Bible Study : H. E. Alexander, 1950_06_02 translated from French
Revival : Pentecost in Jerusalem
Bible Study : H. E. Alexander, 1950_06_02 translated from French
The New Pentecostal Revival in Jerusalem
For this message I have chosen a text from the book of Acts: “For the promise is to you, to your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call” (2 :39). I do not intend to go into all the details of Pentecost, but rather that we let ourselves be carried away by the waves of the torrent of grace which has been flowing since then.
My wish is that we can always throw ourselves into it without ever looking back. Neither do we want to seek the childhood gifts of the Church of Christ; it would be to generate quarrels between brothers, and to nourish illusions about ourselves. This would undermine the true work of the Holy Spirit, for the apostle Paul himself declares in the Epistle where he deals with the disorders of the Church of Corinth: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child … when I became a man, I made childish things disappear” (1 Corinthians 13:1 1 ). But we want to enter into the life of the Holy Spirit which the day of Pentecost has made possible, to understand what are our privileges and responsibilities brought to light on that day, and to walk in the way laid down in order to accomplish the works prepared by Christ.
The promise is for us and ours, for all who are far away. There is no limit: “…as many as the Lord shall call.” These are the other sheep “not of this fold” (cf. John 10:16 ), whom Jesus wants to bring and whom we must seek. I think this promise of Acts goes hand in hand with that of John 3:16 . It is one of the most comprehensible in the entire Bible; it is aimed at all groups in society. Its blessed echoes resound to us through the centuries, its effects are still felt today, the source is as abundant as before, the river continues to flow, the strength and the life are in no way exhausted.
As I consider the great historical day of Pentecost, I have the following three thoughts:
- God has his hours
- God has his conditions
- God has his instruments
- God has his hours
He is master of his plans, he watches over his children, he provides for their needs at all times. In the Old Testament we have encouraging evidence that God speaks to all successive generations; Moses and David tell us this (cf. Psalm 90:1 ; 71:18). Readers, God is watching over you. He wants you to be filled with the Spirit. If you are Christ’s, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit (cf. Ephesians 1:13 ), but you need the endument of power from on high to be burning witnesses of the love of the Lord Jesus. , ready to leave everything to follow him (cf. Luke 24:49 ; Acts 1:8 ). Remember that there are still millions of Gentiles who do not know the Bible or the Saviour. This multitude awaits the preaching of the cross.
God has his hours.
Moses had written that Pentecost would come fifty days after Passover; it came on the exact date (cf. Leviticus 23:15-17 ). When we look back, we who have already lived a few decades in the service of God, do you know what we see? Each defining moment was placed at the right time, each event took place on time. We discover a paternal order in all directions of our lives; one action followed another, a positive decision changed a situation (cf. Romans 8:28 ).
Moses had written that Pentecost would be a feast, and it was so that people thought the disciples were all drunk; But no ! that wasn’t it. The apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians: “Do not get drunk with wine: it is debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (5:18).
The prophets had said, “I will pour water on the thirsty ground, and streams on the dry land” (Isaiah 44:3 ). Dear Christian friends, we all complain of dryness and sterility. It hasn’t rained for a long time, even the dew is so lacking that our testimony is like cracked earth. Let’s take this promise of Isaiah for ourselves!
Jesus Christ had promised that in that day the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He came, he magnified the divine Savior and filled the disciples to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.
God has his conditions
For such a vital and important event as Pentecost, I have looked for conditions in the first two chapters of Acts. I have found only one that seems to sum up all the others: “On the day of Pentecost they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1 ). Without having the space to study it thoroughly, I thought of the Gospels, and this is the first time that we read in the New Testament that the disciples were all together in one place. It is true that Jesus had spoken to them along these lines (cf. Matthew 18:20 ). Even more, he had clearly told them that if two of them agreed on earth to ask for anything, it would be granted to them by the heavenly Father (cf. Matthew 18:19 ). But have you noticed the little word “IF“? The master knew the mindset of the disciples: their jealousy, their rivalries, their selfishness. So he may be saying this with a heavy heart: If two agree.
I am very fond of music and I have in front of me an instrument that the piano tuner uses for his somewhat annoying, but interesting work. I wanted to learn how to tune a piano too, and I started by watching and listening. Then I went to a store to buy this instrument which they didn’t want to sell to me at first, because it risked losing a customer to a craftsman… One day when I was alone in the house, I closed doors and windows and I started by spotting the notes that sounded the most out of tune; I did exactly as the tuner did, it was quite right, my ear was satisfied. I thought: Alright, let’s move on to the next note! When I approached the octave, I played a chord… it was terrible! By tuning a note, I had it completely out of tune with the others. I ended up leaving things as they were and calling the specialist because I was worried that I had spoiled my piano.
Do I need to explain the illustration to you? We try to tune in with each other, I’ve tried to tune in Christians myself; I’ve been successful with a few, bless God, but for others…I think it’s best to bring in the Tuner.
I say this very seriously: Do you know that the Tuner took three years to tune the Pentecost piano? Three years with men – these fishermen from Galilee – tough and independent. Peter often tried to tune the other notes, but he almost broke the strings! Some wanted to be first while others preferred to stay behind. When the hands of the Lord touched the keyboard of this small community, there was one note that sounded particularly out of tune: this disciple who claimed to be the first. So the Lord took the key until he learned to be the last. Others insisted on working in their own strength. The result was a terrible noise, but the Tuner took his key, and with infinite patience, never spoiling the strings, he finally made them realize that a service is only effective in the power of the Holy Spirit. One note kept coming back: the disciple who was desperate to save his life. You know those pieces of music where a note is repeated. You understand what I mean: in the midst of the concert of Christians there is this note of selfishness which recurs so often. But the Tuner of our life wants to teach us how to lose it. Among the disciples, rivalry was one of the strongest and most cared-for notes. Dear friends, the misunderstandings of the disciples – and today of evangelical works – can go so far as to dispute the souls of men and the crown of Christians. Those who persisted in serving two masters represented a very false note. The divine Tuner continued his patient work for three years; and when he finished it, you could almost say he had failed… The Disciples keyboard was even worse after than before! But the Lord knew that another comforter, the Holy Spirit, was needed to continue the work after His own hand—the one holding the key—was pierced.
With the Lord risen, the years of preparation have served their purpose. At the cross secret desires are unveiled, lessons are learned, divided hearts are fully decided. And to be completely sure that the teaching given is understood, the Lord leaves them alone for ten days. When the tuner came home one day, I watched him again. When he had finished, he said to me: “Now it is better not to touch the piano for a few hours. Leave him alone for now!”
When the master Tuner ascended into glory, he placed the keyboard of his disciples in an upper room for them to be silent and pray. But on the day of Pentecost the Spirit came, the endowment of power
was given to them. We see them all in perfect accord; so what happened? The Holy Spirit touched all those chords and out came beautiful music, a perfect chord, a great variety of harmonies, a sweet and strong melody with major and minor notes. So the multitude is seized and wonders!
Speaking today of this renewal, it is understood that the conditions have not changed since then: no power without agreement! You who have received it in prayer, act and go now in the direction that God shows you! There are times when the Lord gives a great measure of agreement among Christians; it’s a miracle! Let us then allow the divine Tuner to continue its work and spiritual harmony will increase. When the blessing is there, let us remain attached to the Lord so that this music will spread throughout the Church of Christ. And all together we can concentrate our efforts on the great mission field that is the world.
God has his instruments
I place before your eyes the attuned disciples, and the first thing that strikes me in these empowered lives is faithfulness to others. The disciples are loyal to each other, courageous before the world. Think about what Jerusalem was like at the time of the crucifixion. God uses Peter – who had yet trembled before a young woman by denying his master – to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in a hardened and hostile capital. We know the rest: “Those who accepted his Word were baptized; and in that day the number of the disciples increased to about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41 ). Dear readers, the power coating highlights:
Faithfulness in our testimony. The disciples, having become fishers of men, seized every opportunity, insisting on every opportunity, favorable or not (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2 ). The love they felt for each other (cf. John 13:34-35 ) allowed God to awaken consciences and touch hearts.
A great simplicity in our own life. New converts persevered in the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (cf. Acts 2:42 ). They ate their food with joy and singleness of heart. Do you know why the world pushes us away? We are too rigid, too complicated and far too religious. Some people imagine that God turns them into angels, and hearing their words and their prayers, one could almost believe it! But their language is not real, their sentences are but resounding brass (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1 ). If the world laughs at us sometimes, it is perfectly right; let’s not give him an opportunity to mock but let appear “what is true in him and in us” (cf. 1 John 2:8 ) if we want to convince him.
Fertility in our service. There were three thousand conversions at Pentecost, and millions more followed wherever the disciples went. The persecution recorded in Acts 8:1-4 caused the disciples to scatter through Judea, Samaria, and even as far as Phenicia and the island of Cyprus. It is said of those who overstepped the bounds of Israel that “the hand of the Lord was with them, and many believed and were converted to the Lord” (Acts 11:21 ).
Liberality in our hearts. In Acts 3:6 , Peter said to the lame man, “I have neither silver nor gold; but what I have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk.” All the fullness we have received from the love of the Lord, all the incomprehensible riches of the grace of God release a spiritual and material generosity that communicates Christ to others. Peter was not necessarily a poor man; he had a wife and a house, but at the end of Acts chapter 2 we learn that the disciples had shared all their possessions. I’m sure Pierre had also done his part. This is why he could declare in all truth: I have no more money, but what I have I give to you : Jesus of Nazareth.
Firmness and courage in the midst of difficulties. In Acts chapter 4, the disciples come face to face with their accusers to say, “Judge whether it is right in the sight of God to obey you rather than God” (Acts 4:19 ). No obstacle stopped them, nothing made them tremble. The Holy Spirit filled them so much that they could not be silent. “We cannot but talk about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20 ).
Power in prayer. I should have started with that. See that first prayer meeting after Pentecost? What a meeting! For the third time we find the phrase: “They lifted up their voices together to God” (Acts 4:24 ). It was as if Jesus had just been resurrected. No wonder the place where they were was shaking. When the agreement is of this quality, the sky opens, the Lord stretches out his hand and acts (cf. Acts 4:31-37 ).
In conclusion, I remind you of the image from the beginning. The torrent of grace is still flowing. Readers, do not get tired, do not be discouraged and do not stop. Ten thousand may fall by your side, but you will remain standing. Others may go back, but you will always go forward. You will learn to make your difficulties stepping stones to climb higher, near the Lord. If giants oppose, you will win. In the night you will see the light. In the storm, you will have peace.