WAITING FOR THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER
“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye have heard of me.” (Acts 1:3-4)
In these two verses we find some very interesting language for the risen and soon to be ascended Lord. Just prior to His ascension Christ met with His followers and “demanded” that they not depart from Jerusalem “but wait for the promise of the Father”. He also indicated to them that He had spoken to them concerning this subject. This great promise not only referred to them but to us also.
What is the promise of the Father? It was the promise of the advent of the Holy Spirit, who we know as the third Person in the Godhead—one with the Father and the Son. Before Pentecost, in all earlier dispensations He was working in the world and in the lives of God’s people. Beginning in Genesis at the creation, we know that the Spirit of God “moved upon the face of the waters.” One interesting example of the Spirit in the life of one Bezalee (Exodus 31:3) who was an artisan and was selected to work on building the Tabernacle. We are aware that the Holy Spirit came upon certain people for certain jobs throughout the Old Testament. This promise however was a promise that related to this period of time in which we are living, the dispensation of the Spirit, the age of grace or the church age.
This promise had been given at various times: It was given through the Prophet Joel 2:28-32. It was proclaimed by John the Baptist in John 1:29-34. It was referred to many times by the Lord Himself in John 7:37-39, John 14:16-17, John 15:26, John 16:6-7 and 13-14; and Acts 1:8. It was anticipated by our Lord after the resurrection in John 20:22. This perhaps was an earnest of Pentecost.
The promise of the Father, then, was the promise that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit would come to do a special work in the lives of all God’s children. These ministries of the Holy Spirit would only come into operation at and after Pentecost and throughout the whole of this dispensation of grace.
The Holy Spirit came to baptize them. John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize His people with the Holy Ghost in John 1:33. Jesus told His people that they would be “baptized with the Holy Ghost” in Acts 1:5. Further explanation of this baptism of the Spirit is found in 1 Cor. 12:12-13. By the baptism of the Spirit, every Christian has been placed into the body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit would come to indwell them, John 14-16-17 and notice these words of the Savior which pointed forward clearly to their fulfillment in Acts 2:4 when the Holy Spirit, Who had been with them, would thereafter be in them—“for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” The distinctive mark of a Christian is that he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit would come to empower them. Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8 were fulfilled in the experience of these first disciples in Acts 2:4—and we only have to read through the Book of Acts to see how wonderfully these early Christians were empowered when now the Holy Spirit indwelt them.