This meditation by Rev. Gerrit Vos on the meaning and blessings of the wonder of Pentecost was first published in The Standard Bearer (vol.32, Issue 17, June 1, 1956).
"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever."
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
There is a sharp contrast between the behavior of Christ's disciples before and after Pentecost.
Before Pentecost, and especially the last night of Jesus' presence among them, their hearts are troubled.
And it is not difficult to know the reason why their hearts are troubled.
They looked upon Christ as the God-given deliverer from the Roman yoke of oppression. Any day now, Jesus will take the government upon His shoulders and usher in a reign that shall vie with the reign of King Solomon.
But how disappointing was Jesus' behavior that last day He was among His disciples!
Acting like a common slave, He had risen from the supper, laying aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself, and pouring water into a basin, He washed the disciples' feet. (A beautiful picture of His subsequent work on the cross!)
Moreover, He had prophesied that one of their number would betray Him; another would deny Him; and all of them would be offended in Him.
But most of all, the announcement that He would leave them, had troubled their hearts.
And especially, when He told them, how the rulers would take Him, crucify Him, and kill Him.
Oh yes, they were troubled in their hearts.
But now look at them at the day of Pentecost!
They are with one accord in one place. They are filled with the Holy Ghost. They are full of the quietness and the confidence of faith. And they prophesy. Oh, how they prophesy!
Within the space of less than two months they understand the Holy Scriptures. Attend to the sermon of Peter on the New Testament Pentecostal day. Everything is clear to them. They are not troubled in their hearts anymore.
They are thoroughly comforted, although Jesus is departed from them. They are thoroughly comforted, even though they must suffer stripes for Jesus' sake.' Far from being troubled, when they return from such scourging, they rejoice greatly that they are counted worthy to suffer for the Name of Jesus.
No, Jesus is not with them anymore. He comforted their hearts while He was among them.
But another comforter had come: the Holy Ghost.
And He had come as the fulfillment of prophecy. Christ had promised them in John 14:16: "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that He may abide with you forever."
Comforter! That name is significant. In the original Greek it means one who is called alongside in order to defend: an advocate, a lawyer for the defense.
And it tells us in what sense the Holy Spirit is the comforter of God's people.
Christ is still our comforter, but He is in heaven. And there He is our advocate with the Father. He has entered in the heavenly tabernacle, behind the veil, and there He applies His great work of redemption.
And He does so on the basis of the cross, His substitutional work of salvation for all those that are the given of the Father.
But the Holy Ghost represents the cause of God and of Christ with us. Christ had said that He would not leave us comfortless, and hence, He had sent the Holy Spirit in our hearts, so that He could plead the cause of God before the court of our conscience.
Already in the Old Testament He had done so in the objective sense of the word. The entire Old Testament Scriptures is the product of the Holy Spirit. It is the revelation of the cause of God in Christ. And in the New Testament we find the completed image of Christ through the apostles' testimony.
But the Holy Spirit also does this subjectively in our hearts.
By nature we never embrace this cause of God in Christ: we are enemies of it.
But when the Holy Spirit comes with this testimony we needs must submit to it: it is irresistible. And we are regenerated by it; we are recipients of new eyes, ears, understanding, in short, we receive spiritual sense organs by which we are able to lay hold of the entire cause of God in Christ, and are wonderfully comforted.
How does He comfort us? First, by presenting to our sight the enormity of sin, guilt and death. Second, by presenting before our wondering eyes the riches of Christ, and how those riches fit our poor and bitter need. Third, by placing before the eyes of the Church the wonderful victory, where the very enemies of the Christian must needs help to bring us to everlasting glory in the bosom of the Father.
That is the work of the other comforter: who came on that first New Testament Pentecost.
All these glories became history on Pentecost.
Yes, they were all with one accord in one place. We do not know for sure where that place was, and it makes no difference. It was in Jerusalem, and that was proper. Salvation is from the Jews. Jerusalem is destined to be broadened into all the nations of the earth.
And suddenly there came from heaven the sound as of a rushing mighty wind.
How beautifully significant!
The Holy Spirit's name is "wind" in the Hebrew. And Jesus had told His church why the Spirit is likened unto the wind in the night when Nicodemus visited Him. We hear the sound thereof, but we do not know whence He cometh or whither He goeth. It is the irresistible force, the mysterious and the compelling.
And then that rushing power!
When the moment in the counsel came that the Church would live henceforth through her Head, God was in a hurry. He rushed to the earth in order to bathe the Church in the love of God. For does not Paul say that hope maketh not ashamed for that the love of God is spread abroad in our hearts through the Holy Ghost that is given unto us?
And then came the sign of the cloven tongues as of fire which sat upon each of them.
Fire is the sign of cleansing, sanctifying, purifying, but also to the consuming wrath of God for the wicked.
In the present application it refers to the fact that from henceforth the Holy Spirit shall inhabit the church universal in order to sanctify her and make her clean within.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.
That was different from the Old Testament times.
In the Old Testament there were dispensations of the Spirit, but only in the manner of drops. But now this Spirit came as a flood. Then there were some prophets, priests and kings who were bathed in that Spirit, while in the New Testament it would bathe the whole constituency of the Church, including the slaves, the children, the old men and women, and the youth.
And they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Babel is healed. Then the tongues made confusion; now these tongues breed unity and harmony. Then they tended to drive men apart; now they unite men in the praises of God.
Praises of God, for we read that the one topic of the day is "the wonderful works of God." Verse 11.
And what are these works? They are the work of salvation for the elect: they are united in their Head through the Holy Spirit; and the rejection of the reprobate: they say with a sneer: These men are full of new wine. Horrors!
But the Church is comforted through the Holy Ghost.
And all this glory came through Jesus who would pray the Father.
You understand that the human nature, of Christ is placed on the foreground here, for the Son of God never prays to the Father.
And "Father" here means the Triune God, the Son included.
Well, He prayed to His Father in Heaven, and He heard His prayer. Pentecost is the result.
And in and through this Holy Ghost, Christ and His Church are united. He in the bosom of the Father, receiving all the benefits and blessings of His labors, but sending them to the church on earth through the Holy Spirit who leads us in all the truths of salvation.
And the great purpose of this all is that He, that is, the Father, may abide with you, that is, the Father, may abide with you, that is, the Church, forever.
And that, my dear friends, is the covenant of God.
To abide is a rich term. It specifies a place where you feel at home, where you may rest and be comfortable. And this is the gospel of God: He is pleased to make our hearts, our souls, our spirits and our bodies a sanctuary for His glorious Name—Jehovah with us for evermore.
That preposition in the Greek denotes a rich relationship. It means to go towards. There always will be that wonderful tendency in the Godhead to go towards us, to draw near to us, to ever approximate us in the house of God with its many mansions.
With specifies harmony and agreement.
Do we not say often: "Are you with me?" And you know what depth of thought is in that question?
Well, God is with us, dear reader. Pentecost is the blessed proof—proof of His rest in our hearts—the enjoyment of the heavenly, eternal Sabbath.
Rev. Gerrit Vos was born in Sassenheim, the Netherlands on November 1, 1894. He died in Hudsonville, Michigan on July 23, 1968.
Rev. G. Vos received instruction in the PR Seminary and was ordained into the ministry in September 1927. He served churches in Sioux Center, Iowa (1927-1929); Hudsonville, Michigan (1929-1932) and again in 1948-1966. He was pastor at Redlands, California (1932-1943) and in Edgerton, Minnesota (1943-1948). He retired in 1966.
The Rev. G. Vos was very eloquent in preaching and extremely descriptive in his writings. One sermon remembered well at Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church was that preached the Sunday after a devastating tornado roared through the city in 1956. That sermon was later presented in the Standard Bearer as a meditation.
Three books of his meditations have been printed by the Men's Society of the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church and later reprinted by the Reformed Book Outlet of Hudsonville, Michigan.