The Outpouring of Pentecostal Power
September 27th, 1981 @ 10:50 AM
THE OUTPOURING OF PENTECOSTAL POWER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-27-81 10:50 a.m.
And we rejoice no less with the uncounted multitudes of you who are worshipping with us on radio and on television. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Outpouring of Pentecostal Power, in Acts chapter 1, verse 8, just before the Lord ascended into heaven and the shekinah glory, called a cloud, looked like a cloud; the shekinah glory, the garments of God, received Him back from whence He came. Just before His ascension into heaven [Acts 1:9], our Savior said, Acts 1:8: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me in” Dallas, our “Jerusalem,” “in Judea,” our state of Texas; “in Samaria,” our nation of America; “and unto the uttermost part of the earth,” our tremendous mission outreach program.
God has written two books, tremendous books. One in His book of creation, you see His signature in every vast, omnipotent expression of His incomparable power; the sky, studded with stars; the chalice of the heavens above us that declare His glory. God’s book open before us in the creation of the earth; the fields, the meadows, the oceans, the mountains, the continents, the seas. This is God’s great book of creation. God wrote another Book; the Book of His Self-revelation. In this Book, He tells us His name, what He is like; His revelation of His marvelous goodness and grace to us. This is God’s other Book. In the books of God, there and here, we see God’s laws and God’s facts. They are seen in His book of creation and in His Book of Self-revelation. There are tremendous creative laws and facts. There are no less spiritual laws and facts. There are natural laws and facts. There are spiritual laws and facts.
A law and a fact is something that is repeatable and demonstrable. If it is not that, it is not a law, it is an idiosyncrasy or an aberration; but if it is a factual law, it is demonstrable, it is repeatable. In the world of physics, any scientist anywhere can take a test tube and place in it, for example, hydrogen and oxygen, set it to a spark, and it will create H2O; hydrogen and oxygen, water. That’s a demonstrable fact. In the world of physics, you can fill a balloon with air and open it, and it will propel itself furiously backward. That’s a demonstrable fact, a demonstrable law. And they take it in these jet planes and heating that air tremendously and then allowing it to expel itself, it thrusts the airplane furiously forward. That’s a demonstrable fact. That’s a demonstrable law. As you have those facts and laws that God made that are demonstrable in the created world of astronomy, or physics, or medicine, or sociology, or chemistry; so you have demonstrable, repeatable facts in the world of God’s revelation, in the world of the spiritual power of the Holy Ghost.
There was a tremendously gifted evangelist of the last century, a lawyer who was marvelously converted by the name of Charles G. Finney, I suppose one of the most successful evangelists that ever lived. He wrote a book, he just entitled it Lectures. They are lectures on revival. And the thesis of the book is this; as there are laws of the harvest which, if a farmer will follow, he will reap a reward. So, he says, there are laws of the spiritual harvest which, if the people follow and obey, will be no less a reward in a harvest. The only difference, Charles G. Finney says, that sometimes a farmer will fail. There will be a drought, or there will be an infestation of worms or weevils. But in the law of the spiritual harvest, he says, it will never fail. When we follow the revelation of God, the demonstrable laws of the spiritual harvest, you never fail. So this morning in the brief moment that abides, we are going to look at some of these laws of the spiritual harvest that are here revealed in the Word of God. And, as I say, if we follow them, they are demonstrably, repeatably the same. They result in a glorious reward, in a harvest, in a great revival, a Pentecostal outpouring.
The first one is this: they prayed together. In Acts 1:14 it says, after it names these apostles [Acts 1:13], “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.” Isn’t that unusual that Dr. Luke puts in the women and with Mary the mother of Jesus? [Acts 1:14] Well, it is that kind of religion. Christianity is a religion of mother, and of wife, and of children, and of women, just as it is with men. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication [Acts 1:14]. So when I read of the continuing ministry of the church in Acts 2:42: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”’ so the first that I see in these demonstrable, repeatable laws of the harvest, the laws of God, is the law of prayer.
That little band, a little handful of them, had a commission to conquer, to evangelize the whole world [Acts 1:8]. They had no guns and no tanks. They had no planes, no armies, no navies. They had no prestige. They had no social standing. They had no political power. They had a Savior and a promise [Acts 1:11]. And they resolved on two things; they were going to stay together and pray together; and as they stayed together and prayed together [Acts 1:14], and while they prayed together and stayed together, the power of God was poured out upon them [Acts 2:1-4]—the demonstrable fact, the law of prayer and intercession.
Let us start there with an acknowledged and stated and recognized fact. Lord, we have no ableness in ourselves, but our eyes are fixed upon Thee. We cannot do it, Lord. You must do it. God must help us. We are dependent upon Thee and cast ourselves upon Thee. I feel that so often. The smallest, littlest child brought to me, seeking the Lord, I cannot convert the soul of that child; only God who created the little child can recreate, born into the kingdom the soul and the spirit of the child. So it is with all of our efforts before God. We are cast upon the Lord. It has to be of Him.
I sometimes review that dramatic story of Elijah in the eighteenth chapter of 1 Kings. On Mt. Carmel, in a day of universal apostasy, the prophet gathered the prophets of Baal, four hundred fifty of them, and he the lone representative [of] Jehovah God, and he gathered all Israel together [1 Kings 18:19-20]. And after raising the altar on the top of the mount, he invited the prophets of Baal to pray fire down from heaven. They prayed and shouted all day long. They cut themselves. They jumped on the altar. They did everything they knew to do, and there was no answer from heaven [1 Kings 18:20-29]. I sometimes think of us like that.
We pray, “Oh, oh, genius of man, send the fire, send the fire.” Or we pray, “Oh, publicity send the fire.” Or we pray, “Oh, methods and approaches, send the fire.” Or we pray, “Oh, marvelous sermons, send the fire.” And there is no fire that falls. Then the story in the eighteenth chapter of 1 Kings says, that at the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah knelt down on his knees, and he said, “Hear me, O God, hear me,” [1 Kings 18:36-37]. And the next verse says, “And the fire fell” [1 Kings 18:38]. That is the first demonstrable, repeatable law of the harvest. We must cast ourselves upon God. God must help us. In answer to supplication and intercession, “Lord, hear” [1 Kings 18:36]. And He does. He is a prayer answering and a prayer hearing God [1 Kings 18:38].
Will you notice the second thing? It says here that they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ didachē, didachē [Acts 2:42]. We have an English word, “didactic”; didachē, teaching, revelation of God. And the word that Dr. Luke uses here, translated, “they continued steadfastly,” is about as strong a word as those Greeks could put together—proskarterountes; a present participle, continuous action from proskartereō. That means they set themselves with intensest adherence to the revelation of God, the doctrine of God, the Holy Scriptures, the Word of the Lord [Acts 2:42]. The obverse of that is inevitable. When you depart from it, you lose your unction. You lose your power. You lose the blessing and the outpouring of the Spirit of God. They proskarterountes, they persistently adhered steadfastly to the revelation of the truth of God in the Holy Scriptures. I look at that sometimes in amazement.
There is a little city on the other side of the river. I was called, asked to be pastor of the First Baptist Church in that city about forty-five years ago. I have always had an interest in it. The First Baptist Church in that city has in attendance now of about one hundred fifty. And right beyond, in the same city, there is a Baptist church that has an attendance every Sunday of at least ten thousand.
And you ask, “What is the difference?” And the difference is obvious. The pastor of the First Baptist Church in that city is a liberal. He believes the Bible, maybe. He picks it out in certain spots—this is inspired, but this is not inspired. The pastor of the other church is a man who believes the Word of God, syllable by syllable, and preaches it in power. I think of another church over there on the other side of the river. I visited with their pastor two days ago. In that little city where he is, there is a First Baptist Church. And it has an attendance of about three hundred fifty on a good Sunday. On the other side of the town, where that preacher is the minister, they will have on any ordinary Sunday two thousand five hundred in attendance. And you ask, “What is the difference?” The difference is obvious. The pastor of the First Baptist Church is a liberal. He believes the Bible, maybe yes, maybe so, maybe not, maybe perhaps; as his own superior intellect dictates, he is smarter than God. But the pastor that I was visiting with in that same town has a tremendous church. When you consider the size of the city, it is unbelievable. Why? Because he continues proskarterountes; steadfastly, in the doctrine, the truth, the revelation of God in this Holy Book [Acts 2:42].
The Spirit of the Lord moves in these pages. It is God who dipped His pen in the blood of His own Son and wrote these syllables. It is the Spirit of God who inspired every syllable and every word, every chapter, every verse [2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21]. And it is the privilege of God’s children to read it. And in the beautiful prayer of the Wycliffe doctor, that it be “a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path” [Psalm 119:105]; that it show us the way to heaven, and that we walk in it in the light and the glory of the Lord. That is a demonstrable fact. When a man is true to the Word of God, God blesses him. God blesses the people. God blesses the church.
I don’t want to expatiate on that, but when I speak of a demonstrable fact, I can stand here in this pulpit and let us say I lecture on English literature. I majored in that in college, loved it. I would love to be a professor of English literature. Or say, I stand here and lecture on economics, or the political processes of a democratic republic, or anything you choose; I’d continue here for however long it was, and a diminishing crowd would be present to listen. My dear people, this is a demonstrable fact, a law of God. Had you been here at eight-fifteen, as Bill Grubbs was, making his recommendation, the house was full. Now, he comes and sits here at ten-fifty to make his same recommendation, and the house is full. And my brethren, next Sunday, I begin my thirty-eighth year. Can you believe that these dear people have been coming back, year after year after year? Listening to what? To what I think about politics, or literature, or economics, or sociology? No; just listening to a voice crying in the wilderness, an echo preaching the infallible Word of God, a demonstrable fact. We must hasten.
Let’s take a third one, one of the demonstrable factual laws of God, laws of the harvest. It says here in verse  that “They continued daily . . . breaking bread from house to house” [Acts 2:46]. And in the last verse of chapter 5 it says, “And daily in the temple, and in every house,” Acts 5:42, “daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus the Christ”; every day from house to house.
I would suppose that one of the greatest ministries in all of Christendom is that of Paul’s in the Greek city of Ephesus, the capital of the Roman province of Asia, a tremendously beautiful Greek city. That is where the temple of Artemis was built; one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But in that city, that city, Paul turned the whole city to Christ and all Asia to the Lord [Acts 19: 8, 10, 18-20]. In those days the seven churches of Asia were established [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. It was a tremendous ministry.
Well, it would be natural, I would think, to say, “How did Paul do that? How did Paul do it?” Well, it is natural to think, “Man, Paul, he must have been a tremendous personality. He must have had a majestic presence, a stentorian voice.” Well, if you read your Bible, Paul writes what the people said about him when they saw him and heard him. In the second [letter] of Corinthians, in chapter 10, verse 10, Paul quotes what they said about him. They said “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” [2 Corinthians 10:10]. Now when you think of Paul as being some gigantic, tremendous, magnetic, majestic personality, I don’t know. I am just quoting what Paul said the people said about him when they heard him. “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” That’s what they said.
Well, then how did a man who is bodily weak, and without eloquence, and his speech contemptible; how did he turn all Asia to the Lord? He tells us. In the twentieth chapter of the Book of Acts, calling the elders from Ephesus down to the seashore at Miletus, he describes his ministry [Acts 20:17-18]. And in Acts 20, verse 31 he says, “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears” [Acts 20:31]; verse 20, “showing you, publicly, and from house to house, testifying to anybody who lived in the house, whether he is a Jew or whether he is a Greek, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” [Acts 20:20-21]. That’s how he did it, “For three years,” he says, “day and night, he went from house to house with tears” [Acts 20:31, 20], pleading the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a demonstrable law, a factual, repeatable law.
While I was pastor of a village church, there came from a community down the way, in the Nob country, there came a committee from a community and said to me, “The nails fasten our church door to the wall. We don’t have any church anymore, but our community is filled with young people. Would you come and preach to us at least once a month on Sunday afternoon?”
I said, “I will.” And I started there. I took a young fellow, who grew up in the community, and I asked him to go with me, and I started down every road, beginning at the church, down every road. And we stopped at every house. And I said to the young fellow, “When you knock at the door and somebody answers, you introduce me to them. I am the preacher down there at the church. And then I’m going to say, ‘Are you Christians here in this house?’ And if they say, ‘Yes.’ I’m going to say, ‘May I come in and read God’s Word and pray with you?’ But if they say, ‘No, we are not Christians here.’ Then I’m going to say, ‘May I come in and show you the way to heaven, how to be saved and then pray with you?’”
So we started down every road. We stopped at every house. We knocked at every door. I read the Scripture, and I prayed with every family. Dear people, when I stood up to preach in the church, you couldn’t get in it. You couldn’t get in it. You could hardly get in the yard. And we had the biggest baptismal service in Barren River that that part of the earth ever saw. It is a demonstrable fact. It’s a law of God. When we go, they come: “From house to house, with tears, testifying repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” [Acts 20:20-21].
We have a moment for one other, the demonstrable laws of God of the harvest: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread” [Acts 2:42]. And then he repeats it again in verse 46: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house” [Acts 2:46]. They ate together all the time. That word “fellowship” is the translation of the word koinōnia, koinōnia; translated “communion,” translated “fellowship” [Acts 2:42].
I wish I could have attended one of those services and felt it. But if it is a demonstrable fact, if it is a repeatable law, we can have the same thing, just exactly. All of the great convocations of the Old Covenant, of the Old Testament, all of them were feasts; all of them except one. One day in the year they have atonement [Leviticus 16:1-34]. Today they call it Yom Kipper. The feasts of Israel begin in the fall time, tomorrow. All of them were feasts. The people came together and they ate together. And it was at one of those feasts, the Feast of the Passover [Exodus 12:1-28, 43-49; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 28:16; Deuteronomy 16:1-8], that the Lord instituted the Supper, the Memorial Supper, the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup [Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. And they used that phrase, “the breaking of bread,” to refer to the convocation of God’s people in koinōnia, in communion or fellowship [Acts 2:42]. It is a beautiful thing. How simple. The heart of the Memorial is simply to eat broken bread and to drink from the fruit of the cup; a simple thing, but a side of a precious koinōnia, a wonderful fellowship.
One time when I was in Israel, my personal guide was a hardened Israeli soldier. He had been there from the beginning. He’d fought through every war. Well, somewhere—and I cannot remember where in Israel, we sat down with about oh, half a dozen of his old friends. The table was about that high, and we sat on the floor; and—I presume—as they did in the New Testament, leaning on our arms and eating.
Well, the way they began was this: in the center of the table—it was a round table—in the center of the table, there was a stack of the loaves of bread. They were also round, about like that, and mostly flat. They were round about like that, and had a stack of about a half a dozen of them there. And this is the way it began. One of those men picked up—from the other side of the table from me—one of those men picked up the top loaf, and reaching toward me, he said, “My brother, would you break bread with me?” They are my brethren. I got this Bible from them. My Savior came from them. “My brother,” he said to me, “would you break bread with me?” And I reached my hand and took this side of the loaf, and we broke the bread together. And then we shared it with the people, with those who were eating with us.
There is a sweetness and a preciousness and a tenderness that God intends for His people. It’s wonderful. I was glad when they said let us go to church [Psalm 122:1]. Let us meet with God’s saints. It is strength for the way, an encouragement through the day. And that is why I sought in our revival meeting, just one time, just to see how God blesses; the New Testament church was characterized, when you study it—and I haven’t time to go through it—when you study it, the agape feast, agape feast, the love feast of the New Testament church was one of a tremendous characteristic. The people constantly were together, breaking bread, in agape, in love feasts.
And that’s why it is that I thought for our revival, every night, before the meeting, we are going to invite the whole world to come and to break bread with us. We will cover that entire street there with a big tent from Ervay to St. Paul, and from Old San Jacinto to New San Jacinto. We are going to have round tables so that we can get acquainted. I announced, to begin with, that I was going to pay for the meal myself and everybody that came, it would be free for them. One of the dear members of the church heard it and said, “Well, I want to help you.” It’s free. Just come. Bring your family. Bring your neighbors. The whole city come; the whole creation of God come, and we will break bread together.
And if you come early, say at five-thirty, and are finished, come into the sanctuary, and David Humphrey will have an old-time gospel singing and gospel music here in the sanctuary until we begin at seven o’clock. But it is a gesture. My brother, we are interested in you, and your family, and your home, and your heart, and your life, and your work. We are interested in you. For Jesus’ sake, we love you, pray for you. Our hearts go out to you. And we invite you to come and to share God’s goodness and grace with us. Come, and welcome. Now may we stand together?
Our Lord in heaven, our hearts overflow when we think of the goodness of God to us. Even though some of us may have difficult times and insoluble problems to face, yet the Lord fit for each one of us His blessing. The wind is tempered to the shorn lamb. God does not lay upon us any burden we are unable to bear. God always intends and purposes some good thing for us [Romans 8:28]. And if we are sick, God is just teaching us to lean upon Thy kind arm. And if there are heartaches, God is just showing us that He is our hope and our refuge. Lord, Lord, had we a thousand lives to dedicate to Thee, it would be too short a time. We just pray that through all eternity we may live in Thy presence; bow before Thee, sing Thy praises, speak of Thy loving kindness. O God, how wonderful Thou art to us. And we pray that the sweet communion and fellowship of the church can be felt by even a passerby, a stranger in our midst; the love of God in Christ Jesus that passeth all understanding, ours to enjoy, to share, to possess forever and ever. Thank Thee, Master, for every good thing You give us, in Thy precious name, amen, amen.
While we stand in the presence of the Lord, if you would like to come down the aisle and in a special way tell God how thankful you are that He has been so good to you, bless your heart to do it; there is a little wicker basket there, a little wicker basket there, you come if you would like to, and then you can go back to your seat. It is just something beyond; just loving Jesus; just thanking God. If you give your heart to the Lord, come here and stand with us; to put your life in the fellowship of our wonderful church, you come and stay here with us; to answer any call of the Spirit in your heart, you come and welcome. Do it now, while we sing, while we wait.