Dear Brethren and Friends,
As Pentecost approaches, it is important that we all focus on the Holy Spirit of God. For God’s Spirit was poured out on the multitude on that very first Pentecost of the New Testament Church (Acts 2:15–17). It powerfully changed their lives—as we shall see. Pentecost is regarded as the “Feast of firstfruits” in Exodus 23:16. It pictures the early harvest in ancient Israel, and the Holy Spirit being poured out pictures God’s power and blessing on that spiritual harvest of which all of us will have a part if we truly surrender to God and persevere! The Apostle Paul was inspired to write Timothy: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6–7).
Fact: Before the Holy Spirit came, the Apostle Peter was so fearful of being “found out” as a follower of Jesus that he denied this vehemently and began to literally curse and swear! “Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:74–75).
Yet after God’s Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Apostle Peter, he quickly and courageously confronted dozens or perhaps even hundreds of unconverted Jews who accosted Him regarding His healing of the crippled man at the “gate called Beautiful.” Looking them right in the eye, Peter told them: “But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14–15).
Later, the apostles were again accosted by the Jewish religious authorities and threatened if they continued speaking in Christ’s name. “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:19–20).
At this point, Peter and John went back to the disciples and they all together began to pray fervently to Almighty God: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29–30).
Notice, brethren, how they beseeched God to give them the power to heal and do these miracles so that they would have the “boldness” to speak out with the full Truth of God!
After this fervent prayer, the place where they were meeting was “shaken” and “they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (v. 31). It is obvious that the entire attitude of the early apostles was dramatically changed with the receiving of God’s Spirit. For now Christ was actually living in them through His Spirit. They had a depth of understanding, faith and courage that they had not ever had before! Dear brethren, as this Work becomes larger, and we are going to have more persecution, we will need the same kind of absolute trust in God and courage to go through the trials, tests and persecutions that will certainly come! But God will give us that needed help through His Spirit if we truly cry out to Him and “walk with God” with all our hearts.
Again remember, dear brethren, it is not simply you and I who are doing this Work. It is the living Christ dwelling in us through the power of His Holy Spirit! We must understand and “walk” accordingly. For the Holy Spirit living within us actually involves Jesus Christ living within us through His Spirit! Remember always my “favorite verse”: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, KJV).
With Jesus Christ actually living within us through His Holy Spirit, we are not in any way limited by our human frame or human passions, for we have the ultimate power of the great God dwelling within us to overcome ourselves, the world and Satan the Devil. Remember Jesus’ powerful words: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
The entire Bible indicates that Jesus did not say the above words in a “poetic sense.” Rather, we have virtually no power, spiritually speaking, to do anything without Christ in us. Through Him in us, however, we are able to “bear much fruit.” Jesus went on to say: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:7–8).
Therefore, dear brethren, if you and I walk with God, talk with God, commune with God and learn to “feed” on Christ’s Word (John 6:57), we will ask many things according to God’s will and we can know that we will receive an answer. We will certainly be able to “bear much fruit”—far beyond what we can do without God’s Spirit actually living within us and, in fact, Jesus Himself living within us through the Holy Spirit.
Brethren, always remember Mr. Herbert Armstrong’s one-sentence definition of true faith: “God will always do what He has promised to do in His Word.”
Think about that, meditate about that. And learn to practice that faith and confidence as you talk to God and cry out to Him for answered prayer!
In the many thousands of hours I spent personally with Mr. Herbert Armstrong, I found that he was, indeed, a man of unusual faith and confidence in God. He would earnestly “feed” on the Bible. So he grew in faith because of that and then he always tried to hold God to His promises! If God promised anything, then Mr. Armstrong would say in his prayers: “Father, you have promised. We hold You to Your promise!” There were times when Mr. Armstrong became “distracted” by the “cares of this world” and by all of the many administrative things he had to do in the Work of God—the bills he had to pay for television, radio, the printing press, the constant oversight of the ministry, the properties of the three campuses of Ambassador College and more. So Mr. Armstrong, later on, warned a number of us ministers very strongly: “Fellows, do not let yourself get distracted from your own personal study and prayer by the administrative details of the Work and things like that. Never ease up on your personal Bible study and prayers. Never water down your personal faith in God and His promises in His inspired Word!”
So we will all do well to take heed to this! As the Day of Pentecost approaches, let each of us increasingly “go to our knees” and cry out to Almighty God for more of His Holy Spirit, for more of His power, for more of the capacity to have an impact on this very confused world. The world around us is really coming apart—as most of you know. The world desperately needs what we have to give. So let us use the power described in the Day of Pentecost to overcome ourselves and to really accomplish a great Work which can begin to be known around the world and have an impact on this very confused, Satan-influenced society. If we will not do this, who will?
Think about it!
May God help every one of us be determined to draw much closer to the God of the Bible during this period of time and drink in of the power that is available to all of us through the indwelling of His Spirit by which He created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. This is the power Jesus Christ Himself used in overcoming His own human nature, having been willing to “empty Himself” (Philippians 2:7) and even to die for us in one of the most slow, gruesome and agonizing deaths ever imagined in the minds of Satan-led men.
Truly, because of this—and because Christ yielded to the Father totally and sought the power of the Holy Spirit, God honored Him in a magnificent way: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).
As most of you know, we also have the magnificent opportunity ourselves of becoming full sons of God—born into His spiritual Kingdom and Family forever!
On the night before His crucifixion, our Savior and King cried out to His Father: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:20–23).
This should be the real goal that all of us have. And it is obvious that only through Jesus Christ living within us through the Holy Spirit can we attain this goal! So again, let us “go all out” to seek God’s Spirit and to use God’s Spirit to grow to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so we may be with Christ and with the Father in His Kingdom forever.
With Christian love,