Message of Stewardship 8
Pentecost and Stewardship
Taken from Ralph Cushman’s “The Message of Stewardship”
“Pentecost brought a new sense of God’s sovereign ownership, a greater vision of his unswerving purpose to make a new world of regenerated men, an intenser consciousness of a lofty calling to be fellow workers with Christ, a deeper abhorrence of sin, a more real sense of brotherhood, and a more joyous comradeship with God, together with a high indifference to pain or poverty or persecution, and an inner assurance of power to meet every demand, and to make certain the final victory.”
“The man who remarked ‘These Christians are the most unromantic of people,’ had never read the romance of the early church as told in the Acts of The Apostles. Elliott E. Mills in these splendid lines has suggested both the romance and the contrast: ‘O palefaced Theologian, whose soft hands And ink stained fingers never grasped the oar Or swung the hammer; weary with your books, How can your slumbering senses comprehend The breadth and virile purpose of the men Who bore their joyous tale through quickened lands To the great heart of Rome; the shipwrecked Paul, Wandering Ulysses-like to far-off isles, And barbarous peoples; or those peasant kings, Who ever mid voluptuous cities wore No mediaeval halo, but the air Of some free fisher battling with the wind That blows across the Galilean hills?’”
Mills wrote “Decline and Fall of the British Empire” in 1905. He refers to Gibbon’s “Fall” for the explanation, but you see and feel a man as we would be describing our present state in America. Here is a snippet of a poem he wrote: “” Men are we and must grieve when e’en the shade Of that which once was great has passed away.”
Pentecost was a call to battle. Think of Peter before and after; or Paul before and after.
“No, when the fight begins within himself, A man’s worth something: God stoops over his head, Satan looks up between his feet—both tug—He’s left, himself, in the middle; the soul wakes And grows. Prolong that battle through his life!” Robert Browning
Robert Browning had societies studying his work while he was still alive. He took to the London Times to expose Spiritism, which was having a field day, for what it was; a dark deception. “Caliban upon Setebos” is considered a critique of evolution. I read it; and I think my 21 century brain was able to see it.
After the resurrection; “they needed a still clearer conception of their task, and especially some heavenly power to energize them for their great commission. And Pentecost was God’s answer. They were filled with the Holy Ghost. Henceforth they were imitators of God in the dedication of self and substance of the regeneration of the world, and in their lives God reigned supreme. “Holy Spirit, all divine, Dwell within this heart of mine, Cast down every idol throne, Reign supreme, and reign alone.”
J. H. Jowett from “The Passion for Souls”: “I am deeply persuaded that, judged experimentally by our daily life and practice, much of the mental attitude and spiritual poise of the modern church is pre-Pentecostal, and that in this thin and immature relationship is to be found the secret of our common weariness and impotence.”
He was the working man’s pastor while the pastor at Carr’s Lane Congregational Church in Birmingham, England.
Look at the fatalism of Fitzgerald’s pagan poet: “Into this Universe, and Why not Knowing Nor whence, like water willy-nilly flowing; And out of it, as Wind along the waste, I know not Whither, willy nilly blowing”.
John 14:25-26 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Personal Association with God
“Pentecost strengthened the stewardship conviction in the disciples, by deepening the consciousness that they were God’s personal agents in the fulfillment of his ancient promises to the patriarchs and the prophets.”
Acts 2:16-21 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
“I regard the Pentecost at Jerusalem as the type and prophecy of Pentecost all through the history of the Church of God…So in this sense we are justified in looking for other Pentecost’s in history that shall not only be like the first Pentecost at Jerusalem but greater than that in results as that was greater in results than any work of the Spirit that went before.” Arthur T. Pierson
From Christianity.com: In 1639, a non-conformist preacher named Abraham Pierson landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts. One hundred and ninety eight years later, on this day, March 6, 1837, one of Abraham’s most illustrious descendants, Arthur T. Pierson, was born in New York City. He was the ninth of ten children. Like his forefather Abraham, he became a powerful preacher.
Pierson came to national attention in his exhortation for the church to take up missions at the turn of the century. You can feel that overcoming spirit in the quote above.
“While kings of eternal evil Yet darken the hills about, Thy part is with the broken sabre To rise on the last redoubt; To fear not sensible failure; Nor covet the game at all, But fighting, fighting, fighting, Die, driven against the wall.” Louise Imogen Guiney
A poet and essayist, she turned to essayist when her muse left her. (Speaking of spiritual things)
“The New Testament distinguishes between being born of the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit.”
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(His quoting of the scripture in the book can’t bring himself to mention the “tongues” part.)
“…first of all say there was a new courage in them! No longer did they huddle behind closed doors. Peter no longer followed Jesus ‘afar off.’ He ‘stood up’! And all of them began to speak ‘as the Spirit gave them utterance.’ All Jerusalem felt the power of their testimony. The promises of Jesus had come to pass: ‘Ye shall receive power’ and ‘ye shall be my witnesses.’ Now they had power to dare to speak, and they had something wonderful to tell. Pentecost had transformed them into stewards of the gospel. As Paul later said, ‘Let a man so account of us, as…stewards of the mysteries of God’ 1 Cor. 4:1.”
“Challenge thy people, Jehovah of hosts! Speak as of old at this hour: Silence alike their complaints and their boasts, Challenge thy people with power. Give them a task that will drain their heart’s blood, Lead on a wilderness way; Call them to conquest through fire line and flood. Challenge thy people today.” Jessie Brown Pounds
She, a pastor’s wife and song writer, is best known for her poem: “Anywhere with Jesus”.
“The supreme question of the hour now upon the tongues of tens of thousands of God’s children is, ‘What is the remedy for the unbelief, spiritual powerlessness, and evangelistic inefficiency of the ministry and membership of the church of our dear Lord?’ The divine answer to that question will be found in the fifty-ninth chapter of Isaiah. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” William Phillips Hall
A hymn writer and the author of “A remarkable Biblical discovery or, “The name” of God according to the Scriptures” which helped get us started down the Jesus only trail of Apostolic teaching.
Conversion to Righteousness
“Pentecost made it clear that the disciple of Christ must have a new attitude toward sin of every kind; this was the first step to a regenerated life of stewardship. Without this genuine repentance all the social provisions of the gospel must fail. It was a great Englishman who, lamenting the death of his friend, said ‘I am sorry for ____. I do not think he will like God very well.’”
“We need not expect any great nation-wide revival until we begin to preach more as our fathers did concerning the sinfulness of the human heart, the new birth as a condition for entrance into the kingdom of heaven.” J. W. Mahood
He is best known for his work “The Art of Soul Winning” published in 1901.
Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
“I bow my forehead to the dust, I veil mine eyes for shame, And urge, in trembling self-distrust, A prayer without a claim. I see the wrong that around me lies, I feel the guilt therein; I hear, with groan and travail cries, A world confess its sin. No offering of my own I have Nor works my faith to prove; I can but give the gifts he gave, And plead his love for love.” John Greenleaf Whittier
The writer/poet who used his talents to oppose slavery and spread the gospel.
(The New Church)
(I enjoy thinking about the birth of the church in terms of my own youthful adventures in communal living. There is something about starting the day and each of us going out and trying to procure the basic goods to live life that was part of the early church experience. There they were, strangers in Jerusalem, where Jesus has told them to stay put until the next step comes. Each day they had to procure the basics of life for the group as a whole. This cannot be taken as a blueprint for church structure, but it fit the moment, and might again in the future.)
“The early church has sometimes been unfairly accused of being “other worldly,” but certain it is that in no subsequent age has the church shown a more thorough-going disposition to provide for the total welfare of its members. Thus we have the picture of a church where the passion of stewardship was so strong that one member was ready to sell his possessions in order to minister to the common need.”
Acts 2:44-47 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
“’You speak of a passion for souls, but I do not want anyone to love my soul if he will not love me’ was the way Professor Caleb T. Winchester once expressed the impossibility of a ministry that was not concerned with the everyday environment and total life of man. The Holy Spirit kindled a compassion that was big enough to minister to every human need, thus creating a new and profound feeling of human brotherhood.”
He went to Wesleyan University and stayed on as librarian and English professor. He wrote “The Life Of John Wesley” in 1906.
“The outpouring of the Spirit upon these ‘foreigners’ was so evident that all else seemed nonessential. When later Peter was called to account for his alleged irregularities he replied in these illuminating words: Acts 11:15-17 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
“Half the world is on the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting and in being served by others…It consists in giving, and in serving others. He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way—it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive.” Henry Drummond
From Stewardship 2: He was a scientist and an evangelist. He was able to combine his loves in a teaching position. He didn’t argue against evolution but wrote a book entitled “Natural Law in the Spiritual World” where he saw evolution as continuing on from the physical world to the spiritual world. He wrote the book. He went to Africa as a missionary and when he came back he was famous, as his book seemed to help the church come to terms with the scientific world of his day. How do I deal with this? We saw how evolutionary thinking and friendship with Russel Wallace messed up Robert Louis Stevenson. Can a man who does not stand against evolution, or cannot see the spiritual ramifications that go with believing in evolution be a man of God? How do we reconcile that with his sacrifices in the mission field? Nice to know that God is God.
“High thoughts, and noble in all lands, Help me; my soul is fed on such. But ah! The touch of lips and hands—the human touch! Warm, vital, close, life’s symbols dear, These need I most, and now, and here.” Richard Burton
Here is a character to investigate. A lusty character who when expelled from Trinity and forced to join the army he said: “fit for nothing but to be shot at for six pence a day”. He would visit Mecca in disguise and looks like he was a man adventuring in a world made for adventure. It seems he died an atheist.
“To reach old age possessed only of money and a desire to increase it, is not success in life. It is a sad and terrible failure; better to die a pauper in purse than a pauper in soul; better fail to get money than to allow money to get you.” Author unknown
“Of all the prizes That earth can give, This is the best; To find thee, Lord A living Presence near, And in thee rest! Friends, fortune, fame, Or what might come to me—I count all loss If I find not Companionship With thee!” Ralph Cushman
Pentecost Produced Divine Leadership
“Conspicuous among the results of Pentecost was the assurance the disciples came to possess that they were more closely than ever associated with their risen Lord in his redemptive program. It was perfectly natural for Peter, referring to Pentecost with all its wonderful accompaniments, to declare that ‘he (Jesus) hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear.’”
Acts 2:32-33 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
“Thus Pentecost compelled a broader vision of stewardship by bringing in the dispensation of the personal leadership of the Spirit of Jesus. Thus the disciples thought of themselves not as having a commission to win the world to Christ but as surrendered channels through which Christ might win the world to himself. Thus Mark says in his Gospel: Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”
“All experience comes to be but more and more of pressure of his life on ours. I cannot tell you how personal this grows to me—he is here—and I know him. It is no figure of speech. It is the realest thing in the world, and everyday makes it more real, and one wonders with delight what it will grow to as the years go on.” Phillips Brooks
A well-loved pastor/professor at Harvard. From Wikipedia: “He died unmarried in 1893, after an episcopate of only 15 months. His death was a major event in the history of Boston. One observer reported: “They buried him like a king. Harvard students carried his body on their shoulders. All barriers of denomination were down. Roman Catholics and Unitarians felt that a great man had fallen in Israel.”
“I know not how such things can be, But I do know He speaks with me. Not from the grass nor from the sod, But in my heart the Voice of God, Speaking Spirit unto spirit; And if I listen, I can hear it—Voice of God that calls to me Out of his infinity.” Ralph Cushman