Fire on the day of Pentecost
The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s fire can be vividly seen in the account of the day of Pentecost. John the Baptist had promised that Jesus would “…baptize…with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). Jesus promised this baptism of the Holy Spirit to the disciples immediately before He ascended to heaven. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:8). He commanded His disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit.
The disciples were waiting and praying in an upper room for many days. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4).
What seemed to be flames of fire rested on the head of each disciple! This fire was the visible manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit. One hundred twenty disciples were instantly empowered to begin spreading the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told the disciples they would become witnesses to the ends of the earth when they received the Holy Spirit! He declared, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Fire must spread! The Holy Spirit’s fire gave the disciples the power they needed to take the gospel around the world. This heavenly fire gave the uneducated fisherman, Peter, the boldness to stand up in front of a huge crowd and begin preaching.
Peter began preaching with fire! Peter, quoting from the prophet Joel, proclaimed, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days…” (Acts 2:17-18). Joel also tells us that one of the signs of the last times will be fire (Acts 2:19).
Peter preached the good news that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). He told the crowds, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off…” (Acts 2:38-39).
Three thousand people were saved as a result of Peter’s fiery sermon that day (Acts 2:41). The story of Acts is the story of the spread of the Holy Spirit’s fire. The fire inside of the individual disciples quickly became a wildfire no one could contain. The religious leaders of Jerusalem tried to stop it, but they failed. The Romans tried to stop the fire and they did no better than the priests. The fire spread and spread until the entire Roman Empire had heard the Word of the Lord.
Fire gave the disciples a boldness to witness. This same fire will also give you the boldness to be a witness. When you are filled with God’s fire, there is no need to be timid in sharing your faith.
The Bible promises that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. In addition, everyone who repents and is baptized, will be filled with the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit fills you, He will come with fire. This fire will begin to spread to the people around you. You will begin to see people saved, healed, and delivered as they come in contact with your fire.
The purpose of being filled with the Holy Spirit is to be a witness. It is vital to spread the fire once you have caught it. Fire must spread or it will go out. Fire will give you urgent, burning compassion to save the lost.