And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem…
Conversion to the individual and revival to the Church, is God's great end in the dispensation of grace. The means are the manifestation of Jesus Christ, through the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Hence the personal reception of the truth and the personal presence of the Spirit are alike essential. Hence in every case the first and most promising symptom is increasing thirst for the Word, with increasing dependence on the Spirit. Where the Word of God is set aside or undervalued, whatever else is substituted in its place, there will be no depth or reality in spiritual exercises. There may be abundance of bustling activity about the things of God, but, apart from the Holy Ghost, there will be no real conversion or revival. You may have Herod, hearing gladly and doing many things, but retaining his besetting sin — Simon Magus, asking in his terrors an apostle's prayers, but persisting in the way to heresy and perdition — Felix, trembling, but stifling conviction. These disciples were waiting in —
I. DEVOUT EXPECTANCY. They had been commanded to wait; and expectation is essential to a patient waiting upon God. It is far easier to do much than to wait long. The disciples' hearts must have burned to go out upon the world with unhesitating confidence in their miraculous powers, and in the strength of their marvellous message. But they had learned, amid recent events, a lesson of self-distrust. So, day after day, they waited on in silence, though charged with a message fitted to convert the world. "He that believeth shall not make haste." He will judge nothing, do nothing before the time. Till in the Spirit Himself, He will not attempt to force the Spirit's work. Such a state of expectancy is essential to a patient continuance in well-doing. Without expectation there will be no truth, no prevailing power in prayer. Thus it is that, because men have ceased to expect the outpouring of the Spirit, the heavens have become as brass. Because they see no cloud above their head, they will not climb the mountain-top to watch the little cloud that faintly fringes the horizon. They expect nothing, wait for nothing, and that is all they get. For the law of God is, according to thy faith, so shall it be unto thee. Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He will give thee all the desires of thine heart. Plead the Father's promise, and be assured of the Father's performance. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off.
II. EARNEST DESIRE. It is in the heart of the believer, in the bosom of the Church, that the promise of the Father first takes effect, and the first symptom of it generally is the panting of the soul after God — the longing of God's weary heritage for a season of refreshing and revival. And such a season awakening new desires, communicates a new impulse to the entire body of Christ. In her deadness it comes and tells of reviving life, in her weakness of returning power, in her hopelessness of opening prospects of success. Thus we cannot but long for the outpouring of the Spirit in Pentecostal fulness. In His absence we can work no deliverance, communicate no life, have no comfort, enlargement, nor refreshing fellowship with God.
III. EARNEST AND UNITED PRAYER (ver. 14). Prayer is the spontaneous offspring of expectation and desire. It is hope's utterance before God. It is faith recognising God as the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and asking whatever it wants. Give faith a promise, and immediately it will transform it into a prayer. Hence, wherever faith exists the special promise of the Father becomes the object of special prayer. As promised, it is expected; as good, it is desired; as freely given, it is frankly asked. Secret prayer is the life of the individual; social prayer, of the community; congregational prayer, of the Church. The soul that lives in the neglect of secret prayer is dead. Family prayer is no substitute — cannot, indeed, exist without close personal intercourse with God. And as for social meetings for prayer to be of any avail, they must be inspired by a life derived in secret communion from Jesus. What meetings ye might have, though but two or three of you together, were each to bring the life, the fervour, the heaven-breathing spirituality of soul, just come down from meeting alone with God upon the mount. These are the united prayers that have power with God. For so soon as the people of God in any neighbourhood are baptised with the spirit of prayer, they will come to know each other by a secret sympathy. The Father rejoices over such meetings, for it opens up to Him a channel for pouring down the streams of life, for meeting their largest desires with a still larger outpouring of His Spirit; and Jesus, how He rejoices! for He knows what blessings they will get; and the Spirit Himself rejoices, for He is ever on the wing to hasten down and join such companies.
IV. SECLUSION FROM UNNECESSARY INTERCOURSE WITH THE WORLD. There are, indeed, duties which we owe in the various relations of society from which it is not the will of God to call us away. With all this, however, there must be habitual separation unto God. The Holy Dove will not come to us in the crowd. It is when the doors are closed and the world is shut out that Jesus comes with power upon His lips, and love in every tone of His voice, and breathes on us and says, "Receive the Holy Ghost."
V. THE FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER (ver. 12-14, 2:1).
1. The Lord loves to see His family dwelling together in unity. Parents, can you not understand our Father's feeling in this? If, then, ye being evil, etc. God is doubtless to be found wherever there is a humble and believing heart, but nowhere surely in such manifested love as in the bosom of His loving family, met together to wait for the promise of their Father (Song of Solomon 1:7, 8; Ezekiel 34:11, 12).
2. It is our strength and safety to walk together through the wilderness, to keep together on the battlefield.
Parallel VersesKJV: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.