Present Truth

By E.J. Waggoner

One of the most intensely interesting occasions for the disciples of the Master was when He, their Saviour and Lord, "was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight." He had given "many infallible proofs" of His resurrection, "being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Acts 1:3. Before His death He had instructed them concerning His return to the Father. That knowledge had brought grief and sadness to their troubled hearts. But He did not leave them without hope: "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

Absorbed with the idea of the immediate establishment of His kingdom, they were poorly prepared to grasp all the truth He tried to set before them. They thought that the right was His to reign as king; they desired that He should be king, and they were ready to give Him the homage of loving hearts. But a little later we see their King a helpless victim on Calvary's cross, and their hopes dying within them. But now the scene has changed. The bands of death have been broken, and He that was dead is alive again, and is once more with them. They hear His own sweet voice; they listen to the gracious words that fall from His lips; and by His resurrection they were begotten "again unto a lively hope." 1 Peter 1:3. He bade them go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, but how little did they comprehend the meaning of all that! "Lord, wilt thou at this time," said they, "restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6. "Ye shall receive power," said He, "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."

In this commission He entrusted to them, and through them to us, a mighty work to be accomplished--a work beyond the power of man to perform. He bade them go; the command was imperative; but, thanks be to His dear name, before the command was the promise of power to perform it. "Ye shall receive power" and then you can "be witnesses unto Me." Acts 1:8. St. Matthew presents the same thought and in precisely the same order. "Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,...and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Why were they to go? Because He had commanded it. How were they to fulfil this high and holy commission, and do this work which was beyond man's power to perform? The answer is found in this, that He had promised to be with them till the end, and He who made the promise possessed all power, and had said, "Ye shall receive power" and "ye shall be witnesses unto Me." "And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight."

Shortly before this He bade them tarry "in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." But now what a spectacle is this! He, their great Leader in whom they trusted, is "taken up" and a cloud received "Him out of their sight," and they--they so poor and weak and erring--are left to carry on the mightiest work ever committed to mortals. I do not wonder that those disciples tarried in Jerusalem, and prayed till the day of Pentecost came; for just in proportion as they felt that the command to do the work was imperative, so must they have realised that Divine power would be a necessity. And when in response to their prayers and their faith, that power came and they rehearsed before the people the recent scenes of Calvary, and presented in its simplicity the Gospel of Christ, the effect of that power was seen in the conversion of three thousand souls on that same day. And the same power which existed then exists still, and awaits the demands of the people of God today. Personal consciousness on our part that without Him we can do nothing, and a self-surrender to His will, is the pathway that leads to success in the work assigned us; and the result will be the salvation of souls, and glory and honour to His name who has promised to endue His servants with power from on high.