The Spirit came in power … and the world was never the same again. At the arrest of Jesus, the disciples were fearful and scattered. They watched him die, and saw him buried in a borrowed tomb. The resurrection of Jesus had certainly brought new hope and restoration to their hearts and lives. It was the Holy Spirit, however, that would bring them fully alive.
The second chapter of Acts shares the account of the day of Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit: “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
I love the word suddenly. Much of the Christian life and growth is gradual and continual, but there are “moments of suddenly” that can be life changing. Throughout church history, there have been great movements of the Spirit — both corporately and personally. When the Spirit of God fills his people, his people are renewed and revived with new life. In this passage we see several signs of the Spirit: Wind, fire, and speaking with tongues.
There has been much controversy around the speaking of tongues. My goal is not to solve or create tension or division in this article. In this instance, I do believe the speaking of tongues was related to the testifying and spread of the Gospel. At the tower of Babel (Genesis 11), God saw the pride of humanity. They would not scatter and fill the earth, but instead sought to build a tower to heaven and make a name for themselves. Eventually, the Lord spread the people out and confused their languages so they could not communicate. On the day of Pentecost, it is a reversal of Babylon. As the disciples are filled with the Spirit and began to praise God, testifying of Jesus, a very diverse crowd that had gathered could hear the disciples in their own language (Acts 2:8). Through the Gospel, God was bringing people back together as one in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the throne of God in heaven, there will be people of every nation, tongue, and tribe. The Gospel is meant for all people.
The wind was a symbol of God’s power and breath. When Adam was created, God breathed into him the breath of life. This wind was a picture of the very breath of God bringing life and power into these souls. The Spirit is like a mighty wind. Instead of being an overpowering wind, the Spirit brings an empowering wind. The church is to be carried along by the wind of God’s Spirit. Without his Spirit, we are dry and void of true power. We need the wind of the Spirit to give us life.
The last symbol on Pentecost was fire. The Spirit rested on each believe like a tongue of fire. When the Spirit came upon Jesus, he descended like a dove — gentle and peaceful. The difference is that Jesus had no sin. So as the Spirit came upon the disciples he came upon them like a purifying fire. Fire represents purity and passion. The Spirit wants to consume our lives like a fire — purifying us from our sin, and releasing a passion into our hearts.
When the great church leader John Wesley truly met Jesus in 1738, he describes that his heart was strangely warmed. The Spirit had come like a fire to set this man’s heart on fire. May the Lord bring “suddenly” moments to his people — that he would let the wind of His Spirit blow across his church, setting our hearts and tongues on fire that we might declare the wonders and glory of God. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at email@example.com or 912-634-2960.