The First Years of Christianity: Promise of Holy Spirit

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In departing from this world, how tender Christ's care and love for the Church. He says, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter [or one who shall take the entire charge of you], that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.... But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” The world, not knowing the Spirit, may appoint its emperors, kings, queens, and its high dignitaries, to take the place of head and caretaker of a church. But our blessed Lord named none of these. No, the world would persecute His Church, or those who were His. In the world they should have tribulation. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning” (John 14 & 15).
And still more fully, instead of setting up the long-promised kingdom on earth, He says, “I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” Then He fully describes His work.
His presence will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. “Of sin, because they believe not on Me.” There needs no further trial of man; the world has rejected and killed the Prince of Life. It is proved and concluded under sin.
“Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more.” If the world is proved under sin, there is righteousness in heaven. The righteous Father has received His Son.
“Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” this world's very prince and god is judged. Execution then of judgment is sure to him, and all that are his, though God's long-suffering tarries still.
Now mark the work of the Spirit during the absence of Christ. “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” Such is the infinite provision Jesus promised before He departed from them, for the whole period of His absence. We shall see shortly how all was fulfilled. He then opens His heart to them, and tells them of His departure (John 16).
Surely He felt His rejection; did He not weep over Jerusalem? Though just about to be cut off, and have nothing of His earthly kingdom and glory, He could now lift up His eyes to heaven, and say, “Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.” Though He well knew the extent of the world's rejection, yet His tender heart felt its deep joy in those whom the Father gave to Him. How much He gives them, how much He asks for them! How often He names to the Father those whom the Father had given to Him, and all on the ground of His finished work. Yes, this was His full blessed title, as man, He had finished the work which was given Him to do. “And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” Yes, in the beginning, in eternity, however many myriads of ages this world may have been hung upon nothing, and rolled in space—yet, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was WITH God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning WITH God.” Truly God; He WAS GOD; distinct in Person, WITH God; in eternity, the eternal now. Yes, immediately before He crossed the brook Cedron to offer Himself the infinite sacrifice for sins, He could thus look up to heaven, though rejected and cut off on earth, with the righteous claim as man to be WITH God, as He had been with Him in eternity. Could any created being claim such a place? This scripture with many others, affords absolute proof that He was very God and truly man.
Now we see Him humbling Himself, and voluntarily giving Himself up into the hands of sinful men. All power in heaven and on earth was in His hands. They were made to feel it and fall to the ground. But He who made all things gave Himself to be bound, to be mocked, to be scourged, to be crucified. A robber was preferred to Him in whom was no fault. The wicked representative of Gentile power was compelled to say, as judge, “I find no fault in Him.” He was made a curse, hanging on the accursed tree, for the very people that gnashed their teeth with rage as they watched Him die.
It was in the end of the ages, every age of the trial of man, that He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)). Then “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever [or, in continuance], sat down on the right hand of God....For by one offering He hath perfected forever [in continuance] them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:12,1412But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (Hebrews 10:12)
14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
). “Who His own self bear our sins in His own body on the tree.” “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 2:2424Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24); 1 Pet. 3:1818For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:18)). All Scripture from Genesis to Revelation bears witness to the true propitiation, the bearing and meeting the wrath of God against sin, and the true substitution of Christ for His people's sins. We need no learned and profane theory of the atonement, but with adoring hearts worship God for His great love to us in thus giving His Son to be lifted up. It is only on that cross we learn what our sin really is in the sight of God. Blessed Jesus! it was for me Thou sufferedst thus.
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” See 1 Corinthians 15:1-151Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. 12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. (1 Corinthians 15:1‑15). We shall see more of this when we come to the faith held in the beginning.
Christ died for our sins and was buried. But then all appeared to be lost. The disciples were filled with sadness. They had looked for very different things, even the redemption of Israel from the Roman yoke. The only righteous One was laid in the grave—the end of all hope for man as a child of Adam—the end of man. The only righteous Man had died the accursed death of the cross, and was laid dead in the grave. Now just suppose this were all, then every ray of hope is extinguished. All is under death and judgment. If Christ is not risen, there is no hope, and no good news possible for man. That high-day Sabbath, when Jesus lay dead in the grave, was the end of Judaism, with all its sacrifices and temple service. The veil was rent; what a change!
How blessed to dwell on that resurrection morn, that first Lord's day, the first day of the week. If we may use such words, one eternity ended when He lay in the grave, the other began when He rose from the dead. Judaism was left desolate —the new creation began. Who can tell the exceeding greatness of the power of God to usward, when He raised Jesus from the dead? (See Eph. 1:19-2319And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:19‑23).) The consequences to us of that resurrection are infinite and eternal.
We cannot but linger over the results of His resurrection, even before we go on to the forming of the Church or assembly of Christ. “For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” Very blessed the instruction, whether in reference to the future kingdom as in Matthew and Mark, or as preparatory to the formation of the Church, as in Luke 24 and John 20. What a change, and the disciples knew it not. There was the proof that He had risen from the dead; but the disciples, even Peter and John, went away to their own home.
Not so Mary Magdalene. She had already been delivered from great misery, for seven demons had been cast out of her. She has little intelligence; indeed, she seems to think He is still dead. But she lingers at the sepulcher as if He were gone; she had nothing left. There she lingered, her heart deeply attached to Jesus. And is the tender love of Jesus changed to His sheep now that He is risen from the dead? He is close to the weeper, and asks, “Woman, why weepest thou?... She, supposing Him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, Sir, if Thou have borne Him hence, tell me where Thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said, one word, “Mary.” O what a thrill of joy to that desolate heart! “She turned herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.” He was, however, no more to be held or known as Messiah. “Touch Me not.” He must go to the Father to receive the kingdom and return. He sends her with the joyful news of Christianity begun.