"FAN THE FIRE!"
TEXTS: Acts 2:1-4; Deut. 16:9-12; Lev. 9:23-24; 10:1-3; II Chron. 7:1 I Cor. 3:16 I Cor. 6:19; Heb. 12:28-29
INTRO: Every Saturday afternoon in North Dakota I went over to the Church I served as pastor to start a fire in the boiler … it was a coal furnace. There were times when the sanctuary was a cool -12°! Once a fire had been started it soon warmed up to the cozy 72° everyone liked. Without the fire, the Church would have been too uncomfortable. No one would have continued coming to Church without a fire to warm it up! This is still true ... only in the spiritual sense!
The reason so many mainline Churches are dying today is because they have neglected the fire of God's Spirit. The day of Pentecost reminds us of a most important truth: WE NEED GOD'S FIRE, THE HOLY SPIRIT!
No Church, or believer for that matter, can truly live out Christ's commands with-out the power of God's Spirit resident within them!
PROP. SENT: God's Word teaches us that the Church must have the "fire" of God's Spirit burning to accomplish the tasks of living the life of faith and reaching the lost for Christ. No substitute fire will do!
I. MESSAGE OF THE FEAST Deut. 16:9-12; Acts 2:1-2
A. Harvest Deut. 16:9-12
1. Pentecost was also call the "Feast of weeks" because it occurred 50 days after Passover. ("Pente" relates to "50")
a. During Passover the barley harvest was started, and then the "firstfruit" sheaf was waved the "Sabbath" after Passover (the day Jesus rose from the grave! He was the "firstfruits" of those who will rise again.
b. Pentecost was the start of the great harvest, when all the barley was brought in; it was a HARVEST FESTIVAL.
c. This makes what happened on that day of Pentecost in Acts very interesting, 3,000 people got saved that day! A great harvest of souls came in on Pentecost!
d. The Pentecostal church is a soul winning Church; it is a harvester of souls!
2. Once the Spirit had baptized these believers, the message of Jesus became too important for them to continue being afraid of the authorities anymore. The message had to be told!!!
a. This is the Pentecostal church! It is an evangelizing church. The message of salvation going out to others is paramount; we cannot sit by comfortably and not share the message of salvation with others!
b. The church that is Spirit filled will be active in home missions and foreign missions, and each member will put a premium on sharing their faith with others!
c. Harvest is the natural flow of a Spirit filled church.
ILLUS:A couple of years ago there was a Mercedes Benz commercial promoting their new cars. It showed one of their new cars crashing into a cement wall during a safety test. The scene then goes to a company spokesman who asks this question, "Why doesn't Mercedes Benz enforce the patent on their energy absorbing car design when other companies are using it without permission." The Mercedes spokesman simply smiled and said, "Because some things in life are too important not to share!" This should be the stance of the Pentecostal Church too! -- Source, Unknown
B. Heavenly Acts 2:1-2
1. The Church was gathered, waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit and power.
a. They already had much of what Churches have today:
(1. They had a place to meet, the upper room.
(2. They had people who were committed, the 120.
(3. They had conducted a Church business meeting during the 10 days waiting.
(4. They had elected officers (Matthias to replace Judas).
(5. They had a prayer meeting.
(6. They had collected monies at other times (offerings).
(7. No doubt they had sung a song or two.
(8. They had prayed.
(9. BUT THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT YET!
b. What they needed this earth or earthly things couldn't provide, they needed something from heaven!
(1. The Church will never accomplish the task of winning others to Christ with clever ideas or man inspired programs, it will take power from heaven to do this!
(2. The church is doomed to failure without the power of the HOLY SPIRIT!
2. It wasn't that this was a bad Church body, it just needed something only God could them -- supernatural power!
a. Notice the language of Acts 2:1-2 "... they were 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!"
b. This noise of rushing wind alerted them to the fact that what was about to take place was not of their own doing, it came from heaven, thus God's doing!
c. The Pentecostal Church is supposed to be powerful, and it will be if the power source is from heaven!
d. All other things are only tools, programs, campaigns, buildings, etc. The real power cannot be man made, it must come from God. No substitute will do.
3. Thus the message of the feast was two-fold:
a. The church is to harvest souls.
b. The church is to have power, God's Holy Spirit.
4. This is the meaning of Pentecost!
II. MESSAGE OF THE FIRE Acts 2:3-4; Lev. 9:23-24; II Chron. 7:1; I Cor. 3:16; 6:19
A. Habitation Acts 2:3-4; Lev. 9:23-24; II Chron. 7:1
1. Supernatural fire appears in the room where they were all praying. At first the text suggests the fire was one large ball of fire which later separated into tongues of fire over each individual. This action by God is highly significant and is often neglected by Pentecostal Churches. God is making a powerful statement by this action that we need to understand!
a. Twice in the Old Testament supernatural fire fell from heaven specifically as God's way of saying: "I will now accept this place as my dwelling place."
(1. Lev. 9:23-24 The dedication of the tabernacle by Moses and Aaron along with the children of Israel in the wilderness. Here God sent a supernatural fire from His presence to consume the sacrifices and the people shouted for joy in knowing that God was accepting the tabernacle as His dwelling place among them!
(2. II Chron. 7:1 The dedication of the temple by Solomon and Israel in the promise land. The permanent structure in the O.T. Again, supernatural fire is sent by God to consume the sacrifices as a signal to the people that He is pleased to come and dwell among them! They respond with great joy!
b. The whole point of supernatural fire falling on the sacrifices was God's way of saying, "I am pleased to dwell in these for your sake."
2. NOW THE MESSAGE OF THE FIRE becomes all too clear for the day of Pentecost!
a. The fire entering the room at first as one large ball of fire indicated that the CHURCH was now becoming the "temple" of God, His habitation, like in the days of Solomon, only now it isn't a building, it is the people!
b. The fire then separates and settles a smaller flame over each believer, this is God's way of saying, "you individual believers are tabernacles of my Spirit, I am pleased to also dwell in you."
c. This fire is not natural. (Good thing for the room and each believer!) This was like the fire that consumed the sacrifices, except now the sacrifices are the Church and the people, and they get to live through it!
d. The Pentecostal church is the norm in the book of Acts, there were no other kinds of churches!
3. Our bodies and the Church body are now the dwelling place of God!
B. Holy I Cor. 3:16; 6:19
1. Drawing upon these twin truths of God's habitation Paul states it clearly in these two passages:
a. 3:16 "don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"… It is this that makes the Church HOLY!
(1. This is not just some casual truth, as Paul makes clear by the addition of "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple!" 3:17
(2. Messing around with God's Church runs you up against the Almighty!
b. 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? … therefore honor God with your body."
(1. Again, holy living is in mind here because of this truth. Paul is telling them this to encourage them to avoid sexual sins and immorality, to live a holy life because their bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit!
(2. Being a temple of God means a clean environment for God.
2. Here the fire is instructive, fire disinfects when it burns, and no life can stand against fire. Thus, the fire of God's Spirit should KILL off the old man; the fire of God purifies.
a. Pentecostal Christians should demonstrate a holy lifestyle.
b. When you are on fire for God nobody has to tell you how to live holy; you know and want to respond.
3. Where revival fires burn there is a great movement toward holiness. John Wesley discovered this, as did others who were used by God to bring revivals in history.
a. People repented of sins, they turned their backs on ungodliness.
b. Crime rates dropped dramatically after revivals; so did divorce rates and other forms of tragedies.
c. A new energy and life returned to the Church. SEND US PENTECOST AGAIN LORD!
4. Fire was often used throughout the bible as a symbol of cleansing.
a. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire to purge the land of sexual sin.
b. Those who rebelled in the wilderness under Moses were swallowed and consumed by fire for their unrepentant hearts.
c. God used fire to destroy Israel's enemies on many occasions, thus He purged the land.
Ill. MESSAGE OF THE FUTURE Lev. 10:1-3; Heb. 12:28-29
A. Human vrs. Heavenly Lev. 10:1-3
1. Knowing all this the church must be careful not to try and rely on man-made fire, or as the Bible calls it, "strange fire."
a. Nadab and Abihu, Aarons's oldest sons tried to put natural fire, or "unauthorized fire" (NIV) -- "strange fire" (KJV) on the sacrifices before the tabernacle.
b. Both of them and all Israel soon learned that God would not accept natural fire, God's supernatural fire came forth and killed both Nadab and Abihu!
c. This was the Ananias and Sapphira story of the Old Testament. God accepts only supernatural fire for His sacrifices!
2. There is no power on earth that can do the work of God, only the real fire that comes from God Himself will suffice!
a. All the efforts churches and Christians use to accomplish the work of God are doomed to failure IF they are devoid of the Holy Spirit's power!
b. No church board can run the church successfully by just business sense or skills alone, it will take God's power.
c. What we can't do by ordinary means, we can do by supernatural means!
d. The kingdom of God is supernatural; therefore it cannot be built by natural means.
3. The reason for this is that God alone deserves the credit, not us!
a. Yet, how often has the Church or Christians yielded to the temptation to think they can do without the Holy Spirit's power and still get the job done!
b. How many Churches today are plodding along without the Spirit's power and presence and wondering why things aren't happening spiritually?
c. Trying to build the church without the Pentecostal power will be an exercise in futility, and the results will be ridiculous!
ILLUS:Howard Hendricks wisely observed: "It is foolish to build a chicken coop on the foundation of a skyscraper." The church that attempts to build the kingdom of God without the power of the Holy Spirit are just like that, the results are laughable, yet sad! -- Source, Unknown.
4. The church that is without power will go nowhere!
ILLUS: Years ago in the famous Rose Bowl parade one of the floats came to a halt stopping the whole parade! For some time everything was shut down until they finally discovered the problem, the float was out of gas! Someone quickly ran to get a can of gas to refuel the float. The parade started up again. However, it was embarrassing for the owners of the float, the float belonged to the Standard Oil Company!!! Here was a company that had huge oil and gas reserves at its disposal, and because someone forgot to fill the tank their float was helpless and without power to move, and it held up everyone else! This is the plight of the non-Pentecostal church! - Source, Unknown.
5. The Church of Jesus Christ can do many things, but it can't recreate the power that comes only from heaven!
a. No amount of worship teams can replace the Holy Spirit's power!
b. No evangelism explosion program can replace the Holy Spirit's power!
c. No home fellowship groups can replace the Holy Spirit's power!
d. No Christian education department can replace the Holy Spirit's power!
e. No great facilities can replace the Holy Spirit's power!
B. Hot! Heb. 12:28-29
1. "our God is a consuming fire!" 12:29 The church of God is HOT!
a. Being on "fire for God" is more than just a catchphrase; it needs to be real!
b. No church will ever have to worry about growth if the fire of God's Spirit is there!
ILLUS:One of the great laws of physics also applies to the realm of the Spirit in the church: "The "law of thermodynamics" states, "the greater the heat, the greater the expansion!" Where the fire of God exists in a church the greater the expansion of the Gospel! - Source, Unknown.
2. We cannot destroy the works of Satan by fleshly means; the Church on fire will transform its community more than anything else will. The power of the Spirit will transform communities!
a. Trying to shoot down Satan's influence will not work without the Holy Spirit's power in our lives.
b. It takes God's Spirit and His power to destroy the works of Satan!
c. Any substitute is like shooting empty shells!
ILLUS:In World War II a B-17 bomber had been on a run over a German city named Kassel. It took quite a bit of flak by Nazi antiaircraft guns, but miraculously it kept flying and made it back to base. Going through the plane the airforce pilots couldn't believe their own eyes, a total of 11 shells had hit their gas tanks and yet the plane had not exploded! Taking the 11 intact shells carefully from the tanks they were sent down to have them defused. What they found in defusing them explained their miracle. All 11 shells were completely empty! One shell contained a handwritten note in the Czech language that read, "This is all we can do for you now." They had no powder to put in the shells, so they had no power to destroy. They failed to take down their enemy because they were just empty shells. This is just like the church that tries to fight Satan without supernatural power from God! - Source, Unknown
3. How successful are you in fighting against sin and Satan? How well is the church fighting? What we need is an old fashioned Pentecostal revival!! LET THE FIRE FALL LORD!
CONCLUSION: The fire at Pentecost tells us two important things about God's church; it is called to harvest souls, and it is called to be the habitation of the Spirit. No man made fire will do! It must be God's fire falling on His Church and the believer for God's work to be done! Let the fire fall Lord! FAN IT!