And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
I. THE JOY OF TRUE DISCIPLES IN THE MIDST OF TROUBLES.
1. Joy of personal faith, which is promoted by discipline. If all went smoothly with us we should lose strength by the ease and self-indulgence which we should be apt to cherish.
2. Joy in the spread of the Gospel The world opposes, false religion opposes, but the truth makes way.
II. THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY GHOST IS THE CHURCH, independent of human guidance, Paul and Barnabas expelled, but the disciples taught and led by the Spirit. We must not glory in men. The great resource of the Church is fellowship. Even the spread of truth largely independent of particular agencies. The Word speaks for itself. The Spirit works often without apparent use of human instrumentality.
III. THE UPLIFTED HEART AND THE UPLIFTED TESTIMONY. Joy and the Holy Ghost. We should show the world that religious joy is above all other. Victories, if given, should be recounted. We should often meet together to tell of Divine wonders. The bold and joyful spirit especially needful, as the present day is full of growing unbelief and indifference. - R.
But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women.i.e., Jerusalem). The change brought with it new elements of superstition and weakness, and absolute submission of conscience to its new directors, and thus the Rabbis were often to the wealthier women of Greek and Roman cities what Jesuit confessors were in France and Italy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Here we get the darker side of the picture. The Jews stir up the women of the upper class, and they stir up their husbands. The latter were content apparently to acquiesce in their wives accepting the Judaism with which they had become familiar, but resented the intrusion of a new and, in one sense, more exacting doctrine.
But they shook off the dust of their feet against them1. When he has not only knocked in a friendly manner, but also boldly kept is ground.
2. When he has been called on to proceed, not only by men, but by God.
3. When not only the door here is closed, but when he also sees it opened elsewhere for successful work.
(K. Gerok.)1. Wickedly caused by themselves, through pride and ingratitude.
2. Righteously ordained by the Lord in virtue of holiness and truth.
3. An admonitory example to Christianity, and also an impressive call to go after the lost sheep of Israel.
And the disciples were filled with Joy and with the Holy Ghost.
Weekly Pulpit.I. THE PROSPERITY OF THE WORD OF GOD IS A SPECIAL SOURCE OF REJOICING TO CHRISTIANS. It was not an ordinary gladness, but the special and overflowing joy which can only be stirred up by extraordinary manifestations of the grace of God. We are full of joy —
1. Because we are saved. Deliverance from danger and death is ever a source of gratitude. A soul rescued from the power of sin and the consequences thereof, is a theme of the highest inspiration, whether we think of the value of the soul, or the price of deliverance. The brave rescuer risks his life to save others. Jesus died to save mankind.
2. Because Jesus sees of the travail of His soul.
3. At the prospect of seeing the glory of the Lord filling the earth. Every step onward which the Word of God takes, revives the hope of universal restoration.
II. THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY GHOST IN THE HEART IS A SPECIAL SOURCE OF SUPPORT TO CHRISTIANS. The Comforter sustained them in their trial.
1. They were full of holy courage. The circumstances of the disciples at Antioch were depressing. Devout and honourable women, with the chief men of the city, had raised the storm of persecution. The apostles were driven out of the city. The number of believers was small, and probably they were poor; but the source of their strength was the power of the Spirit in their heart. They could not be cast down while they were under such influence. There could be no darkness while the glory of the Lord shone within them.
2. They were full of consecration to their work. They were resolved to labour on until the name of Jesus would become universal. The light which shone on their path revealed the triumph of faith.
3. They were full of assurance that Jesus' name would become glorious in the earth.
I. IT RECORDS AN EXPERIENCE — SPIRITUAL, REAL, AND EXEMPLARY. There was emotionalism, high and holy; and it was visible. The elements were simple, but grand.
2. "The Holy Ghost." Each is suggestive, and both were prominent features of those early times. They are, too, co-related. Instead of spirituality and gladness being antagonistic, the soul is joyous just because it has the Holy Ghost; and the fruit of the Spirit's influence is a more perfect, joy, so that the more largely we possess the Spirit, the greater becomes our joy.
II. THE DEGREE AND MEASURE OF THIS EXPERIENCE deserves consideration. It was not the possession of a favoured few, but of the "disciples." By them it was possessed, not scantily, or partially, they were "filled" with it. These emotions did not spring from external circumstances, but were independent of them and superior to them: they were, despite outward adversity (see vers. 50-51, and Acts 14:22).
III. THE ATTAINMENT OF LIKE EXPERIENCE can never be deemed impossible when we remember the exhortations of Scripture, and the testimony of "disciples" — learners in the school of Christ. "If ye being evil know how," etc. If possible, how advantageous to us would such an experience prove! joyous in itself; an evidence; an energy; a foretaste.
(J. P. Allen, M. A.)Acts 8:39): — There is a striking resemblance between the condition of the eunuch deprived of his teacher and of these raw disciples, in Pisidian Antioch, bereft of theirs. Both were very recent converts; both had the scantiest knowledge; both were left utterly alone. Now this phrase, "full of the Holy Ghost," is not an uncommon one in the Acts of the Apostles; and the Writer is fond of connecting with it other graces, of which it is declared to be the cause. So they were to be "men full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom"; and of Stephen we read that "he was full of the Holy Ghost and of faith." The text traces the joy of these solitary Christians to the complete possession of that Divine Spirit. So filled, we shall have an all-sufficient Teacher for all our ignorance; a Companion for all our solitude; a fountain of joy in all our sorrow. And the stories before us may help to illustrate these three things.
I. First, then, note here, THE ALL-SUFFICIENT TEACHER FOR OUR IGNORANCE. Think, for instance, of that Ethiopian statesman. An hour or two before he had said, "How can I understand except some man guide me?" And now he is going away into the darkness, without a single external help, knowing only the little that he had gathered from Philip. He had not a line of the New Testament. He had nothing but a scroll of the prophet Isaiah, but he went away with a glad heart, quite sure that he would be taught all he needed to know. And these other people at Antioch, just dragged out of the darkness of heathenism, with no teaching beyond the rudimentary instruction of the two apostles for a few days — they, too, were left by their teachers without a fear. We trust far too little to the educating and enlightening power of God's grace in the hearts of men who have no other teacher. And if Christian people more really believed the promise of their Master, "He will guide you into all truth," they would be more likely to realise the promise, and be all taught of God. Only remember the instrument of that Divine Teacher is the Word of God. And if we, as Christians, neglect our Bibles, we shall not get the teaching of the Spirit of God. And remember, too, that that teaching is granted to us on plainly defined conditions. There must be a desire for it. And there must be patient waiting and solitary meditation. Let us take the lesson, and whosesoever scholars we may be, let us enroll ourselves in the school of the Master, and learn from that Spirit who will guide us into all truth.
II. Now, note, secondly, THE COMPANION IN ALL OUR SOLITUDE. Think of the loneliness of this man on the Gaza road, or of that handful of sheep in the midst of wolves at Antioch. And yet they were not alone. "Full of the Holy Ghost," they were conscious of a Divine presence. And so it may be with us all. We are all condemned to live alone, however many may be the troops of friends round us. Every human soul, after all love and companionship, lives isolated. There is only One who can pass the awful boundary of personality which hedges off every man from every other. Besides the natural, necessary solitude in which every human soul lives there are some of us, no doubt, on whom God, by His providence, has laid the burden of a very lonely life. God's purpose in making us solitary is to join Himself to us. Left alone, nestle close to Him. Beside the natural and the providential solitudes there is yet another. We must make a solitude for ourselves if we would have God speaking to us and keeping us company. Solitude is the mother country of the strong. To be much alone is the condition of sanity and nobleness of life. No man's religion will be deep and strong unless he has learned to go into the secret place of the Most High, and shut his doors about him, and there receive the fulness of that Spirit.
III. Lastly, notice THE JOY IN ALL THE SORROW. "Full of joy and of the Holy Ghost," says the latter of the two texts. That collocation is familiar to the student of the New Testament. You will remember the apostle's great enumeration of the fruits of the Spirit, "Love, joy, peace." And in another place he speaks to the members of one of his Churches, and tells them that they had "received the Word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost." So then, whoever has this Divine Guest dwelling in his heart may possess a joy as complete as is its possession of him. I need not remind you how that Divine Spirit, that enters into our souls by faith, brings to us the consciousness of forgiveness and of sonship, nor how it fits the needs of every part of our nature, and brings all our being into harmony with itself, with circumstances, and with God. But I may remind you that not only does this Divine Spirit in us make provision for joy, but that, with such an indwelling Guest, there is the possibility of the co-existence of joy and sorrow. It is no paradox that the apostle gave forth when he said, "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Even in the midst of the snow and cold and darkness of Arctic regions the explorers build houses for themselves of the very blocks of ice, and within are warmth and light end comfort and vitality, while around is a dreary waste. But remember that this joy from the Spirit is a commandment. I am sure that Christians do not sufficiently lay to heart that gladness is their duty, and that sorrow unrelieved by it is cowardice and sin. We have no business to be thus sorrowful. But remember the conditions. If you and I have that Divine Spirit within us we shall be enlightened, however ignorant; companioned, however solitary; joyful, however ringed about with sorrow. If we have not, the converse will be true.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.).
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