"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." Acts 1:8.
"The intellect most powerful in behalf of truth is the intellect that Christ controls, ennobling and purifying it by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit."— Testimonies, vol. 9, page 136.
That tremendous energy for which the apostles were instructed to tarry at Jerusalem, that they might be endowed to undertake the gospel commission, is the most crying need of His church today. The eleven left on earth by their risen and ascending Lord dared not venture forth on their mission without it, even in the environs of Jerusalem. Yet today many heralds of Christ’s second coming attempt to give their message without the power of the Holy Spirit. The church has been so long bereft of the Spirit’s power that she seems almost content without it. Strange enchantment, when she is faced with the burgeoning power of spiritistic phenomena to challenge her very truths! Truly the virgins are yet asleep when they think of pitting their own human strength against the combined forces of "spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12. It is high time that the church awoke to her peril and laid claim to the mighty forces manifested at Pentecost.
Yet, if the church is to fulfill her mission of preparing the world for her returning Lord and King, she must give evidence not only of possessing this divine unction, but also of her ability to live with its "everlasting burnings." Isaiah 33:14. Possession by, and also of, the Spirit is not an essentially comfortable experience, at least not while humanity clings to its imperfections. Perhaps this factor may enter into our reluctance to claim God’s promise in its divine fullness.
"The dispensation in which we are now living is to be, to those that ask, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Ask for His blessing. It is time we were more intense in our devotion. To us is committed the arduous, but happy, glorious work of revealing Christ to those who are in darkness. We are called to proclaim the special truths for this time. For all this the outpouring of the Spirit is essential. We should pray for it. The Lord expects us to ask Him. We have not been wholehearted in this work."
"The people of God have accustomed themselves to think that they must rely upon their own efforts, that little help is to be received from heaven; and the result is that they have little light to communicate to other souls who are dying in error and darkness. The church has long been contented with little of the blessing of God; they have not felt the need of reaching up to the exalted privileges purchased for them at infinite cost. Their spiritual strength has been feeble, their experience of a dwarfed and crippled character, and they are disqualified for the work the Lord would have them to do. They are not able to present the great and glorious truths of God’s Holy Word that would convict and convert souls through the agency of the Holy Spirit. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. A harvest of joy will be reaped by those who sow the holy seeds of truth."— Testimonies to Ministers, pages 511, 512, 175.
In the light of these pointed statements from the pen of inspiration, how can we escape the realization that our powerlessness stems from our lack of God’s divine Spirit? There is no stoppage in the flow of the golden oil from the olive trees into the bowl of the sanctuary lamps. God’s revealed word is brimming with the light of His truth from which we may take an abundant supply. The feeble trickle of the golden oil which the church is experiencing in our days must be due to clogging in the pipes through which our little individual lamps feed from the bowl.
"The presence of the Spirit with God’s workers will give the presentation of the truth a power that not all the honor or glory of the world could give. The Spirit furnishes the strength that sustains striving, wrestling souls in every emergency, amidst the unfriendliness of relatives, the hatred of the world, and the realization of their own imperfections and mistakes. … My brethren and sisters, plead for the Holy Spirit. God stands back of every promise He has made. … The honor of His throne is staked for the fulfillment of His word to us."—Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 22, 23.
The utter foolishness of attempting to accomplish the gospel commission without this divine assistance is at once pathetic and tragic, from the viewpoint of both the church and the world. Both are losers when man attempts to work without Gods promised aid.
"It is the absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, talent, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but, without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner won to Christ. On the other hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them channels for the out-flowing of the highest influence in the universe."—Ibid., pp. 21, 22.
The experiences of the apostles and of the infant church, following Pentecost, have been set forth for our enlightenment and encouragement. Just as the apostle Paul could say of the Old Testament writings in his day, "For whatsoever things were written afore time were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4), even so may we in the twentieth century say this of what is written in the New Testament Scriptures. The mighty change which Pentecost made in the testimony of the little band of Christian believers could be repeated today, if the remnant church would demand it and prepare to receive it.
"Why has the history of the work of the disciples, as they labored with holy zeal, animated and vitalized by the Holy Spirit, been recorded, if it is not that from this record the Lord’s people today are to gain an inspiration to work earnestly for Him? What the Lord did for His people in that time, it is just as essential, and more so, that He do for His people today. All that the apostles did, every church member today is to do. And we are to work with as much more fervor, to be accompanied by the Holy Spirit in as much greater measure, as the increase of wickedness demands a more decided call to repentance. … From all believers, light is to be reflected in clear, distinct rays. … Should not the power of God be even more mightily revealed today than in the time of the apostles?"—Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 33.
"Strengthened by the endowment of the Holy Spirit, they went forth filled with zeal to extend the triumphs of the cross. The Spirit animated them and spoke through them. The peace of Christ shone from their faces. They had consecrated their lives to Him for service, and their very features bore evidence to the surrender they had made."—The Acts of the Apostles, page 46.
What the Spirit of God accomplished in and through the apostles and early believers in the Christian Era, God intends to accomplish in and through us in our day. To an even greater degree is such consecration to be witnessed now, even as the need in the last days will be greater than it was in the first century. Let us notice the source through which such power was made available to Gods men and women in those early days.
"The word of God—the truth—is the channel through which the Lord manifests His Spirit and power. … When by the Holy Spirit divine truths are impressed upon the heart, new conceptions are awakened, and the energies hitherto dormant are aroused to cooperate with God. … When, after His ascension, the Holy Spirit brought His teachings to the remembrance of the disciples, their slumbering senses awoke. The meaning of these truths flashes upon their minds as a new revelation, and truth, pure and unadulterated, made a place for itself. Then the wonderful experience of His life became theirs."—Ibid., p. 520.
This miracle did not take place in the lives of those with whom Christ had associated most intimately until after He was no longer with them. The beautiful symmetry of His daily life, while it impressed them to the extent that they had already left all to be with Him in constant companionship, could not awaken in them a proper comprehension of its significance while it remained a thing apart from themselves. Nor could the Spirit of Christ become theirs while they were harboring ambitious longings for personal advantage, and the little jealousies of those who felt that others were seeking precedence over them unfairly. To men with such thoughts in mind, the perfection of Christ’s character must always be a thing to be admired and longed for but not to possess—a museum piece, as it were, beyond the hope of personal acquisition.
After Christ’s ascension and the experience of the ten days’ preparation in the upper room, things changed. Personal ambitions were relinquished, that Christ, and not they, might be exalted. No longer able to bask in the protection of His perfection, the eleven took a candid look at themselves. In fact, they spent ten days in taking stock of the resources with which they must begin the conquest of the world for their risen Christ. They must have come to the conclusion that they owned pitifully little with which to attack the strongholds of unbelief. This conclusion was exactly what the Holy Spirit wanted them to reach. Only then would they be prepared to admit their emptiness and turn to Him for the heavenly infilling.
Judas’s defection and Peter’s momentary weakness must have shaken them to the core. If these two stalwarts could be so sorely defeated by the enemy, what hope had any of them of holding out when pressure was applied? And well they knew that in the days ahead strong pressures would be applied to destroy the infant church. Had not their Lord warned them, ‘Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service"? John 16:2.
From self-distrust developed their preparation for the mightiest infilling of God’s Spirit yet witnessed by this world—Pentecost. And this, says the spirit of prophecy, is to be available to our generation in as much greater intensity as the closing crisis will demand. It is high time to seek such an upper-room experience, that we may come to a full understanding of the Lord’s plan. We can never accomplish our commission by committee meetings, denominational campaigns, and Ingathering dollars alone. Our men and women are shortening their own lives and limiting their effectiveness by the tensions built up through this very busyness. When will we learn to do as did the eleven before Pentecost? They pushed aside the pressing details of campaign planning to attend to the more necessary tarrying together in prayer and in mutual confession of old grudges, irritations, and all those niggling little inconsequentials which can mar the perfection of our working together. This was work of the first importance and had to be attended to before the Spirit of God could get on with the campaign.
"We are to come in touch with God, then we shall be imbued with His Holy Spirit, that enables us to come in touch with our fellow men. … While you look higher than yourself, you will have a continual sense of the weakness of humanity. The less you cherish self, the more distinct and full will be your comprehension of the excellence of your Saviour. The more closely you connect yourself with the source of light and power, the greater light will be shed upon you, and the greater power will be yours to work for God."—The Desire of Ages, page 493.
"If the fulfillment of the promise is not seen as it might be, it is because the promise is not appreciated as it should be. … Wherever the need of the Holy Spirit is a matter little thought of, there is seen spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Whenever minor matters occupy the attention the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in infinite plenitude."—The Acts of the Apostles, page 50.
Lest we be disheartened by this clear description of our lethargy, let us turn our attention to the promises given those who avail themselves of this divine energy. The recipients of this promised power need not be only General Conference officials, nor need they be only ordained ministers, or conference employees. God is no respecter of persons. He could make as effective use of Peter, the fisherman, as of Saul, the Pharisee.
"God will move upon men in humble positions to declare the message of present truth. Many such will be seen hastening hither and thither, constrained by the Spirit of God to give the light to those in darkness. … Many, even among the uneducated, will proclaim the word of the Lord. Children will be impelled by the Holy Spirit to go forth to declare the message of heaven. The Spirit will be poured out upon those who yield to His promptings. Casting off man’s binding rules and cautious movements, they will join the army of the Lord."—Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 26, 27.
"Those who are under the influence of the Spirit of God will not be fanatical, but calm and steadfast, free from extravagance in thought, word, or deed. Amid the confusion of delusive doctrines, the Spirit of God will be a guide and a shield to those who have not resisted the evidences of truth, silencing every other voice but that which comes from Him who is the truth. … When we are endowed with the Spirit, we take hold by faith of infinite power."—Gospel Workers, page 289.
In closing this chapter on the Source of that power of which God’s church stands in such need in these days, let me cite three more quotations from the pen of inspiration. They turn our thoughts to encouraging results in lives possessed by this divine influence and to the impact of such lives on the world about them.
"Christ Himself calls our attention to the growth of the vegetable world as an illustration of the agency of His Spirit in sustaining spiritual life. The sap of the vine, ascending from the root, is diffused to the branches, sustaining growth and producing blossoms and fruit. So the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Saviour, pervades the soul, renews the motives and affections, and brings even the thoughts into obedience to the will of God, enabling the receiver to bear the precious fruit of holy deeds."—The Acts of the Apostles, page 284.
"When the Holy Spirit operates upon the mind, the human agent will understand the statement made by Christ, ‘He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.’ Subjection to the word of God means the restoration of one’s self. Let Christ work by His Holy Spirit, and awaken you as from the dead, and carry your minds along with His. Let Him employ your faculties. He has created your every capability that you may better honor and glorify His name. Consecrate yourself to Him, and all associated with you will see that your energies are inspired of God, that your noblest powers are called into exercise to do Gods service. The faculties once used to serve self and advance unworthy principles, once serving as members of unrighteous purposes, will be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ, and become one with the will of God."—Testimonies to Ministers, page 396.
"Every worker who follows the example of Christ will be prepared to receive and use the power that God has promised to His church for the ripening of earth’s harvest. Morning by morning, as the heralds of the gospel kneel before the Lord and renew their vows of consecration to Him, He will grant them the presence of His Spirit, with its reviving, sanctifying power. As they go forth to the day’s duties, they have the assurance that the unseen agency of the Holy Spirit enables them to be ‘laborers together with God.’"—The Acts of the Apostles, page 56.
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