It was a tense and momentous hour back there in Jerusalem when the truth of a universal salvation began to dawn upon the believers, It had been a most difficult task for the Jewish Christians to push back their horizons to take in other than their own nation. Theirs had been the training and attitude of centuries so we need not be surprised that amazement and mental confusion momentarily reigned when the news of Peter’s bold fellowship with the Gentiles reached the ears of the church. And so it was that the leaders of that day strongly debated the matter, When it had at last dawned upon them that this glorious gospel was for all the world, regardless of blood or name, they did their best to bring their practices in conformity.
As they debated these important matters at Jerusalem, the record declares in Acts 15:7-9, “And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good. while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
Here is a most significant and far-reaching scripture. A careful reading of this interesting story and the final statement of Peter under the provocation of the hour teaches us one clear lesson. Peter, by virtue of his statement and the setting which provoked it, put himself in a position where it became imperative that he tell exactly what had taken place on the Day of Pentecost. For in his telling of the incident at the household of Cornelius, the first Gentile household to come fully into the fold of grace, he tied this epochal incident into a parallel with the Day of Pentecost. In other words he had made it clear that God had put no difference between Jew and Gentile, doing for the one what He had performed for the other. The same witness that came on the Day of Pentecost came as well on the household of Cornelius.
The same vital results appeared in the new Gentile believers as had appeared in those Jews on the Day of Pentecost. And so it was that Peter, by the very uniqueness of his position, was compelled to tell exactly what had actually taken place on the Day of Pentecost. What was it? ” . . . purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).
Here is inescapable fact. Had any other mark or manifestation been essential to Pentecost Peter was under the necessity of declaring it. The significant fact remains, however, that he forever indexed Pentecost with one mark of identity — the purifying of the heart. This simple fact answers forever any who would try to tie into the content of Pentecost more than heart purity. Regardless of the passing manifestations of that hour, unique and meaningful as they were then, the final and permanent pattern for all time for Pentecost was purity of heart through the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Whatever added manifestations that might appear from age to age these could in no wise be construed as final marks of genuineness.
The sole mark of true Pentecost, then, is neither this nor that in terms of outward manifestation. It is, in truth, the purifying of the heart from sin. And this fact has the constant corroboration of many scriptures. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom.6:6). “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Let these two random passages, for want of space, satisfy the emphasis of purity as the heart of Pentecost. In view, then, of this clear statement of Peter concerning this most vital matter, may it forever silence the one who would attempt to insist upon a professed speaking in tongues as the true identity of Pentecost. This or any other manifestation might or might not appear but the full proof of Pentecost is ever found in purity of heart. After all the ultimate end of the purpose of God for man is moral restoration. Heart purity reaches that end while many manifestations hold nothing of moral significance.
And we cannot pass without a definition of this word “purify.” It is the very word from which we get our English derivative — cathartic. It literally means to purge, to purify, to remove dross and eliminate that which is foreign. It is identically the same word as is used in I John 1:7. It means nothing more nor less than the actual cleansing of the nature of man from the virus of a sinful disposition. Let men decry the truth and resolutely clamor heresy, but the clear and unmistakable statement of Peter, whom the Holy Spirit himself directed to speak, was that the heart meaning of Pentecost then — and now — was and is the cleansing of the heart from inborn sin, To this clear witness of Peter scripture boldly attests and the lives of multitudes happily declare. This, then, is the privilege of every Christian for when He is come He will cleanse.