Terry R. Baughman
“Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:3–4).
Pentecost Sunday is an annual observance of the phenomenon of the initial outpouring of God’s Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem around the year AD 33. Fifty days after Passover, Jews gathered to celebrate the Feast of Weeks. It was also on this very day, the Day of Pentecost, that Jesus came in the power of the Spirit to fill the lives of every believer. About 120 were waiting in the upper room where they anticipated the arrival of the Spirit. Just about a week before, Jesus ascended up into heaven and out of sight. Angels appeared with a prophetic announcement, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
Remembering the instruction of the Lord, “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high,” they returned to the city to await the Promise of the Father (Luke 24:49). This initial experience was accompanied with supernatural signs and unusual demonstrations of power. First, there was a “sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind” that filled the room where they had gathered (Acts 2:2). Then there was the appearance of “tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:3). Finally, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
While the signs of the Spirit were likened to these elements of wind, fire, and ecstatic speech, the miraculous event defied explanation and those who sought to describe it groped for an adequate comparison in the natural realm. Jesus also compared the birth of the Spirit to the wind. He said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes” (John 3:8).
In a prophetic sense fire is often associated with judgment in Scripture. Even in the announcement of the coming Messiah by John the Baptist there was accompanying judgment with His arrival. John proclaimed a message of repentance. He said, “Every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” When Messiah appears, “He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:10, 12).
While the fire of Pentecost may have the effect of judgment, dividing uncleanness from godliness, there is also the positive elements of fire that were associated with the Spirit’s baptism. Fire produces light, energy, and enables new growth where the dead has been removed.
When the Holy Spirit was poured out from heaven, it arrived with the sign of tongues as of fire. It was powerful. It was demonstrable. It was visible, producing an immediate reaction. John said of Jesus, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
May the fire from heaven ignite passion in our souls, purge out the dross of impurity, kindle a desire to pursue God, shine the light of the Gospel through us, and inspire a burning love for the mission of Christ. Let the fire from heaven fall again this Pentecost Sunday as we are baptized anew with His Spirit.
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, … they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1, 4).