When the Lord speaks
When the Holy Spirit pricks a sinner in the heart, beginning in regeneration and throughout the life of the believer, we cease to hear the words of a man. We hear the words of our Lord himself. That is what happened on the day of Pentecost. An earthen vessel was speaking, but whose word was being preached? It was a sinner preaching but whose Spirit sent forth the Word? Who did they hear? They heard what the apostles heard, the Lord Jesus Christ say, “Follow me.” Sinners always obey his voice.
CHRIST SHALL HAVE HIS OWN
I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, “You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.” My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will. A poor haul of fish will any gospel fisherman make if he takes none but those who are eager to leap into the net. Oh, for five minutes of the great Shepherd’s handiwork!
Charles H. Spurgeon
The Day of Pentecost. Acts 2. 1-12, 17
1 When the blest day of Pentecost
Was fully come, the Holy Ghost
Descended from above,
Sent by the Father and the Son,
To bring immortal blessings down,
And shed abroad God’s love.
2 Sudden a rushing wind they hear;
And fiery cloven tongues appear;
And sat on every one;
Cloven, perhaps, to be a sign,
That God no longer would confine
His word to Jews alone.
3 And were these first disciples blessed
With heavenly gifts? And shall the rest
Be passed unheeded by?
What! has the Holy Ghost forgot
To quicken souls that Christ has bought,
And lets them lifeless lie?
4 No, thou Almighty Paraclete,
Thou shedd’st thy heavenly influence yet,
Thou visit’st sinners still;
The breath of life, thy quickening flame,
Thy power, thy Godhead, still the same,
We own, because we feel.
The experience of a believer
by J. C. Philpot
There is a striking similarity between the history of the church and the experience of a believer. Nor is this coincidence casual, but necessarily connected with their mutual position, the body and the members being affected by the same circumstances, and being dependent on the same causes of health or decay. Thus the first is as the volume of which the second is a page; the one being the history of centuries, and the other the record of a life.
This similarity embraces several particulars.
1. The first and main point of coincidence lies in this—that both are dependent for their spiritual life and prosperity on the Lord their Head. The church is his body, of which individual believers are separate members; and without him neither body nor members can do anything. He is “the Way” in which both walk; “the Truth” in which both believe; and “the Life” in which both live.
2. But besides this similarity in point of dependence, there is also a striking resemblance in point of experience. Thus in the history of the church there are certain marked periods, or, as they are usually called, “epochs,” of spiritual prosperity when the Lord’s presence and power were peculiarly manifested. As these seasons were wholly due to the special pouring out of the Holy Spirit, (according to the Scripture promise, “I will pour out my Spirit upon you”) they have been termed “effusions” of the Holy Spirit. The first of these, and the type and pattern of all succeeding, though immeasurably exceeding them in power and glory, was that most memorable one, on the day of Pentecost. The early and the latter rain spoken of in the prophets seem to represent in type and figure the beauty and blessedness of these gracious effusions.
Now, as long as these showers fell on the church, she flourished. It was generally with her a time of outward persecution and trouble; but as her afflictions abounded her consolations abounded also, and she “looked forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” But when these gracious effusions were withheld, like a field deprived of rain, she gradually declined in fruitfulness. Thus the history of the church presents an alternation of fruitfulness and barrenness, restoration and decline, life and death, summer and winter, resurrection and decay. Herein they experience of the church corresponds with the experience of its spiritual members.
There are few of the children of God who cannot look back to certain marked periods in their experience when the blessed Spirit worked powerfully in their hearts. Their first convictions or their first blessings—their spirit of supplication or their spirit of hearing—the sweet manifestations of Christ—the marked answers to prayer—the love they felt to the brethren—the willingness to make sacrifices and suffer persecution for the truth’s sake—these and similar bright and blessed spots in Christian experience correspond in the individual to the effusions of which we have spoken as marking certain epochs in the church. And their coldness, deadness, and barrenness, when the Spirit’s influences are withheld, correspond to the periods in the history of the church of decline and decay.
3. A third point of similarity may be also noticed. When the church has declined into coldness and death, the Lord has at all periods preserved in her an elect remnant who sigh and cry on account of Zion’s declension, and testify as faithful witnesses against the condition into which she has fallen. Here too the experience of the individual coincides with the experience of the church. In the bosom of a child of God, however low the soul may have sunk into carnality and lukewarmness, there is still a sigh and a cry on account of the abominations. The soul is inwardly sensible of its backslidings, its coldness, deadness, and declension; and conscience, as a faithful witness for God, unbribed and unbribable, unsilenced and unsilenceable, will ever and anon raise up its voice and testify against the forsaking of the Fountain of living waters, to hew out cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.
no other name
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This verse along with thousands of others throughout the Bible declare one plain and glorious fact, that Jesus Christ is salvation. Salvation is in a person, not in a place, a position nor a profession, but in Christ Jesus Himself (Eph. 2:20; Luke 2:30). This is only made know to the sinner through the revelation of God the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10). When we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ we declare His name, which describes Who He is and what He accomplished when He obtained eternal redemption for us. Now again, lets consider some more of His names found in holy scripture.
MEDIATOR (1 Tim. 2:5)
Mediator means; one that is a go between, one who mediates between two parties with a view of producing peace. That is exactly what Jesus Christ accomplished for his people at Calvary (2 Cor. 5:18-21). Our sin had separated us from God (Isa. 59:2). However, our Lord took up our case to satisfy God’s offended justice and to reconcile us to God. Our Lord being both God and man, can fully comprehend the claims of God and the need of the sinner and provide the perfect remedy. As the Mediator of the covenant of grace (Heb.13:20), He is the guarantee of our salvation. He died not to make salvation a possibility, but an absolute certainty for those He reconciled to God through His blood (Rom. 5:1,8-10).
Many times in the scriptures He is identified as Jesus of Nazareth. When Peter preached at Pentecost He said, “Jesus of Nazareth a man approved of God” (Acts 2:22). When He was crucified at Jerusalem, the sign read; “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Evidently Nazareth was a city with a bad reputation. Nathaniel said, “can any good thing come out of Nazareth” (John 1:43-46). Our Lord had absolutely no problem associating Himself with sinners. He said, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9:13). If you know something about how wicked you are, it ought to encourage you; because Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6).
ONLY BEGOTTEN (John 1:1-14)
When He took upon Himself our humanity (apart from sin), He never stopped being God. He remained what He was and became what He was not, flesh and dwelt among us. His deity though veiled was never laid aside; His humanity though sinless was real humanity (1 Tim. 3:16). This union of two natures in one blessed person was necessary, to enable God to be a Just God and Saviour; to suffer for our sins and to satisfy His justice (Heb. 2:17).
If you take the time to read the prophecy of Joel you will find that the nation was under the judgment of God due to their sin against God. As it was in Adam’s day, when Adam sinned and we all fell in Adam, like as God brought his judgment upon Adam and the whole land, God brought his judgment upon Israel for their sin. The same is so in our day and it is for the same reason.
Yet, in Joel 2: 18, God began promising that he would have pity on his people. His people are the elect within Israel, the elect scattered in the four corners of the world, those for whom Christ died and those whom God shall save by his grace. From chapter 2, God speaks of his deliverance of his people in many spiritual symbols and pictures such as sending “corn and wine and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith, and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: But I will remove from off you the northern army.’ (Joel 2: 19-20) Again, he says, “And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…” (Joel 2: 24-25) These are just examples of spiritual types that God uses. What do these things represent?
Notice, the text says, “And it shall come to pass afterward…” That which came to pass afterward, which our text declares, was that Christ poured out his Spirit on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2: 16-18) Therefore, since we know what took place afterward, to understand what these spiritual types represent, we must remember what happened before. The Lord Jesus Christ laid down his life on the cross. So it is the cross represented in all these spiritual types and shadows by which Christ would bring upon his people all these blessings. It is by the precious blood of Christ poured out for his elect people on Calvary’s cross that all God’s elect “shall eat in plenty, and be satisified, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wonderously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.” (Joel 2: 26-27) Then it came to pass “afterward” that our risen Lord and Christ poured out his Spirit on all flesh of his people on the day of Pentecost by which the apostles began preaching the gospel to all the people in languages they had never learned. It is by that gospel through the Holy Spirit that he brought three thousand of his blood-bought people to believe on Christ. And he did the same for us who believe.
The point is, always watch for key words like “afterwards.” By words such as this, those with spiritual sight are able to discern what God means by the types and shadows. While others refuse to preach Christ from such texts using the excuse of being fearful of over-spiritualizing scripture, we will be fearful of “over-carnalizing” scripture and will rather rejoice in these spiritual shadows which glorify our Redeemer and bring him all the glory.