He charged them to wait for the promise of the Father, which said he, ye heard from me.'-ACTS 1: 4.
In the life of the Old Testament saints ,waiting was one of the loved words in which they expressed the posture of their souls towards God. They waited for God, and waited upon God. Sometimes we find it in Holy Scripture as the language of an experience: 'Truly my soul waiteth upon God.' 'I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait.' At others it is a plea in prayer: 'Lead me, on Thee do I wait all the day.' ' Be gracious unto us; we have waited for Thee,' Frequently it is an injunction, encouraging to perseverance in a work that is not without its difficulty: 'Wait on the Lord; wait, I say, on the Lord.' 'Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.' And then again there is the testimony to the blessedness of the exercise: 'Blessed are they that wait upon Him.' ' They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.'
All this blessed teaching and experience of the saints who have gone before, our Lord gathers up and connects specially, in His use of the word, with the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. What had been so deeply woven into the very substance of the religious life and language of God's people was now to receive a new and a higher application. As they had waited for the manifestation of God, either in the light of His countenance on their own souls, or in special interposition for their deliverance, or in His coming to fulfil His promises to His people; so we too have to wait. But now that the Father has been revealed in the Son, and that the Son has perfected the great redemption, now the waiting is specially to be occupied with the fulfilment of the great Promise in which the love of the Father and the grace of the Son are revealed and made ours the Gift, the Indwelling, the Fulness of the Holy Spirit. We wait on the Father and the Son for ever-increasing inflowings and workings of the Blessed Spirit; we wait for the Blessed Spirit, His moving, and leading, and mighty strengthening, to reveal the Father and the Son within, and to work in us all the holiness and service to which the Father and the Son are calling us.
'He charged them to wait for the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of me.' It may be asked whether these words have not exclusive reference to the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and whether, now that the Spirit has been given to the Church, the charge still holds good. It may be objected that, for the believer who has the Holy Spirit within him, waiting for the promise of the Father is hardly consistent with the faith and joy of the consciousness that the Spirit has been received and is dwelling within.
The question and the objection open the way to a lesson of the deepest importance. The Holy Spirit is not given to us as a possession of which we have the charge and mastery, and which we can use at our discretion. No. The Holy Spirit is given -to us to be our Master, and to have charge of us. It is not we who are to use Him; He must use us. He is indeed ours; but ours as God, and our position towards Him is that of deep and entire dependence on One who giveth to every one 'even as He will.' The Father has indeed given us the Spirit; but He is still, and only works as the Spirit of the Father. Our asking for His working, that the Father would grant unto us to be strengthened with might by His Spirit, and our waiting for this, must be as real and definite as if we had to ask for Him for the first time. When God gives His Spirit, He gives His inmost Self. He gives with a Divine giving, that is, in the power of the eternal life, continuous, uninterrupted, and never-ceasing. When Jesus gave to those who believe in Him the promise of an ever-springing fountain of ever-flowing streams, He spake not of a single act of faith that was once for all to make them the independent possessors of the blessing, but of a life of faith that, in neverceasing receptivity, would always and only possess His gifts in living union with Himself. And so this precious word wait,-'He charged them to wait,'-with all its blessed meaning from the experience of the past, is woven into the very web of the new Spirit dispensation. And all that the disciples did and felt during those ten days of waiting, and all that they got as its blessed fruit and reward, becomes to us the path and the pledge of the life of the Spirit in which we can live. The fulness of the Spirit, for such is the Father's Promise, and our waiting, are inseparably and for ever linked together.
And have we not here now an answer to the question why so many believers know so little of the joy and the power of the Holy Spirit ? They never knew to wait for it; they never listened ,carefully to the Master's parting words: 'He charged them to wait for the Promise of the Father, which ye have heard of me'. The Promise they have heard. For its fulfilment they have longed. In earnest prayer they have pleaded for it. They have gone burdened and mourning under the felt want. They have tried to believe, and tried to lay hold, and tried to be filled with the Spirit. But they have never known what it was with it all to wait. They have never here said,or even truly heard, 'Blessed are all they that wait for Him.' ' They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.'
But what is this waiting? And how are we to wait ? I look to God by His Holy Spirit to teach me to state in the simplest way possible what may help some child of His to obey this charge. And let me then first say that, as a believer, what you are to wait for is the fuller manifestation of the Power of the Spirit within you. On the resurrection morn Jesus had breathed on His disciples, and said, Receive the Holy Ghost : they had yet to wait for the full baptism of fire and of power. As God's child you have the Holy Ghost. Study the passages in the Epistles addressed to believers full of failings and sins (1 Cor. 3: 1 -3, 16, 6: 19, 2 0 ; Gal. 3: 2, 3, 4: 6). Begin in simple faith in God's word to cultivate the quiet assurance: The Holy Spirit is dwelling within me. If you are not faithful in the less, you cannot expect the greater. Acknowledge in faith and thanks that the Holy Spirit is in you. Each time you enter your closet to speak to God, sit first still to remember and believe that the Spirit is within you as the Spirit of prayer who cries Father! within you. Appear before God and confess to Him distinctly, until you become fully conscious of it yourself, that you are a temple of the Holy Ghost.
Now you are in the right posture for taking the second step, that is, asking God very simply and quietly, there and then, to grant you the workings of His Holy Spirit. The Spirit is in God and is in you. You ask the Father who is in heaven that His Almighty Spirit may come forth from Him in greater life and power, and as the indwelling Spirit may work more mightily in you. As you ask this on the ground of the promises, or of some special promise you lay before Him, you believe that He hears and that He does it. You have not to look at once whether you feel anything in your heart; all may be dark and cold there; you are to believe, that is, to rest in what God is going to do, yea, is doing, though you feel it not.
And then comes the waiting. Wait on the Lord; wait for the Spirit. In great quietness set your soul still, silent unto God, and give the Holy Spirit time to quicken and deepen in you the assurance that God will grant Him to work mightily. We are a 'holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifice.' The slaying of the sacrifice was an essential part of the service. In each sacrifice you bring there must be the slaying, the surrender and sacrifice of self and its power to the death, As you wait before God in holy silence, He sees in it the confession that you have nothing,-no wisdom to pray aright, no strength to work aright, Waiting is the expression of need, of emptiness. All along through the Christian life these go together , the sense of poverty and weakness, and the joy of all sufficient riches and strength. It is in waiting before God that the soul sinks down into its own nothingness, and is lifted up into the Divine assurance that God has accepted its sacrifice and will fulfil its desires.
When thus the soul, has waited upon God, it has to go forward to the daily walk or the special duty that waits it, in the faith that He will watch over the fulfilment of His Promise and His child's expectation. If it is to prayer you give yourself, after thus waiting for the Spirit, or to the reading of the word, do it in the trust that the Holy Spirit within guides your prayer and your thoughts. If your experience appears to prove that it is not so, be sure this is simply to lead you onwards to a simpler faith and a more entire surrender. You have become so accustomed to the worship in the power of the understanding and the carnal mind, that truly spiritual worship does not come at once. But wait on: 'He charged them to wait.' Keep up the waiting disposition in daily life and duty. 'On Thee do I wait all the day:' it is to the Three One God I thus speak; the Holy Spirit brings nigh and unites to Him. Renew each day and, as you are able to do it, also extend, your exercise of waiting upon God. The multitude of words and the fervency of feelings in prayer have often been more hindrance than help. God's work in you must become deeper, more spiritual, more directly wrought of God Himself. Wait for the promise in all its fulness. Count not the time lost you thus give to this blessed expression of ignorance and emptiness, of faith and expectation, of full and real surrender to the dominion of the Spirit. Pentecost is meant to be for all times the proof of what the exalted Jesus does for His Church from His Throne. The ten days' waiting is meant to be for all time the posture before the Throne, which secures in continuity the Pentecostal blessing, Brother ! the Promise of the Father is sure.It is from whom you have it. The Spirit is Himself already working in you. His full indwelling and guidance is your child's-portion. Oh, keep the charge of your Lord! Wait on God: wait for the Spirit. 'Wait, I say, on the Lord.' 'Blessed are all they that wait for Him.'
Blessed Father ! from Thy Beloved Son we have heard Thy Promise. In a streaming forth that is Divine and neverceasing, the river of the water of life flows from under the Throne of God and the Lamb; Thy Spirit flows down to quicken our thirsty souls. 'For we have not heard, neither hath the eye seen, 0 God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.'
And we have beard His charge to wait for the Promise. We thank Thee for what has already been fulfilled to us of it. But our souls long for the full possession, the fulness of the blessing of Christ. Blessed Father! teach us to wait on Thee, daily watching at the posts of Thy doors.
Teach us each day, as we draw near to Thee, to wait for Him. In the sacrifice of our own wisdom and our will, in holy fear of the workings of our own nature, may we learn to lie in the dust before Thee, that Thy Spirit may work with power. Oh, teach us that as the life of self is laid low before Thee day by day, the Holy Life, that flows from under the Throne, will rise in power, and our worship be in Spirit and in Truth. Amen.