A Witnessing Church
Acts 1:4-8
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem…

1. The last interview with dear friend, and his last words, are wont to be embalmed in ,fragrant remembrance.

2. A comparison is made between the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and John's baptism. Such as truly turned from sin to God were prepared as a dwelling for the Spirit. Repentance from dead works went before — the new unction from above came after.

3. Notice also the time — "not many days hence." God is sovereign in fixing a fulness of time, and we may not ask why that time was appointed. But on our part it is necessary to know our want of the Spirit, and to feel it, that we may welcome Him with the more delight to testify of Jesus. Often, alas! have we returned with nothing but the toil for our pains, because we did not wait to pray down the Spirit. In opening up the doctrine, consider —


1. Its nature. That more is meant than renewal is plain from this, that the disciples were already in Christ. This baptism is the great promise of New Testament times. Before Pentecost, God's children were not wholly exempt from the spirit of bondage; but in the days of the apostles the saints in general seem to have enjoyed the promise of the Spirit through faith. The Holy Ghost is the first fruits of glory. Are we baptised with the Holy Ghost? Then —

(1) Not only condemnation ceases, but refreshing from the presence of the Lord is realised.

(2) Then, forgiven much, we love much, and give ourselves to Him who gave Himself for us.

(3) It is the nature of fire to send forth light; and when the Spirit comes, truth is shed abroad upon our hearts.

(4). Fire warms, and the Spirit kindles our cold souls into a flame of love to God and man.

(5) The approach of this genial spring to the barren winter of our hearts, opens the blossoms of new life. of humility, and godliness.

(6) It is the nature of fire to spread abroad. And when the Spirit comes the words of Jesus spread like a conflagration from mouth to mouth.

2. Its marks.

(1) The unction of heavenly knowledge, whereby we know all things — for no sooner did the Spirit come upon them than they who, a few days before, Christ reproved as slow of understanding, came, in the twinkling of an eye, to a clear, vivid understanding of the things of God.

(2) Self-denied humility: for however envy and a proud thirst for honour held possession of their minds before, they now discover a single eye to the Redeemer's glory. If we are filled with selfcomplacency, as if we stood in need of nothing — if we cannot bear to be wholly laid in the dust, we have not seen the Spirit, neither known Him.

(3) Boldness. For however timid before, the disciples no sooner receive the Spirit than they come forth like different men, to speak the Word without fear. If we can sit in easy fellowship with sinners, not seeking to save souls, not daring to encounter the adversary face to face, we show that we are not baptised as with fire!

(4) Decision. For however the disciples might be diverted from prayer and the work of Christ before, no sooner did the Spirit come than they gave themselves wholly to these things. How can we, then, have received the heavenly baptism, if we are without the habit of religion, if our efforts are but fitful, if we neglect present duty, and yet cherish the romantic hope of future service in a post which God has not required us to fill?

3. How shall we obtain this baptism, and on what occasions is it given? Such as already enjoy the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins may obtain supplies of the Spirit a thoUsand-fold greater than any they have ever known. Are we faithful in a little? God's rule is, To him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundantly. This heavenly unction is conferred —

(1) When we keep the Lord's word, and show a humble, penitent compliance with His will. Behold this in the disciples who were enjoined to tarry in Jerusalem till the Spirit came — who were neither to return home to Galilee, nor to distract their minds with worldly cares.

(2) When some heavy trial, some arduous duty, is ]aid on us for the sake of Christ. Witness John in the spirit amid the wilds of Patmos, or Paul glowing with the love of Christ, and singing praises in the inner prison.

(3) When we are unceasing in the prayer of faith. Ten days had the disciples continued, when, of a sudden, the Spirit came. The prayer which brings down the Holy Ghost is not that which ceases if not heard at once, that is content to stop with praying out some little enjoyment of God's presence. Every day would be a -Pentecost if we prayed like a Cornelius — if we heard the Word like the three thousand, and prized it like the eunuch.

II. A CHURCH IS ONLY SO FAR A WITNESSING CHURCH AS IT IS THUS BAPTISED WITH THE HOLY GHOST. "After that the Holy Christ is come upon you... ye shall be witnesses unto Me."

1. The Redeemer does not send skilful orators, but witnesses, such as have seen with spiritual eyes and heard with spiritual ears. A witness must know what He testifies; he believes and therefore speaks. Many have nothing they can testify. Can he be a witness of the Cross of Christ who does not daily look to it for pardon? Can he be a witness of the Lord's abiding with His people who knows not in his heart a daily intercourse with Jesus — who has not the witness of the Spirit that he is a child of God?

2. Christ makes it plain that a new unction must visit His followers before the blessing spreads to the impenitent. A Church cannot long continue to display a living testimony, unless this baptism is repeatedly renewed; and to hold forth, like many declining Churches of the Reformation, a form of sound words, when the Spirit is sinned away, is but like a removed sign-post carried down a swollen river. For it is not protests, or creeds, or formularies, but living souls under the baptism of the Spirit, that makes a witnessing Church.

(G. Smeaton, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Being assembled together with them, he commanded them, "Don't depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which you heard from me.

The Promise of the Father
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