It's Not Easy To Wait!
Jesus command to His disciples, after His resurrection, was "Wait!"
After they had seen their risen Lord, they undoubtedly wanted to get back to Galilee.
That's where their friends were. Jerusalem was the last place in the world they wanted to be.
The city was filled with their enemies.
The Scribes were there.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees were there.
The multitudes that had been incited by the religious leaders to crucify Jesus were also there.
It was not easy to wait in Jerusalem.
But, it is never easy to wait. It is not easy until the inertia of old age overtakes us.
Most of us usually want to be doing something.
This trait, sometimes called drive or ambition, is usually commendable.
It is sinful for a Christian to drag his feet when God says, " Go!"
It is also equally sinful for us to rush ahead of God.
To act prematurely is to invite failure.
Wait for what the Father had promised was the message from Jesus.
Jesus would soon leave them.
Their Saviour, Counselor, and Friend was about to return to His Father's right hand.
They would see Him no more with the eyes of flesh.
The approaching separation had cast a gloomy shadow across their path.
There was only one way to relieve their anxiety and fill the emptiness of their grief.
They must be comforted with definite and positive assurances concerning the future.
They must have heavenly promises that would reach out beyond Christ's moment of ascension.
They needed a promise that would go with them into the unknown and dangerous future.
These promises were not lacking.
They winged their way into the consciousness of the disciples with great forcefulness.
These promises spoke peace to their hearts.
They dispelled their gloom.
They gave them strength and courage for the struggles ahead.
There were two promises.
The first was uttered by Christ: "Wait for what the Father had promised."
He told them that they had heard these things from Him.
Then He said: "You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit is come upon you."
The second promise was the glorious declaration of the heavenly visitors.
They said: " Ye men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,
will come again in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."
Throughout the Old Testament we have seen many accounts of Israelites who were filled
with the Spirit.
So, let's see what the Father had promised.
Abraham was so filled with the Spirit because God had promised " I will bless you."
And that blessing, Paul says, is the promise of the Spirit.
Also, Moses, Joshua, David, and many of the kings of Judah were filled with the same Spirit.
All the prophets were spirit-filled.
Peter tells us that when these prophets predicted the sufferings of Christ, and the glory
that would follow, they were speaking by means of the Spirit of Christ which was
" within them." (1 Peter: 1:11)
They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke through His dwelling in them.
These Old Testament believers came to a realization of the Spirit-filled life
by means of a long process of learning through shadows or what we might understand as pictures.
They were not given this experience first, as we are, and then learn of its effects later.
They were taught by means of pictures, shadows, types, and symbols.
The Old Testament is filled with these:
Aaron's rod that budded and the candlestick in the tabernacle were both pictures
of the Holy Spirit illuminating the mind and heart.
The widow's pot of oil which never became empty was a picture
of the flowing of the oil of the Spirit in a human life.
Ezekiel's river that came pouring out from under the throne of God, growing deeper as it went,
is a wonderful picture of the flow and power of the Spirit-filled life. (Ezekiel 47:1-12)
The two olive trees of Zechariah which dripped oil from their branches into the bowls
of the golden candlestick are also pictures of the Holy Spirit. (Zechariah 4:1-14)
These men of old came to understand through these symbols or pictures what it meant
to be filled with the Spirit, and then, they experienced this filling by faith.
The last of these symbols or pictures was the baptism of John the Baptist.
Jesus said that John was the last of the prophets.
We are told of John the Baptist that he was "filled with the Holy Spirit...from
his mother's womb." (Luke 1:15)
He experienced this filling in his own life, but he had to teach it in pictures.
As he baptized people in water, he was teaching them that the One who was coming
would immediately place them into the body of Christ thus making them part of His life.
John's water baptism, within limits, marked off the true from the false.
It did this by offering it only to those who brought forth fruits indicating repentance.
However careful John might have been, there would still be some false ones who would
secure water baptism.
This baptism was not final in marking off the saved from the lost.
There was a baptism beyond that baptism.
It was a baptism "in the Holy Spirit and fire."
This baptism could not be misapplied.
This baptism would separate the wheat from the chaff.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit which Jesus' disciples were to anticipate was a baptism
contrasted with John's baptism in water.
They would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
This baptism in the Spirit, as it related to the disciples at Pentecost, is a further experience
in which the Spirit gained a fuller possession of them.
This brought a great change in their lives.
They would become fully awakened to His presence, and they would become more responsive
to His presence and to His power.
In Caesarea, the Spirit came upon God-fearing Greeks as they heard the Gospel,
and Peter recognized this as another fulfillment of Jesus' promise. ( Acts 11:16)
In Caesarea the conversion and the mighty release of power came together.
This paralleled that of Pentecost.
This baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a ritual, but a reality.
It is not a program, but a power.
Christians today need not "tarry" for the Holy Spirit to enter their lives.
When a person becomes a Christian, that person is baptized into the body of Christ
by the Holy Spirit. (1Cor. 12:13)
Every Christian has the Holy Spirit.
If a person does not have the Spirit, that person is not a Christian. (Romans 8:9)
But there are many other reasons we, as Christians, must wait upon the Lord:
Some need training and teaching.
Some Christians need to grow and mature.
Sometimes we need to wait because it is not God's time for our activities, our programs,
or our plans.
Joseph sat for months in an Egyptian prison cell.
Moses spent forty years in the backside of the desert before it was God's time for Him to begin
His public ministry.
It is sinful for a Christian to drag his feet when God says: "Go!"
It is equally sinful for a Christian to rush ahead of God.
To act prematurely and in the flesh is to invite failure.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White