Pentecost and Its Results
“But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.” — Luke 24:49
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” — Acts 2:4
Pentecost, with its fiery baptism, was an epoch in the lives of the disciples, and they were never the same again. They were lifted into the realms of the supernatural world until spiritual truths and things Divine became a living reality in them. They learned more about Jesus and His divinity in three hours, after they were filled with the Holy Ghost, than in their three years association with His bodily presence. They were changed in a moment from moral cowards to heroes, until all traces of man-fear were completely burned out of them; whereas, before Pentecost, they were dull and slow to grasp Divine things; the Holy Ghost now opened up their understanding, clarified their vision, and gave them an insight into the Old Testament scriptures until they took on a supernatural meaning to them.
The more we study the upper-room experience, the more we are convinced that the Twentieth Century church has reversed God’s Divine order. The outstanding command in the New Testament is tarry. We are persuaded it would pay the churches of today to stop all of their religious activity, and human fuss, and find an upper-room and tarry until Pentecost was fully come. The coming of the Holy Ghost would solve all of our church problems, fill our empty pews, burn up stinginess, and fill the empty treasury. Oh, to be struck with Pentecostal lightning that would knock sleepy devils off of the church roof, drive infidelity out of the pulpit, and melt the ice and the frost in the choir and Amen corners!
Let us notice what Pentecost meant to the church.
I. It attracted the multitudes. The question has been asked how to reach the masses, and how to bring the different classes together. Many answers have been given; but, nevertheless, there are more preachers preaching to empty pews than filled ones.
Wesley preached to sixteen thousand people from his father’s tombstone; George Whitefield preached to as many as forty thousand, and would often see thousands converted in one service; Roland Hill never lacked for crowds, but preached to them by the acres.
Has the Gospel failed? Never! Let Pentecost, with its heavenly flame, strike a church nowadays and the crowds will come to see the heavenly glory. A big church caught fire some time ago and an infidel of the town came and made himself very free in fighting the fire. As the crowds were leaving, a lady approached him and said, “This is the first time I have ever seen you in our church.” He said, “This is the first time the church has ever been on fire.’ Fire has always attracted, and when it falls on the pulpit and pew, we will not have to resort to worldly methods to reach the people, but they will come from far and near to get to a devil-driving, sin-killing, blood-and-fire revival.
II. Pentecost meant conviction. The average church is trying to have revivals now without conviction, and conversion without regeneration. Remember, there is no such a thing as regeneration without conviction. We need a conviction that will cause men to repent, that will go deep enough that it will not have to be done over. At Pentecost, men smote their breasts and cried out, “What must we do to be saved?” The great need of the Twentieth Century church is old-fashioned Bible Holy Ghost conviction. In the early days of Methodism, those old-time preachers were limited in their education; a great many of them had only a hymn-book and a Bible for their library, yet their souls were aflame with Pentecostal fire. Wherever they went it meant conviction and a revival. There was a power and glory that went with those early preachers that seems to have dropped out of the pulpit in these latter days.
Frequently, under the ministry of such men as Hezekiah C. Worcester and Benjamin Abbott, men felt as if shot in battle.
Speaking of Worcester, Dr. Bangs writes: “The grace of God wrought mightily in him. Oh, what awful sensations ran through the assemblies while Calvin Worcester and others of like spirit were denouncing the just judgments of God against the impenitent sinner!”
“Such was the unction of his spirit,” says another, and the bold, resistless power of his appeals to the wicked, that few of them could stand before him. They would rush out of the house or fall to the floor under his word.”
It is recorded of this holy man that when so far reduced as not to be able to speak above a whisper, utterances conveyed to others of the assembly would thrill them like a trumpet, and fall with such power on the hearers that stout-hearted men were smitten to the floor; and his very aspect is said to have so shone with the Divine glory that it struck conviction into the hearts of many who beheld him. Dr. Bangs further says: “At a quarterly meeting in the Bay of Quinte Circuit, as the preacher commenced his sermon, a thoughtless man in the front gallery, in a playful mood, began to swear profanely, and otherwise to disturb the congregation. The preacher paid no attention to him until he was in the midst of his sermon, when, feeling strong in faith and the power of God’s might, he suddenly stopped, and fixed his piercing eyes on the profane man. Then, stamping his foot and pointing his finger at him, with energy cried out, ‘My God, smite him!’ He instantly fell, as if shot through the heart with a bullet. At this moment such a Divine afflatus came down upon the congregation that sinners came, crying to God for mercy, from every direction, while the saints of God burst forth in loud praises to His name. Similar instances were not uncommon in those days.”
III. Pentecost meant oneness. This oneness has a threefold relation.
It is a oneness with Jesus. We read in Heb. 2:11: “For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” The best way we can illustrate this wonderful relation is through the relation of marriage. The Bible teaches that in true marriage two become one, duality is lost in oneness. Where this takes place there is a growing likeness to each other, not only in ways and manners, but there is an increased resemblance to each other as the years pass by. When the soul is wedded to Christ in Sanctification, there is a growing likeness to Him day by day. The look of restfulness deepens in the countenance, the spirit grows more tender, and the voice more mellow, until you cannot look into the face of some of God’s sanctified ones without thinking of Christ.
It is a oneness with each other. A truly sanctified soul is in blessed fellowship and unity with all other holy beings. This does not necessarily mean that we see eye to eye in little minor points, but we can agree to disagree, like John Wesley and George Whitefield, who failed to see alike on the fine point of Calvinism, but loved each other dearly. Dr. Daniel Steele said, “There are two kinds of church unity: mechanical, like the staves of a barrel, held together by the external pressure of the hoops; and vital, like the roots, trunk and branches of a tree which unifies by the mysterious inward force which we call life.” There are two ways of holding a substance together; one is to freeze it, like a block of ice, and other is to melt it until the liquid runs together. The sanctified are melted together into a holy oneness. There is a great deal of difference between a big union meeting with a worldly choir, a popular evangelist with his easy catch, card-signing, hand-shaking, skim through, so-called conversion, and a unity meeting where the Gospel plow is put into the beam, and the truth is not rounded off at the corners, and God’s people are in heart-union for an old-time revival.
IV. It means a oneness with one higher and spiritual nature. There are three conditions of life we may live. A base, fleshly life, where one is controlled by the fleshly appetites and passions; or we may live in our soulish nature and be governed mostly by our affection and emotions; or, higher still, we can live in the spiritual realm. where the spiritual controls the soul and body. The great majority of believers, or, more strictly speaking, half-believers, are sadly mixed in their religious experience, partly carnal and partly spiritual. But the Bible standard is an unmixedness of character. Pentecost, with its cleansing baptism, unmixes the believer, until in our prayers affections, motives, and faith, there is oneness of purpose and desire.
The baptism of the Holy Ghost harmonizes and unites all the powers of the soul. High over all is the law of God written in the heart, with its radiating light falling on conscience; and a well enlightened conscience and will harmonize with the purified affection, until all the trends and powers of the soul are turned into one channel.
V. It meant an increase of membership. “And the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved.” We are told that there are forty thousand pulpits in America without a preacher. Churches are waning and losing members every year. Some conferences and assemblies are just holding their own. Pentecost, and Pentecost alone, will bring a revival where our membership will be increased. A revival makes preachers and sends missionaries to the ends of the earth.
VI. Pentecost meant power. It is not power for service only, but it is the power of a holy character, power to keep sweet and power to suffer. Some seem to think power consists of noise, so what is lacking in real unction and power they try to make up in noise and human fuss. It is not power to do miracles, but to live in a holy way, and show a Christ-like spirit when opposed and misunderstood. Many an infidel has been converted to Christianity by the sweet example of a Christian, where argument, sermons or logic would have been powerless to have won them.
It is that indescribable something called unction. We have seen the great intellectual giants and star preachers at the camps, after argument, preach logical sermons which failed to move the audience, then some poor, unassuming preacher be put up to preach who never said a thing new, but, in less than an hour, he had melted and gripped the people. The altar was crowded. Amid the cries, laughter, clapping hands and shining faces of the newly born souls the outsiders looked amazed, while the service seemed to drip with unction and heavenly sweetness. Our fathers had the old-time power, and we may have it, too!
To your knees, O people of God! Pray until Pentecost, with its results, are repeated.