By Andrew Murray
They were all filled with the Holy SpiritActs 2:4
“Whenever we speak of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and desire to know what it precisely is, our thoughts always turn back to the day of Pentecost. There we see as in a mirror how glorious the blessing is that is brought from heaven by the Holy Spirit and with which He can fill the hearts of men.
There is one fact which makes the great event of the day of Pentecost doubly instructive this namely, that we have learned to know very intimately the men who were then filled with the Spirit, by their fellowship for three years with the Lord Jesus. Their infirmities and defects, their sins and perversities, all stand open to our view. But the blessing of Pentecost wrought a complete transformation. They became entirely new men, so that one might say of them with truth: “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Close study of them and their example helps us in more than one way. It shows us to what weak and sinful men the Spirit will come. It teaches us how they were prepared for the blessing.
It teaches us also and this is the principal thing how mighty and complete the revolution is that is brought to pass when the Holy Spirit is received in His fullness. It lets us see how glorious the grace that awaits us is if we press on to the full blessing of Pentecost.
The ever-abiding presence and indwelling of the Lord Jesus.
In this we have the first and principal blessing of the Pentecostal life. In the course of our Lords dealings with His disciples on earth He spared no pains to teach and train them, to renew and sanctify them. In most respects, however, they remained just what they were. The reason was that up to this point He was nothing more than an external Christ who stood outside of them and from without sought to work upon them by His word and His personal influence. With the advent of Pentecost this condition was entirely changed.
In the Holy Spirit He came down as the inward, indwelling Christ, to become in the very innermost recesses of their being the life of their life. This is what He Himself had promised in the words: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you . At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you” (John 14:18,20).
This was the source of all the other blessings that came with Pentecost. Jesus Christ, the crucified, the glorified, the Lord from heaven, came in spiritual power, by the Spirit, to impart to them that ever-abiding presence of their Lord that had been promised to them. And that was in a way that was most intimate, all-powerful, and wholly divine: by the indwelling which makes Him in truth their life. Him whom they had had in the flesh, living with them on earth, they now received by the Spirit in His heavenly glory within them! Instead of an outward Jesus near them, they now obtained the inward Jesus within them.
The Spirit of Jesus came into them as the life and the power of sanctification.
This springs from the first and principal blessing. Here I shall allude at the outset to only one feature in this change. We know how often the Lord had to rebuke them for their pride and exhort them to humility. It was all of no avail. Even on the last night of His earthly life, at the table of the Holy Supper, there was a strife amongst them as to which of them should be the greatest (Luke 22:24).
The outward teaching of the outward Christ, whatever other influences it may have exercised, was not sufficient to redeem them from the power of indwelling sin. This could be achieved only by the indwelling Christ. Only when Jesus descended into them by the Holy Spirit did they undergo a complete change. They received Him in His heavenly humility and subjection to the Father, and in His self-sacrifice for others, as their life. Henceforth all was changed. From that moment onwards they were animated by the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus.
This in very truth is still the only way to a real sanctification, to a life that actually overcomes sin. Many preachers and many Christians keep their minds occupied only with the external Christ on the cross or in heaven, and wait for the blessing of His teaching and His working without understanding that the blessing of Pentecost brings Him into us, to work Himself all in us. Because of this, they make little progress in sanctification. Christ Himself is of God made unto us sanctification: and that in no other way than by our living and being moved and existing in Him, because He lives and abides in our heart and works all there (1 Cor. 1:30).
An overflowing of the heart with the love of God.
This also is a part of the blessing of Pentecost. Next to pride, lack of love or as we may put it in one word, lovelessness was the sin for which the Lord had so often to rebuke His disciples. These two sins have in truth one and the same root: the self-seeking I, the desire for self-pleasing. The new commandment that He gave them, the token whereby all men should know that they were His disciples, was love to one another (John 13:35).
How gloriously was it manifested on the day of Pentecost that the Spirit of the Lord shed abroad His love in the hearts of His own. The multitude of them that believed were as one heart, one soul. All things they possessed were held in common. No one said that anything of that which he had was his own. The kingdom of heaven with its life of love had come down to them. The spirit, the disposition, the wonderful love of Jesus, filled them, because He Himself had come into them.
How closely the mighty working of the Spirit and the indwelling of the Lord Jesus are bound up with a life in love appears from the prayer of Paul in behalf of the Ephesians. He asks that they might be strengthened with power by the Spirit, in order that Christ might dwell in their hearts. Then he forthwith makes this addition: “that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend the love of Christ which passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:17-19).
The filling with the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ bring of themselves a life that has its root, its joy, its power, its evidence in love, because the indwelling Christ Himself is Love. O how would the love of God fill the Church and convince the world that she has received a heavenly element into her life, if the filling with the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ in the heart were recognized as the blessing which the Father has promised us!…”