Summary: The Spirit of God lit the church on fire by baptizing them with fire from above. God gave the church power to extraordinary things; and they impacted the world for all time.
I read an interesting story from last summer I thought would be a great lead-in for this morning’s, message. The article’s title reads, “Fireworks Blamed for Church Fire.” The story begins, “Fireworks were blamed for a fire that tore through a church in Brush Prairie, on Monday…. The church's roof collapsed as the fire was burning, but crews were able to get the fire under control. “Samuel Munoz, the pastor of the church, said "(I had) tears coming down. My wife, she touched me on my back and said, 'Honey, it happened. Everything has a purpose. Everything that happens has a purpose.’”
The story reveals an interesting irony. Fireworks sparked a fire that consumed the church’s roof. Satan wanted that church to burn down. Yet, God had other plans; he didn’t allow a natural fire to extinguish their ministry. Instead, I bet that fire acted as a spark — like fireworks from the Holy Spirit —that ignited a renewed passion in them, to the point where I betcha that church is spiritually on fire for God.
You know, a similar thing happened in the early church. Satan thought he won when Jesus hung on the cross. Satan presumed he torched the early Christian movement; but God had other plans. Let’s see how it all began on the day Christ arose from the grave, and how 50 days later on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit lit the church on fire for God.
THE BREATH (AND WIND) OF GOD
You know, the disciples had been “born into” — if you will— the Jewish faith, and raised in the synagogue. From an early age, they would have learned the law and the writings of the prophets. It’s like they were “born into the church” as many young children are these days. Like them, many of us were brought into the gathering of believers shortly after we were born, baptized as infants, and later attend Sunday school and confirmation.
The disciples knew what it meant to be a child of God. Then, on top of this, Jesus called them out; and they walked by his side for three years. Yet, something was missing —but they didn’t know it. But, Jesus did. So, to give them that which was missing, Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This receiving, it required action on their part; and it requires action on our part as well.
Imagine, going to church your whole life, but really not knowing God. They’d been good Jews, but they still hadn’t been born again of the Spirit. They were good church going people; yet they weren’t fully alive with God — not until Jesus breathed his Spirit unto them, and gave them new life. They had to be born again, as was said to Nicodemus.
Jesus said to Nicodemus — a Pharisee: one like a super-going, church-type person in his age, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water — [meaning water baptism] — and the Spirit [meaning the baptism in the Holy Spirit]. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:5–8).
What Jesus is saying here, is that we can’t just assume that because we’re church going people who are baptized members of a congregation, that we’re born again. God desires we be fully alive in Christ, but we need to receive his Holy Spirit in order to do so. I dint know what that meant until 1997. (TELL ABIT ABOUT YOUR STORY OF COMING TO FAITH)
You know, I was dead for a long time, even though I thought I was a Christian. I was “born into the church,” baptized, and confirmed; but I still walked away from God and his church. I was baptized in water, but his Spirit hadn’t indwelled within me —not until God got a hold of me. But here’s the kicker. You wanna know when I really came alive? It was about four years ago, yet I’d already been born again. My journey came in steps, as it is for many people.
I have to tell ya, I haven’t been the same since God breathed new life into my bones. When God’s Holy Spirit filled me, he gave me purpose, and he lit me on fire — for him. No longer is my body a valley of dry bones; it’s alive because God breathed his Spirit into me —as God is doing to Israel, as Ezekiel prophesied — as God want to do to us all.
Ezekiel wrote about the last days when God would send his Holy Spirit and breathe new life into Israel. Three times God said to them, “I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Hear Ezekiel 37:9–10. God said to the Prophet: “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.”