The Last Words of Jesus To his Disciple
By Nathaniel A. Urshan
[A radio sermon presented on station WEXL in Royal Oak, Michigan on July 8. 1945.]
Text: Luke 24:45-53
“Then opened He their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you, but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high. And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And it came to pass while He blessed them He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.”
When Jesus arose from the dead, His true followers would assemble in one upper chamber. At the time of His ascension they numbered one hundred and twenty. Of all the ages of history, it was the age of universal corruption. Outside of Judea idolatry reigned supreme. Gods and goddesses representing every phase of vice were openly worshiped in magnificent temples and at costly shrines. All power was in the hands of magnificent and heartless imperialism. The masses were sunk in hopeless degradation; without means, without learning, without protection, and sixty millions of them in the Roman Empire alone were slaves. Aged parents were suffered to die of starvation, children were exposed and murdered. Men fought with each other as gladiators in the amphitheaters and died by the thousands for the amusement of the cruel population. Every precept of the moral law was violated almost without conscience and without hindrance.
The early disciples had no wealth, no social position, no prestige, no government aid, and no help from established institutions. They were in themselves a despised and feeble folk, without influence, without skill, and without education. Pomp, power, custom and public sentiment were all against them. They were reproached, reviled, persecuted and subjected to exile and death.
But those early Christians had the help of an indwelling, sanctifying Savior and the anointing of the Holy Ghost, and with that equipment they faced a hostile world and all the malignant powers of darkness and conquered. Within seventy years, according to the smallest estimates, there were half a million followers of Jesus, and some authorities claim there were a quarter of a million in the province of Babylon alone. In other words, with the Holy Spirit upon them, they increased more than four thousand fold in seventy years.
In consideration of these salient facts, let us just for a moment consider the source of these miraculous accomplishments. The last words of Jesus just prior to His ascension from Bethany, “And behold I send the Promise of My Father upon you. But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with Power from on high. ”
What so many Christian professors have missed for many years has been the actual experience of what Jesus describes as “the Promise of My Father” and the “Power from on high.” It is as useless to try to live a Christian life without this enduement as is it possible to live a sanctified, separated life with the Holy Ghost Baptism. Devout Christians ought to have learned better than to deprive themselves of God’s most precious gift of grace on such grounds. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost and Fire is a blessed experience, whether anyone can compass the philosophy of it or not. There may be philosophical difficulties about it, but this great blessing is received by faith. It is enough for the humble Christian to know that God has promised the blessed gift to those who seek. Men do not sail to this Beulah summit on the two expansive wings of philosophy and metaphysics. They reach it on the bended knee of humble faith. This probably explains why lowly souls often find this blessing which the learned miss. “I thank Thee, 0 Father of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and prudent, and didst reveal them unto babes.”
When Jesus parted from His devout followers and ascended into heaven at Bethany, we know He left a group of people who hated to see Him leave and to feel that wonderful Presence depart. But their whole faith was wrapped up in the words which He spoke to them last. “Go tarry ye at Jerusalem until ye be endued with Power from on high.” They needed comfort at the departure of their Friend and Brother, and they were promised the “Comforter.” It was in the divine program of heaven that they should receive a sufficient experience to cope with the evil of their day. The experience those disciples were about to receive at Jerusalem was not subservient to sin, but was the over comer and the subjector of sin.
Every true, sincere heart yearns for power to defeat sin in their lives, especially when they have some sort of experience with God, for the light of God reveals the darkness of the human heart and the weakness of human flesh. Many honest people have struggled night and day with the tempter and have fallen prey to the ravages of lustful feelings, all because they have not been enlightened to the Power of God present through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Those disciples who were so marvelously anointed had amongst themselves characters which needed this Baptism of heavenly fire.
Peter found out how impossible it was to be a true follower of Jesus when he wandered away from His presence, Even though he boastfully proclaimed the fact that he would never deny his God. Yet, within his nature, there was a rebellion against identification with Christ when he could not feel the absolute presence of the Lord. Peter bitterly learned that he had to have Jesus at his side if he were to be more than a conqueror.
And now we are confronted with the question, “How was Peter to obtain this presence when he saw his hope ascending into the heavens at Bethany?” Brother, his salvation depended upon experiencing the feelings of the last words of Jesus to His disciples before He departed from them.
Our next glimpse a Peter is on the Day Pentecost when without equivocation this man, having experienced sanctifying power through the Pentecostal experience, preached a sermon that blasted traditions and has re-echoed around the world to followers of this Christian faith for centuries, and will continue to reap fruit until Jesus comes for His true church. Peter’s character was changed from insufficiency to cope with evil to a power that could defeat the prevalent feelings of his fleshly nature. All because Jesus promised Power from on high that could captivate the heart and become the model, phenomenal experience for the church of Jesus Christ.
The reason why this Holy Spirit Baptism has not been experienced is because it has not been preached by the ministry. Ministry and laity alike have never had their eyes opened to its value and place in the Word of God. Many of the ministry admits that the blessing of the Holy Ghost Baptism is in the Bible, but at the same time teach that it is promised upon a condition with which it is irrational for us to hope to comply. What must result from such teaching as this? It represents God and His Gospel in a most ridiculous light. What remains but to regard the Gospel as a failure?
It is in vain to say that sanctification in this life is not promised, for it really and plainly is, and nothing is more expressly promised in the Word of God. Now, what an employment for the leaders and instructors of the people to be engaged in teaching them not to expect the fulfillment of these promises to them, that such an expectation or hope is a dangerous error, that it is irrational for them to hope to so fulfill the conditions of these promises as to secure the blessing promised. The devil himself could not do worse than this. Hell itself could not wish for more efficient opposition to God and Salvation. This is indeed a most sublime employment for the ministers of God. How many are crying, “there is no reason to hope for the fulfillment of God’s promises. You must expect to live in sin so long as you are in this world. It is dangerous to entertain any other expectation.”
The fact is an unbelieving ministry is the greatest of all stumbling blocks. Brother, this type of preaching throws the plan of God into reverse. It takes the meaning out of the last words of Jesus to His disciples. “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” and “Go tarry in Jerusalem till ye be endued from on high.” If these words have any meaning at all, they express the power that will enable a man to live above sin and defeat the plan of Satan in his life. It is only through such lives that we will see the wonders of miracles wrought, it is only through such lives that the world will be aware that the Christ doctrine is not merely a social gospel, but a revolutionary force that transforms characters overnight and fits a Christian for power to do the will of God.
I’m so glad that Peter, when preaching the sermon on the Day of Pentecost, did not restrict that Baptism only to his day, for he said, “The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” We report solemnly the words of Paul that he spoke to the disciples of John in Ephesus, “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?”
Editor’s Note: At the time of this message, (July 8, 1945,) Bro. Urshan was twenty-four years old. (His twenty-fifth birthday was August 29.) He had been assisting Bro. C.C. Kirby at Christ Tabernacle in Royal Oak, Michigan (since February, 1943,) where the church sponsored a weekly radio broadcast from 3:30 until 4:00 on Sunday afternoons on the local radio station, WEXL. It was on this broadcast that a number of Bro. Urshan’s messages were featured. Each week, Christ Tabernacle came on the air with the choir singing “Pentecostal Fire is falling.” Sis. Urshan frequently sang solos with the choir. Bro. & Sis. Urshan returned to the evangelistic field in the fall of 1945. – MJK
From, Apostolic writer’s Digest page 6-7/March 2009 By Nathaniel A. Urshan