“Be Ye Enlarged”

Ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME … unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Many a time we must have marvelled at the favour shown to those eleven Galileans to whom the Lord Jesus showed Himself after His resurrection from the dead, by many infallible proofs. And we may have wished that we could have been with them and listened to His own voice speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Well, we should not have been alive today if we had been there, and I am inclined to think that the last days of the church’s history on earth are as important as the first, and to have part in the final victory and to greet our Lord at His coming again will be as great a favour as it must have been to have had part in the first great move against the forces of the foe.

Not only this, but I apprehend that all that has gone before, and which is recorded in the Bible, is an inheritance upon which we have entered, and which we may hold fast and enjoy. We may put ourselves, for instance, alongside those disciples as they assembled with their Lord, and listen to His words along with them, and study them. We may see the effect upon them of His victory over death, and His presence with them, and learn the good and right way in the final instructions and commandments that He gave them.

They were happy men, of this we can have no doubt, and triumphant men eager to tell the glad news of God’s signal vindication of His well-beloved Son, and I have thought that they were also impatient men. This comes out in their question, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” There was not a doubt in their minds as to His kingly rights, and they expected Him to take the throne. He had conquered death, and surely no other foe could stand in His way. Yet, why did He not do it? Why the delay? Why waste forty days when Jerusalem might lie at His feet and the land ring with His fame? Surely the time had come to make Israel great in the earth.

Ah, they had much to learn, and needed to be greatly enlarged. Yet they were teachable, and obedient, and bowed before His wisdom, and were ready to await His way and will. Blessed men they were. We owe much to them. Yet at first they had limited thoughts of His greatness. They thought only of the throne of Israel, when the Father had no less a place for Him than His own right hand. Their horizon stretched out from Dan to Beersheba, but the story of His glory was to be carried to the uttermost part of the earth. “The uttermost part of the earth” were the last words they heard from His lips.

They looked up steadfastly into heaven when He was taken up from them, and no wonder. What could His ascension to heaven mean for Him and for them? It meant that God “had raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand, far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also that which is to come and had put all things under His feet” (Eph. 1:20-22). They learnt this glorious fact when the Holy Spirit came upon them and dwelt in them, and meanwhile they were assured that He would come back again; they would see Him again—“this same Jesus” and not another.

We may stand with them in thought and look up there also, and see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, and how the heart thrills at the glorious knowledge that He is thus acknowledged and exalted. And we may look for His return as they did, for the coming of the Lord draws nigh. Between these great events His departure and return, we see them: obedient, for they tarried in Jerusalem, and were together of one heart and one mind, loving one another, according to His word; dependent, for they continued in prayer. And in these things they showed their love to Him, and He fulfilled His awn word to them—“If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:15-16). So they were empowered to be His witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth.

We know that our Lord has been raised up to the highest place, and that His fame must be spread abroad to the widest circle, and that the greatest power has come from on high to bear witness to the honour that heaven has given Him, and of His worthiness to be trusted by every creature under heaven. We feel that the Holy Spirit must often be grieved and quenched because in spite of our knowledge we have such narrowness of heart and such limited views of Christ and His greatness. We are so ready to confine Him within geographical or ecclesiastical bounds, when the Holy Spirit would enlarge us and make us overflow in the triumphant knowledge of the greatness of Christ and His all-sufficiency for all saints and for sinners to the uttermost part of the earth. The grace of God that shines in the face of Jesus, shines for all. The Bride that is to share His throne and glory must be gathered out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.

The work is almost done. For nearly two millenniums the Holy Spirit has continued His labour with an unwearied devotion, and He will finish it, and the Bride of the Lamb shall be presented all glorious and perfect to the heavenly Lamb. And we may have a blessed part in the labours of the Holy Spirit just at the close. Abraham’s servant who went forth to bring Rebekah to Isaac, did not go forth alone, we read “the men that were with him”. Deeply interested, we may be sure they were in his mission, and ever ready to do as he might direct them; they were his companions and helpers, bearing witness to the truth of every word that he uttered in Rebekah’s ear. The disciples of Jesus were the men that were with the Holy Ghost when He came forth first on His great mission; honoured men, faithful men they were. And now that the mission is almost completed, we may be the men that are with Him, working with Him, in communion with His mind and ways, being vessels of His testimony that He bears to the risen and glorified Lord. But if we are to be the men that are with Him our hearts and our vision must be enlarged. We cannot imprison the Holy Spirit within our little sects and bind Him with fetters to our carnal prejudices.

Yes, the favour of having part in the closing days of this period of grace is very great, and the sphere of our affection and faith is in no wise less than that at the beginning. If those first disciples looked upon their Lord chiefly as the root and offspring of David, who would bring in the day of glory, we know Him as the Bright Morning Star, sure pledge of that coming day. And as the light of His glory and grace shine into the heart what other response can it make but the cry of “Come”? It is the cry in which the Spirit and the Bride are in full concert. But some hearts are sleeping; there are those whom He loves, and who will be caught up at His coming who do not know of that coming, and others who know but are indifferent. Can those who are awake be satisfied with this? Nay, nothing will satisfy the faithful heart, but that all whom the Lord loves should be joining in this Spirit-horn cry, “Let him that hears say, Come.” All the saints must join in the cry. It is a day of good tidings and we do not well to hold our peace, we must go and tell them of the soon-coming Lord. Nor can the bride rest satisfied in knowing that she is on the eve of the consummation of all her hopes, there are those on every hand who have tried the world and, proved that it cannot satisfy, and she has an answer to all thirst—it is CHRIST—“Let him come unto Me and drink.” And finally the uttermost part of the earth is called afresh into fullest blessing. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. It is the last word of Divine love to a needy world ere the Holy Spirit puts His Amen to the Divine Word. Oh, that it may stir our hearts and deliver us from our littleness, and compel us to drop our poor thoughts for God’s thoughts, and lift our eyes to our glorified Lord and carry our thoughts and our energies outward to the uttermost parts of the earth.

J. T. Mawson