Before He ascended to heaven, Christ gave His disciples the promise, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that He may abide with you forever: even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him. But ye know Him: for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you."
To those who in faith claimed this promise it was speedily fulfilled. After Christ's ascension the disciples were gathered together of one accord in one place. Ten days they spent in heart-searching and self-examination, each taking his own case in hand; for it had to be an individual work. As the disciples made humble supplication to God, their differences were swept away. They became of one mind. Then the way was prepared for the Holy Spirit to enter the cleansed, consecrated soul-temples. Every heart was filled with the Spirit, whose influence came with copiousness and power, as if it had been held in restraint for ages. What was the result? Thousands were converted in a day. The sword of the Spirit seemed new-edged with power, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow. The idolatry that had been mingled with the worship of the people was overthrown. New territory was added to the church of God. Places that had been barren and desolate sounded forth His praise.
The church became a vitalizing power. Believers, themselves re-converted, were a living power for God and for His kingdom. A new song was put into their mouth, even praise to our God. Every one converted saw in his brethren and sisters the faces of angels. One interest prevailed, one subject of emulation swallowed up all others,--to be like Christ, to do the works of Christ. The earnest zeal felt was expressed in kindly helpfulness, in kindly looks, and brotherly love. All strove to see who could do the most for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom.
This ministry is the great need of the church today. And in Christ's promise we are included. To us is offered the great and measureless gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not because of any restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If all were willing to receive, all would become filled with the Spirit. When God's people will believe, when they will turn their attention to that which is true, and living, and real, the Holy Spirit, in strong, heavenly currents, will be poured upon the church.
All the principalities and powers of the heavenly world are enlisted in the work of ministering for fallen man. Angels are actively engaged in executing God's plans to bring man back from rebellion to reconciliation with God. With intense earnestness they are co-operating with God to bring to man moral efficiency, that in Christ he may be more than conqueror.
Invisible armies of light and power attend the meek and lowly ones who believe and claim the promises of God. Cherubim and seraphim, and angels that excel in strength,--"ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,"--stand at His right hand, "all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation."
God has manifested His love to men by making them partners with Himself in the work of salvation. All to whom the heavenly inspiration has come are put in trust with the Gospel. "We are labourers together with God," called to represent Him as ambassadors of love. We are to co-operate with the work of the delegates of heaven. And to us is committed a work which even the angels cannot do. Man must be the channel to communicate with man.
Through the ministration of angels God sends light to His people, and through His people the light is to be given to the world. Man is to be connected with his fellow-men, and as God's instrumentality work in their behalf.
To us, in a sense that angels cannot know, it is given to unite with God in His travail for the salvation of humanity. To us it is given to swell the tide of His joy, and to bring honour and praise to His exalted name.
In creation and in redemption, by gift and sacrifice and service, God has manifested His love to us. And He invites us to show our love for Him.
He says, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me." He desires us to appreciate the great plan of redemption, to realize our high privilege as the people of God, and to walk before Him in obedience, with grateful thanksgiving. He desires us to serve Him in newness of life, with gladness every day. He longs to see gratitude welling up in our hearts because we have access to the mercy-seat, the throne of grace, because our names are written in the Lamb's book of life, because we may cast all our care on Him who cares for us. He bids us rejoice because we are the heritage of the Lord, because the righteousness of Christ is the white robe of His saints, because we have the blessed hope of the soon-coming of our Saviour.
To praise God in fullness and sincerity of heart is as much a duty as is prayer. We are to show to all the heavenly intelligences that we appreciate the wonderful love of God for fallen humanity, and that we are expecting larger and yet larger blessings from His infinite fullness. Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our experience. After a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, our joy in the Lord and our efficiency in His service will be greatly increased by recounting His goodness and His wonderful works in behalf of His children.
Such a testimony will have an influence upon others. No more effective means can we employ for winning souls to Christ.
And our love is to be shown, not only in words, but in deeds, in personal ministry and sacrifice. Christ says, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven." In His prayer to His father He said of His disciples, "As thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." In the commission which He gave to His disciples He included all who should believe in Him to the end of time. "Go ye into all the world," He said, "and preach the Gospel to every creature." "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."
And by the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Peter, we are admonished, "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
Thus it is that God desires to fulfil for us His purpose of grace. By the power of His love, through obedience, fallen man, a worm of the dust, is to be transformed, fitted to be a member of the heavenly family, a companion, through eternal ages, of God and Christ and the holy angels. Heaven will triumph; for the vacancies made by the fall of Satan and his host will be filled by the redeemed of the Lord.
Published in The [Australasian] Union Conference Record, June 1, 1900.