“When the day of Pentecost
arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”– Acts 2:1-4
What do you think of when you imagine the presence of God? Peace? Calm? Serenity?
Throughout the Old Testament, God’s presence is almost always accompanied with fire. Think about it. The Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush. He led his people through the wilderness by a pillar of fire. Sinai was covered in flames at the giving of the law. Isaiah’s vision of the heavenly temple was filled with smoke and fire as he looked upon God’s glory. To be sure, God promises “fullness of joy” in his presence (Psalm 16:11), but we can’t forget that we worship a God who identifies himself as “a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29).
In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit rushes into the room like a mighty wind—not a gentle breeze—and visibly rests upon the disciples in the form of fire. The implication is clear: at Pentecost, J.D. Greear observes, “the fire of God has come to sit atop the head of every believer. Every believer has become a burning bush.” Pentecost is not so much about the coming of the Holy Spirit (he’s been around since before Genesis 1!). It’s the story of God making his presence known to, in, and through his people by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
A lot of people focus on the “speaking in other tongues” part of Pentecost.
Yet this goes hand in hand with what we’ve just seen. The Spirit descends in the form of fire and causes the disciples to speak in other languages to show that God has empowered his church for a mission. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to display God’s presence and proclaim Christ’s goodness to every nation on earth.
At South City Church, we talk a lot about being an “Uncommon Family.” And one of the things that makes us uncommon is the fact that this ragtag bunch of sinner/saints gathers every week in St. Louis, MO to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God of Peter, Paul, and the rest of the disciples. The promise of Pentecost has come true! And this same Spirit now enables us for the crucial task of displaying God’s presence and proclaiming the astonishingly good news of Jesus in our city and our neighborhoods. Without him, we’re hopeless. But with him, we have the empowering presence of God.
“In Acts 2 the fire of God has come to sit atop the head of every believer. Every believer has become a burning bush.”– J.D. Greear
Sam Haist is our Assistant Pastor, Men’s Ministry & Discipleship director.