One more thought. When Christ ascended the throne, one would say the preparation was complete. It was not so. One thing more was needed to finish the work. Even with the three years’ training, the mysterious influence of the fellowship with Christ in the death they had seen Him die, the mighty power of the resurrection-life He breathed into them, the wonderful revelations of the forty days all in the power of the New Life, the ascension to the throne and the sitting down at the right hand of the Father, and Christ’s receiving from Him of the Holy Ghost, there is still something needed.
It was the ten days of continued, united prayer and supplication. I hardly know a passage in Scripture which presents prayer in such a wondrous light. God in heaven has done all that was needed; Christ has finished His work for His disciples and in them: Pentecost has still to wait ten days for their prayers. Prayer is to put the finishing touch to the work of preparation. In it is to be found that complete and continuous turning away from earth, that opening of the whole being to God, that rising into heaven, and that abiding in Christ there, which is to prove that these men are indeed prepared vessels for God’s Holy Spirit. When Jesus had been glorified, when the Lamb had taken His place in the midst of the throne, the stream of the river of the water of life broke forth from the throne of God and the Lamb, and flowed as streams of living water into and out of these praying disciples. It is even as it is written of Christ: “And it came to pass that, Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon Him.” When every other condition has been fulfilled, prayer, continued prayer, is needed to bring down the blessing. If the pentecostal Church is to be an example, and that cannot be without the pentecostal era being repeated, prayer must again be the key that opens the windows of heaven. Prayer must be preached and practised as the first and the last duty of a Church that hopes to have the power of God seen in its work. The ten days’ continued prayer must teach the lesson that is so simple, and yet so difficult to master, that what little prayer does not obtain, much prayer, earnest believing prayer, prayer continued long enough, will bring down.
It was said in the words we quoted at the beginning of this chapter: “They availed themselves of no power which we cannot also utilise.” We have seen what some of these powers are. The power of separation from the world and true self-sacrifice, of intense attachment and devotion to Jesus, of love and fellowship making us one with the saints around us, of faith, of continued prayer—these were the things that fitted the disciples to receive the promise of the Father, and be the fit instruments for the Holy Spirit’s mighty work in witnessing for Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth.
We have seen the preparation, the wonderful forming of men to have, in human nature, as Jesus had, the Spirit of God dwelling in them. Think, now, how wonderful this blessing was in itself—the fruit and the crown of Christ’s redeeming work. These men, prepared by Christ, were all filled with the Holy Spirit. On earth Christ’s body had been the home of the Spirit and the instrument of His work. They now are His body; they take His place; the Spirit dwells in them as the instruments for His work, the continuance of Christ’s own work. The Spirit, through whom God is God, and Father and Son each is what He is, and both are One,—the Spirit, the very life of God, fills them. In the threefold operation of His quickening grace, He enlightens, He sanctifies, He strengthens. That is, He reveals Divine truth, He makes partaker of the holy life and disposition of Christ, and He endues with the Divine power that, in the midst of weakness, labours and suffers and triumphs. As Christ’s training was to prepare them, so this enduement was actually to fit them for His work. “Ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” God’s power for God’s work was to be the one condition of success in their undertaking to bring the gospel to every creature, in being Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth.
“That pentecostal generation did more to accomplish the evangelisation of the world than any succeeding generation.” If we are to do as much as they did,—considering the increase in the population of the world and the increase of the Church, we ought to do tenfold more than they did,—we need this one thing: To be filled with the Holy Spirit, as the Power of God to do the work of God! It is not enough that the river of the water of life is still flowing from under the throne of God and the Lamb; it is not enough that we are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in us. The Spirit may be in us, and yet be grieved, or quenched, or resisted, or neglected. Where He is to work in power, He asks the whole being, to fill it. He claims control of the whole life, for it to be led and ruled by Him in everything. He asks that the man shall be a living sacrifice, a whole burnt-offering, to be consumed by the fire of God. If there is to be any hope of our working like the Church of Pentecost, we must have a new era in our missions. There must be a real restoration of the pentecostal life and power in the Church at home. The power of God for the work of God must be the watchword of every worker. Then alone will our mission work, both in its extent and its intensity, be able to overtake the thousand millions who are still without the knowledge of Christ.
If the appeal that has been made to the Church, to believe that there is nothing which the pentecostal Church did that we cannot and ought not to do, is to be taken seriously, what are we to do with it? We are confessedly, in an overwhelming majority of our Church members, very far from Pentecost. What is to be done to get all our leaders in churches and boards, in societies and committees, to take up the watchword: Back to Pentecost: without this the work cannot be done? Is there no way of reaching our pastors and congregations, and gathering all who feel that God’s work is not being done as it should be, into one holy bond of union until the watchword has rung through the Church: Back to Pentecost: God’s Power for God’s work: without this the work cannot be done?
Andrew Murray, The Key to the Missionary Problem (London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1902), 127–132.