On the morning of the day of Pentecost the disciples were sitting together in an upper room
and about 9 o'clock in the morning a violent noise sounded out of heaven and descended
on them and filled the whole place.
It was sound alone, and not a wind.
Luke compares the sound to that of a violent wind.
It was a sound.
There may have been a wind, but it is the sound of the wind that is declared.
Other great epochs of history have been preceded by extraordinary phenomena in nature.
On that day that sound as of the sweeping of a mighty wind not only filled all that house,
but the whole city heard it.
It was that sound that brought people rushing out to see what had happened.
The mighty sound was surely the symbol of power.
We may remember that both the Hebrew and Greek words for the Spirit, (Heb. ruach,
and Gr. pneuma) denote wind or breath.
Jesus compared the coming of the Spirit to the blowing of the wind in John 3:8.
The volume of the sound denotes vast, supernatural power.
It was like the sound of a tornado, but that is not the principal event.
In all of New Testament history that sound never occurred again.
It was merely a symbol.
There are two symbols here: the wind and the fire.
Wind is the symbol of invisible power.
Remember, Jesus said to Nicodemus that the Spirit is like the wind, which blows
wherever it desires, and no one can tell where it comes from or where it will go. (John 3:8)
The disciples were brought completely under the control of the Holy Spirit.
For the disciples, that was the essential miracle and experience of Pentecost.
That experience was repeated again and again in the days which followed.
It is an experience which is normal and natural for all followers of the Lord Jesus.
His precious Spirit never leaves a believer, but again and again as a believer surrenders
even more to the will of the Lord, he is absolutely dominated by the Holy Spirit of Christ.
So, the Spirit of the Lord is presented as unseen and life-giving.
Essentially the Spirit's operation is to communicate a supernatural life which is kindred
to the Divine life of God.
The product of His energy is as truly a new man as when God breathed into the lifeless nostrils
of Adam the breath of natural life.
The second symbol Luke uses to describe this outpouring of the Spirit was a symbol
of sight: tongues as of fire.
The people heard something and they saw something.
With two senses of men involved in the experience of Pentecost, it would be difficult
to discredit the reality of that amazing, supernatural occurrence.
Luke does not say that it was actually fire, which the people saw.
The resultant action of the disciples gave the impression that the Holy Spirit was
a distributive force moving upon them like tongues of fire emanating from a single flame.
There was no fire, but upon each believer rested a luminous tongue, symbolic of the
fervent, zealous witness each would be empowered to bear.
So, here is a most suitable emblem, pregnant with meaning, and indicative of the large place,
which the human voice was to play in the work of the Lord.
This supernatural fire declared that the mere unaided human voice would avail nothing.
The voice must be quickened and empowered by that Divine fire, that superhuman energy
and power, which the Holy Spirit alone can confer.
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them."
Fire is: (1) Purifying; (2) Consuming; (3) Transmuting; (4) Diffusive.
As we witness we need this kind of power.
Remember, there was the sound - like wind.
There was the sight - tongues like as of fire.
That never happened again! It never occurred again!
Now, go to Acts 4:31: "When they had prayed, the place was shaken wherein they were
gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the words
Do you see what they were doing when this happened?
Now, this is something else.
The whole place was shaken.
And that (as far as the New Testament records) never happened again.
So, we have three things:
Now, maybe, this doesn't need to be said, but there are those in our day who are trying
to get back to services where there is house shaking, and the sight of fire and tongues
of that sort.
This is to miss the real value of these great symbols.
These symbols arrested attention at the very beginning of the Christian movement
and were never repeated.
What we must see is that all inside that house were filled with the Holy Spirit of God,
and this can happen to us today, and we have a desperate need for this great experience in our lives.
"O Thou who camest from above
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.
Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
To work, and speak, and think for Thee;
Still let me guard the holy fire,
And still stir up Thy gift in me."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L.White