John the Baptist had introduced Jesus as one who would baptize His followers “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). Jesus knew what was ahead in His coming crises, but He is looking forward to the coming Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit that would introduce the Church age, the dispensation of Grace, the era of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus might have also had in mind the prophecy of Joel: “… I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days”
Jesus Himself, as a man, was filled with the Holy Spirit. And in the power of the Holy Spirit He trained His disciples, worked miracles, revealed the truth about God’s love for lost humanity, and completed His mission by dying an atoning death and shedding His blood in payment for the sins of all who would believe in Him. Throughout His life, from the time He grasped His relationship with His Heavenly Father to the moment of His death on the cross, Jesus longed for the day the Holy Spirit would be poured out in holy fire to give birth to His Church and the dispensation of grace that would result in bringing about His Bride.
Following His resurrection from the dead, Jesus gathered His eleven disciples for a special order: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Just before His ascension to the Father our Risen Lord ordered His disciples to go back into the city and tarry, (pray, wait, and plead) for the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy; wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit— “stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
Let all Christians today be thankful to God that Jesus spoke with such conviction to the disciples that they made the connection between prayer and the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire! Had the 11 and 109 other believers not obeyed that order, there would have been no Pentecostal outpouring, no Church, no Bride for Christ, no Pentecostal power, no redeemed human race.
The apostle Peter, explained the secret of apostolic power to those who were persecuting them: “God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32).
A crowd of 120 believers obeyed the orders to go back into Jerusalem and start a prayer meeting (Acts 1:15). In Acts, chapter 2, we find that after they had tarried in prayer for 10 days “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” The wind is one of several symbols of the Holy Spirit. It came upon the 120 believers and breathed the life of the Spirit into them, bringing the miracle of the new birth.
Then in Acts 2:3: “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” Fire is another symbol of the Holy Spirit. It seems to have first appeared in a solid cluster and then divided so that the fire rested upon each person. This spoke of both the unity and individuality of the body of Christ.
But even more important, the fire was holy fire cleansing the hearts of all the Christian believers in that Upper Room. From the beginning, Christ would have a people inwardly cleansed and empowered to represent Him before a lost world for proclaiming His Gospel and reaping a harvest for the Kingdom of God.
In Acts 2:4 we read that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Holy fire results in holy, redemptive power. Down below the Upper Room were thousands of Jewish pilgrims from all over the entire Mediterranean basin who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits. They would be the first to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ from those who had been filled with the Spirit. The 120 Spirit-filled believers had normally only spoken three languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and a few spoke Greek. But awaiting them down on street level were thousands representing 14 different languages and dialects.
The Holy Spirit miraculously gifted the 120 with an utterance in all the languages needed for communicating with those who would hear the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The multitudes were about to hear the good news in their own mother tongues. If the sound of wind signified life and the sight of fire signified purity and power, the utterance in various languages signified the universality of the Gospel and its mandate for all nations.
These 120 Spirit-filled believers filed out of that Upper Room and were down on street level scattering among the crowds uttering the praises of God and the good news that Christ had died an atoning death for all sinners.
Peter, who weeks before had denied Jesus, now filled with the Holy Spirit addresses the crowds explaining what has happened. He explained their purpose in coming among them: God had poured out His Spirit upon them just as their prophet Joel had predicted. He told them that Jesus, whom they had crucified, had been raised from the dead, and that He had been exalted to heaven at the right hand of the Father. He continued, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
Luke reports the miracle of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit on a multitude of the unbelieving listeners: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” Peter answered, “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” (Acts 2:37-38).
What was the result of Peter’s Spirit-inspired message? “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:41-47).
Jesus foreknew the power of Pentecostal prayer. But first, He must find those who would engage in Pentecostal praying.
In Hebrews 13:8 we read that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
If we Christians of today had an ear to hear the Spirit’s call to prayer and would engage in Pentecostal intercession, the Church in the last days could have the greatest spiritual awakening in all the history of the Church. And a final mighty revival would prepare believers for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and it would also reap a harvest of lost souls for the Kingdom of God.
Christians, let us understand that there can be no outpouring of the Spirit until we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. Only then will He hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land (II Chronicles 7:14).