LOOKING FOR HIS APPEARING
THE COMING OF CHRIST IN THE FEASTS (continued)
I believe every word that the Bible says about the coming of our Lord; I don't believe what the apostate churches say about it, nor what the television evangelists say about it, nor what the tradition-bound preachers say about; but I certainly believe what the Bible says about it!
Briefly, I would again draw your attention to a passage of scripture in Prov. 22:19-21. "That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee EXCELLENT THINGS in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?" The word "EXCELLENT", as used here, is the Hebrew word SHALISH meaning three-fold, or weighty. It is most interesting to note that Young's Literal Translation renders it, "Have I not written to thee THREE TIMES with counsels and knowledge?" A free translation would run, "Have I not written unto you THREE-FOLD things?" Three-fold things. These are the excellent things of God. These are weighty things, things which have depth upon depth upon depth in their meaning. This three-fold principle is brought forth again and again as the Spirit unfolds the truth appointed for His overcoming company in this important hour.
While men speak of the "first coming" and the "second coming" of Christ, God's program is in THREES. God has promised to meet with man in THREE DIMENSIONS. He has met man historically and experientially in the first and second realms. I declare to you that He will meet with us dispensationally and experientially yet a THIRD time! The pattern is clear: "THREE TIMES in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall choose; in the feast of UNLEAVENED BREAD (Passover), and in the feast of WEEKS (Pentecost), and in the feast of TABERNACLES: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty" (Deut. 16:16). God says that He will meet with man THREE times - in the three great Feasts of the Lord! "THREE TIMES in a year shall all your males appear before the Lord." To "appear before the Lord" designates not only an action on our part, but a reciprocal action on God's part. Not only must we appear, but HE MUST APPEAR! It is a joint-meeting in which WE APPEAR B-E-F-O-R-E_H-I-M, even as He appears in His glory as He did in Jerusalem of old. Or, as the apostle has so eloquently explained, "When Christ, who is our life, SHALL APPEAR, then shall,YE ALSO APPEAR WITH HIM in glory" (Col. 3:4). When this three-fold aspect of His appearing is properly understood, then the fact that the scriptures nowhere speak of just a "first coming" and a "second coming" takes on new meaning!
The three primary Feasts given to Israel were the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Two of these Feasts have now been fulfilled and are still being fulfilled in the body of Christ today. The last Feast still waits a future fulfillment that will begin at the completion and maturity of the Christ-body at the end of this age. Every one of the Feasts of the Lord have not only a historical aspect, pointing back to something God did, and a prophetic aspect, pointing forward to something God would do; but every one of them has a personal and individual aspect in our lives experientially. Each Feast finds it fulfillment in our forward walk in God. In Passover we see a picture of our justification, with sins forgiven. In the Feast of Pentecost we have a picture of our baptism with the Holy Spirit, the "firstfruits" of our inheritance. In the Feast of Tabernacles we find a picture of our glorification, our entrance into the fullness of our inheritance and possession in God, even all the wisdom, knowledge, life, victory, nature and power of the Almighty.
The Feast of Pentecost was the second of Israel's three annual Feasts, celebrated in the third month. As the scriptures reveal, the Feast had many names. It was called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, the Day of Firstfruits, the Feast of Firstfruits of Israel's Labor, and the Feast of Pentecost, which means "fiftieth." An examination of Lev. 23:15-16 will reveal why the Feast is called Fiftieth. It was because the Feast began on the fiftieth day after the Passover sabbath, or "the morrow after the seventh sabbath." This, of course, parallels exactly with the fulfillment of the type in the New Testament. When Christ arose from the dead, He continued with the disciples for the space of forty days, "speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). Then He departed into heaven, and after ten days (at the time of Israel's Feast of Pentecost), He sent forth the Holy Ghost upon the waiting disciples.
Many are under the misapprehension that the day the waiting disciples received the Holy Spirit, is called the Day of Pentecost because the Lord poured out His Spirit on that day. But the Bible says that the Spirit came "when the Day of Pentecost was fully come." The fact is, the Day of Pentecost had been celebrated annually for 1500 years BEFORE the outpouring of the Spirit recorded in the book of Acts. The Feast Day of Pentecost was a Feast kept in remembrance of an historical event in Israel which is recorded for us in Exodus chapters 19 to 23. Fifty days after the children of Israel had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb, they came to Mount Sinai. It was at this moment that the presence of God came down in a way that God's people had never known before. It was a new manifestation of God's power and glory. The Bible says that Mount Sinai was shaking and on fire. The voice of God was heard out of the midst of the fire in an awesome way. The words God spoke on Mount Sinai are the Ten Commandments, and various other commandments given to Moses for the people. It is very important to notice the commandments to build the Tabernacle of Moses were given on Mount Sinai. God commanded the people of Israel to keep the Feast of Pentecost to REMIND THEM OF THEIR EXPERIENCE AT SINAI.
The two loaves, the ten sacrificial animals offered with the bread, the new meat offering, and all the details of the Feast of Pentecost pointed back to the power and glory of God when He met with His people at Mount Sinai, and to the LAW OF THE LORD given to them at that time and place. But it also pointed FORWARD in time. It was a shadow of something to come - a New Testament manifestation of God's power and nature.
For fifteen long centuries Israel had kept the Feast of Pentecost. On one Pentecostal celebration, when Jews from many places were gathered together in the city of Jerusalem to keep the Old Testament Feast, suddenly they heard a strange commotion coming from an upper room. While Jews in the temple continued to keep the old Feast, the one hundred and twenty followers of the despised Nazarene were experiencing the New Testament fulfillment of Pentecost. While the Jews were keeping the Feast of Pentecost fifty days after the Feast of Passover, the disciples were experiencing its fulfillment fifty days after the Passover Lamb had been slain on Calvary. God spoke with His people in an altogether new way from Mount Sinai. He did so again as the hundred and twenty received the spiritual experience of which Sinai was but a type. For, it is written, the one hundred and twenty "began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance of God's presence came down in fire upon Mount Sinai. In like manner, as the hundred and twenty received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives, "there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." God wrote His Holy Law on tablets of stone on Mount Sinai. But at the spiritual Pentecost He inscribed His Law upon the fleshy tables of men's hearts by the transforming power of His indwelling Spirit.
Pentecost! What a vast treasure house of spiritual reality and experience looms before us as we contemplate the tremendous implications of the word! We could not begin to adequately explain the meaning of the Feast without saying that it is the celebration of the receiving of the Law. The baptism in the Holy Spirit certainly begins with the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing, discerning of spirits, etc. It has been said that receiving the Holy Spirit is like buying a pair of shoes - the "tongues" come with it! I believe that. But - speaking in tongues may be the evidence that you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is in no way the evidence that you are walking in the Spirit. Tongues are not the evidence of either a Spirit-filled or a Spirit-led life. But I will tell you what is! In Ex. 19, when the children of Israel came to Mount Sinai, it was there in the third month that God gave them the Law. So the proof of the real Pentecostal experience is THE LAW OF GOD WRITTEN UPON THE TABLES OF YOUR HEART. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel... not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My Laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people" (Heb. 8:8-10).
There is the power of a REAL PENTECOST! It is sad that that has not been the experience of most Pentecostals. Someone has said that if you have all "Word" (Fundamentalism) you will dry up, and if you have all "Spirit" (Pentecostalism) you will blow up; but if you have both the Spirit and the Word you will GROW UP! The real Pentecost, precious friend of mine, is not signs and wonders and miracles, but the Law of God written upon the heart. Jesus walked out this glorious Feast upon earth, He fulfilled all the Law as the anointed One of the Father, and revealed the nature, mind, will and power of God before men. Now HE is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit! For us as members of His body, we keep the Feast of Pentecost when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, endued with power, transformed in mind and heart, receiving the earnest of our inheritance, the gifts and fruit of the Spirit ministered by love.
It is important that the Feast of Pentecost occurred at a separate point in time from the Passover and was different and distinct from the previous Feast. For the second time, all males were to appear before the Lord in the place of His choosing (Deut. 16:16). This Feast, like the first, was also associated with the harvest. Whereas Passover was held at the time of barley harvest, Pentecost was held at the time of wheat harvest (Ex. 34:22). Therefore, we see that the Feasts were associated with a PROGRESSION IN HARVEST, and speak of the ongoing process of the development and maturing of HIS LIFE in the life of the believer. There is a continuous process of sowing and reaping throughout the believer's walk with the Lord. We do not receive the life of our Lord in full measure, or full blossom, or full fruitage at the time of our conversion at the Feast of Passover, but we continually "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 13:14; Eph. 4:24). We are to be progressively changed into His image from glory to glory until finally we arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ (II Cor. 3:18; Eph. 3:19; 4:13).
How sad that good men of God who have experienced the glory and wonder of the Passover experience, should now close the door to further reality in God and deny that the Feast of Pentecost is a second and further appropriation of the presence and working of God in His people. In fact, most of Christendom has never even come into this Pentecostal experience. They have refused to come to the Feast! They have not appeared before the Lord as commanded. We find that their leaders have barred the door, telling the people that both the old Feast of Pentecost in the Old Testament and the glorious manifestations of power in the New Testament fulfillment, are events of ancient history, that the early church enjoyed them for a season, to help get the church off to a good start, but it is not for them today - so they are denied the blessings of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, and that satisfying praise and worship which comes by His quickening within. Speaking in tongues is a "no-no", or any supernatural moving of the Spirit as He would anoint those who go on from Feast to Feast. Yes, for many the Lord has come to them only once - in the Feast of Passover - and they experience and know Him only as Jesus the SAVIOUR. So we praise God for the ones who are receiving of His Spirit around the world today, being called to appear before the Lord in the second great Feast of Pentecost, to receive of its ministry to them. The Lord came down and appeared to Moses on the Mount. And the Lord has come down and is appearing to, in, and through His people in the spiritual Feast of Pentecost. We marvel at how religious leaders will acknowledge the COMING OF JESUS as SAVIOUR in the Feast of Passover, and yet refuse to acknowledge the COMING OF C-H-R-I-S-T, i.e. the ANOINTING SPIRIT, which is to abide within us and guide us into all truth, and reality and maturity of His life, in the Feast of Pentecost.
When Moses ascended Mount Sinai and God appeared to him, he received the various commandments as to how the Israelites were to conduct themselves as a family and a nation, how the different Feasts were to be held, and the sacrifices pertaining to the Feasts. He received the Ten Commandments of God's Law on tables of stone. But not only that. He was at the same time given by God the pattern of the Tabernacle which they were to build, in which God would dwell among them as they journeyed on. And when the Spiritual Israel came to Spiritual Sinai on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts chapter two, God began to reveal His Laws and Commandments, now not on tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of our heart (II Cor. 3:3). It was at Pentecost that the True Tabernacle of God began to be built, not of acacia wood, brass, silver and gold, but of living stones of men and women who were soft and pliable in the Spirit of God. He began to fashion a dwelling place, the many mansions of Father's house, and He is still working on it today, praise His name. It is at Pentecost where, when filled with the Spirit of God, we can offer up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to Him; we can minister one to another, building each other up in the faith.
As it was necessary for Israel to come to Sinai and receive from God in the way they did, so it is vital that God's people know the Sinai or Pentecost experience today and have His Spirit moving in their hearts. For in Deut. 1:2, Moses, when counting how many days journey it would be to the promised land, reckons it not from Egypt, nor from Passover, but said it was eleven days journey from Horeb or Sinai; meaning that Israel had to go via Sinai to get their inheritance since it was reckoned from Sinai. And today, for you and me to come into God's inheritance, we have to go via Sinai or Pentecost! When I say God's inheritance, I am not talking about some far-off heaven somewhere, and that if we are not filled with the Holy Ghost we won't make heaven. There are many precious saints who have gone before and weren't filled with the Holy Ghost, but the Lord had come to them in the Feast of Passover as Saviour. But I am speaking of an inheritance which God has reserved in heaven READY TO BE REVEALED IN THE LAST TIME. It is the inheritance of ALL HE IS AND ALL HE HAS. For a people to come into this, they must be filled with the Holy Spirit, not ten or twenty years ago, but a day by day experience of flowing in the Spirit of God and allowing the Spirit to flow through them and be formed in them. Once a preacher was asked by a man if he could get to heaven without the Holy Ghost. The preacher looked at him and said, "Son, I wouldn't want to go to the drug store without Him!" Hallelujah!
We must see clearly from the light of scripture that in the Old Testament period the Spirit of God did not indwell men. In that time the Spirit of God descended upon man to move man to do God's work; the emphasis was upon the Spirit of God being the power to man. In the Old Testament the anointings of God's Spirit came and went, fell and lifted. The Spirit was never completely "given" to any man - prophet, priest or king. This is why we read such statements as these: "And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God CAME UPON HIM (Saul), and he prophesied among them" (I Sam. 10:10). But later: "...the Spirit of the Lord DEPARTED FROM SAUL" (I Sam. 16:14). When God initiated His great plan to GIVE, to dispense His Spirit into man, Jesus was the first to so receive, but during His earthly ministry the dispensation of God's Spirit was limited to Him alone. Although people in the Old Testament received the Spirit of God upon them as a Word and as Power, yet in reality they did not receive the Spirit of God into them to BE THEIR LIFE. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of God merely descended upon man as a Word and as Power, but did not enter into man AS LIFE; He only bestowed a divine power upon man, but did not impart to man a divine nature and being. Therefore, in the Old Testament we see a number who possessed the power of God, yet had nothing whatever of God's life, nature or mind. Samson is the best example (Judges 14-16). He had the supernatural power of God upon him, but at the same time he did not have the nature of God in him at all. Here we have a strong man whose power was beyond measure, yet whose nature was totally incompatible with God. Therefore, with respect to power, Samson had the Holy Spirit upon him, but with respect to life, he did not have the Holy Spirit within him. The Holy Spirit of God descended upon Samson that he might have God's power, but did not enter into him that he might have God's nature. It was not until the New Testament times, not until the coming of the Lord in the spiritual Feast of Pentecost, that the Spirit of God actually enters into man and becomes man's life that he might possess not only God's power, but also God's life, nature and mind.
The prophet Ezekiel saw this day of the New Testament, of the remarkable regeneration by which men would actually be born of God to become sons of God, and he prophesied, saying, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean... a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put WITHIN YOU: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit WITHIN YOU, AND CAUSE YOU to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them" (Eze. 36:25-27). In Christ, we not only have our sins forgiven in the Feast of Passover, but as we follow on to the next Feast there is an impartation of a NEW SPIRIT, a NEW LIFE, even the divine life of God. We are impregnated by the Spirit of God, and a baby spirit, a divine nature, is conceived within us. This new embryo is the offspring of God in Christ, so that God becomes, not figuratively, nor creatively, but very literally in a Fatherly way OUR FATHER, the Father of our spirit. Therefore, "If any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE" (II Cor. 5:17). There is within ourselves, beyond the realm of our conscious knowledge, a divine life, the child of God's Spirit, under His loving care, working in stillness, ever unwearied, never exhausted, ever growing and maturing, to gain control of our being, and transform us into the image of God. This is the Law of God written upon the tables of the heart - the glory and power of Pentecost!
Immediately I hear some reader saying, "But why do you say the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the coming of CHRIST - is it not the coming of the Holy Spirit, and is not the Holy Spirit a different member of the Godhead?" But, dear reader, do not be too hasty in your judgment.
In II Cor. 3: 17 we read these arresting and outstanding words: "Now the Lord IS THAT SPIRIT." For comparison and further clarification let us go to additional translations and get their insight into this portion of scripture. From the Jerusalem Bible we read II Cor. 3:15-18: "Yes, even today, whenever Moses is read, the veil is over their minds. It will not be removed until they turn to the Lord. NOW THE LORD IS THE SPIRIT, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces, reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who IS THE SPIRIT." We are told that we reflect the brightness of the Lord like mirrors, and that we shall continue to do so until we are transformed into that bright image that we now reflect. But, in turning to Rom. 8:29, we learn that we are predestinated to be "conformed to the image of His Son." Therefore, since the "Lord is that Spirit," and we are to become as that Spirit someday, and since we are also told that we are predestinated to conform to the image of the Son, we have no alternative but to conclude that the Lord Jesus Christ is "that Spirit." The Amplified Bible says, "Now THE LORD IS the Spirit." Moffatt's translation reads, "'The Lord' means the Spirit." The Weymouth Translation renders, "Now by 'the Lord' is meant the Spirit." Young's Literal Translation says, "And the Lord IS THE SPIRIT; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
I prayerfully invite all who read these lines to carefully consider the following words spoken by our Lord. "He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this He spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him were to receive: for the Spirit WAS NOT YET; BECAUSE Jesus was not yet glorified" (Jn. 7:38-39). Our Lord promises here that those who come unto Him and drink will not only never thirst, but will themselves become fountains, whence streams of living water, of life and blessing, will flow forth. In recording the words, John explains that the promise was then a future one, that would have to wait for its fulfillment till the Spirit should have been poured out. He also gave the double reason for this delay: The Holy Spirit WAS NOT YET; BECAUSE Jesus WAS NOT YET glorified. You will note that in the King James Version it reads, "For the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified." You will also note, however, that in the King James Version the word "given" is in italics, showing that the word is not in the original, but is supplied by the translators in an effort to clarify what they perceive as the meaning. Omitting the added word the passage reads: "The Spirit WAS NOT YET; BECAUSE Jesus was not yet glorified." The expression: the Spirit was not yet, has appeared strange, and so the word "given" was inserted. But the expression, if accepted as it stands in the Greek New Testament, may guide us into the true understanding of the real significance of the Spirit's not coming UNTIL JESUS WAS GLORIFIED!
Jesus promised that if He went away He would send "another Comforter." The basic fact underlying the truth of the Comforter is just this: "For the Spirit WAS NOT YET; BECAUSE Jesus had not yet been glorified" (Weymouth Translation). In other words, this peculiar manifestation of God AS THE COMFORTER did not and could not exist until Jesus had ascended on high. This is intimated in Ps. 68:18 wherein the Psalmist says, "Thou hast ascended on high... Thou hast RECEIVED GIFTS for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God MIGHT DWELL AMONG THEM."
Do not misunderstand me. I do not say that the Holy Spirit did not exist previous to the glorification of the Son of man, for the very term "Holy Spirit" signifies "the Spirit Who is holy", even the everlasting God (Jn. 4:24). But I do say that the manifestation of God AS THE ABIDING COMFORTER was utterly impossible until Jesus was glorified; and this because of the very nature of the Comforter, for the scriptures teach that He proceeds from the Father and the Son (compare Jn. 15:26 and Acts 2:33), thereby combining almighty POWER with mediatorial and intercessory GRACE. How clearly this is expressed as follows: "For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, THAT HE MIGHT BE A MERCIFUL AND FAITHFUL HIGH PRIEST. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to SUCCOUR them that are tempted" (Heb. 2:16-18). And again, "For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the FEELING of OUR INFIRMITIES; but was in ALL POINTS tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).
These things were spoken of Jesus in the days of His flesh; what have they to do with the Comforter? Listen! "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, HE hath shed forth this..." (Acts 2:33). And now of the Spirit which we have received of Him it is attested, "Likewise the Spirit also HELPETH OUR INFIRMITIES", making "intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26-27). Who intercedes for us, Christ or the Spirit? The intercession of the Spirit IS the intercession of the Christ, for "the Lord IS THE SPIRIT." Here, then, is that blessed intercessory aspect of the Spirit which is peculiarly related to the priestly ministry of Jesus developed in Him in the days of His flesh, and without which there would be no consolation in Christ, no comfort of love, no fellowship of the Spirit, no tender mercies and compassions (Phil. 2:1).
May the blessed Spirit of Truth help every reader of these lines to understand the precious truth that when the Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost, He came not only as the Spirit of the eternal God, but just as surely the Spirit of the GLORIFIED JESUS, the Spirit of the crucified, resurrected, ascended and exalted Christ, the bearer and communicator to us, not merely of the life of God as such, but of that life as IT HAD BEEN INTERWOVEN INTO THE HUMAN NATURE IN THE PERSON OF CHRIST JESUS. The Spirit of the glorified Jesus, the Son of man become the Son of God - HE could not BE until Jesus was glorified! God IS a Spirit, and there is only "one Spirit." The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are the one Spirit. Now the Lord IS THAT SPIRIT. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the SPIRIT OF GOD dwell in you. Now if any man have not the SPIRIT OF CHRIST, he is none of His" (Rom. 8:9). "And because ye are sons, GOD hath sent forth the SPIRIT OF HIS SON into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6). "There is one body, and ONE SPIRIT" (Eph. 4:4).
This thought opens up to us further the reason why it is not the Spirit of God as such, but the Spirit of Jesus, that could be sent to dwell in us. Christ came not only to deliver man from sin and the law and its curse, but to bring human nature itself into the fellowship of the celestial life, to make us partakers of the divine nature. In His own person, having become flesh, He had to sanctify the flesh, and make it a worthy and willing receptacle for the indwelling Spirit of the Father - God. Having done this, He had, in accordance with the law that a lower form of life can rise to a higher, only as it is seized upon and transformed by the higher life, prepared Himself by death to give Himself as the seedcorn to bring forth fruit in us. From His nature, as He brought His humanity into subjection to the Spirit, as it was then glorified in the resurrection and ascension, His Spirit came forth as the Spirit of His human life, glorified into the union with the Divine, to make us partakers of all that He had personally wrought out and acquired, of Himself and His glorified life. And in virtue of His having perfected in Himself a NEW HOLY MANHOOD on our behalf, the SECOND MAN, the LAST ADAM, He could now communicate what previously had no existence - a life at once human and divine! And now, blessed be God! Jesus has been glorified; there is now the Spirit of the glorified Jesus, the Spirit of Christ, which is the Spirit of God.
We seldom stop to consider that this precious Comforter, "another Comforter", is the Spirit of God in a dimension that did not and could not exist until Jesus had been glorified. We do not realize that He is indeed the eternal Spirit, the everliving Almighty God, but tempered, so to speak, by the FEELING of our infirmities wrought out in the days of His flesh; that the very flesh and blood of Jesus, with all His life of suffering and submission, have been combined with resurrection life and sent to dwell in us, and that this is what Jesus meant when He said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you ... He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me. and I IN HIM...it is the SPIRIT that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing" (Jn. 6:52-63). Oh! the tremendous import and the awful reality of the fact that the everliving God became flesh, was touched with the feeling of my infirmities, made the sacrifice for sins once for all, and now lives after the power of an endless life, a priest for ever, coming to dwell in my heart as a quickening Spirit!
If further proof is needed that the Comforter is NOT a Being separate from the Father and the Son, it is surely found in Jn. 14:21-23: "He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and WILL MANIFEST MYSELF to him. Judas (brother of James) saith unto Him, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt MANIFEST THYSELF unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and WE will come unto him, and make OUR abode with him." Here He promises that the Father and the Son will come to those who truly love our Lord Jesus, yet He distinctly states that this coming will be a MANIFESTING OF HIMSELF - a revelation and a personal relationship distinct from any they had received or could receive during His earthly ministry, and therefore "another Comforter" but still the very SAME JESUS! "WE will COME UNTO HIM, and make our abode with Him," promises Jesus. And yet the preachers think that every time Jesus speaks of His "COMING AGAIN" He is referring to some future coming when He will split the eastern sky in His body of flesh. Would to God that the Lord's people could see that the scriptures have many, many things to say about HIS COMING that the preachers and churches know absolutely nothing about!
As we continue our meditation upon this wonderful theme of the coming of Christ in the Feast of Pentecost, we will fasten our attention upon the ascension of our Lord; and if I had sufficient imagination I should like to picture our Lord and the eleven walking up the side of the Mount of Olives, communing as they went, - a happy company, with a solemn awe upon them, but with an intense joy in having fellowship with each other. Each disciple was glad to think that his dear Lord and Master who had been crucified was now among them, not only alive but surrounded with a mysterious safety and glory which none could disturb. The enemy was as still as a stone: not a dog moved his tongue: His bitterest foes made no sign during the days of our Lord's after-life below. The company moved onward peacefully towards Bethany - Bethany which they all knew and loved. The Saviour seemed drawn there at the time of His ascension, even as men's minds return to old and well-loved scenes when they are about to depart out of this world. His happiest moments on earth had been spent beneath the roof where lived Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. There they had seen Lazarus raised from the dead by Him who was now to be taken from them: the memory of the triumphant past would help the tried faith of the present. There they had heard the voice saying, "Loose him, and let him go," and there they might fitly see their Lord loosed from all bonds of earthly gravitation that He might go to His Father and their Father.
But they have come to a standstill, having reached the brow of the hill. The Lord stands conspicuously in the center of the group, and, following a brief discourse, He pronounces a blessing upon them. He lifts His hands, and while He is lifting them and is pronouncing words of love, He begins to rise from the earth. He has risen above them all to their astonishment! In a moment He has passed beyond the olives, which seem with their silvery sheen to be lit up by His radiance. While the disciples are looking, the Lord has ascended into mid-air, and speedily He has risen to the regions of the clouds. They stand spell-bound with amazement, and suddenly a bright cloud, like a chariot of God, bears Him swiftly away. That cloud conceals Him from mortal gaze. Though we have known Christ after the flesh, now after the flesh know we Him no more!
They are riveted to the spot, very naturally so. They linger long in the place, they stand with streaming eyes, wonder-struck, still looking upward. It is not the Lord's will that they should long remain in shock; their reverie is interrupted. They might have stood there till wonder saddened into fear. As it was, they remained long enough; for the messenger's words pierced their souls: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). Do you not see them going down the side of Olivet, taking that sabbath-day's journey into the cruel and wicked city? They held fellowship of the most delightful kind with one another, and without delay entered into the upper room, where in protracted prayer and communion they waited for the promise of the Father. You see I have no imagination, I have barely mentioned the incidents in the simplest language. Yet try and realize the scene, for it will be helpful to do so, since our Lord Jesus was to come in like manner as the disciples saw Him go into heaven.
Ten days after that little group of ardent disciples stood gazing up into the heavens in bewilderment, wondering at the phenomenon of their beloved Master rising bodily from their midst and disappearing into the cloud, they were startled by another manifestation of the miraculous. It was the Day of Pentecost, and as they were waiting and praying in the upper room in Jerusalem, the power of God manifested itself in their midst. Had not the messengers declared, "This same Jesus shall so come in like manner AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN?" And now, when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, suddenly "there C-A-M-E_F-R-O-M_H-E-A-V-E-N a sound as of a rushing mighty wind...and there APPEARED UNTO THEM cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost..." Ah, it was the fulfillment of the messenger's promise to them, this SAME JESUS had returned in mighty Spirit power, they heard Him come, and they SAW Him come from heaven, even as they had seen Him go into heaven. Their minds were now enlightened with a better understanding of those things yet to come in the outworking of the Father's plan and purpose. They had been assured that their Lord would return. The angel had said that "this same" Jesus shall so come "in like manner" as they had seen Him taken into heaven. But not until the Spirit of the ascended Lord came upon them at Pentecost did they begin to understand the meaning of His "return." Their faith had been strained by the fact that His ministry had come to such an abrupt and fatal end, and before many of the promises of God concerning the work of the Messiah had been fulfilled. But now He was here again - and this time IN A MANY-MEMBERED BODY! Please don't write to me explaining that the disciples were still expecting the Lord to come years after the Day of Pentecost had come and gone, certainly they were expecting the Lord, for He comes in many-faceted ways, about which we shall write through many months to come; but this particular coming of the Lord in the Feast of Pentecost was clearly and repeatedly prophesied by the Lord Himself, and He came just as He promised, praise His wonderful name!
Many years ago B. F. Headley penned these true and graphic words: "At this point, let us scan carefully Jn. 14:28-29. 'Ye have heard how I said unto you, I GO AWAY, and COME AGAIN UNTO YOU. If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father;....And now I have told you BEFORE IT COME TO PASS, that WHEN it IS come to pass, YE might BELIEVE.' Note, dear reader, that Jesus said, 'I go away and come again.' Note that He said also that 'WHEN it IS come to pass, YE might BELIEVE.' These verses of scripture upset some of our old theology and started it crumbling, and set us to digging to see if these things be so. If you, dear reader, are candid and honest, it is possible that they may also change some of your pet opinions concerning the so-called 'second coming' of Jesus.
"Now please be honest with plain English, with yourself and with God, and answer these questions. Was Jesus talking to His disciples about something which was to take place during their lifetime, or was it something which was to be two thousand years, or more or less, after their death? That He spoke of events which were to transpire before their deaths is very evident, else He would not have said, 'that when it is come to pass, YE might believe.' They could not believe in something which was to happen after they were dead and gone, but it was very possible that they could believe in something which happened while they were yet alive and He was desirous that they should believe it when it came to pass, therefore, He fore-warned them by saying, 'I have told you BEFORE it come to pass, that WHEN it IS come to pass, YE (not those who come after you) might believe.'
"Now let us ask another question. What was Jesus talking to His disciples about? Immediately I hear someone answering, 'His going away.' But that is not right. He was talking about, not only His going away, which is only half of the subject, but He was talking about His COMING BACK. Knowingly or unwittingly, we have observed the first half of that statement of Jesus and forgotten about the second half of it. He was talking just as much about His coming again as He was talking about His going away. So the whole subject to which He was calling their especial attention was 'I go away AND come again.' It was ALL of this in both phases of the subject, both the going and the coming, to which Jesus was calling their attention and fore-warned them about it ALL when He said, 'I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe.' What was to come to pass? He was to 'go away AND come again.' When was it to take place? During the lifetime of those disciples to whom Jesus spake! Was Jesus to 'go away' during the lifetime of those disciples? Yes, that is just what He said. But, was He to 'come again' during the lifetime of those disciples? Yes, Jesus said that He would do that very thing also. Did those disciples die? Evidently they did die for we have no record of any of them being alive today in the flesh, and there is record of the deaths of many of His disciples. If then, Jesus was to come again before the death of those disciples in accord with what is written in the scripture quoted above, can we logically conclude that He did anything other than just what He said He would do, that is, 'go away AND come again?' And both the going away and the coming again must have taken place centuries ago during the lifetime of those disciples, if we are to believe that Jesus did what He said He would do" - end quote.
Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I WILL COME to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more; but YE SEE ME: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day YE SHALL KNOW THAT I AM IN MY FATHER, AND YE IN ME, AND I IN YOU" (Jn. 14: 18-20). Simple as these words may seem they have occasioned great perplexity to those whose spiritual minds are veiled to the vast storehouse of scripture passages that speak of the coming again of the Christ as the Spirit. Many Christians, and I might say most, believe in the "first" and "second" coming of the Lord. The first coming was when He was born in the stable of Bethlehem, the second coming will be when He will appear in the glory of His Father, and every eye will see Him. The first coming is past, and they are fervently looking for the time when He will come again in the clouds of heaven in His glory with all the heavenly angels accompanying Him; and they try to make all the scriptures pertaining to THE COMING OF THE LORD fit into just these two comings. How surprising it is to many to learn that the Bible doesn't speak of two comings at all, it speaks of many comings, and in trying to apply all the scriptures that pertain to the various comings and appearings of the Lord, to these two comings, is what has caused most of the confusion and the great and dreadful ignorance on the part of most Christians regarding the Lord's return.
Let us look at some other interesting and enlightening statements about the coming of the Lord. Meditate deeply upon these words, my beloved. "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you ANOTHER COMFORTER, that He may abide with you for ever; I will not leave you comfortless: I WILL COME UNTO YOU" (Jn. 14:16,18). "Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt MANIFEST THYSELF unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me ... My Father will love Him, and WE WILL COME unto Him, And make our abode with him" (Jn. 14:22-23). "A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, BECAUSE I GO TO THE FATHER. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. AND IN THAT DAY ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you" (Jn. 16:16, 22-23).
How clear it is that Jesus was talking about His coming again, but not in the way that is generally perceived as His second coming, but yet a true and personal coming to the one who loves Him and keeps His commandments. It was not to be a manifestation to the world, for the world would know nothing whatever of it; but it would be in very fact the COMING of "this same Jesus" to indwell their hearts by His Spirit.
The disciples were greatly perplexed when Jesus died. But then He arose the Conquering Christ! The fact of the Christ's resurrection is historic. The man who disputes it disputes the best established fact in history. He was seen by those who had despaired of His existence. He ate with them. He drank with them. He walked with them in a bloodless body. He talked to the despondent and brokenhearted apostles the eleven, for nearly forty days. It was impossible to be deceived. He spoke, and was seen and heard on one occasion by five hundred, the most of whom were living at the time that Paul made the declaration that they knew Christ and had seen Him after His resurrection. He proved His resurrection by telling them that if they would go to Jerusalem and enter into an upper room, and wait for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit's power would come. The promised outpouring took place. Christ went up and the Holy Ghost came down. They saw Him go and they saw Him come. It shook the place where they were sitting. The divine earthquake shook Jerusalem. It shook Israel. It shook the Roman Empire until it fell to rise no more. It shook the world. The Spirit's power came. The Christ returned in mighty Spirit-power. He who IS the Truth came again as the Spirit of Truth. He came as an indwelling Life. Men who were weak became strong. Men who were wicked murderers and devils were transformed into men of virtue and power with God. Men who were illogical became great and mighty reasoners. Men who were feeble stood up, and in their spiritual majesty tower today over all the men of their time. All history substantiates the claim. Every philosopher and potentate of their time had to recognize them so that Peter, Paul, James, John, and many of their successors, became the mightiest Powers even in a heathen Empire.
When the disciples came to face Calvary they ran for their lives. They were terrified. Peter hid himself that cold night; when he was confronted by the damsel, as he warmed his hands over the fire pot, for she charged he was one of Jesus' followers, and he swore and said he didn't even know Him. The rest followed a long way off. His only company on the cross was two thieves. After the Day of Pentecost we see different men altogether. The same Peter who weeks ago swore and said, "I never knew Him," - What a change! The same clay, the same knarred hands and gruff voice and rough mannerisms, tanned from the winds of the lake, but standing like a massive oak, giving His testimony of his encounter with Jesus. Hearken to Peter - "Ye men of Judea, and all that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken unto my words: these are not drunken, as ye suppose...but this is that, which was spoken by the prophet Joel!"
Now the Son had returned in the power of the Spirit. Behold a new day, fresher than the first day of creation! From henceforth He would come to indwell His people. Pentecost had arrived. The very same Spirit that rolled away the stone came to indwell the Lamb of God, to raise Him far beyond the gates of death, to raise His humanity up into the uncreated life of the Father. Pentecost, O blessed Pentecost Day, the day the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead came as a gift of our heavenly Father to indwell here below. This made the change in the disciples. Christ IN THEM made the difference. He had been WITHIN them, but now He was WITHIN them. No platitudes can give you this power, no sterile form, no static doctrine, no empty ritual can turn your heart and transform you into a God-man upon this earth.
Jesus prophesied that He would come again in the lifetime of the disciples - not only during their lifetime - but before the ministry He had given the twelve and the seventy would be completed. How utterly amazing His words, believed not by one in a million Evangelicals and Fundamentalists today! Hear it! "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, TILL THE SON OF MAN BE COME" (Mat. 10:23). Look at His words! Can anything be more specific and definite as to persons, place, time, and circumstance, than this prediction of our Lord? It is to the TWELVE that He speaks; it is the cities of ISRAEL which they are to evangelize; the subject is His own SPEEDY COMING; and the TIME so near, that before the work He sends them to do is complete - HIS COMING WILL HAVE TAKEN PLACE!
But if we are to be told that this is not the meaning, nor the half of it, and that Jesus speaks of another coming, to other evangelists, in other ages, and in other lands a coming which, after nineteen centuries, is still future, and perhaps remote - then the question arises: What may not scripture mean? The grammatical sense of words no longer suffices for interpretation; the Word of God is a riddle to be guessed - an oracle that utters ambiguous responses; and no man can be sure, without a special revelation, that he understands what he reads. Strange, isn't it, that to-day it actually takes A SPECIAL REVELATION to embrace the simple truth He declared! Oh, where is He who walked the Sea of Galilee? Oh where is He? He is with us now. He is with us all the days, even unto the consummation of the age. He has come to us in the wonderful Feast of Pentecost. He indwells our hearts by faith and this glorious Christ within is just the same today.
Today is the second thousand years since He came in the flesh, lived, ministered, died, resurrected, ascended into heaven, and returned as the Spirit. The second thousand years is drawing to a close and, blessed be His name! He is the same. He pursues His mission still and reigns in majesty over His Kingdom by entering into these temples of clay, and filling our spirits and our souls and our bodies with His own eternal presence and power, making us one with Him, members of His very own body, of His flesh, of His bone, and of His blood. He is redeeming a vast family of so is putting His mighty Spirit, inworking His glorious mind and nature, inscribing them on the heart His Law of Life, so that we, who were destined from the beginning to be the revelation of HIMSELF to the creation, may complete His mighty work for the redemption of humanity.
Joy to the world! the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav'n and nature sing ...