Charles Vaughn - Visiting Worker, Maroota - 2012

Hymn 368, "Once I Wandered on in Darkness"


Acts 1:3, “To whom also He showed 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.”  I used to think this was talking about forty consecutive days.  John 20:19, you read about the first time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples in a Sunday morning meeting.  A week later, He showed Himself to them again and later He showed Himself to them a third time.  He was making use of His time in the course of those forty days, consecutive or on other occasions.

The disciples went through a terrible experience and lost their faith until Jesus made Himself alive to them again.  Now they had a lively hope in Jesus, their Lord and Saviour, and they were waiting for the Holy Spirit.  We trust in the Holy Spirit, we are a Spirit-led people and we follow a Spirit-led ministry.  If it weren’t so, we would be no different to anybody else in this world.  When Jesus was on the earth, people could reach out and touch Him, they went to Jesus in their distress and trouble to get things settled.  Then the time came when Jesus was not there but He promised another Comforter, the Holy Spirit of Truth.

John 14-16, three times Jesus refers to it as the Spirit of Truth.  That is the Spirit we seek after.  We don’t have Jesus in the flesh, but we have the Holy Spirit and we believe in that influence.  Jesus Himself was a sweet influence to His disciples, and the Spirit is that to us in our day.  We have been hearing about the ministry.  Jesus called twelve men from their occupations and sent them out to preach the Gospel.  For a little while they were with Him, and I am sure Jesus taught them a lot of things they needed to learn.  Then He sent them out on their own.  Just recently, I have been thinking about the Spirit being with these men. Other scriptures tell us that the Spirit was not yet given.  Acts 2:16, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass . . I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.”

Jesus said that the Spirit would not come unless He departed from them.  John 16:7, “For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”  Jesus was on the earth when He sent these men out preaching the Gospel, so what about a Spirit-led ministry?  1 Peter 1:10, “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”  The Spirit of Christ was in those holy men of God, teaching them and showing them about our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who would come.

We have Moses, Isaiah, Zechariah, David, and quite a few more to whom the Spirit showed Christ and the sufferings He would face.  Psalm 22 tells us very plainly the thoughts Jesus had as He hung on the cross.  Joseph and Mary were righteous people, chosen of God, as were Zacharias and Elisabeth.  Luke 2, the Holy Ghost revealed to Simeon that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ, and he came by the Spirit into the temple.  The Spirit of the Lord came to Samson’s aid and enabled him to get victory over the enemies of Israel.  The Spirit was alive and well in the Old Testament.  So, if God could give them the Holy Spirit, how much more so the ministers ordained by Jesus Himself, when they went out to preach the Gospel?

John 14:11, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me . . he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.”  Those greater works are the works of the Spirit, because Jesus gave His disciples power when they went out to preach the Gospel.  The greater work really is the work of salvation.  They did wonderful works but they all ended at the grave.  A lot of people who were partakers of those works weren’t always partakers of salvation, just having the natural work done in their lives.  He wanted those works to be used as a means to an end, so people could understand there is something more than being here to do good works.  Jesus wanted to do works for the soul but so often He was hindered; He couldn’t even enter into some towns because people thronged Him.

Luke 11:5, this was a long time before the resurrection.  Jesus was teaching His disciples about prayer, then He told the parable of the man who had a friend who came to Him at midnight for bread. Verse 6, “For a friend of Mine in his journey is come to Me, and I have nothing to set before him . . Though he will not rise and give him . . yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”  Jesus exhorted those who were listening to Him to pray.  Importunity just means troublesome persistence.  So, it is not just asking one time a week or one time a day.  That is being consistent.  But if you came and asked on the hour, every hour, you could imagine it would be troublesome.  That is what this man was doing.  He kept asking and knocking, and finally the door was opened and there was bread for him and his friend.  Troublesome persistence.

Jesus didn’t stop there.  Verse 11, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone . . How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”  This was before the resurrection and before the day of Pentecost.  So, Jesus was teaching how to get the Holy Spirit, and I believe it was available to those who wanted it.  God gave it to the Old Testament prophets and to the New Testament saints.  So, the disciples would not have been sent out without some sort of sustenance.

The Holy Spirit was poured out amongst men on the day of Pentecost; it seems that was the time the Holy Spirit came to stay.  They were supposed to wait in Jerusalem until they received this Holy Spirit of Truth.  I looked at some of these chapters in Acts with the thought of the Holy Spirit leading and directing His ministry.  Some scriptures were becoming very clear to the apostles, even regarding Judas.  They seemed to have no concept before, but now Peter was talking about Judas. Acts 1:16, “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas.”  I wondered if that wasn’t the help of God, helping him to understand scriptures that had been closed before.  The prophet Joel talked about lots of things too, that were opening up to them.  Then we read about the disciples doing an odd thing: they cast lots.  It was a way to determine a choice, maybe like taking the short straw.  Anyway, it was the means for the Lord to help people to understand His will.  We read about that extensively in the Old Testament, but this is the only time we read of it in the book of Acts.  After this, the Holy Spirit came and there was no more need to cast lots.

Acts 2:3, “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.”  A lot of people were in Jerusalem for the feast and they were amazed.  These Galilean men couldn’t have known these things.  Others mocked, but Peter got up and began to explain to them what was taking place.  It seems like this new out-pouring was now at work in Peter; it loosened his tongue and gave him understanding of the scriptures.  Verse 15, “'These are not drunken . . But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days,' saith God, 'I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall dream dreams.'”

Then in the next verse we read of “my servants and my handmaidens.” A change had taken place. The Spirit gives people an understanding that there is a God in heaven to serve and to worship.  So, their sons and daughters did something about it and they professed, as we say.  They did as we do; they went to meetings and spoke of what God had revealed, speaking as they were moved by the Spirit of God.  But sometimes the Spirit begins to convict and move people to go further than the step of being a saint, and now they become a servant.  God says, “This is not your son or daughter any more; it is my servant, it is my handmaiden.”  They respond to the call to go into the harvest field.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit too.  The Spirit works in different ways and speaks in different ways, and you see all of them in the book of the Acts.

So the scripture was opened to Peter and in that Gospel meeting 3000 people professed.  An explosion of converts!  Jesus never saw that.  Multitudes followed Him, but so few responded to the call of the Gospel.  The Spirit was being poured out and the apostles were responding with power.  Luke 24:49, “But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” They had already received power when Jesus first sent them out.  When you read these early chapters of the book of the Acts, you read that they had a very clear revelation about Jesus Christ, convincing people who were unbelievers.  Acts 6:10, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he (Stephen) spake.”  The people Stephen was talking to didn’t want to hear; he was speaking out of season. There is a time in season, and there is a time out of season.  It cost Stephen his life, but he had wisdom and they couldn’t refute it.

Acts 2:46, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 3, a great change came into the life of this man who couldn’t walk.  Verse 12, Peter just said, “Why marvel ye at this?  Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?”  Peter made it very plain that it was the work of the Holy Spirit.  So, this is a wonderful testimony and people were hearing and receiving and believing the same power that the apostles had been endowed with.

Acts 4:7, “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, 'By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?'”  You can be sure that when they were called before the high priest they had no idea what was going to be asked, but when they were asked, Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost and answered them.  It wasn’t his own power.  We heard already that he had no special learning, but the Holy Ghost gave him the power to answer.  It can do the same for you and me.  People ask you what you believe.  We have the aid of the Holy Spirit and it should enable us to answer of the hope that lies within us.  We don’t need to be ashamed of it. Sometimes we feel we do a poor job at answering people’s questions, but we have to trust that we have the Holy Spirit to lead us.

There were times when Jesus spoke and times when Jesus did not speak.  So the Holy Spirit can teach us the time to speak and the time to remain silent.  Maybe you have enjoyed reading something for the meeting, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, but by doing that you are not leaving much room for the Holy Spirit.  We can’t begin to guess what people need, but the Holy Spirit knows and we trust that. We want to be open, even while speaking, because some things we plan to say but do not say; some things we have no intention of saying but we say, and we wonder why we were moved to say that.  It is the Holy Spirit leading, even while you are giving your testimony.

Acts 5:1, “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price . . and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  This is another mark of the Holy Spirit.  It is the spirit of discernment.  Peter wouldn’t have known what was going on, but he had the Holy Spirit and it helped him to discern.  That is the way it is so often for us in the work and for you folks in the home life.  Many situations come up and if we didn’t have the discernment of the Holy Spirit, we could be going off in many different ways. That is not to say we are always in tune, but when we are in the Spirit, we can discern right judgement.  Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” There is more to it.  Jesus Himself used right judgement.  The Spirit is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  We can be a discerning people by having the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:2, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”  They began a journey, directed by the Holy Ghost.  Some places they wanted to go but the Holy Ghost wouldn’t let them go.  The Spirit closes doors and opens doors until we finally get to the place where people are waiting to be found.

Acts 15, they preached circumcision and it caused a lot of dissension among the believers.  It was part of the old law. What to do? They got together, elders and apostles, and went to Jerusalem.  Verse 6, “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter . . Peter rose up and said unto them, 'Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.  And God . . giving them the Holy Ghost . . and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.'” Peter got a revelation about preaching to the Gentiles, but there was much disputing and it doesn’t sound like a very profitable meeting.  So Peter spoke about the Holy Ghost and after he finished, Paul and Barnabas told them about the work they were able to do by the Holy Ghost.  After them, James got up and spoke to them.  It began with disputing but at the end they were all of one accord.  It all came about because the Holy Spirit was in the meeting and they were responding to it.

Verse 28, “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.” That is the correct order.  We listen, the Holy Ghost tells us and it seems good to us, too.  That is the consensus and the Holy Ghost will still do that for God’s people.  So, if we are responsive and open to the dealings of the Holy Spirit, there will be unity, there is no question about it.