Sabbath, May 30, 2015

“God does not ask us to do in our own strength the work before us. He has provided divine assistance for all the emergencies to which our human resources are unequal. He gives the Holy Spirit to help in every strait, to strengthen our hope and assurance, to illuminate our minds and purify our hearts….

“To us also the promise of Christ’s abiding presence is given. The lapse of time has wrought no change in His parting promise. He is with us today as truly as He was with the disciples, and He will be with us ‘even unto the end.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 19, 17.

Always with His disciples

1. What promise did Jesus give His disciples before leaving them?

John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

“This is Jesus, the life of every grace, the life of every promise, the life of every ordinance, the life of every blessing. Jesus is the substance, the glory and fragrance, the very life itself. ‘He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’ John 8:12. Then the royal path cast up for the ransomed to walk in is not discouraging darkness. Our pilgrimage would indeed be lonely and painful were it not for Jesus. ‘I will not,’ He says, ‘leave you comfortless.’ John 14:18. Then let us gather every registered promise. Let us repeat them by day and meditate upon them in the night season, and be happy.” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 244.

“Just before His crucifixion the Saviour said to His disciples: ‘I will not leave you comfortless.’ ‘I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.’ ‘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 teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.’ John 14:18, 16; 16:13; 14:26.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 19.

The promise is for all who hear God’s call

2. What did the apostle Peter affirm concerning the far-reaching extent of the promise of the Holy Spirit?

Acts 2:38, 39 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 

“God’s field is the world. Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’ ‘And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’ Acts 1:8; Luke 24:47. Peter said to the believers: ‘The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ Acts 2:39.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 56, 57.

“God has promised us all power; for the promise is unto you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” –Conflict and Courage, p. 118.

3. How long was the Holy Spirit to remain with the disciples? Therefore, what is confirmed in the Testimonies?

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.

“The promise of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any age or to any race. Christ declared that the divine influence of His Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. From the Day of Pentecost to the present time, the Comforter has been sent to all who have yielded themselves fully to the Lord and to His service. To all who have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit has come as a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness. The more closely believers have walked with God, the more clearly and powerfully have they testified of their Redeemer’s love and of His saving grace. The men and women who through the long centuries of persecution and trial enjoyed a large measure of the presence of the Spirit in their lives, have stood as signs and wonders in the world. Before angels and men they have revealed the transforming power of redeeming love.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 42.

“This promise belongs to us now as surely as it belonged to the disciples…. Let every church member kneel before God, and pray earnestly for the impartation of the Spirit. Cry, ‘Lord, increase my faith. Make me to understand Thy word; for the entrance of Thy word giveth light. Refresh me by Thy presence. Fill my heart with Thy Spirit.’” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 191.

Experiences in the apostolic time

4. How was the apostle Peter empowered as he fearlessly presented the message to the rulers of the people? What great effect did the Holy Spirit produce in the apostles despite the threat of the Jewish authorities?

Acts 4:8, 31 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,… 31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 

“This assuring testimony could not have been given before the crucifixion of Christ, but He had promised, ‘Greater works than these shall ye do; because I go unto My Father.’ Christ had ascended to His Father. ‘And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all.’ The scenes of the rejection and crucifixion, the resurrection and ascension of Christ, were a living reality to them. They laid hold on the promise of Christ to some purpose. He had said, ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.’” –Review and Herald, June 18, 1895.

“We are to find our strength just where the early disciples found their strength: ‘These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.’ ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.’ Acts 1:14; 4:31, 32.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 140.

5. What similarly powerful testimony did Stephen give under the influence of the Holy Spirit? How did he complete his ministry?

Acts 6:5, first part, 8, 10, 7:55, 56 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost… 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people…. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake…. 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 

6. When a problem threatened to disrupt the unity and harmony in the apostolic church, what great blessing made a solution possible? What may we learn from this experience?

Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.

“Jesus promised His disciples, ‘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.’ ‘When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth:… and He will show you things to come.’ John 14:26; 16:13.” –The Great Controversy, p. viii.

“The only hope of our churches is to keep wide awake. Those who are well grounded in the truths of the Word, those who test everything by a ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ are safe. The Holy Spirit will guide those who prize the wisdom of God above the deceptive sophistries of satanic agencies.” –Southern Union Worker, October 30, 1913.

God’s willingness to give His Spirit 

7. Why do we not receive a larger measure of the Holy Spirit today? How willing is the Lord to give His Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

Luke 11:9-13 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

“The lapse of time has wrought no change in Christ’s parting promise to send the Holy Spirit as His representative. It is not because of any restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If the fulfillment of the promise is not seen as it might be, it is because the promise is not appreciated as it should be. If all were willing, all would be filled with the Spirit. Wherever the need of the Holy Spirit is a matter little thought of, there is seen spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Whenever minor matters occupy the attention, the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in infinite plenitude.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 50.

“The measure of the Holy Spirit we receive will be proportioned to the measure of our desire and the faith exercised for it…. We can be assured that we shall receive the Holy Spirit if we individually try the experiment of testing God’s word.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 207.

For personal study

“Those who at Pentecost were endued with power from on high, were not thereby freed from further temptation and trial. As they witnessed for truth and righteousness they were repeatedly assailed by the enemy of all truth, who sought to rob them of their Christian experience. They were compelled to strive with all their God-given powers to reach the measure of the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. Daily they prayed for fresh supplies of grace, that they might reach higher and still higher toward perfection. Under the Holy Spirit’s working even the weakest, by exercising faith in God, learned to improve their entrusted powers and to become sanctified, refined, and ennobled. As in humility they submitted to the molding influence of the Holy Spirit, they received of the fullness of the Godhead and were fashioned in the likeness of the divine.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 49, 50.

“At all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all afflictions, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone, the Comforter will be sent in answer to the prayer of faith.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 191.