Chapter II. — The Great Outpouring

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4.

The great day of Pentecost had come and with it the great outpouring. It started, not in the grand Temple, but in the plain upper room. Not with the well-established order of priests, but with the more ordinary and common folk. While the worshippers in the Temple handled the type, the disciples of the upper room were enjoying the antitype. While the former lurked in the shadows of the Old Covenant, the latter partook of the substance of the New. The worshippers in the Temple gazed at pictures of Pentecost while worshippers in the upper room experienced the reality of Pentecost.

Before meditating on the wonders of this exceptional day it would be well for us at this juncture to consider a few of the set feasts of Jehovah in the Old Testament with which the children of Israel were thoroughly acquainted. This will help us to see how blindly they observed ordinances of vital importance without grasping their typical import. Year after year, century after century, the same set feasts of Jehovah had been kept by the children of Israel, but the great doctrinal and practical lessons they were designed to teach seemed to have been lost to the people. Let us glance briefly at three of these set feasts.

Passover.

But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place His Name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt. Deuteronomy 16:6.

This was the first of Jehovah's set feasts, for it was the great memorial of redemption and deliverance from the land of Egypt. It was observed in that land by the children of Israel on the fourteenth day of the first month, from which the entire calendar of their sacred year was made anew, for it was their birthday as a new and separate nation. There are many precious details in connection with the Passover feast over which we could muse to our heart's content, but we must pass on to its salient feature. The paschal lamb was the central feature, for it was the spotless victim upon which the stroke of righteous judgment had fallen on that memorable night of deliverance from the land of bondage. The children of Israel, even at the last Passover before Calvary, seemed to have missed its typical import, for they did not see its counterpart in the death of Christ. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast. 1 Corinthians 5:7, 8.

First-fruits.

The first of the first-fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God. Exodus 23:19.

This was the third of the set feasts, and it was observed exactly three days from the Feast of Passover. Here again are many interesting details that can provide much thoughtful and helpful meditation, but we can only glance at the sheaf that had been reaped from the fields of ripened harvest which the priest waved before the Lord. This Feast of First-fruits was no more understood by the people than was the Feast of Passover. Upon the very day on which Christ was raised from the dead the priest in the Temple celebrated the Feast of First-fruits. Even the rending of the veil which had taken place three days before did not deter him from waving in empty form the sheaf that typified the resurrection of Christ.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firs fruits of them that slept. 1 Corinthians 15:20.

Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks.

And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Cord thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee. Deut. 16:10. We now come to the feast that typified the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This feast is called Pentecost, which means the fiftieth, because it was held exactly fifty days after the Feast of First-fruits which we have just considered. It is also called the feast of weeks, because the same period between the two feasts is known as a week of weeks.

Like the others there are many details from which much profitable instruction could be gained, but we shall content ourselves with the main characteristic. Two loaves made of fine flour, fruit of the harvest which had just been gathered in, were waved before the Lord by the priest. The lesson is again lost, and the two loaves, fruit of the new harvest, is not seen in the light of the harvest of souls that was to be brought in as a result of the outpouring of the Spirit on that day.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Acts 2:1.

Then they that gladly received his word were baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41.

Alas! over nineteen hundred years have rolled on and there are multitudes of professing Christians in our day who make the same mistake and commit the same blunder as the children of Israel did on the day of Pentecost. Year after year the great events of the past are celebrated without grasping their vital significance. Let us briefly mention three.

The Death Of Christ.

On Good Friday hearts the world over are moved with compassion towards the Man of Calvary, and eyes everywhere are turned in the direction of that central Figure. But how few seem to know the secret of identification with Him.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

The Resurrection Of Christ.

Eastertide is resurrection time, when special sermons are preached, and the whole earth resounds with the song of resurrection in commemoration of that great day. Yet relatively how small is the number that can claim to be definitely justified.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1, 2.

The Outpouring of the Spirit.

Whitsuntide, the Pentecostal period, is celebrated year after year by vast multitudes, yet it is amazing to find how many deliberately reject an outpouring of the Spirit akin to that which the disciples at Pentecost experienced.

Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Acts 7:5.

The worshippers at the Temple celebrated the various feasts which foreshadowed the great events connected with the plan of redemption, but they missed the experiences and benefits of that plan. Many professing Christians of to-day, while celebrating those great events of the past, are also missing the experiences and benefits of the great plan of redemption.

The Supernatural in the Old Testament.

The momentous events of the day of Pentecost, associated as they were with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, were unparalleled in history. There had been times when Israel had witnessed supernatural manifestations of Jehovah, but nothing like what the inhabitants of Jerusalem saw and heard on that day. Inspired history had acquainted the people with outstanding supernatural events, such as Israel's miraculous deliverance from Egypt, the dividing of the Red Sea, the miracles of the nation in the wilderness, the marvels of Sinai, the walls of Jericho falling, the effect of the prophet's mantle on the waters of Jordan, of fire descending in answer to prayer, and many other remarkable things; but they had never read of such a phenomenal visitation as they now witnessed. It was something so mighty, so out of the ordinary, that the people were overwhelmed with amazement.

The Supernatural in the Upper Room.

It started in the upper room, probably the same room in which Jesus and the disciples had kept the Passover feast some seven weeks before. It came as a rushing mighty wind upon the disciples; it filled the whole place where they were sitting, and then, breaking loose like a cyclone, it passed over the city with such velocity that thousands were carried into the spiritual kingdom of God. We shall now consider the effect that the Spirit had upon the waiting disciples in the upper room.

The Effect upon the Human Faculties.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues. Acts 2:2-4.

The effect upon the ear.

And suddenly there came a sound. …

The disciples had been tuning in to Heaven during those ten days of waiting, and their ears had become sensitive enough to catch the sound when Heaven began broadcasting the Pentecostal blessing.

The effect upon the eye.

And there appeared unto them. …

They saw the cloven tongues like as of ire that had come to sit on each of them. There was something more here than the look of faith. They had read of manifestations of the dazzling brightness of God in Tabernacle and Temple; now they saw a glimpse of that glory right in their very midst.

The effect upon the mortal body.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. …

This was the fulfilment of their Lord's promise

"He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of him shall flow rivers of living water." John 7:38.

It was no mere filling by faith, the filling they received affected spirit, soul and body.

The effect upon the vocal organs.

And they began to speak with other tongues.

This was a manifestation never before experienced by anyone, not even in the days of their Lord. It was a distinct sign and gift peculiar to the dispensation that was being ushered in that very day.

The Effect upon the World.

The disciples in the upper room were that day clothed with power to reap in a spiritual harvest, the antitype of that which the sons of Israel had come to celebrate. Three thousand souls were saved, upon another day five thousand, and so on, while the reapers in the golden harvest field magnified the Lord. They not only received power to reap, they were endued with power that enabled them to contend for the faith, and to go forward in the strength of the Lord. Had not Christ said,

"Upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?” Matthew 16:18.

These words, so much misunderstood by people to-day, were rightly understood by them, for they went forth, and gates, however formidable, had to give way before them. The gates of sin, sickness, unbelief, misrepresentation, and opposition went down before the onward march of the triumphant Early Church. As a result of the anointed Word cities and towns were turned upside down, prison foundations shook and their doors flew open, while kings and emperors feared before the dynamic of the Early Church message. We shall now endeavour to give a main outline of the teaching concerning this Pentecostal Outpouring.

The Promise Before Calvary.

If ye love Me, keep My commandments, …

And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 14:15-17.

Our Lord had just mentioned the fact of His going away, and the disciples were troubled in heart. They had spent something like three and a half years in His company, and He had been their best friend. They had brought their difficulties and problems to Him, and He had solved them. They had sat at His feet as disciples, and He had fed them with the bread of life. They had come to Him in drought, and He had quenched their thirst with living water. He was everything to them, and when He talks of going away their hearts are almost broken. Then in the midst of their sorrow He gives them the promise of another Comforter.

The Promise After Calvary.

And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:49.

Calvary is now an accomplished fact; the tomb is empty, and He stands in their midst as risen Lord. We have of ten thought of this first soul-stirring Bible reading after the Resurrection. He had opened their understanding many times before during the days that preceded Calvary, and their hearts had been strangely moved. But on this occasion no earthly language could possibly express the burning within that must have been. There He stands, with the same old Book from which to teach, but under vastly different circumstances. It was as risen Lord that He confirmed the promise of a Pentecostal Outpouring.

The Promise of the Father.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. Joel 2:28, 29.

We can almost hear Him read or quote this prophecy in the Book of Joel, for it was undoubtedly this promise that He speaks of . They were to tarry in Jerusalem until it would be fulfilled — the very place of His crucifixion, the very scenes of His suffering, and in the midst of those who had crucified Him? Yes! As soon as they should receive the blessing they were to begin to tell forth the glorious message of love and salvation even to those who crucified Him. The very carpenters who made the cross were to be told that He had prepared a throne for them. The person who plaited the crown of thorns was to be told that a crown of glory was waiting to be placed upon his brow. The soldier who opened His side with the spear was to know that there was a much nearer way to His heart. All were to be told that He had voluntarily laid down His life for their sins, and that He had taken it again for their justification.

Steps Leading to the Fulfilment.

In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we believe the Holy Spirit has with the utmost precision indicated the steps leading up to the Pentecostal blessing of chapter 2:Let us look at them briefly.

Fellowship with a risen Lord.

To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3.

The disciples had fellowship with the risen Lord because they were believing disciples. They were born again and had received Him as Saviour, hence the reason why they could commune with Him after the resurrection.

The first and second steps:

Identification with Him in death must precede fellowship with Him in life.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

Therefore the first step towards the outpouring of the Spirit is salvation; the second is communion with the risen Christ.

The third step: Obedience.

Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. Acts 1:12.

They made their way toward the centre in which the promise was to be fulfilled, and the disciples by their obedience manifested their faith in His Word.

The Company Who Tarried.

And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. Acts 1:13.

Men and women of different temperaments and with different characteristics — among them Peter the impulsive, John the beloved, James the stoic, and Mary the mother of our Lord. All waiting for the coming of the great and glorious day.

The Attitude Of The Company.

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren, Acts 1:14.

The tenth day of the prayer convention came when the heavens were opened, and each one received a definite baptism of the Holy Spirit in fulfilment of the promise.

The Promise Fulfilled.

Find when the day of Pentecost was fully come … they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:1, 4.

The Effect Upon The People.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. … And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. Acts 2:6, 12, 13.

Peter Testifies to the Fulfilment of Prophecy.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. Acts 2:14-16.

Two Commands and a Promise to Every Sinner.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38.

The Scope of the Promise.

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Ford our God shall call. Acts 2:39.

Thus we have given a brief outline of the teaching concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit which is the birthright of every believer. All who take the steps in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles can expect to receive the Pentecostal blessing of the second. 

Comments