Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

May 17, 1899

The Promise of the Spirit

Nevertheless I tell you the truth,” said Christ to His disciples; “it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.... When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you in all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me; and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning.”

Christ's triumphant ascension to heaven was the signal that His followers were to receive the promised blessing. For this they were to wait before they entered upon their work without the visible presence of their beloved Teacher. While He was yet with them, He commanded that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, “which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

When Christ entered within the heavenly gates, He was enthroned, amid the songs of millions of angels. As soon as this ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon His followers in rich currents according to Christ's promise, and they were no more orphans. How quickly Christ fulfilled His promise, and sent from the heavenly courts the guarantee of His love! After His inauguration, the Spirit came and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had from all eternity with the Father. During His humiliation upon this earth, the Spirit had not descended with all its efficacy; and Christ declared that if He went not away, it would not come, but that if He went away, He would send it. It was a representation of Himself, and after He was glorified it was manifest.

Then the people beheld the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. How glorious did the Saviour appear, in the eyes of the awe-stricken multitude, invested with the robes of divinity! O, if He would only visit them again in human form, how gladly would they receive Him! How did Peter look upon his denial of Christ in the hour of temptation, as with his brethren, he endured the seeing of Him who is invisible? He longed to witness to Christ's divinity and glory. And he was given opportunity.

“When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” “Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and harken to my words.... Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know; Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.... This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.... Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

This chapter is full of interest to all who love the Lord. Divine power was arrayed on the side of redemption. See the people coming in from all directions to hear the apostle witness to the truth as it is in Jesus. They press in, crowding the temple. Priests and rulers are present, the dark scowl of malignity still on their faces; their hearts still full of the spirit of abiding hatred toward Christ; their hands not cleansed from the blood they had shed when they crucified the world's Redeemer. They thought to find the apostles cowed with fear, because the strong hand of oppression and murder had testified of their purpose. But mark how intently they gaze, how earnestly they listen, as if spellbound. They find the apostles, instead of being sad, disheartened, and discouraged, ready to yield up their faith in Christ, full of courage, proclaiming, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the divinity of Christ. They hear them declare with boldness that the Man recently humiliated, spit upon, derided, smitten by cruel hands, crowned with thorns, and crucified, is the Prince of Life, and that He is now sitting at the right hand of God.

Those who listened to the disciples had taken an active part in the death of Christ. Their voices had mingled with the rabble throng in His rejection. When Jesus and Barabbas stood before them in the judgment hall, and Pilate asked, “Whom will ye that I release unto you?” they shouted, “Release unto us Barabbas.” “What shall I do then with Jesus?” “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” They choose a robber, a murderer, rather than the Son of God. Pilate delivered Christ to them, saying: I find no fault in this Man. Take ye Him and crucify Him. I wash my hands, as innocent of His blood. Then there arose, like the bellowing of wild beasts, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” The deed was done; Christ was crucified.

Now these people hear the disciples declaring that it was the Son of God they had crucified. Priests and rulers trembled. Conviction and anguish seized the heart of the people. “They were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.... Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

Now the disciples understood the words spoken by Christ when He was yet with them, “At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.”

“Ye shall receive power,” Christ had said, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” By the descent of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were qualified for the very work Christ had given them to do,—the work of gathering in the harvest. The great Teacher came to sow the world with truth; and after His ascension, the harvest revealed the power of His teaching.

Today, as in the days of the apostles, these rich promises, the inexhaustible supplies of heaven, are at the command of every soul that is united with Christ. He pitied poor sinners so much that He left the courts of heaven and laid aside His robes of royalty, humiliating Himself to humanity, that He might become acquainted with the needs of men, and help them to rise above the degradation of the fall. He bound Himself closely to the Father, that He might bring their united strength to bear upon the souls of men, and save them from eternal ruin. In like manner should His servants cultivate spirituality, if they hope to succeed in their work.

The Holy Spirit, sent from heaven by the benevolence of infinite love, takes the things of God, and reveals them to every soul that has an implicit faith in Christ. By its power the vital truths, upon which the salvation of the soul depends, are impressed upon the minds of men, and the way of life is made so plain and clear that those who are ignorant, who have not had the advantage of great learning, need not err therein. Faith is simple; it means no more nor less than belief in the Word of the infinite God. Believing, all may have life through His name. When the Jews asked, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” the answer came from the lips of One that never lies, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.

The principles of divine truth, received and cherished in the heart, will carry us to a height of moral excellence that we had not deemed it possible for us to reach. Belief in Christ makes it possible for each one to be an overcomer. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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