the gospel centrally presents Christ, Him crucified, raised and glorified. Thru Christ God reveals and executes His eternal plan of salvation. Therefore, when the gospel is preached, the Gospel must at all times speak of God’s plan of redemption, of Christ and His suffering, of the benefits of the Cross for God’s people. And we may well take note, that the Apostle speaks these things to the Church and more particularly, that these benefits are to be had by the Church in the way of repentance. The Promised One has fulfilled the promise(s). All you hear and see is the result of Christ’s labors and is the revelation of the full counsel of God.
Pentecost is in a special sense the day to reveal the fulfillment of the Promise. The Spirit operates mightily. He takes it as the Spirit of Christ out of Christ and brings the fruit of Christ’s labor to the Church. And in a special, sense these benefits are experienced by the Apostles and the one hundred and twenty. Every one of them is filled with the Spirit. Every one of them gives testimony concerning the wonderful works of God. Everyone is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ and Him crucified. Because, every one of them is partaker of the Promise of God and knows and believes that they have their part with the exalted Savior.
And now the apostle turns to his audience in a familiar and well known way. Men and brethren, to you and to your children is the promise and to as many as are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Who does he speak to? Men and women of Israel and their children? Who are they? The answer is, he speaks to the Church. He reveals to us, the way of the Covenant, God hath established that covenant with the people of Israel. Besides, we must take note of the fact, that he speaks to people, who do” not know what to do. They were pricked in their hearts. They were a people conscious of their sins. I take it, not merely of the fact that perhaps some of them hath been witnesses of the crucifixion, or perhaps belonging to the multitude that hath cried, crucify, crucify!!
To you is the promise whenever you humble yourselves before God and before His Christ. We find, standing before Peter and the whole church, the remnant according to election. And this remnant is made ready by the Spirit to confess their sins and to be sent to Christ for the forgiveness of the same.
And to your children. Is it necessary to point out that this promise does not simply refer to the natural seed? In the history of the Church this has been preached, even in the so-called Reformed Churches. Hence, the necessity of repentance is superfluous.
Notice, how Peter also here, points his audience to the Word of God. In speaking to these men of Israel he speaks to a people well acquainted with the Promise. Hence, well acquainted with the Word of God. This they must know, that the Scripture always speaks of conversion when it speaks of the promise. Or, we may say, the Scripture always speaks of the knowledge of sin and our sorrow over sin as one of the elements of sanctification. Yes, also the historical element appears in that Peter addresses the house of Israel, for unto Israel were given the covenants and the law. Nevertheless, in what follows, the apostle points to the sovereignty of God. In as many as it pleases the Lord to call, this Promise is given. If we take the whole text, we will read, as it pleased you to call in Israel, so it also is His good pleasure to call others, namely, out of the Gentiles. But the calling of God after all, is the means to receive this promise.
This proclamation is the basis for the salvation of the Old and the New Testament Church. It would not be difficult to again have someone annihilate the idea of sovereign grace. It may be said, all are called, hence, to all comes the promise as an offer of salvation. This kind of preaching is well known in our day. In fact, it is just about the only preaching we hear, when listening to speeches of those who make it their business to win souls. That is also the preaching in the churches, who claim to be reformed. The external call of the preacher is, in this way, the internal call of God. Better, we should not bother much about the internal call. It was earned for all by the perfect sacrifice of Christ, hence, it should be offered to all. But this is contrary to the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost.
The day of Pentecost is first of all, the day of the Church and the day for the Church. Peter speaks not at random when he brings this glorious gospel, but he speaks to the men and brethren of Israel. Secondly, he speaks to men who are sorry for their sins and not knowing what to do ask for light. And light they received as is clear from the answer of the apostle.
Furthermore, the day of Pentecost, as day of harvest, is not a day wherein God has changed His method of bestowing grace upon the sinner. He it is, who is and always will remain the author of salvation.
Therefore, although it may not seem to take a prominent place in the text, the idea of God’s work and saving grace stand clearly on the foreground. In as many as the Lord shall call, to them is the promise. To call never means to preach the gospel to, that they may accept or reject the same. To call, as to the word in the original, means to call out. To call out that the ones who are called, may be a separate people, dedicated unto the Lord. And this effectual calling will always reveal God’s power. He called these men and brethren to whom Peter spoke. And the call was answered. For, when God calls, we most assuredly will come. True, the others also heard it preached, therefore, they mocked. They were confounded, but when they were over their first scare, they ridiculed the work of God, of Christ and the work of the Spirit. That, we could say, was the negative result upon the preaching of the apostle.
The positive result was that when the call of God was sent, they were pricked in their hearts. It brought about a confession of sin of their weakness, of their true knowledge of self. Therefore, they inquired concerning the way of salvation. It was to them the central question of their lives. What must we do? But it was at the same time, an admission of the knowledge of guilt, of misery, of utter despair.
Through it the Lord added them to the congregation of the saints that were brought to light in that beautiful day of Pentecost. For they also received the Spirit, according to the promise of God as preached by the apostle Peter.