The ACTS Files – The Coming of the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire – Acts 2:1-4 – 01/04/2016
Acts 2:1 (ESV) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.
Luke continues in the book of Acts picking up the events of the day of Pentecost. We read in chapter one all that happened between Christ returning to heaven, the choosing of Matthias and why Judas had to be replaced and lastly where they had to be in order to receive the Holy Spirit, the main lesson we have learned is the disciples changed status as men of God and the obedience that they have, let us look on a verse by verse basis the first four verses of chapter two.
V1) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.
Pentecost is a festival some fifty days after Passover; this is valuable information as it gives an accurate timeline between when Christ was crucified, rose from the death and the events which are unfolding between the next few chapters in the book of Acts. We have to realize that there is only a period of a month n a half in our Western calendar. As we are looking fromJanuary 4th 2016, would you say with confidence you have a recollection of something that happened on the 15th of November last year? I am fairly sure I could, especially if it was something as monumental as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Pentecost is called “the day of firstfruits” and we read about this in Numbers 28…
Numbers 28:26 (ESV) “On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, 27 but offer a burnt offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old; 28 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for each bull, two tenths for one ram, 29 a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30 with one male goat, to make atonement for you. 31 Besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall offer them and their drink offering. See that they are without blemish.
It was very much a high Jewish festival and an important day in the calendar. It is no coincidence that God used the timing he used in that he used a timing when the whole area was dominated by an Empire that its northern border was in Northern England, It’s southern border was in North Africa and Christians would be able to spread this new faith as far as Germany in the east, Spain in the west without leaving “Roman lands”. God also used a high festival where they would encounter many devout Jewish people who were in Jerusalem for this holy day.
We read also that they were “all in one place” (some versions have “all in one accord and in one place”) the important part was that they were aligned in one mission and that mission was to wait for the Holy Spirit and leave the results up to God. They shared in so much, common bond, common faith, common salvation and common geography. We could learn so much from this as modern day believers, which is why it is vital for us to align ourselves with believers who are the same mission that we are, we have to behave as if Pentecost is today and the very spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ relied on what we did today. (That may be the situation for those people that you know with hardly any Christian friends or family, you may be the difference in someone’s eternal destination!)
I say align ourselves with believers who are on the same mission as that is what churches and bible studies are supposed to be about, hey are supposed to be open, transparent, a place to be energized, challenged, exhorted, ministered too, a place to lick your wounds and allow you to go back on mission. It is a place to worship together, learn together pray together and grow together. It is a vital support system to what you do in the world but it cannot be your WHOLE mission.
V2) And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Do you remember what we said at the beginning of this article, they were in obedience waiting for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem? If so, you will know what is happening here! They heard a sound coming from heaven and pouring on the disciples. This was no wee spring or sprinkle of the Holy Spirit, God poured it on them from above and this fulfilled what was prophesied by John the Baptist in the gospel of Matthew:
Matthew 3:11 (ESV) “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and what? Ahhhh what it says in verse three…
V3) And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So they had tongues of fire which appeared to them and rested on each one of them, talk about God literally gifting them with the tools that they would need for the job in hand. Fire in the bible can mean many things…
• Purification – Such as a refiner would do so to purify a precious metal, likewise we must go through purification in our lives.
• Removal – Fire was used to remove what was not required and show what was permanent, as stated in Matthew 3, burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.
• Sacrificial – All throughout the levitical law you see sacrifices being offered and some were offered and burned to the LORD.
• Judgmental – We see the ultimate judgment is a lake of fire for those who refuse to accept Gods reconciliation in the book of Revelation.
We read that the tongues of fire rested on them individually, no longer as a nation such as the children of Israel where each man under the New Covenant was to receive individually the Holy Spirit.
One thing that it is important to talk about is that the tongues of fire and the gift of tongues were not the gift itself but were evidence of the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were filled due to their obedience, they were filled due to them all being in one accord, they were filled due to their being beneficiaries of a promise that God fulfilled through them. Today in our churches there is a whole tongues issue where I have seen in the past the abuse of the gift of tongues and Lord willing we will go deeper into this in the next article but here are some thoughts I would like to leave you with.
Some facts about the tongues that were spoken…
• Most of the men were not learned men and did not learn the languages
• Their tongues were enabled by the Holy Spirit
Here is the first evidence of the Holy Spirit, the tongues being spoken in languages that they did not know. This was done to further the gospel of Jesus Christ and unlike some places of modern worship where tongues are spoken with regularity and that they teach that you are not a complete Christian unless you have that gift, this was done in order to further the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I have been in churches where friends of mine have “faked it” in order to fit in at an assembly, please do not think for one second I am discounting this wonderful spiritual gift but I always have one question when I hear of such things and that is “How is this furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ?” and “Would God want us to lie about gifts that we do not have?” It is a contentious issue and one I tread carefully as I know folks who have had the gift of tongues bestowed upon them and had it translated as prophecy and that is beautiful to be used by God in that way and I truly believe that the gift of tongues is a valid gift.
In the next article we will see in verses five through eight where the glory of God was in these acts of supernatural empowerment.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to