The Wind and the Fire - God's Fullness
The Wind and the Fire: God's Fullness (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4)
The New Testament Book of Acts is not so much the "Acts of the Apostles" as it is the "Acts of the Holy Spirit." The earliest history of the church shows that no major leader made a decision or opened his mouth without the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit became a personal reality in the Christian's life on an occasion as definite as Calvary. The Spirit came in personal power at Pentecost, a harvest festival of the Jews.
Some are so afraid of Pentecostalism (a modern movement) that they miss the reality of Pentecost (a sovereign act of God). Pentecost witnessed unusual, unrepeatable acts—wind and fire. But these wrappings should not keep us from the gift. Pentecost means that God comes to me in transforming power and intimacy.
The Holy Spirit Comes to Us Because God Keeps His Promise
God keeps His personal promise. The Holy Spirit comes to the believer because God promised Him. Jesus remained with the disciples forty days after His resurrection. He vowed: "I am going to send you what my Father has promised" (Luke 24:49). The Father promised His Son to send the Holy Spirit (see Joel 2:28-32; Isa. 32:15; John 14–16). Jesus told them: "wait for the gift my Father promised" (Acts 1:4). Literally, we are to "abide around the promise," as if waiting in the presence of a great expectation. My personal experience of the Holy Spirit should be so intense that it absolutely convinces me that God keeps all His promises.
God keeps His conditional promise. "Wait for the gift." The only contingency on the promises is that of waiting expectancy. Waiting is not wasted. The only key to effective activity is that of receptive passivity—wait for the gift. Those first Christians waited in a unique sense. They waited for the historical outpouring of God's Spirit on all believers. We wait in a different sense. We wait to prepare our hearts to appropriate what is already there. But wait we should! If they needed, how much more do we? They had been in Jesus' presence for three years, yet still needed to wait for heavenly power for effective living. Time is never lost when we wait for God.
The Holy Spirit Comes to Us Through an Unusual Activity of God
The Holy Spirit came and comes suddenly, like a thunderclap. There is a moment when He is not within, and a moment when He is. He comes in a certain external situation. There is a location. The Holy Spirit came to the upper room, the "one place" (2:1) where they were all together. We are most likely to find God where we found Him before. In this instance it was where they had met Jesus. There is a union. There was a totality of unity. Nothing so hinders the coming of the Spirit in power as does division among God's people. "They were all together in one place." To experience the Spirit's power we must be in the location where we meet God and in union with other believers.
The Spirit comes with unusual manifestations. The Spirit came with a marked audible, visual, and verbal manifestation: "a sound like the blowing of a violent wind" (2:1). There was the echoing resonance of a gale of wind. The wind of God is a symbol of divine presence (2 Sam. 5:24; 22:16; 1 Kings 19:11; Ezek. 37:9-14; John 3:8). The blowing of the wind means life—free, mysterious, imparted life. The Holy Spirit means life.
The Spirit came with a visual manifestation: "They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them" (2:3). One mighty central flame entered the room and from off of that flew individual fires that rested over each single one of them. They all had one experience from one source, but each individual had a personal experience. The fire of God is a symbol of divine presence (Ex. 3:2; Ezek. 1:13; Mal. 3:2-3). The fire of God indicates His basic power—burning, purifying, energizing. The Holy Spirit means power.
The Spirit came with a verbal manifestation: "They . . . began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them" (v. 4a). The Holy Spirit sustained them as they spoke in foreign languages to those present. The Holy Spirit continually gave them solemn statements to make concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit comes to give us bold communication concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
We need carefully to distinguish the unique from the abiding, the gift from its wrappings. The wind, fire, and tongues were wrappings of the gift. The gift lasts—the life, power, and communication of the gospel.
The Holy Spirit Comes to Fill Us with God Himself
The most significant statement is not the most dramatic: "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit" (v. 4b). There was a totality in the experience: "all of them." The 120 there, old and young, male and female, all experienced the gift. There was a generosity; they were filled. This is a filling that can be repeated and enlarged. It is a fullness to which more can be added. There was a passivity. The Lord Jesus acted on them. They did not fill themselves. They waited expectantly and God-in-Christ filled them in the waiting. There was a continuity. It was a permanent endowment and a continuing process. It is a fullness of which there is always more. Ephesians 5:18 unfolds to us the command: "Be filled with the Spirit." May we come to God with a live-or-die urgency until we know His power.