The Flaming Church

This Sunday is the celebration of Pentecost. Below is my sermon from last year on Acts 2:1-41.

Pentecost takes place ten days after Christ’s Ascension into heaven. He ascended forty days after His resurrection and the Spirit came ten days after Christ’s ascension, on Pentecost.

Throughout church history colors have been very important. For the ascension we are to wear white, as a symbol of purity and holiness. On the day that we celebrate Pentecost, we wear red.

Now, this is significant for all of us, God has made colors to mean things, because all things in God’s creation have meaning. We wear red, because we are people who have been set on fire by the Holy Spirit.

So, forty days after Jesus is resurrected He ascends into heaven, then 10 days after that we have Pentecost, and Pentecost means 50. 50 days since Christ’s resurrection. Christ ascends into heaven from earth and the Holy Spirit descends from heaven to earth. The New Covenant Church is gathered and God glorifies His people by sending the Holy Spirit from heaven.

You may remember Jesus saying these very words in John 16, “now I am going to Him [the Father] who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper [Advocate, Paraclete, Holy Spirit] will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.”

We often think it would be better if Jesus were still here on earth, but Jesus says it is better that He is gone, and we have to believe this, He said it! It is better that He ascended to the Father, because that is the Father’s plan. They together send the Holy Spirit to the earth. If Jesus had not gone to the Father, the Holy Spirit would not have been poured out. Now we have God with us.

So, Jesus ascends unto heaven and the Holy Spirit descends from heaven and He comes upon the disciples symbolized as tongues of fire over their heads. The Jews from all nations were gathered around the disciples and everyone could hear these guys proclaiming the Kingdom of God in their own language.

Here, at Pentecost, Peter preaches one of the most powerful sermons in church history. Here Peter calls upon the Jews to repent for killing Jesus, “God made this Jesus both the Lord and the Christ, and you crucified Him.”

Peter calls them out because Jesus is their King, and they refused to acknowledge Him. They sinned against Christ covenantally and if they do not repent they will be destroyed by the wrath of the Lamb, and they shout out, “What shall we do?!”

You all probably remember what Peter says to them, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” There you go, that’s what you need to do. Repent of your transgressions against the Lord of Glory and be baptized into His name for the forgiveness of your sins.

Now, remember this is Pentecost. The day the Holy Spirit descended from heaven, and Peter tells them that if they repent and are baptized “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (verse 38).

We are to come to the Lord with knowledge and understanding. We are to love Him with our minds, so what is some basic knowledge that we have learned so far? We have learned that 50 days after the resurrection the Holy Spirit was given from the throne room of heaven unto the church on earth.

The Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles and with tongues of fire they call the Jews to repentance. They are exhorting the covenant family to believe the fulfillment of all of God’s promises. This is why we celebrate Pentecost, God the Father and God the Son have given us, the bride of Christ, the Holy Spirit. We have been given the fire from heaven, just as God has promised.

This was prophesied, of course, in the Old Testament. Joel 2 says”28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”

And Peter says that this prophecy is filled at Pentecost, here in Acts 2. This means that we are a Pentecostal church, we belong to Christ and Christ has given us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon the church in power and that was symbolized by fire, and that is why I am wearing red [I had a red tie on].

But fire is not a brand new thing in the Bible. God’s fire came down to burn up the sacrifices on the altar. God protected His people out of Egypt with a pillar of cloud and fire. Remember that story with Elijah and the prophets of Baal and the fire of God comes down and eats up the sacrifices and licks up the water. That’s a good one.

Fire is not a new symbol, and the Holy Spirit is not a new person. Fire and the Holy Spirit have always been in Scripture. The Holy Spirit came upon saints in the Old Covenant too. He rushed upon Samson and gave him strength to battle the Philistines. He rushed upon Saul and gave him a new heart, He later left Saul, but that is a story for another day. The Holy Spirit came upon King David, remember Psalm 51 David prays that God would not take His Holy Spirit away from him.

Fire is the real symbol of God’s presence, power, and glory. So, at Pentecost, God’s presence was descending upon His people, see we don’t have to work our way up to heaven, God comes down to us.

God’s power and glory was coming upon the church, and the church is the bride of Christ. We have been made into a beautiful, glorious bride for the Son. We are men and women and children made of dirt, dust we are and dust we will return, but now we are glorious dirt.

Think about this a minute. Let this sink in to your heart and mind. In 1 Corinthians 11, the Lord tells us that the wife is the glory of the husband. So, husbands when you introduce your wives to someone you say, “Hey, I want you to meet my glory, here she is.” Wives you would like that wouldn’t you?

Wives glorify husbands. Women, you make us men look good.

When God made Adam, He called him Adam, and do you know what Adam means? Adam means “dirt bag.” God made man, and said, “Yeah, there’s a dirt bag.” But when He made Eve, the woman, the wife, He did not make her out of the dirt, she is not a dirt woman. No. God was going to make something very good.

He put Adam to sleep and ripped his side open and made Ish, which is the Hebrew for fire. He made Adam and said “dirt bag” then He made Eve and said, “fire girl.”

Eve was the glory of Adam. He made Adam and said, “meh” and then He made Eve, and said, “Oh yeah!”

When Adam saw Eve for the first time, he said “Yowza! Hubba Hubba” That’s the Hebrew there. Then you know what? He sang to her.

Eve made Adam look good. Eve was the fiery bride for her groom. Making that connection yet?

God made women to glorify men. Women make men look good. Wives you dress up in nice dresses, you put on nice makeup and where shiny jewelry. Wives, you look good.

Men? Na, we are dirt bags. I get a nice suit with a tie. That doesn’t compare to my bride. And man, does she look good.

Men you get ready in what, five or ten minutes? Why does it take women longer to get ready? Well, they are glorious and glory needs to look good, glory takes time.

Now, Jesus is the last Adam and you have heard me say it before. Jesus fixed what Adam broke. Adam disobeyed, Jesus obeyed. Adam let the devil deceive his bride, Jesus crushed the Serpent’s head.

Jesus rose from the dust of the earth, out of the tomb. Jesus’s side was ripped open by a spear for the life of His bride pouring forth water and blood.

Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life as the Nicene Creed says.

Jesus sent down fire upon His bride to glorify Him.

Eve is Adam’s fiery wife.

The Church is Christ’s fiery bride.

Acts 2 is fire upon Christ’s bride that makes her glorious. This is what we celebrate. Jesus sends fire from heaven to light up the church, to set it ablaze with celestial flame.

Just like God sending His fire from heaven to light up the altar of sacrifice. His glory fire lights us up as living sacrifices.

You, church, are the glorious bride of Jesus Christ. His Spirit is upon your heads. This is why we baptize, we don’t want you to get burned up. You are the clean sacrifices, you are the glorious bride, and we seek to glorify our Husband, we live to make Him look good. You worship Him as He tells you to.

You exalt Him at all times.

You lift Him up with praise.

When we are faithful and righteous, when we obey His commandments we make our Husband look good.

When we are a faithless bride, not obeying Him, when we cheat on Him with idolatry and adultery, we blaspheme our Husband and give the enemy an opportunity to revile Him.

And, just like the Apostles, you have tongues of fire. Jesus is the Incarnate Word of God and He is God speaking to us. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God, He is the divine Music, He is God singing to us and through us.

When we sing, and sing rightly, we are singing the Lord’s words, singing by the Spirit to one another, building up the church. When Paul tells the church to let the Spirit dwell in her richly, he commands the church to sing God’s Word.

We are the glorious bride of Christ, and as the bride we submit to our Husband. This is done by living and submitting to the Holy Spirit. We seek to serve our Lord, our Husband, our Bridegroom and make Him look good. We seek to make Him glorious, and make much of Him every day. And this day we are privileged to exalt Him with our tongues of fire.

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