Acts 2:1-36; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 16:28; Acts 2:34; 1
Acts is pre-eminently a
book of principles; and it is just here we so often go
wrong in looking for the repetition of the form by which
those principles were expressed; forms of expression
change, but the principles abide.
Though the Lord may do
a fresh thing, He will not necessarily use the same form,
but He will do it on the same principle; these
principles are eternal, changeless; they abide for ever.
We are so often wanting
a repetition of Pentecost in the form it took then, of
manifestations and demonstrations on the outside. The
Lord will do a new thing; and things basic to His
activity then will be basic to His activity always.
Principles, and not forms, are the things which we
are to look for.
at Pentecost centred in and related to one thing, the
enthronement of the Lord Jesus in heaven in the full
virtue of His universal triumph. So far His universal
triumph has not reached its full end: "Sit thou on
my right hand UNTIL..." (Ps. 110:1). He sits there
in virtue of His universal triumph; and that triumph in
this age is working out to its full issue;
1 Cor. 15:25,26:
"For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies
under his feet. The last enemy that shall be
destroyed is death." "But thanks be to God, who
giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus
Christ." He must reign until - His reign has now
Everything that took
place at Pentecost centred in that and related to that
enthronement of the SON OF MAN.
Acts 2:22, 32-36:
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of
Nazareth, a Man approved of God... this Jesus did
God raise up... being therefore by the right hand of God
exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of
the Holy Spirit, He hath poured forth THIS, which ye see
and hear... let all the house of Israel therefore know
assuredly, that God hath made HIM both LORD and CHRIST, this
Jesus whom ye crucified." That is the centre,
pivot and heart of all that took place at Pentecost.
Too often our attitude
suggests that the Lord Jesus is hardly equal to the
situation, and that principalities and powers, and the
Devil have the dominion and authority, or that it is a
very big fight with an almost doubtful issue!
the beginning of the heavenly sovereignty of the Lord
Jesus, and some of them saw the Son of Man coming into
His kingdom ere they tasted of death. Jesus said unto
them, "Verily I say unto you, That there be some of
them that stand here, which shall not taste of death,
till they have seen the kingdom of God come with
power." (Mark 9:1).
Pentecost presents a
crisis and a climax, connected with which are quite a
number of things. In Acts 2 see the different connections
with the Old Testament Scriptures and the climax to them;
link Acts 2 with Ephesians 3:8,9: "To make all men
see what is the dispensation of the MYSTERY which for
ages hath been hid in God... to the intent that now unto
the principalities and powers in the heavenly places
might be made known through the church the manifold
wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he
purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Let us trace the
connections and the climaxes:-
1. As to the Old
2. As to the Lord's
Person and work;
3. As to the training
and preparing of His instrument - the Church.
Firstly, the climax in
relation to the Old Testament. Notice how it is taken up
in this record in Acts 2, and read Luke 24:26,27,44:
"Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things,
and to enter into his glory? And beginning from Moses and
from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the
scriptures the things concerning himself... and he said
unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you,
while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be
fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the
prophets, and the psalms, concerning me." (A.R.V.)
Linked with all the Old Testament Scriptures,
and was the climax to
all that had been written. The Holy Spirit came with the
full virtue of everything that had been written in the
Old Testament concerning Christ to make them real and to
fulfil them; to bring those fulfilments into the personal
experience of the believer. The Holy Spirit's advent was
to make all the Old Testament a manifested fulfilment in
the Person of Christ Jesus.
In this record of Acts
2 there is a breaking up and opening of the meaning of
the Scriptures. Joel; what was the burden of the Word to
Joel? "The Day of the LORD." "But this is
that which hath been spoken through the prophet
Joel." "THIS is that," the day when the
Lord came into His own. We speak of having our day, the
Lord comes into His day. Pentecost is the Lord coming
into His day, He is enthroned; and this Day of the Lord
is in two parts; the former took place at Pentecost, and
the latter part is in the Book of Revelation.
Pentecost was the
introduction of the "Day of the Lord" on the
GRACE side of His sovereignty, and in the Apocalypse it
is the JUDGEMENT side of His sovereignty - ONE DAY, but
in two halves; and as surely as the Lord Jesus has
commenced His reign in grace, so surely He will take the
rod of iron to smash the nations in judgement who resist
and reject His reign in grace.
The Day of the Lord is
in our hearts now, He IS SOVEREIGN LORD; and so He is
offered to the nations in grace, but also we have a
message of authority, and if there is a refusal of His
grace, there must be an acknowledgment of that
sovereignty in judgement; for everything shall confess
Jesus Christ IS LORD.
God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which
is above every name... and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father." (Phil. 2:9,11)
In another part of the
same record the link is with David and Solomon. You have introduced with
David and Solomon a revelation of
grace, glory and wonder; it needs the two persons to
illustrate the reign and work of the Lord Jesus; and you
come into Pentecost where it has its fulfilment and
David and Solomon are
types of the Person of the Lord Jesus, in His work and
reign He is David and He is Solomon, but He transcends
them both; He takes up all that is typical in them and
fulfils it in His own Person; Pentecost is the climax to
the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Christ.
Now as to the Person,
life and teaching of the Lord Jesus in the days of His
WAS A RECOGNITION AND A PROOF OF ALL CHRIST CAME TO BE,
AND ALL HE TAUGHT, AND ALL HE DID.
All the spiritual value
of that comes by Pentecost into its full vindication.
His claim to
sovereignty is established by the moral and spiritual
results of the Holy Spirit coming into the life of a
child of God and transforming it, by causing it to know
in experience (not by intellectual argument) the life of
His sovereign triumph, that inward reigning in life by
Christ Jesus. All that the Lord Jesus taught and did is
vindicated by the Holy Spirit inworking into the life of
the believer the victory of that resurrection life of the
The Lord Jesus was
vindicated by a mighty experience of the Holy Spirit! It
is the spiritual and moral value of the Person, and the
bringing of the fruits of that by the Holy Spirit into
the life; it is the change the Holy Spirit makes in the
moral life that is the vindication of the Lord Jesus. You
cannot divorce moral responsibility and spiritual
experience, there is no vindication thus, but chaos and
contradiction. Pentecost is the climax to the Person,
work, and teaching of the Lord Jesus in the days of His
flesh, as it gives spiritual and moral value to those in
whom He dwells; i.e., proved in experience by the Holy
Why did the Holy Spirit
come? To make experimental in the life, by the same Holy
Spirit, all that Jesus is for the believer. This is the
progressive and constructive work of the Holy Spirit, the
transforming of life in men and women.
WAS A CLIMAX IN RELATION TO THE TRAINING AND PREPARATION
OF AN INSTRUMENT.
The first chapter ends with the presentation of that
instrument; the completion of the Apostolate with the
inclusion of Matthias. An instrument had been trained and
prepared for the continued work of the enthroned Lord.
This preparation is in three parts:
1. In the days of His
2. The forty days after
3. The ten days after
1. In the Days of His Flesh
One year after He
started His public ministry, He called and had in
training for about two years those whom He chose. What
were the chief features of that period of training?
First, a seeing and a hearing without understanding; a
very real thing. As we read the Gospels we see it was a
time of laying in of a subconscious store of not
understood deeds and words. Oh! but did not the Holy
Spirit work on that afterwards? What does the Holy Spirit
coming into our life mean? An explaining of who Jesus is;
"He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto
you," and until He comes words have not that potent
force; "the Spirit giveth LIFE."
Second, being allowed
to participate in the works and supernatural powers, and
being given flashes of spiritual revelation; "flesh
and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father
which is in heaven." Only flashes, immediately
passing, but a knowing something of "the powers of
the age to come."
Do get the principle of
this. Very often the Lord antedates things for us, and
then we find them go down into death; but this is
training; and has to be in order to get us, our flesh-hold
out of it; it is a principle of training, and so the
Lord brings us into spiritual co-operation with what He
Pentecost is necessary
to put things into another realm, where the "I"
is utterly out and the Lord is utterly in. Pentecost is
the climax to this. This was all accompanied by and
headed up to a complete breakdown and personal failure on
the part of the disciples, they failed Him all along the
line; see them with the Syrophoenician woman, distraught
with trouble, crying unto them, "Have mercy on
me!" and they "besought him saying, Send her
away; for she crieth after us."
Again, "Lord, how
oft shall I forgive my brother, till seven times?" "Lord, we have left all to follow thee; what shall we have?" Bargaining
to get more than they gave up! and caring not for the
others, only let us be first; ambition for a place of
prominence; this is not the spirit of Him who emptied
Himself, and humbled Himself unto the death of the cross!
Now Pentecost comes to
rule them out utterly; it is no longer themselves but
HIM; now they can follow to the death, now they can
forgive, the personal has gone, no longer their
interests the predominant thing even in the things of
God; but solely and utterly HIS GLORY at any cost.
Pentecost demands that
ground, speaks of that ground - we finished! There is
no place for mere soul-force here; soul-force in the
things of God is a denial of the Holy Spirit; He is the
"Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:2)
It is no longer our
efforts, our achievements, we are out of it, and it is
henceforth, The LORD did it! That is Pentecost.
The Lord is seeking to
get an Instrument, by and through which to present the
Lord Jesus to the nations as "PRINCE and
SAVIOUR." (Acts 5:31.) And there must first be a
realisation of the absolute sovereignty of the Lord Jesus
in the life before there can be such a presenting of Him
to the nations.
Contradiction in life
brings weakness in testimony, and there can be no ruling
in prayer through being in touch with the Throne. Where
there is any contradiction, authority in prayer is
paralysed. All this is preparation and training to gain
an instrument; an instrument for the enthroned Lord, to
meet His need and to establish His sovereignty in the
Second Part of the Training - The Forty Days After the
This is another phase
of their training; note the feature of this. It was an
establishing in their experience of what He said He was -
Resurrection in PERSON.
In the days of His
flesh, He had claimed power over His life, "no one
taketh it away from me... I have power to lay it down,
and I have power to take it again. This commandment
received I from my Father" (John 10:18), and for
forty days He was establishing in their experience what
He said He was, and all He had claimed to be. It would
have been a catastrophy without those forty days, they
would have lost the realilty of the living presence
of the Lord.
It was also the
establishment to them of all He had promised in relation
to His resurrection; "I will never leave you."
"I am with you always - all the days."
"Because I live ye shall live also." He had
made many promises on the ground of resurrection, and
came back and established them all; and theirs was a
faith in a risen, living and present Lord, and not only
in a historic Jesus.
Next, He established
the fact that He is Lord of men; and we see the
inclusiveness of His claim. All forces that could be used
of men were brought in by them to put Him out of
existence; but He came back! Man cannot get rid of the
Lord Jesus. He is Sovereign of men.
Back of men is the
Devil, he is involved in all this, and he has exhausted
himself and resorted to his last weapon, Death. The
answer to that is the Resurrection: "I am... the
LIVING ONE; and I became dead, and behold, I am ALIVE FOR
EVERMORE, and I have the keys (authority) of death and
Hades." (Rev. 1:18.)
HE HAS ESTABLISHED HIS
SOVEREIGNTY OVER ALL, MEN, DEVIL AND DEATH; established
it in every realm.
This was the Testimony
being brought home those forty days; HIS SOVEREIGNTY in
all these things. He was making them know the literalness
of His Person in resurrection to be equal to that in
the days of His flesh; He was not a spirit, but literally
as real in Person as before His death. Pentecost the
climax to the literalness of the resurrection of the Lord
Next, the emancipation
from the limitation of time and space. Still training an
instrument for future usefulness! He is no longer bound
by limitations of time, and He is seeking to bring home
to them that, though not seen, His absence is never to be
taken for granted. He is there all the time, and there is
no time when He is not with them!
Next, the establishment
on the ground of their world commission. Forty days is
the period of probation which ends in a demand to assume
responsibility. After forty years in the wilderness, the
Israelites were commanded to occupy the land.
Third Part of the Training - The Ten Days After His
Probation and training
issue in the taking up of responsibility. Ten is the
number of responsibility. See the boards of the
Tabernacle ten cubits high and covered with gold. Here
you get the type and teaching concerning man's
responsibility towards God; man is only able to meet that
responsibility (but he is able to meet it!) on the ground
of redemption and in the power of the Divine nature.
Ten days praying, entering into this thing by prayer, busy with no
other burden! And oh! with all the revelation He has
given us, should it not bring us to our knees in prayer?
Pentecost did not come one day short of full prayer
preparation; forty days of revelation and then ten days'
prayer; a clear manifestation of Himself and His new
thing; and the first carrying of that responsibility in
ten days of prayer.
And what was the result
of that praying? A thrusting out by and in the power of
the mighty Holy Spirit, resurrection revelation, a seeing
the fields white unto harvest, and then a giving of
themselves unto prayer, until sent forth of the Spirit.
Vision, prayer, go; yes, that is the Lord's order.
preparation, and Pentecost the climax to that
preparation, and the ground upon which the Holy Spirit
"Ye are witnesses
of these things but tarry ye... until ye be clothed with
power from on high." (Luke 24:48,49.)
"He was received
up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy
Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen; to whom he
also shewed himself alive after his passion by many
proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days,
and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God:
and, being assembled with them, he charged them
not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise
of the Father, which ye heard from Me... Ye
shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days
hence." (Acts 1:2-5.)
"Then they returned
to Jerusalem these all with one accord continued
steadfastly in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother
of Jesus, and with His brethren."
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, Jan-Feb 1931, Vol 9-1