And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.…
I. THE RELIGIOUS HISTORY OF THE WORLD HAS BEEN MARKED BY GREAT STEPS OR PERIODS, SEPARATED BY STRIKING EVENTS OR EPOCHS, AND CONSTITUTING DISPENSATIONS OR ERAS.
1. Thus the creation of man inaugurated an era which continued until the Flood; the covenant with Noah inaugurated another, which continued until the Exodus; the delivery of the law another, which continued until Christ's ascension; and the day of Pentecost another, in the course of which our own generation finds its place. This, too, will be superseded by the Second Advent. And it is well for us to connect the little day of our life with this magnificent progression. As an independent thing our life is utterly insignificant; as a contributing item, it becomes almost sublime.
2. Up to the day of Pentecost every dispensation was preparatory. Christianity is final; and therefore surpasses in importance every other that preceded it. All the constituent elements of Christianity were now provided; the life of Christ had demonstrated the practicability and holiness of God's law; His death had constituted an atonement for transgressors; His resurrection had attested it; His ascension had consummated His incarnate life; and then, after seven or eight days, as if to mark by a solemn pause the broad boundary line of Judaism and Christianity, the Holy Spirit was palpably bestowed; and the spiritual religion of Christ inaugurated.
3. Amongst the anniversaries of the Church, therefore, the day of Pentecost must ever occupy an august position. Christianity was a completed system stereotyped for all men to the end of the world in a historical form.
II. THE DISPENSATIONAL CHANGE WHICH THE DAY OF PENTECOST MARKED AND CONSUMMATED. The dispensation of the Spirit stands in natural and logical order amongst the Divine dispensations looked at.
1. As manifestations of God. Of these there have been three successively presented, and corresponding with the triune distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. First, the revelation of the Father — the manifestation of those ideas of the Divine nature which we associate with the Father — such as power, wisdom, holiness, and law. Secondly, the revelation of the Son — the manifestation of those ideas of the Divine nature which we associate with the Son — such as teaching, mediation, sacrifice, love. Lastly, the revelation of the Spirit — as the Source of life, the Enlightener, the Sanctifier, the Comforter. And these correspond in their order to the spiritual education of men. In their ignorance and guilt they need first to be taught the idea of God. Convinced of sin, they then need to be taught a way of reconciliation; and under the dispensation of the Son, they have the great saving plan revealed. Under the dispensation of the Spirit, a provision is made for the efficiency of the plan; spiritual life is quickened; they are not only forgiven, but sanctified. So with their education in worship. Under the dispensation of the Father, they learn the first rudiments of worship, through material symbols and .pictures; under the dispensation of the Son they worship the spiritual God, but m connection with the living body of the Incarnate One; under the dispensation of the Spirit, they worship without any material medium in "spirit and in truth." The dispensation of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost assumed two distinct forms, and produced two distinct effects.
(1) As miraculous endowment it was peculiar to the apostles. This was indicated by material symbols. But such endowment was incidental and subordinate. Just as the miracles of Christ are not to be confounded with His moral mission, so the miraculous endowments of the Spirit are not to be confounded with His moral or sanctifying influences. The miraculous element in both cases is simply the credential or attestation of the moral. It soon, therefore, ceased. As moral evidence for Christianity accumulated, and the written records of the New Testament were completed, miraculous testimony was withdrawn.
(2) But the deeper and abiding manifestation was that moral and regenerating influence of it of which Christ discoursed to Nicodemus, and is known, therefore, only by its effects. The former was an endowment of the preacher; this is an endowment of the hearer, qualifying and disposing him to receive it in the saving love and power of it.
2. As a saving provision for man.
(1) This dispensation of the Spirit abides with the Church for ever, and is bestowed upon all believers. And this is the grand and transcendent characteristic of Christianity, whereby it provides for the efficacy of its own religious teaching. Other religions give laws, and leave men unaided with the stern requirement; but Christianity gives dispositions as well as laws. It puts a new spirit into those whom it calls to its discipleship.
(2) We cannot, therefore, exaggerate the importance of this provision. Without it, all that Christ has taught or done would have been in vain; we should for lack of spiritual discernment have failed to discern spiritual things, and for lack of spiritual affection failed to have embraced them.
(3) Of course spiritual influence of this kind must have been in operation before. No holy man ever became such save through the influences of the Holy Spirit, allusions to which are very numerous in the Old Testament. But just as the work of Christ was in efficacious operation before Christ Himself was historically manifested, so was the work of the Spirit. Just as the first pardoned man was justified by faith in Christ, so the first holy man was renewed by the operation of the Holy Ghost, and just as the Nativity was the manifestation of the atoning Christ, so the day of Pentecost was the manifestation of the renewing spirit. As much of the character and work of the Son were revealed as the world could receive; and as much of the influence of the Spirit was exerted as the moral condition of the world would admit of. Hence we may understand how there should be a greater amount of spiritual influence operating in the Christian Church than in the Jewish Church.
(H. Allon, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.