A People Marked By Fire


A People Marked By Fire

By May 18, 2024May 20th, 2024No Comments

This week officially ends the Easter season with the arrival of Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost likely makes you think of Acts 2 and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“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

The People of God, Redeemed, Marked

Much of the Protestant church shies away from an overt celebration of Pentecost Sunday, perhaps because of the overemphasis on the tongues portion of the passage. That’s unfortunate as Pentecost is a great reminder that Jesus is continuing to do His work in the world now through the agency of His church.

Pentecost celebrates the birth of the church and encourages us to love, teach, and minister to the world in the name of Jesus through the power of His Spirit. In thinking about this coming Sunday I love the significance of Pentecost when viewed alongside the giving of the law to Israel.

Here are just four distinct parallels:

  1. Both events happened to newly redeemed people. The Israelites were recently set free from slavery in Egypt. Christ’s followers have recently been set free from slavery to sin and death. But there is more than that.
  2. Both events occur 50 days following redemption. The Israelites celebrate the first Passover in Egypt through the sacrifice of a lamb. Fifty days later they receive the law from God on Sinai.  The newly birthed church celebrates Jesus’ resurrection following his sacrificial death. Fifty days later they receive the Spirit.
  3. Both events mark God’s covenant people. The giving of the law set apart the Israelites as God’s people. The giving of the Spirit at Pentecost set apart God’s new covenant community.
  4. Both events involved the fire of God’s Spirit. At the giving of the law God comes to Israel as a blazing fire on Sinai. (See Exodus 19:16-19) At Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes to the church as tongues of fire. The people of God in both events are a people marked by fire.

The Best News in the World

Whether your church celebrates Pentecost Sunday this week or not, I hope and pray that each of us would rejoice in our amazing salvation, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in our call to tell others of the best news in the world. The Lord has not left us to do this on our own. We are given real power for every day. May the fire of the Spirit burn brightly within us.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Romans 15:13
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Rick Harper

Rick Harper

Rick Harper has a passion to coach and mentor other pastors and church planters in their gospel calling. He received his MDiv from Reformed Theological Seminary and assisted in planting River Oaks Church in Lake Mary, FL. He received a call to be an Assistant Pastor at University City Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC and Senior Pastor of UCPC/StoneBridge in Charlotte. He and his wife, Anne, serve in Vienna with their four daughters, where Rick is a pastor mentor/coach for Serge.