Summary: Impact of Pentecost
“SUDDENLY, FROM HEAVEN CAME…”
Acts, 2: 1-8; 12-21
I don’t know about you, but when I am looking forward to something really exciting, I get all sorts of things going through my mind. In the weeks and months that we have known we were coming here, many thoughts raced through my mind. What was it going to be like, what were the people going to be like? And what about the area, our house and all those other questions. We knew this day was coming, but we never knew what it was going to be like.
It was the same for the early church, Jesus had promised them that the one called the Holy Spirit would come, and they must have had all those feelings too...what would happen when He came? We may never know precisely what happened on the Day of Pentecost, but we do know that it was one of the supremely great days of the Christian Church, for on that day the Holy Spirit came to the Christian Church in a very special way – as tongues of fire.
Why ‘Tongues of Fire’?
Tongues, because they symbolise speech and the communication of the Gospel. Of course, there are many other ways we can share the gospel. For example, showing people we care by providing meals etc, all the things that The Salvation Army, and Dennistoun Corps are good at. St Francis of Assisi was once heard to say, "preach the gospel to all, using words if you have too." While that encourages us in all the good things we do, there needs to be that spoken word, that conversation, that ultimately shares the truth about this truly great news we have to share. I am sure we are all good at wagging our tongues.
The disciples were given a supernatural gift to be able to speak in other languages. In a sense, we too need to learn a new language to reach people for the gospel; we need to be able to talk to people in a way they understand.
Fire, because it symbolises God’s purifying presence, which burns away the undesirable elements of our lives and sets our hearts aflame to ignite the lives of others.
1. TODAY, We Need a Refining Fire
There is a much-needed emphasis today for the necessity of holy living!
We are called to be a holy people. You know, of we profess Jesus as our Savior, people always notice when we are not living right. That is why we need to be coming to God and letting him refine our lives. It is the Holy Spirit that purifies the dross of our lives, makes us pure and makes room for all the beauty that god wants to put in us…patience, love kindness, gentleness and all the other gifts of God…the things that others can see in us. But more importantly, we are called to be holy, because God is holy, and we are to be like Him. God urges us to be Holy in 1 Peter, in order that we will honour him with our lives.
2. TODAY, We Need an Illuminating Fire
So that the divine light is seen shining from our lives. The fire imparts to every Christian both the fruit of Christ-like character and the gifts for Spirit-empowered ministry. We hope that people will see the light of Christ shining from us.
Do any of you remember coal fires? I am old enough to remember them, and I remember sitting in front of the fire with my great granddad. I was almost amazed with how the fire lit up the room, made my cheeks rosy, how attractive it looked on a freezing cold winter’s night. When we have the spirit of God in our lives, it should light up any room we enter, we should be attractive to others, not physically, but our character should be attractive because we know God and he lives his life through us.
It is amazing how much light the smallest of candle can give off in a dark room. In this dark world, we must shine like stars, as Paul writes to the Philippians.
3. TODAY, We Need a Spreading Fire
Wind and fire make for an unstoppable combination.
If the Early Church, paralysed by fright, needed a gale force wind and flames of fire to win the world of its day to Christ, we need the manifestation of the power of Pentecost today. Many people see the church as irrelevant to their lives today. Not because it has no relevance, but because so often the church has lost the fire that attracts people to us, and therefore spreads.
In 1893, well over a century ago, William Booth made a statement, which applies as much today as it did then.
He wrote that: