Tongues Like Fire


Signs of the End

It is quite evident that we are living in the end times. The signs are quite glaring. Indeed, the perilous times are here with us. The following are events that will characterise these times according to the scriptures and are prevalent around the globe today.

  • The emergence
  • Wars and rumours of wars.
  • Famines, pestilences and earthquakes. See Matthew 24: 5-7, Luke 21: 8 – 11.

In fact, the above is just the first degree of the signs of the end. The Bible calls it the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24: 8). The advanced stage or degree of the signs of the end include:

  • The persecution and betrayal of the saints.
  • The arising of false prophets.
  • Global acceptance of iniquity and the waxing cold of the love of many saints, as it was in Sodom and Gomorrah (See: Matthew 24: 9-10; Luke 21: 12-18; I Timothy 4: 1-2; II Timothy 3: 1-5).

Isaiah did prophesy that those times shall be plagued with “gross darkness.” Isaiah’s prophecy is interpreted to mean that many in these times will defy the counsel of God. Globally, ungodliness, corruption and wickedness will be the vogues. This we can see gradually building up in our times. The end is surely nigh! The only event that is yet to be fulfilled before the end comes is the evangelism of the entire globe (Matthew 24: 14). The responsibility is that of the church. Unfortunately, the present church is not aware of the times we are in, talk less of the responsibility in this global evangelization. Many are sleeping. Many hearts are overcharged with surfeiting, drunkenness and the cares of this life (Luke 31: 34)

There is a need to awake to the times! There is a need to take up our roles!! There is a need for a global revival of the church!!! We need to redeem the times for the times are evil (Ephesians 5: 16).

The Holy Spirit is the agent of revival. A believer whose fellowship with the Holy Spirit is unbroken will constantly flow in the river of revival. The purpose of this article is to:

  1. Create an awareness the need of a sustainable revival.
  2. Impart a keen passion for an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, the agent of revival.
  3. Create a burden for global evangelism.

It is time to arise and wake up to our responsibility. It is time to allow the Holy Spirit to spark the flame of revival in our heart just as He did to the early church, which brought about a global revival and evangelization of their then world. May our hearts and lives be yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit in our times.

HOLY SPIRIT – THE AGENT OF REVIVAL 1

The Person of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is as much God as the Father and Jesus, the Son (1 John 5: 7). In fact, this fundamental truth of the Trinity was buttressed by Jesus when he was informing his disciples of the need for Him to exit the scene so that the Holy Spirit can take over. In John 14: 6, Jesus said that the Father would give us another comforter in his stead. The Greek word for another used here is alos and not heterosAlos means another of the same kind, while heteros mean another of a different kind. The Holy Spirit is equated with Jesus Christ himself.

Believers need to realise that the Holy Spirit is a real person, though He is invisible. He is more real than even the person that sits beside us; that is the people we see. The reality for us is not determined by the three dimension; that is the physical things or by what we can perceive with our normal senses, but rather by the fourth dimension, which is what can be perceived by the Spirit (See I Corinthians 2: 6-16; II Corinthians 5: 7). Spiritual maturity begins when we can effectively relate to the Holy Spirit as a personality.

According to the Britannica 2004 Dictionary, a personality is (i) the quality or state of being a person, (ii) the complex characteristics that distinguish an individual or nation or a group, especially the totality of an individual’s behavioural and emotional characteristics. From the scriptures, it can be seen clearly that the Holy Spirit does have His personality. He is a person, not an object nor figment of the imagination.

 His Character

  • He is loving and can be loved.
  • Merry heart and full of joy
  • Seeks for peace and full of peace
  • Can bear and suffer long
  • Always gentle in his approach to people
  • Longs to do good at all times. He is good.
  • He is steadfast, faithful and dependable.
  • He is quite humble.
  • He is temperate in all things. He has an accurate control of His emotions (See: Galatians 5: 22-23; Ephesians 5: 9; Colossians 3: 12 and James 2:12).

His Emotions

  • He can be grieved (See Ephesians 4: 30)
  • He can be tempted (See Acts 5: 9)
  • He can speak authoritatively as to call us to work for Him (See Acts 13: 2 & 4).

Symbols Used to Describe the Holy Ghost

  • Wind – See John 3: 8; Acts 2: 1.
  • Dove – Matthew 3: 16; John 1: 32.
  • Rivers and loving waters – John 7: 38 – 39.
  • Fire – Matthew 3: 11; Acts 2: 3.
  • Olive oil – 1 Samuel 16: 13 & 14.
  • Seal – Ephesians 1: 13; 4: 30.
  • Showers of rain – Zechariah 10: 1.
  • Wine – Ephesians 5: 18.

 His Titles

  • Comforter – John 14: 26; 15: 26 and 16: 7.
  • Spirit of Truth – John 14: 17; 15: 26; 16: 13.
  • Counsellor – Isaiah 9:6.
  • Guarantor – Ephesians 1: 14.
  • Teacher – John 14: 26.
  • Spirit of Power – Luke 24: 47; Acts 1:8.
  • Spirit of Promise – Ephesians 1: 13
  • Spirit of Grace – Zechariah 12: 10; Hebrews 10: 29.

The symbols of the Holy Spirit have in a way affected many from understanding the personality of the Holy Spirit. For instance, if you say that a person is as strong as a bull does not make that individual a bull. It only implies that the strength capacity of that individual is as comparable to that of a bull. Likewise, these symbols used to describe the attributes of the Holy Spirit do not in any way take away his personality. In the context of our discourse, we will be majoring on the symbol that describes Him as fire. Why is he described as fire? How does not relate to His operations as an agent of revival? This, we hope to answer subsequently.

HOLY SPIRIT – AGENT OF CHANGE

Looking at the Dictionary again, a fire could imply the following:

  • A phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flames and heat.
  • A burning passion, ardour or zeal.
  • Fuel in the state of combustion.
  • An igniting agent or kindling agent.
  • Severe trial or ordeal.
  • The firing of weapons, intense verbal attack or criticism.

From the above definitions for fire, it begins to get clear why the Holy Spirit is described as a fire in the Holy Writ. The following therefore can be said of the Holy Spirit:

  1. He is the heavenly phenomenon that ensures that we as believers, manifest as the light (the flame and heat) of the world (See Matthew: 5: 14; Acts 1: 8)
  2. He gives the believer a burning passion and zeal for the work of the heavenly Father (ministry) See Isaiah 59: 17 and John 2: 17.
  3. He is the anointing (our fuel). See Isaiah 61: 1 and Luke 4: 18.
  4. He is the agent of revival (Matthew 3: 11 and Acts 2: 3).
  5. He is the coach and purifier (Matthew 3: 11-12).
  6. He is our defender and shield (II Kings 1: 10 & 12; Psalms 105: 15)

The Agent of Revival

From Acts 2, we see that the first major manifestation of the Holy Spirit to the New Testament Church. It was believed that the church was born on this account; the day of Pentecost.
Here were the disciples who not many days before this experience had lost the zeal, passion and fervour for the work that their beloved master committed to their custody. Peter upon all his boasting could not stand to vocally and boldly identify with his mentor before a mere damsel. They were largely of the opinion to shake their fishing nets and go back to their former occupation; fishing for fishes rather than fishing for men.

This situation describes the state of many believers now. Many today have stories of what they “used to do” for the Lord. Many are out of form, the zeal is gone, the fire had been put out, the first love they had has gone cold (Revelation 2: 4). Many have even like the remnant of Israel in Babylon, hung up their harps, and the gospel is dried from their lips. They have totally lost hope (Psalm 137: 2 – 4). We see not our signs again. Many are indeed like dry bones are crying, “will thou not revive us again, that we may rejoice in thee? (Psalms 85:6). I hear the Lord say that dry bones shall live again. Amen!

After the resurrection of Christ, after about ten days of continuous waiting and praying, the Holy Spirit was poured upon the disciples as prophesied by Joel (See Joel 2: 28 – 29). Suddenly the weak, timid and hopeless band if disciples resurged with such a great strength, zeal, boldness and confidence. The Upper Room could not contain them again. They could not keep shut again. Like Jeremiah, there was a fire burning in their bones (Jeremiah 20: 9). Their dry bones became ablaze again. You too can be ablaze again. How does the Holy Spirit ensure this? What are the necessary steps to take?

Ingredients for a Lasting Revival

  1. A personal and concrete revelation of the person of Christ (Matthew 16: 16 – 18; Luke 24: 30 – 32). A personal knowledge (epignosis) of Christ is essential so as to ensure that the zeal (fire) of revival is balanced with the knowledge to inhabit and set ablaze. He is looking for a heart that will be totally yielded to Him (II Corinthians 16: 19).
  2. A genuine, consistent and passionate hunger for revival (Psalm 27: 4; 42: 1; 63: 1; Matthew 5: 6; Philippians 3: 13) until the hunger for revival becomes a focus.
  3. Need for a purified, sanctified and separated life (Matthew 3: 1, Luke 24: 47; Acts 1: 8, 2: 1). Remember that he is the Holy Spirit. He is looking for Holy Vessels to inhabit and set ablaze. He is looking for a heart that will be totally yielded to Him (II Chronicles 16: 9).
  4. Need to seek for it in prayer (Zechariah 10: 1; Acts 4: 24 – 31). Prayer has always been an essential prerequisite to revival. Today we have a lot of players but few prayers. Today the task of praying is relegated to a few. In the beginning, it was not so. The early church was a praying church (Luke 18: 1; Acts 1: 14, 2: 1, 4: 24, 6: 4, 12: 5, 16: 25; Romans 12: 12; Ephesians 6: 18; Colossians 4: 2, I Thessalonians 5: 17). Prayer meetings were normal meetings of the early church. Today it has become the Cinderella of the church. No wonder many believers today lack zeal and power. A prayerless church is a powerless church. There is a dire need to put the armour of the Spirit, and stand in the place of fervent prayer. Elijah was a man of like passion like us, but he achieved great feats through the instrument of prayer. He prayed and fire fell. He prayed and the rain stopped. He prayed and the shower fell. Oh Lord send another Elijah!

BAPTISM OF FIRE

The Baptism of Fire is a spiritual experience that is strange to a lot of believers today. It is simply being baptised into or with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Remember that the Lord is a consuming fire (Hebrew 12: 29). When we are baptised in the Spirit, God’s purpose is to ensure that we are totally consumed by His fire that is being totally submerged. John the Baptist declared that Jesus was the baptiser with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3: 11).

Today, a lot of emphases is placed on speaking in tongues as a physically perceivable evidence of the Holy Spirit baptism, but little or no mention is made of the spiritually perceivable sign which is the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 3). The tongues of fire are symbolic for the new zeal and fervour the believer ought to receive after such an encounter. After the Holy Spirit baptism, believers ought to exude great zeal, confidence and boldness. This is essentially evidenced in an eagerness to be a witness of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. But today, all we see is a celebration of tongues; a form of godliness but a denial of its power.

A closer study of instances where believers received the baptism of the Spirit establishes this truth:

  • Acts 2 Experience: The believers after this experience could not keep shut again. They became witnesses of the gospel. 3000 souls were won that day alone! What power!!!
  1. Paul’s experience (Acts 9: 17, 20 & I Corinthians 4: 18): After being filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke in tongues and straightway began to preach the gospel of Christ.
  2. Centurion’s House (Acts 10: 44-46): Not only did they speak in tongues, but they also magnified God. Preaching the gospel is magnifying God which was exactly the experience of the believers in Acts 2.
  3. Believers at Ephesus (Acts 19: 2 – 6): After the Holy Spirit baptism or better put, the baptism of fire, they not only spoke in tongues but they also prophesied. The Greek word for prophesy means to proclaim, to declare, to preach.

The Scriptures say that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, a word is established (II Corinthians 13: 1). Even Jesus after his own baptism with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan was later found preaching the Good News henceforth. Therefore, the essence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the Baptism of Fire is not just to celebrate tongues but actually to become a witness of the Gospel of Christ. Therefore, from the scriptures above, it can be deduced that after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, two types of tongues are received:

  1. An edifying tongue: The gift of tongues is to build (edify) our spirits so that we can relate to God in the spirit which is communion (I Corinthians 14: 2 & 4)
  2. A Witnessing (Magnifying Tongues): this is to enable us to preach the Gospel, thereby fulfilling our call the Great Commission. We all called to be a witness of the Gospel of Christ. For this cause, the utterance is given to us as a result of the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Joel 2: 28-29; Acts 1: 8).

There is a need for the church to come to an understanding of the truth. For when this truth is known and believed, we will all be set free and fully empowered to carry out our role in this end-time global evangelisation. The hour is now! There is a need to get baptised in this fire so that we can become co-agents with the Holy Spirit to carry the fire to the nations and set the world on fire with the fire of the Pentecost for then shall the end come. This is our mandate. This is our commission!

REFERENCES

  1. King James Version of the Holy Bible
  2. Power Bible
  3. “Holy Spirit My Senior Partner” by David Yonggi Cho, 1992.
  4. The Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit by Sumrall Lester, 2005.
  5. Encyclopaedia Britannica.

 

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