“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”
There is a divine program, a divine schedule, and this program is minutely executed, in “nature” and in grace. There is an exact moment for everything under the sun, in the heavens above and upon the earth below. This is also true of the realm of grace. Christ is born in the moment of the “fullness of time.” Jesus dies when His hour is come. He rises the third day, ascends to heaven forty days later, and ten days after His ascension He pours out His Spirit into the church. Pentecost is the fiftieth day after Christ’s resurrection, forty days plus ten. Pentecost is the beginning of the Day of the Lord, which Day will not end until it reaches its climax when Christ returns upon the clouds of heaven.
“When the day of Pentecost was fully come,” or, “in the being fulfilled of the day of Pentecost.” The day of Pentecost had fully come; it had been completed. The Old Testament is completed before the New begins; the Old Testament lamb is slain, the last one, when the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. In the Old Testament the day of Pentecost was a symbol, a shadow of the New, which must make way for its fulfillment. That Old Testament shadow must run its course, must be fulfilled, but, when it is fulfilled, it must be followed by that fulfillment, the Pentecost of the New Dispensation.
Two matters ire emphasized concerning the Holy Spirit in Holy Writ. First, He was poured out upon Pentecost. We read in John 7:39: “But this spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” We read literally: “for the Holy Ghost was not yet.” The word “given” appears in the translation in italics. Notice, too, what we read in Isaiah 32:14-15, Joel 2:28-32, Zechariah 12:10. And, secondly, the Holy Spirit was also in the Old Dispensation, as we may read in Haggai 2:6, Psalm 51:13, Psalm 104:30, Ezekiel 11:5, etc.
Pentecost is surely not the birthday of the church. The Holy Spirit was surely not poured out upon that day as the Holy Spirit of God. He is the Holy Spirit. This name denotes Him as the third Person of the Trinity. God is spirit, which means that He is exalted above all material, and must be distinguished from it. It means also that He is absolutely invisible, and, positively, that He is the God of all infinity and perfections. In this sense the Father and the Son are also spirit. Besides, God is holy; also the Father and the Son, however, are holy. That the third Person is called the Holy Spirit means that as the third Person of the Trinity He is peculiarly consecrated to the Father and the Son. The Father is the eternal source of the Godhead; the Son is the eternal Image of the Godhead; the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, peculiarly consecrated to the divine fullness, searching eternally the deep things in the Father and the Son.
The Spirit of Pentecost is the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the glorified Christ. Jesus has come and is glorified. In the Old Dispensation He was not yet. Then He existed only typically and symbolically. The salvation of God in and through Christ Jesus had not yet been realized historically. There were then only types and shadows of Him. But now Jesus has come and is glorified. He has suffered and died, has borne the eternal and infinite wrath of God upon all our sins and trespasses, has merited for us everlasting life and glory, and is now glorified forever in the Father’s right hand.
The Spirit of Pentecost as the Spirit of the glorified Christ also explains the richness of salvation of the church of God in the Old Dispensation. Indeed, how poor, comparatively speaking, was the church in the Old Dispensation! To be sure, the people of the Lord experienced in the day of the shadows the salvation of the Lord, enjoyed the riches of that salvation, the forgiveness of sins, the love of God, and the hope of everlasting life and heavenly glory. They were surely rich! They sought the heavenly city of God, the city that has foundations. When we say that they were poor comparatively speaking, we refer to the fact that they were saved only in hope. God’s plan of salvation for His people had then not been revealed as yet unto them. We read in Ephesians 3:4-5: “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” It is true that the apostle, in this passage in Ephesians 3, refers to the mystery of the will of God in connection with the salvation of the Gentiles. Nevertheless, in the Old Dispensation the church of God was saved only in hope. In those days of the shadows the Holy Spirit caused the believing saint to take hold of the shadows and look forward to their fulfillment. What the Lord had in store for His people had then not been revealed as yet. They saw this salvation only in shadow and in type. But now Christ has come and the Spirit of the glorified Christ has been poured out. Now the shadows and types of the Old Dispensation are no longer needed. Jesus has come. We now have fellowship with God through Jesus Christ Himself. To be sure, we still see in a glass darkly. Jesus is in heaven. We see Him by faith and only through the Scriptures. But presently we shall see Him face to face, when all the earthy shall be done away; then the church of God will be received up into heavenly glory and immortality; God’s tabernacle shall then be forever with men.
How does this Spirit of the glorified Christ operate in the church of God? How important is this question? How this work of the Holy Spirit is minimized, virtually destroyed in our present day and age! First, this Holy Spirit is irresistible. How the Scriptures emphasize this truth! It is emphasized in this text. When we read that the sound came from heaven we realize that the disciples who gathered there recognized the heavenly origin of this sound. And this is undoubtedly mentioned to emphasize that the disciples recognized in this fact the fulfillment of the promise of the risen and heavenly ascended Lord that He would send the Comforter. And notice, too, that we read of a sound as of a mighty rushing wind. There was no wind. A wind did not fill this room. The Holy Spirit filled it. Only, His coming is accompanied by a sound of a mighty, rushing wind, a sound of an irresistible gale. This, however, is also emphasized in John 3:8: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Indeed, the wind bloweth where it listeth. Hence, we cannot tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth. No man is therefore able to control it.
This irresistible character of the operation of the Holy Spirit lies in the nature of the case. First, this is true because of us. We are conceived and born dead in sins and in trespasses. For this reason the world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. We do not read that the world does not will to receive Him—though this is also true. But the world cannot receive Him. Man, the natural man, cannot receive Him, go out to Him, pray for Him, desire Him, bow before Him, be led by Him, acknowledge and obey Him. Fact is, the world does not see Him and it does not know Him. Man does not see Him, that is, does not look upon Him with interest and desire. For, he does not know Him. This is the knowledge of fellowship. Man has never tasted Him, experienced Him. The Spirit is a total stranger to him. Hence, for the world to receive Him is a spiritual impossibility.
Does it, therefore, lie in the nature of the case that the operation of this Spirit is and must be irresistible? However, this irresistible character of the Holy Spirit is also because of the Holy Spirit Himself. He is the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit He is the living God, Who calls things into existence by His almighty word. He calls the dead to life, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, the dumb to speak. He alone sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts. His work is surely irresistible. Him no man can deny entrance. He is as the wind that blows with crushing and irresistible force. Indeed, the work which God has once begun shall surely be done. This mighty work of the Holy Spirit which generally occurs in the hearts of His elect during their infancy, unnoticed by them, takes place with dynamic, explosive, irresistible force. Let us never forget: the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all God’s elect throughout the ages is surely irresistible.
And, therefore, the work of the Holy Spirit is also sovereign. This, too, is emphasized in John 3:8. Indeed, the wind bloweth where it listeth, pleaseth. That this work is sovereign means that it is never dependent upon the will of the creature. It is determined solely by the living God. Of course! His work is irresistible. But then this surely means that He saves whom He wills. He does not ask admittance; He simply enters the human heart. He saves sovereignly. He passes by Athens, captures Rome by storm. Yes, some are taken but others are left. Capernaum is sovereignly rejected; Lydia’s heart is opened. Indeed, it is so true: “Of all whom Thou hast given Me I shall lose nothing but raise it up again at the last day.”
The Holy Spirit takes hold of the entire man, fills him according to his capacity, his mind and will and his desires, dwelling in his inmost heart. This is symbolized in the text: “and it filled all the house.” He renews the heart, kindles therein the love of God. He enlightens the mind and causes it to discern spiritually. He directs the will, so that we may confess that we hate all sin and have a delight in all righteousness. Yes, He fills us. He causes us to hate ourselves and our sin completely; no good thing cleaves to our flesh. He makes us desirous to walk in all the commandments of the Lord. Christ covers, pays for allour sins. He protects us against all our enemies. He gives us the fullness of joy and hope.
Is it any wonder, then, what we read in verse 11b? Indeed, they spake of the wonderful work 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 Author and Finisher of our salvation? Is not this salvation a fullness of joy which all eternity will not be able to exhaust? Let us, then, proclaim these wonderful works of the Lord, of the God of our salvation.
Let us proclaim them individually.
Let us proclaim them as churches, in all our preaching and teaching.
And then we shall taste the blessed assurance that God is for us and nothing can therefore be against us.