That which took place on the day of Pentecost is precisely what we long to witness today. A vast crowd came hurrying together. They listened spellbound, thrilled, amazed. They were deeply moved and convicted of sin. "They were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" They did not acknowledge that it was all true, and then go away and forget it. They did not argue, but they cried out under the pain and sorrow of genuine conviction. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." Three thousand conversions! And they were not coaxed, urged, teased, begged—they received it gladly, eagerly. There was great conviction. They realized their guilty and lost condition, and they longed for freedom. They rejoiced in deliverance and peace.
We may say that conditions today are different, that men are sin-hardened and there is no way to arouse them. But think of the centuries in which Israel had been backslidden and had cultivated a cold, heartless, formal Pharisaism, so that even the mighty ministry of Jesus and the twelve had culminated in the denial and crucifixion of the Saviour. Yet how, irresistible was the mighty working of the Spirit. And what an amazing and altogether supernatural work was wrought that day!
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship." There were not many backsliders. When the Spirit has His way, a deep and lasting work is done. They did not require constant effort to hold them in the church. They were praising God in the temple and from house to house. Their hearts were filled with joy, and they loved to talk of Jesus.
"And fear came upon every soul: and many -wonders and signs were done by the apostles." Many have longed to see this experience repeated, and have quoted the promises, but have failed to understand why it does not come, though the explanation seems quite clear. We are told that "it is the absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless." —"Testimonies," Vol. VIII, p. 21. But the Spirit comes when the conditions are met.
No one lacked, for they shared their goods generously. When the Holy Spirit comes, men give because they love. Love always gives! This is the greatest need of the hour, for the world, and for God's people.
Many workers today feel distressed and baffled. People are interested more and more in the fashions of the world, in sports and amusements, in selfish pursuits. Terrible evils are committed with increasing frequency among those who profess to be God's people. A subtle and disastrous leavening process is going on. Yet we are far advanced in the time of the investigative judgment in heaven. It is of this time that the prophet speaks in those solemn words: "And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." Those who "sigh and cry" receive the seal of God. Those who rend their heart and not their garments, and who "weep between the porch and the altar," and cry, "Spare Thy people, O Lord," receive the latter rain, the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The two belong together. How precious is the instruction the Lord has given us for this hour, and how earnestly and diligently we should follow it.
"The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past. He calls for a renewal of spiritual life. The spiritual energies of His people have long been torpid, but there is to be a resurrection from apparent death.
"By prayer and confession of sin we must clear the King's highway. As we do this, the power of the Spirit will come to us. We need the Pentecostal energy. This will come; for the Lord has promised to send His Spirit as the all-conquering power!"—"Testimonies," Vol. VIII, pp. 297, 298.
"This testimony in regard to the establishment of the Christian church is given us, not only as an important portion of sacred history, but also as a lesson. All who profess the name of Christ should be waiting, watching, and praying with one heart. All differences should be put away, and unity and tender love one for another pervade the whole. Then our prayers may go up together to our heavenly Father with strong, earnest faith. Then we may wait with patience and hope for the fulfillment of the promise. . . . The answer may come with sudden velocity and overpowering might: or it may be delayed for days and weeks, and our faith receive a trial. But God knows how and when to answer our prayer. It is our part of the work to put ourselves in connection with the divine channel. God is responsible for His part of the work. . . . He is faithful who hath promised. The great and important matter with us is to be of one heart and mind, putting aside all envy and malice, and as humble supplicants to watch and wait. Jesus, our representative and head, is ready, to do for us what He did for the praying, watching ones on the day of Pentecost."—General Conference Bulletin, 1893, pp. 165, 166.
"The plan of salvation is not presented in its simplicity, for the reason that few ministers know what simple faith is. An intellectual knowledge of the truth is not enough; we must know its power upon our own hearts and lives. Ministers need to come to Christ as little children. Seek Jesus, brethren, confess your sins, plead with God day and night, until you know that for Christ's sake you are pardoned and accepted. Then will you love much, because you have been forgiven much. Then you can point others to Christ as a sin-pardoning Redeemer. Then you can present the truth from the fullness of a heart that feels its sanctifying power. I fear for you, my brethren. I counsel you to tarry at Jerusalem as did the early disciples, until, like them, you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit."—"Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 159.