Posted by: admin on Sun, Jul 26, 2009
Pastor Mark Stephens
Tongues of Fire
Pastor Mark Stephens
Jul 26, 2009
TONGUES OF FIRE
Before the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost had come upon men and women periodically, usually to empower them for specific tasks given by God as portrayed in the Old Testament. Pentecost fulfilled Old Testament prophecy and many predictions made by Jesus Himself.
Christ taught His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10) The Apostle Paul said, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink [it was not by observing any particular feast, custom, or ritual]; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:170).
The Holy Ghost came as the authority and power of the kingdom of God. The disciples had witnessed the miracles of Jesus. They saw His death and burial. They also saw the resurrected Christ stand in their presence three days later, which amazed them. Even Thomas, who was a doubter, stood in awe and declared, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20L28).
Even though they had seen and testified to this, the disciples could not just go on their way preaching. Jesus had given them specific instructions:
God wanted a witness from Heaven to empower mankind. Only an earthen vessel empowered from Heaven could declare the glories of the world to come (Acts 1:8).
The doctrine of speaking in tongues and being baptized in the Holy Ghost has been accompanied by much controversy. As always, let us look to the Scriptures to see what the Word says concerning this phenomenon.
What happened on the day of Pentecost?
The Jewish people were familiar with the term Pentecost. Everything God did in types and shadows in the Old Testament was fulfilled in the New Testament. In the Old Testament God revealed Himself in many ways to Israel. He was known as the “I am,” promising to sustain them on their journey from Egypt to Canaan. Whatever they needed, He was the I am of sustenance for that very thing.
One word gives us an understanding of this concept-the word “true.” Jesus said”
True means to have without concealment. Throughout the Old Testament, God had been concealed in type and shadow. In the New Testament, however, He is no longer concealed. He became in reality everything that He merely was a shadow of in the Old Testament.
Pentecost was a type of something that one day would explode and change this world for eternity. Pentecost meant fiftieth day. When we read “the day of Pentecost had fully come,” that means the fiftieth day after Passover had arrived.
Everything that needed to precede this memorable day had taken place. Jesus, the Passover Lamb, had died and risen from the dead. He had walked with His disciples, was confirmed 40 days and nights with many infallible proofs, and then was received into glory.
Our personal Passover must precede our Pentecost. The blood of Christ prepares us for Pentecost, washing away our sin and prejudice, enabling us to come together with devout men and women from every nation. You cannot have a Pentecost with God if you are biased against people not just racial prejudice but experiential prejudice. People have devised a grading scale between one and en for the severity of certain sins. Sin, which simply means to miss the mark, has no scale of severity in the eyes of God.
God is tearing down racial, ethnic, and religious barriers, bringing people together from all walks of life in one place with one focus: to reach the world for Jesus. We need it to be said of us, “The day of Pentecost has fully come.” The word fully means to come with an expected end, to come with anticipation, to come to have a part in a mission.
Pentecost marked the beginning of a mission for the Jewish people as they gathered in the fruit of their labors. Pentecost in Acts 2 marked the beginning of a mission for the church to gather in lost souls. We need Pentecost to fully arise in our life as we fall in love with Jesus, the Passover Lamb, to carry out the ingathering of His harvest.
The sound from Heaven “filled all the house where they were sitting.” This sound was a sign, witnessing that Heaven was speaking. The Greek word for sound denotes a loud rumbling or roaring voice, much like the rumbling of a tornado that precedes the storm.
The wind filled closets, bedrooms, bathrooms, upstairs, and downstairs. It filled all the components in the house: jars, glasses, significant and insignificant things. This indicates that anyone can be filled with the Holy Ghost.
We have seen saved Baptists, Methodists, Catholics-wall walks of Christian professions-filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. The only mandatory prerequisite is that you be a believer, a born again, blood washed child of God (Acts 2:38, 39; John 14:17).
This experience was not for a select few. The cloven tongues of fire rested upon each one-men and women; young and old; apostles and disciples. Hearing the sound, the amazed multitude asked, “what do these things mean?”
The Apostle Peter answered their question:
God planned for His Spirit, a consuming fire, to rest upon each of His children. Peter told the crowd:
Peter, who later preached to the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house, said:
He saw the Holy Spirit fall on the assembly even before he finished his sermon, confirming God’s promise.
They “began to speak with other tongues” (Acts 2:4). Tongues in this passage is the Greek word “glossa,” which simply means a language.
Devout Jews from every nation had gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit was poured out and the disciples began to speak in tongues, it cause quite a stir.
Luke mentions over a dozen locations in this passage, representing many languages and dialects. Tongues enabled the multitude to hear the mighty deeds of God in their own language.
The language came “as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Utterance means the ability to speak plainly, to declare openly, or to have the ability to enunciate with clarity. The people spoke, but the words came through the ability or enabling of the Holy Ghost. They spoke as the Spirit gave utterance.
When you do something you are doing it with assistance. If you walk across the room, you are walking as your feet move. Your feet are the tool being used to carry out the mission of walking.
The believers at Pentecost spoke the language of heaven, but only as the Holy Ghost gave them utterance.
The Old Testament conveyed many truths, but they were concealed in types and shadows. Everything in the Old Testament tabernacle depicted in some type or shadow the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
After the resurrection of Christ, He showed Himself to the disciples and others for 40 days. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus told His followers to wait for the promise of the Father. They gathered for prayer and waited as Christ took up the office of high priest forever.
The Jews knew that the Passover resulted in the death of an innocent lamb. Fifty days later marked the beginning of their harvest or the feast of ingathering. Jesus said He was the Passover Lamb. Pentecost marked 50 days since His blood had been poured out for the forgiveness of sins.
The disciples’ wait ended. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come…there came a sound…”(Acts 2:1,2). This was the fulfillment of the pomegranates and the golden bells (remember the priest who went into the holy of holies) The bells were a sign that the sacrifice had been accepted, and the Holy Ghost was the sound that our sins had been atoned for.
The Holy Ghost has not been given to the church to entertain congregations but rather to empower them. Jesus said, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). The Holy Ghost gives us power not to just shout, run the aisles, or to put on a show. He empowers us to intervene in society as a witness.
Jesus gave these instructions to His disciples:
The Book of Acts records the amazing signs and wonders that occurred through the disciples. What was the catalyst for those miracles? Pentecost. After being endued with power from on high, “they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20).
That’s the kind of power we need to transform our lives, families, churches and society.
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