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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 5 - Acts 2:12, 13 - Man's Reception of the Great Things of God Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


Here we have (1) the great things of God; (2) the impression made by them on man.

I. The great things of God. These great things are everywhere, for God is everywhere; and everywhere they produce much the same effects on man. There are the great things of the heavens above; the great things of earth and sea; the great things displayed in man himself the creature; the great things of the light and of the darkness, of the day and the night, of the storm and the calm, of summer and winter. There are also the great things recorded in his Word; the great things written in the Old Testament annals of Jehovah's doings; the great things of Paradise, of the deluge, of Sodom, of Egypt, of the Red sea, of the desert, of the land; the great things in the life of Abraham, of Jacob, of Moses, of Joshua, of Samson, of David, of Deborah, of Elijah, of Elisha, and of the prophets. These are all great things indeed. The mighty wonders of Jehovah; of him who is wonderful in working. All of them worthy of God. In the New Testament we have the great things of God; the great things of John Baptist's life, of Christ's life, of His disciples' ministry. These were all great things. But now at Pentecost begin newer and greater things; the greater things to which the Lord referred (John 14:12), to he done by His disciples because of His going to the Father; the great things of an ascended Christ; the great things of the Holy Ghost; the great things of men filled with the Spirit, and sent forth to do the works of God in ways unknown before. For now is Jehovah's arm made bare; now is His power revealed; now He worketh a new thing in the earth. God had frequently before stepped in to do a new thing in the earth; to break in upon "nature's laws"; to interrupt its sequences; to shew himself in new forms and with a new voice to man. Now at Pentecost he does this in a marvelous way. It is He himself that is working and speaking; He the mighty Jehovah; coming down among men to shew Himself; taking hold of their lips and their hearts; claiming man, and man's soul, and man's tongue, and man's world for Himself. Earth shakes beneath His descending footsteps. It is but an infant, yet that infant's arrival is the signal for commotion. All Jerusalem is moved; and the vibration from that center goes forth throughout the world. Truly great is our Jehovah, and of great power! He has not forsaken man nor man's earth. He shews himself more signally than by lightning, or thunder or earthquake, or tempest; even by the Holy Ghost. Yes, it is the Holy Ghost that is the great doer of those miracles which startle earth, and penetrate the deaf, dead ear of man. He, no less than Father and Son, is the Lord God Omnipotent, who reigneth in heaven above and in the earth beneath.

II. The impression made by them on man. Let us mark the various words used throughout the narrative regarding this. (1) They were "confounded" (verse 6) or perplexed; (2) "amazed" (verse 7, and again verse 12); (3) "marveled" (verse 7); (4) "in doubt" (verse 12), or hesitated, or were puzzled, saying, What means this? (5) "mocked" (verse 13) or derided and scoffed greatly. Such are the words used to denote the impression made by Pentecost, and the great things of God then wrought. There were different classes of men there, and different states of mind; some more serious, others more flippant; some more proud, others more humble; some more honest, others more crooked and oblique: the different classes and states of men may be reduced to three.

(1.) Wonder. Simple amazement, as that of men who gaze on something stupendous without drawing any conclusions, or thinking at all, or even asking, What does this mean? This takes in a large class of minds in all ages,—mere wonderers, perhaps admirers, of the "great things of God,"—no more. They are not led to think, nor broken down,—not humbled, hardly even solemnized. They exclaim, Wonderful! With that their religion begins and ends. They wonder, but believe not. They wonder, but love not. They wonder, but depart not from iniquity.

(2.) Perplexity. They know not what to think. They see and hear, and are puzzled. They ask, What meaneth this? Some of them do not stay to answer it, but conclude that all is mystery and uncertainty. Others do try to answer it, but get on wrong tracks; reasoning and philosophizing, instead of believing; trying rather to discern the difficulties of the case than its plainer features. Some love the perplexity, and hardly make an effort to deliver them selves from it. Others try in vain to extricate themselves, and "find no end, in wandering mazes lost." These "great things of God" were not meant to breed perplexity, nor to end in perplexity, yet how often do we find them doing both, through man's perversity, or cowardice, or love of sin and darkness. Perplexed spirit, look with honest eye at the great things of God. Look steadfastly. Light is yonder. Look and look again. The things are as clear and unambiguous as they are great.

(3.) Mockery. This is the worst, yet not the least common treatment which the great things of God receive at the hands of men. Yes, God and his great things are mocked at by man; his greatest things, such as the descent of the Spirit, most mocked at. The ways in which man attempts to explain away or account for the things of God, so as to excuse his believing them are very awful. When the Holy Spirit works in power, and by that exhibition of power confronts man face to face, man refuses to believe that it is God at all that is working. He resorts to various subterfuges or explanations. He ascribes it to excitement, to fanaticism, to ignorance, to folly, or even, as here, to drunkenness. How often have the great things of God thus been mocked! Thus the natural heart speaks out. Its unbelief gets vent to itself.

Let God's great things produce their due, their natural impression. Let us not resist that impression, but yield to it. God means that they should impress us. He speaks to us in love by them. He does not work them for mere show.

Let them overawe us. They were meant to do so. They were meant to solemnize us by their greatness; not to terrify, but to produce godly fear.

Let them break us down. Our hearts need breaking. And those things which produced conviction in Jerusalem were meant to do the same among us.

Let them lead us to faith. They were meant to furnish the basis of faith; to lead us to believe the greatness, the glory, and the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord. All the great things of God are in Him. He is the doer of them all. His name is "the mighty God."