We are approaching the end of the last days. The need of the Holy Spirit is as great in these days as it was at the beginning of the gospel dispensation. Doubtless most of us will admit that we should make greater progress, have greater victories, win more souls, and above all be more like Christ. The promise applies more definitely today than it did then. The early disciples were told clearly on what conditions the promise would be fulfilled, and the Saviour told them emphatically to "tarry in Jerusalem" until the blessing came. Now, on what conditions will the promise be fulfilled to us today? They are found in the very same message from which Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost:
"Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach."
When God's people meet these conditions, the promise is, "He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month."
As we consider how the disciples spent the ten days preceding Pentecost, we can see that they understood the conditions of the promise as identical with those given to us today. They called a solemn assembly, and they wept between the porch and the altar, praying for themselves and the people. We are told that these were "days of deep heart searching," that they put away all differences, and drew close together in Christian fellowship. Also that they persevered until they learned what it means to offer effectual prayer, drawing nearer and nearer to God, confessing their sins, humbling their hearts before God, and by faith beholding Jesus, and becoming changed into His image.
The instruction to us is, "Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments." The early disciples did precisely what we are told must be done today.
"We should pray as earnestly for the descent of the Holy Spirit as the disciples prayed on the day of Pentecost. If they needed it at that time, we need it more today. Moral darkness like a funeral pall, covers the earth. All manner of false doctrines, heresies, and satanic deceptions, are misleading the minds of men. Without the Spirit and power of God, it will be in vain that we labor to present the truth." —"Testimonies," Vol. V. p. 158.
What a tragic mistake we make when we endeavor to accomplish by some human means what can be done only by the supernatural power of the Spirit of God. The work could not then be done without it, nor can it be finished now without it. There were doubtless many human resources available in that day, but the most important thing was to receive the divine gift. This would make every natural resource effective because it was charged with supernatural power. So it is today. All the combined resources of the world can never do what is now to be done. But when the conditions are met, and the Spirit takes control, all will quickly be finished.
The promise fulfilled then was the solution of the four primary problems confronting such a movement:
1. The problem of stirring the whole city and gathering in the multitude.
2. The problem of deep conviction and genuine conversion.
3. The problem of adequate finances for the work.
4. The problem of unity, love, and power.
Those are our major problems today. Solve them, and the work may be speedily finished. Jesus said, Do not depart, but tarry. They obeyed,—waiting until something very definite took place. No one said, "Do you suppose this is it?" Peter said, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet." It was wonderful, supernatural. Twice the record says the people marveled and were amazed. The results were immediate and marvelous.
Will it come to us unless we as definitely meet the conditions? They met together day after day to prepare the way. They were not planning, or organizing, or outlining. They had nothing else in view but the promise of Christ. He had not told them to organize, lay plans, or raise money. When the Holy Spirit came, He took charge of plans, organization, program, money, and men. They had been working with Christ three and a half years, yet now they took time for days of patient, eager waiting on God. Everything else was laid aside. We might have called them fanatics. Perhaps we would. But they believed that something would be done to them to fit them for their great task, and they continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. Day by day their faith reached higher and grew stronger. They were getting up closer and closer to God, where the outlook was clearer, and each day brought them a new revelation.
They might have said, after a few days, that the Spirit had come, and might have gone to work. But Christ had led them to expect something definite, and they would not let go. They held on by strong faith, and they were not disappointed. Let us pray that we may understand what these things are designed to teach us today.
(To be continued)