“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And 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
Pentecost marked the birth of the church. Before Jesus ascended to heaven He had told His disciples “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49). This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon 120 disciples who were huddled in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. Suddenly, a sound came from heaven “as of a rushing mighty wind” and filled the house where they were meeting. Then “divided tongues, as of fire… sat upon each of them.” They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The church was born in a blaze of fire and power. John the Baptist had spoken concerning Jesus, that “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11b). Part of this was fulfilled on Pentecost Sunday. Fire ‘sat’ upon each person that was in the room. There was no ‘empty head’ in that room, everyone had the same deposit of fire. If there were more people, there would still have been enough fire to go round. From the Old Testament (OT), we know that fire was a visible symbol of God’s presence (Exodus 3:2; 13:21-22). So, for these early disciples, they were now assured that God was with them.
THE EFFECT OF FIRE
There were remarkable changes that happened in the lives of the disciples from the day of Pentecost. They were no longer fearful people hiding away from the authorities. They were now ready to carry out their Master’s commission.
Fire has certain characteristics and we find these manifesting in the lives of the disciples. Fire produces heat or warmth. That’s why in cold regions houses have a fireplace. When the disciples were set ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit their lives suddenly began to produce warmth. When there is fire in your heart your life will produce heat. This warmth manifested in liveliness, loveliness and joyfulness (Acts 2:44-47). There was no dull person or dull moment after Pentecost.
Fire produces Light. In the days when people didn’t have electricity and other means of illumination, fire was a major means of light. The disciples became light-bearers. They became “the light of the world.” People were drawn to their lives just as moth is drawn to light; their lives became attractive. That’s how the multitudes got saved and were added to the church.
Fire also produces power. Fire generates the power that puts our automobiles in motion, that drives the locomotives and that propels the rocket into space. Pentecost released such fire-power on the early church that they began to preach with power, heal sicknesses and diseases and destroy the works of satan. Most importantly, that fire set their lives in motion. They were “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11). The society around them felt their impact.
KEEPING THE FLAME
Fire has a tendency to burn out. All that’s needed for fire to go out is to do nothing. What you do with fire determines whether it will increase, diminish or be extinguished. Each disciple received a deposit of fire but they were to keep the flame burning. Just like in the parable of the minas, where each servant was given the same amount but while some did business with what they received and increased it, someone did nothing with what he got and lost everything (Luke 19:12-26). If we don’t do something about the fire we have received, we will lose it.
But God does not want our lives to lack fire. That’s why He instructed them repeatedly in the OT that the fire on the altar must not go out (Leviticus 6:12-13). The altar is symbolic of our lives. But how do we sustain the fire? First, it is important to note that the closer you are to the source of fire the brighter you will burn. When you separate a piece of wood from the fireplace, it is only a matter of time before the fire in it dies.
We can apply the same natural principles that sustain fire to the spiritual. There are two key elements that must be present if fire will be sustained. From elementary science, we know that oxygen and fuel are key ingredients for combustion to take place.
Oxygen is so essential to our existence that none of us can survive without it. This is also true of fire, once you starve fire of oxygen it dies. So, what is the oxygen we need to feed the fire with? Prayer has been described as the Christian’s ‘breath,’ or oxygen. We cannot live without prayer. We cannot sustain the fire of God in our lives if we are not engaged in intense prayers. Many people can trace the beginning of their lukewarmness to the period when they neglected prayer. That’s why constantly in Scriptures we are admonished to pray and not faint (Luke 18:1); to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17); and to continue earnestly in prayer (Colossians 4:2). The kind of prayer that regenerates spiritual fire is one done in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20).
The next essential element is fuel. “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out…” (Proverbs 26:20). The word of God is like fuel. Jeremiah exclaimed: “…But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones…” (Jeremiah 20:9). The Psalmist also declared “My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue” (Psalm 39:3 NIV). The disciples who were on their way to Emmaus testified: “…Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). If we neglect the word of God, then there will be nothing to feed the fire with.
FIRE AND SERVICE
If we only pray, immerse ourselves in the Scriptures but do nothing, the fire will still die. The fire is for service, not for our comfort. That’s why He said “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master.” (Romans 12:11 MESSAGE). Jesus even implied that the way we should prepare for His Second Coming is to “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks.” (Luke 12:35 NLT). Engaging in kingdom service of is one sure way to constantly regenerate the fire.
LORD, I WANT MY FIRE BACK!
Anywhere you see a pile of ashes, it is a reminder that once upon a time, there was fire. Often, we meet people who tell us exciting stories of what God did in the past, how He used them at a certain time. Everything seems to be in the past. They still have the methods, the form but the fire is no longer there. There are even churches that started with revival fire which impacted generations but now all you see when you enter them is a cold, impotent ash heap that reminds you of what used to be.What started as a movement has over time coalesced into a monument.
You know the fire has gone when flies and cockroaches can perch and rest comfortably on the fireplace without qualms. You know the fire is out when you can now accommodate things you were previously uncomfortable about. You know the fire has died when people can cross your path without feeling any warmth, light or power.
We need to ask ourselves, “What has taken away my fire?” If there is no sense of what is lost there will be no motivation to cry out for restoration. For many people, sadly, it was a result of change in status. It was easier to be on fire when the good things of life hadn’t come. They had time for prayer, study of the word and were available for the Lord’s work. But now things have changed and they have neglected the disciplines that brought them the blessings in the first place. We meet sisters who, before marriage, were on fire for God. But now, their condition has changed, they must keep their home, raise up children at the cost of the fire upon their lives. There are men who were on fire when they didn’t have a job but now with the job has also come comfort which has robbed them of their fire. Nevertheless, there are people who despite these changes still maintain fire for God upon their lives.
Are you satisfied with the heat, light and power that your life is generating? Are you satisfied with the life you are now living? Can people feel your fire? If not, would you cry out to God, “Lord, I want my fire back!” “I don’t want to live another day without your fire in my life.” God doesn’t want our fire to die, rather He would fan it back into powerful flames. When the fire comes, it will burn off everything that opposes God’s purpose for our lives; it will restore motion to our lives.