THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER
"I will pray the Father…and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth: Whom the world cannot receive.” John 14:16-17
In the final charges delivered to the apostles, Christ distinctly commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but "to wait for the promise of the Father." (Acts 1:4) Here is the same thought, uttered by the Lord Himself, and here also He distinctly tells them when the promise was made, "which, said He, ye heard from Me." Thus it is evident that we are approaching an explanation of this statement. Christ had promised the Spirit, and He had done that in the name of the Father, for Whom He ever spake to men. Is there no definite account of His having made such a promise? Most assuredly there is an account, which is not only definite, but also detailed, and it is to be found in the Paschal discourses, which are recorded by John alone. "I will pray the Father…and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth: Whom the world cannot receive.” (John 14:16-17) “But the Comforter even the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name." (John 14:26) "When the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father." (John 15:26) Thus in view of His approaching Cross, and in preparation of His disciples for the days when He in bodily form should be no more with them, He declared that in answer to His prayer, and in His Name, the Father would send them another Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Nothing is more evident in reading these discourses than the quiet majestic confidence of Christ. "I will enquire of the Father." “He will send you." “The Father will send in My name." "I will send you from the Father." That is the promise of the Father, and when the One Who made the promise to the band of disciples, ascended into heaven, the Father recognized the prevailing plea of His presence there gave Him the Spirit that He might fulfill the promise to the waiting men upon the earth.
It is evident therefore that His reception of the Spirit was, as has been shown, not for Himself but for others. This however will be dealt with more fully subsequently. It would be sufficient to leave the statement at this point and yet that phrase “the promise of the Father" has more in it than is indicated by this answer. As the whole of the Old Testament economy had culminated in Christ, and as in His teaching He had fulfilled all that was symbolized and suggested in that economy, so His uttering of the promise of the Father concerning the Spirit was the explanation of a constant message, through the previous centuries, concerning A NEW DISPENSATION OF POWER. The seers and the prophets of the past all saw and spoke of a day full of light, full of force, a day of restoration that was yet to come. Through these prophets the Father had promised the Holy Spirit to men in larger, fuller measure than had ever been experienced. In the midst of the darkness that characterized the age in which these men of old had spoken, they had looked on towards the suffering Servant, Who was yet to be the all-conquering Deliverer, and stretching away beyond His day of suffering, they caught the light and glory of the dispensation of the Spirit.
One or two illustrations will suffice.
Isaiah, in lofty and terrible language is announcing the coming of judgment. He tells of woe and of desolation, and ends with a paragraph pulsating with hope, which begins with the words "until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest." (Isa. 32:15) Here the prophet, telling the message of Jehovah, promises the Spirit.
And yet again the same prophet, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up among the grass, as willows by the watercourses. One shall say, I am Jehovah's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto Jehovah, and surname himself by the name of Israel," (Isa. 44:3-5) again an inspired promise of the Spirit.
There remains the most radiant and remarkable foretelling of the Spirit's dispensation, which Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost itself. “I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered." (Joel 2:28-32) This is a pre-tribulational prophecy. Thus it is seen that the men who kept alive in the heart of the nation this spiritual hope, were men who served, and spoke in the hope of the coming of a new day, which should be a day of the poured out Spirit of God. Thus the promise which Jesus made in the Paschal discourses was the repetition of the promise made to the fathers by the prophets, by the One Who now not only promised, but was working towards the mighty consummation, which should consist in fulfillment.
In order to catch a true perspective, let this argument now be summarized. God, through the prophets in the past had promised the Holy Spirit to men, both Jew and Gentile. The Jews in their unbelief are yet to receive that promise. Belief in Christ brings that promise and one day they shall. The heroic souls hearing and seeing, declared to their age the gracious announcement, and yet passed away without seeing the day of which they spoke. In fullness of time the Messiah came. He accomplished the will of God, and at last, passing into the presence of God, claimed as the inevitable issue of His victory, the fulfillment of the Divine promise, made to, and through the prophets, and finally uttered by His own lips. In answer to that claim, God acting at once to Love and justice gave Him the Spirit. Through Him the dreams of the prophets moved into the realm of deeds.