George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
Filled with the Spirit
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place--Act 2:1
Be filled with the Spirit--Eph 5:18
Pentecost Was a Great Day for the Church
That the day of Pentecost was a great day for the Church is one of the plainest facts in Christian history. It is described, and not inaptly, as the Church's birthday. Up till that hour we were separate individuals putting their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have Nicodemus and Zacchaeus and Martha and Mary and the Magdalene. But now in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we have separate individuals drawn together into the fellowship of faith and worship.
It Was Also a Great Day for the Disciples
But if Pentecost means a great deal for the Church, it also meant much for the disciples. There is a true sense in which we may regard it as the great day, even the birthday, of their lives. Just as for Paul there ever stood out one day when he had met with Christ on the Damascus road, just as for Luther there ever stood out one day when there had rung on his ear that "the just shall live by faith," so for the disciples, through all their after-history with its journeyings, its persecutions, its service, and its martyrdom, there stood out clear and definite the day of Pentecost. And it was not the excitement of the day that made it memorable, for they had passed through many an hour of high excitement. Nor was it the outward miracle of tongues of fire, for they had witnessed far greater miracles than that. What made it memorable was the profound overwhelming change within them that had been wrought by the ascended Christ when He filled them with the Holy
Pentecost for the Disciples Was Not the Beginning of Discipleship
We are to notice, then, that this filling with the Spirit was not the beginning of discipleship. These men had been disciples, loyal disciples, long before the day of Pentecost. With one exception, they had all been called by Christ in the days of His humiliation And they had heard the call, and followed Him, and shared in the unspeakable blessing of His intimacy. And they had gone apart into a desert place with Him and listened to all the riches of His wisdom, and then on that night on which He was betrayed, they had sat as His guests at the communion table. Nay, more, they had seen Him in His resurrection, and He had breathed on them the Holy Spirit then. He had come among them in the upper chamber and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." And yet with all that wonderful experience of Christ as Teacher, Savior, and Friend, they were still waiting for a larger blessing. That blessing came to them beyond all question, and our text tells us when it came. It came when the day of Pentecost arrived, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. It was then that they were changed down to the depths, and it was then that everything was changed for them. They were new men, in a new universe, after the filling with the Holy Spirit.
Every Christian Ought to Be Filled with the Spirit
Now one cannot look abroad upon the Christian Church today without becoming conscious of the fact that multitudes of men and women have never reached the experience of Pentecost They too, like the disciples, have heard the call of Christ, and, like the disciples, have obeyed the call. And He has taught them, and He has breathed upon them, and they own Him sincerely as Prophet, Priest, and King And yet, with all their allegiance to the Lord and all their trust in Jesus as Redeemer, they have never known that Pentecostal blessing that makes a man in Christ a new creation. They have never been filled and flooded by the Spirit They have never been mastered by the living Christ. They have never felt themselves as empty vessels into which Christ was pouring grace and power. And so their lives, however loyal and dutiful and however blessed in their willing service, are not the Christ-filled and Christ-empowered lives that are the peculiar creation of the Gospel. For Pentecost, as I understand the Scripture, is not a mere matter of Church history. It is a privilege which every believer ought to claim. it is a blessing which every believer ought to have. Pentecost is the filling with the Spirit, and we are commanded in Scripture to be filled with the Spirit, just as plainly as we are commanded there to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit Changes Our Spirits
With that remark, then, I proceed to ask what change did Pentecost work in the disciples, and in the first place we shall observe how mightily it changed their Spirit. As a simple matter of historical fact, that hour in the upper chamber of Jerusalem gave a new heart and a new outlook to every member of the company. It was not that it led them to believe in Christ; they had believed in Christ for many a day. It was not even that it led them to love Christ; for one had cried, "Thou knowest that I love Thee." But it was that in the filling with the Spirit, everything was so vitalized and vivified that old beliefs seemed new men shadowy as dreams and they felt themselves in a new world. Before Pentecost they had been uncertain; after Pentecost they bore unfaltering witness. Before Pentecost they had been dimly groping; after Pentecost they were in full assurance. Before Pentecost they had been afraid and gathered in silence not knowing what might happen; and after Pentecost, like Christian knights, they were ready for battle with the world. When you contrast that quiet upper chamber with its door shut against intruding feet, with its seclusion, with its shrinking from publicity, with its avoidance of the big and bitter world, when you contrast that scene with the scene that immediately follows it of men aflame and fearless and heroic facing the crowd, lifting up their voices, coveting the opportunity of preaching--I say when you contrast these scenes and think that both belonged to the same day, you know that something mighty had occurred. And it was not anything outward or spectacular, such as a shaken house or tongues of fire. It was the promised fullness of the Holy Spirit filling every nook and every cranny of these rich natures that had been prepared for it by faith in Christ and fellowship and prayer.
The Fullness of the Spirit Belongs to Every Believer.
So when to any man who names the name of Christ there comes in the goodness of God the hour of Pentecost, in him there is repeated this old miracle and he knows himself a new creature in Christ Jesus. He does not become a believer, for he had through many a believed cloudy day. Nor does he then begin to love his Savior, for he has truly loved Him and striven to obey Him. But, filled now with the Spirit of Him who lives, everything is energized and vitalized, and his old faith, in which he sought to serve, seems shadowy and unsubstantial as a dream. Now comes the time of which the apostle speaks in that magnificent chapter, the eighth of Romans, "The law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death." So the old conflict is practically ended, and peace reigns and liberty and joy, "Not by might and not by power but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." All this in a magnificence no words can utter, is the purchased inheritance of every Christian. No man who names the name of Christ should rest till he receives that fullness of the Holy Ghost. And sometimes God leads His children by strange ways, and by dark and devious and humbling paths, that He may bring them in His infinite mercy to the full blessing of the day of Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit Gave the Disciples a Fuller Comprehension of the Truth
The second thing we must observe is this, and it is equally evident with what I have now said. It is how mightily the day of Pentecost the disciples apprehension of the truth. Not only did it affect changed their nature, but it had a profound effect on their comprehension of the truth, Now we should have expected that it would be so, for they had the promise of Jesus that it would be so: When he, the Spirit of truth, is come he shall guide you into all truth and again, as if to interpret that great promise, "He shall take of mine and shew it unto you"--He shall take of what you have all seen and heard in Me and shall shew you what it really means. If ever a promise was literally fulfilled, brethren, it is that promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. For, as a simple matter of historical fact, that is precisely what Pentecost achieved. It did not teach the disciples any new truth, but it brought to their remembrance all the old; it so quickened it and showed its meaning that it became a gospel for the world. You read the sermon that Peter preached on the morning of the day of Pentecost, and there is not a thought in it but you shall find embraced in the teaching and the life and death of Jesus,. And yet to think of Peter preaching that before his filling with the Holy Spirit is a thing that is utterly incredible. Think of John not knowing what spirit he was of, then go and read the Epistles of St. John. Think of Peter crying, "I go afishing," and then go and read the First Epistle of Peter. Something has happened--something mighty and wonderful has happened. And that something so mighty and so wonderful is the promised fullness of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Spirit Creates in Us an Infallible Spirit
And so when a Christian man comes to his Pentecost, he too shares in the promise of his Lord. The Spirit not only makes him a new creature, but He guides him into all truth In that great experience of blessing, a man is not taught what he did not know before. The life of Jesus, His death, His resurrection--all that he has long known and studied. But when the promised Spirit is vouchsafed all that, and all the doctrine it involves, becomes so living and so intensely real that it is grasped as it never was before. The Spirit witnesseth with our spirit, and in that twofold witness we have a great assurance. Taught by the Holy Ghost, we apprehend what intellectually we failed to grasp. We find in our own experience the truth of what we had read for many a year in Scripture, and reading, had striven humbly to believe, on the authority of the Word of God. Now we no longer struggle to believe. Now, to disbelieve would be impossible. The outward witness of the Word of God is confirmed by the inward witness of the Spirit. And we need no argument to prove the truth nor any commentary to explain it to us. It is within us a living, mighty thing through the blessed indwelling of the Holy Ghost. What does a man want with an infallible church who has that infallible witness in his heart? The only fallible church is in the soul which is illuminated by the Holy Spirit let a man seek the authority of councils when he is still groping and wandering in darkness. He will never seek it, and he will never need it, when God in His mercy has brought him to his Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit Gave the Disciples New Power to Serve
And then, lastly, I ask you to observe what is also equally and singularly evident. It is how Pentecost, coming to the disciples, mightily changed them in their power for service. Not only did it revivify their natures; not only did it illuminate their minds; it gave them an actual power for service such as they had never had before. Of course they had all been used before; they had been used from the hour when they were called. From the very beginning of their following of Jesus they had been honored to be the Master's instruments. Long before a man has come to Pentecost he may have faith as a grain of mustard seed, and Christ has told us what a man can do if he has a faith like that. Let not a syllable fall from my lips to disparage the earlier toils of these disciples. Would God that you and I were found as faithful as they were in the Galilean ministry. And yet think of that earlier ministry, and them compare it with the later ministry, and it is all as moonlight unto sunlight and as water unto wine. Think of the mighty effects of Peter's sermon--three thousand were converted in one day. Think of the churches that sprang up and grew in the teeth of the most terrific oppositions. Think of the Gospels and letters that they wrote that came with such power to a dying world and which the world will not willingly let die. My brother, it was not the atonement that did it. It was not the resurrection or ascension, It was the Holy Spirit taking the atonement and making it a mighty thing It was the day of Pentecost that gave the power, and that too had been foreseen by Christ, for "Tarry ye here." He said to His disciples, "till ye receive power from on high..
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