The Holy Spirit, The Fire Falling
Let’s turn to Luke and chapter 24. Today we’re going to look at “The Fire Falling” as we were singing there in the hymn; just going through some very simple scriptures today on salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. All these things of course most of us are well aware of - it’s part of what we have and we praise The Lord for the vision of being to understand the baptism of the Spirit.
We see here The Lord speaking and as we look through the scriptures this afternoon it’s the theme of the bible, particularly of course the New Testament, and if someone was to ask me “what is the most important aspect of the New Testament?” I would tell them the baptism of the Holy Spirit - because it’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit that answers to what Jesus did on the cross. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit the cross would be meaningless; because the Holy Spirit brings the blood of The Lord and his broken body into our lives. It’s called salvation - it’s not only a salvation that is in the future, of eternal life, but it’s what we have now day by day, living in the spirit and rejoicing in the Holy Ghost; knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.
Einstein said at one stage words like “real knowledge is only by experience” and for a chap that had an extremely amazing mind for him to be thinking like that, the Greeks had that term too - the “Epignosis” knowledge - the knowledge gained by experience. And when you read through the scriptures just about every time you read the word knowledge it’s the knowledge that’s gained by experience. And what of course it is is speaking about experience in the Holy Spirit - the knowledge that the Holy Spirit brings us. We know The Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. There is no other way of knowing The Lord, the Son of God, except through The Spirit.
People can go to theological colleges and know all the Greek, all the various aspects, but until you receive the holy spirit. As we were hearing yesterday at the prayer and fast Peter very much wanted to follow The Lord and do everything for The Lord but at the end of the day he was just a man. It wasn’t until he received the spirit that he could know and understand what The Lord was speaking about.
It’s the same with all of us here, None of us while we were looking and seeking for The Lord - we did not come into the full understanding of The Lord Jesus Christ until we were filled with The Spirit. And Jesus of course speaks that He is The Holy Ghost as we will see this afternoon.
Turn to Luke 24:49, the last words of The Lord here:
“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high”.
The importance of what we are looking at here is that it is the promise of God, the promise of The Father, The Holy Spirit. People may say “Why be filled with the spirit?” or “Why get saved?” but the whole aspect of the gospel being preached is that people can have eternal life. That you can be blessed in this life now, you can know and understand where you’re going, and you can understand The Father and The Son; you can understand and experience the eternal kingdom of The Lord.
The lord is there saying there are “multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14), people have to make up their minds and their choices. As we know Lord spoke that this world was going to end - that this particular time was going to close over, it’s called Armageddon, and The Lord’s kingdom - the millennium - is going to be ushered in. This is what The Lord was bringing people to, this was it, he was risen from the dead and had been through the cross and said to tarry in Jerusalem for the promise of the father. (continuing in Luke 24:50):
“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God”.
And we’ll follow this theme up later in the scriptures but now let’s turn to Matthew 3 and understand in the New Testament where it all began - the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think there is a more controversial aspect of the scriptures especially among religious people - the Holy Spirit - you can ask some here and they have a certain way of confirmation, and another who were baptised in water - and the bible is very specific when we receive The Holy Spirit. There are no difficulties in it and sometimes people, very good people, following The Lord find it difficult to come to the equation that they have been wrong in what they have been taught.
Here is the simple salvation message of The Lord - the promise of the father, the baptism of The Holy Spirit, “being endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This is the power of God we are speaking about, this is the “coal of fire off the altar" (Isaiah 6:6-7), this is the “Elijah fire” coming down to consume the sacrifice and showing that the God who answers by fire that He is the Living God. When you receive the Holy Spirit you know The Lord, you know that you’ve come in contact, you know that you’ve come into a spiritual area of things that you never thought possible.
John the Baptist as we know came on the scene preaching the repentance and The Kingdom of God and we read in Matthew 3:11
And all this is being born of the Holy Spirit, the fire of the Holy Spirit moving in, regenerating, moving the sin out of our lives, changing our lives, changing our thinking, changing our heart.
In the Old Testament it was works, it was law, it was a baptism of repentance. John would go around and say to people ‘you fix up your life and then I’ll baptise you’ - whereas in the New Testament it is ‘you repent, you decide to turn to The Lord and obey His word, get baptise in water and the Holy Spirit will come in’ and it does the work. It changes the life, everything. No more sin; brought into righteousness. No more “the world”; brought into The Lord’s tabernacle. No more of “the world’s thinking”; brought into the mind of Christ. No more “the old man”; but “the new man”, the new creation man, the man that is created new by the Holy Spirit - the Holy Ghost and with fire. This was the message that is through the scriptures - the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Down through the ages from the beginning of the church it’s been a battle to keep this vision of the Holy Spirit. You read the epistles - it is always the battle about the Holy Ghost at the end stage of it all. You read in Jude about “contending for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3) moving into the common salvation. In Ephesians it’s ‘one spirit, one Lord, one baptism’ (Ephesians 4:5). And so here we see that the human person when receiving the spirit you speak in another tongue you realise their life is not your own. You realise that you have been bought with a price and you are God’s person, and most people do not like that. Their opinion is ‘I want to do my own thing’. That was the time of Elijah’s problem - he said “Why halt ye between two opinions?”; there’s the human opinion, the natural religious worldly opinion of God, and there’s a God who answers by fire - let Him be god.
And we know the test there as we read in the book of Kings - how The Lord answered by fire, it came down and consumed the sacrifice. You read it of Gideon, and of the children of Israel going through the red sea - being lead through the wilderness by the pillar of fire, all through the old testament. The rock that opened up and the water gushed out - all types of the Holy Ghost, types of The Spirit of The Lord. God has been wanting man to come back and be spiritual, to come back onto His level which is the heavenly level, God’s level, the new creation, the eternal man who can live in joy and peace not only with his creator but with his fellow man. There is nothing wrong with it - but man wants his own opinion.
And as you read through the gospels the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the religious lawyers they were all against The Lord. He was upsetting their natural world and as I was saying before as you read through the history of the church, the Ephesians, Jude, Hebrews and so forth, it was a battle of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. No bones about it. And down through church history you’ll read of little groups starting up being baptised and filled with The Spirit, speaking in other tongues, and the persecution that follows - incredible. And today it’s the same but it’s a bit more subtle. When the charismatic movement got underway it was ebraced by the church, and put in the back room - “we’ll put people who speak in tonges in the back room” - and all tha does is kill it. The lord says “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Corinthians 6:17) - stand up for your testimony.
We live in a world today where people call themselves a pentecostal church and they’re not a pentecostal bootlace. They’re pentecostal in name. There may be a few people scattered among them who have received the spirit but never the operation of the spiritual gifts; never expecting any of the fruits of the spirit, never expecting any of the other gifts of the spirit, the wisdom and knowledge, miracles and healings and diversities of tongues - it’s not preached about. Not socially acceptable, difficult to handle with the natural mind - it’s got to be the spiritual mind, the experiential mind that is filled with the spirit knowing what is being said, knowing what is being spoken about.
So we see here John the Baptist, Jesus gets baptised, the Holy Spirit comes down as the form of a dove and from that point on Jesus is anointed of the Holy Spirit - and that’s where he is able to say He has been anointed of the Lord to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted and so on (Luke 4:18-19). And Jesus we’re told went about doing good, and healing all that were sick and oppressed of the devil, because the Lord had anointed him (Acts 10:38). And that’s our anointing and that’s what we’ve got. And that’s where where the battle is - to compromise on that Holy Ghost anointing. Compromise against the word of God - people love the praises of men more than the praises of God - they lose sight of what The Lord has given them.
This is a matter of life and death.
You read it in the scriptures continually, decisions, decisions, decisions. The day of judgement, the day of armageddon - it’s begun - It’s happening all over the world. Jesus said be watchful, be vigilent, understand the times you are living in.
So that’s salvation - coming into the tabernacle of The Lord by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “I am the door of the sheepfold, any other man comes up any other way he is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). You can only come through Jesus Christ, what that means is you can only come through his word. “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments” (John 14:15) Jesus says, “if you love me you’ll keep my word”, and he we went on to say that “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). And all over the world people are sitting in congregations where they are not hearing about the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the bible evidence of speaking in tongues. That is being the thief, that’s the robber, that’s the destroyer.
Let’s turn to John chapter 7, and here we see the aspect of it all. Each and every one of us our testimony is to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), the common salvation, that’s our testimony. Everything else in our walk in The Lord really comes in second - because upholding that is upholding the vision, the Lord Jesus Christ, the promise of the father. We see here in John chapter 7 as people were coming down from the feast of tabernacles, all the religious people doing what they’re doing and The Lord stood there and verse 37
What a wonderful thing to offer people - it is still the same today. People in troubles, people needing answers, people with anxieties and difficulties, people not understanding where they are going in life. We know of drug problems in western society, of political problems, it’s never ending. The thirst is a thirst of wanting peace, wanting a place of rest, and Jesus says let him come to me and drink. What did He mean by that? He means being filled with the spirit. "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water". The Holy Spirit quenches the thirst. The Holy Spirit brings everything into correct priorities. The Holy Spirit brings us into a place of rest and joy, and transformation.
You read that in Isaiah, and Paul quotes it in the book of Corinthians.
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water.” The person at the well, Jesus spoke there to the lady and said to her “I have water that if you drink of it you’ll never thirst again"
Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)
The baptism of the Holy Spirit, “God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. (John 4:24)
Continuing on in verse 39 of John 7: “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive:..”. The word “should” there is imperative in the Greek, there is no doubt about it, this is it, it is imperative to receive it. “...for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified”. He hadn’t gone to the cross, he hadn’t made the way open, the sins had not been paid for of mankind.
Why can’t people see it? Why can’t people see that there has to be a saviour? Look at the world, the death, the destruction, the hate, the evil. Surely there has to be a better way. On one hand we have science doing amazing things, wonderful things, and on the other hand we have humanity pulling it all down: morally, spiritually, they’re ruining the world - we’re ruining it. We’re debating about everything, we’re in wars about everything. There’s no wisdom in the world, there’s no knowledge in the word. Man battles out who is the strongest, who is going to win. There’s jealousy and hate, there has to be a better way.
The people in our street, your street, my street - we’re fortunate in this country we’re blessed, we’re not going hungry, we’ve got a reasonable standard of living and yet there’s difficulties. Money difficulties, mental difficulties, and the Lord is saying if you thirst come unto me and out of your innermost being shall flow living water - healing water, waters of rest and peace and joy. That’s the Holy Ghost power. Living for The Lord is, yes, losing your life. Yes it is taking up your cross, yes it is being ready for everything. But knowing The Lord is 100% better than living in the world - knowing you’re filled with This Spirit.
At one stage there the people were following Jesus, He’d fed them, and He said you’re not following me because of the miracle, you’re following me because your belly is full - you’ve been entertained (John 6:26-27). And how people are entertained these days - with their belly, their natural things that they want to be fulfilled in. Religion is full of it, they were following The Lord but for their belly’s sake. We follow The Lord because of the miracle, of being filled with The Spirit and being in His church and being a productive member of the body of Christ, in unity, in love and in joy manifesting the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we go back to the tabernacle worship, we go back to the Old Testament law, we go back to death and destruction and sin - no life in that. We’ve come unto the Law of the spirit of life in Jesus christ, that's set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). That’s why we get filled with the spirit. That’s why we stay filled with the spirit. That’s why we keep our eyes on The Lord, that’s why we have a good confession of faith. And here was once again the promise of The Lord - that “when I’ve been glorified, you’ll be filled with the spirit”.
Turn over a few chapters to John chapter 14. Jesus said “People come to me and say we’ve healed in Your name, we’ve done many wonderful things in Your name” (this is when they’re coming into the judgement of The Lord), and He says “depart from me you workers of iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). There are people going around and claiming all sorts of things that they’ve done in the name of Jesus - and it may be the case - but unless, at the end of the day, people are baptised into the Holy Spirit it means nothing. It means nothing. We’ve had people come into this meeting here - and I mean going way back - to be filled with the spirit who had many things wrong with them and the Lord heals them - and they walk away over petty reasons. You’ve got to stay in the spirit, whatever the circumstance, we speak in tongues - that’s where our treasure is, that’s what we’ve got in The Lord, and once you make your treasure somewhere else you’re in troubles.
In John 14 Jesus is speaking about going to the father and we see in verse 15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever”. So we see here, the comforter - meaning another of the same kind, one that is called along side of, one that is there to help, the advocate, one who comes with strength. This is The Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The Lord knew that walking with Him was not going to be easy for people. It was not long after Pentecost that people were severely persecuted and it was only in The Spirit they held on. “I’ll give you another comforter and he will abide”, he will remain, he will be persistent with you, he will be at home with you, forever.
The Lord says that “He will never leave us, or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). And even though we forsake The Lord the Holy Spirit is still going to be there, waiting for us, If you’ve forsaken The Lord, to say “hey Lord I’ve been a fool” Hoping on the grace of God that you find your way back to HIm.
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth”... Truth - that’s a big one isn’t it … “whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him” … no perception of it, no knowledge of the experience … “ but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you”. Jesus Christ dwelling within.
The apostle Paul spoke to the Romans about people that had a knowledge (zeal) of The Lord but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2) - and this is what He was speaking about. Here were the religions people who had an amazing knowledge of God, they knew the Old Testament backwards and forwards but they did not have the experiential knowledge. They didn’t have the holy spirit. Paul was religious, Paul went about persecuting the Christians and it wasn’t until he was stopped on the road to Damascus and The Lord spoke to him and said “hey, you better go to Ananias and get baptised and receive the Holy Spirit”. Paul thought he knew everything and he went to the house of Ananias, got baptised and was prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit. Paul later says “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (1 Corinthians 14:18). He was taken out of the natural into the supernatural, and that’s what has happened to us.
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
And so The Lord there speaks of the wonderful promises of God, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the work of the Holy Spirit, the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Turn to Luke chapter 11, how do you receive the Holy Spirit and how do you come to this place, and we’ll come to the book of Acts also in a moment and see there.
This is where Jesus speaks about receiving the Holy Spirit, other places he speaks about being “born again” of the spirit, and here in verse 6: "And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.”
“I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”
The word importunity here means “shameless persistence” - and The Lord links this up - “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”.. Asking, ask for the Holy Spirit. Say a prayer to The Lord, ask forgiveness, thank The Lord for going to the cross.
One brother said it took three months to receive the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t give up. Some people receive more or less straight away when they hear the word. Sometimes we don’t receive because we’ve got so much religious stuff going on in our mind, sometimes we think we’re not good enough, and sometimes it’s because we think we’re too good.
Jesus said “unless you come as a little child you won’t receive the kingdom of God” (Matthew 18:2-4). The simplicity of children, your heavenly father says “I’ve got the Holy Spirit for you, ask and I’ll give it to you”.
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
There it is. We say “hallelujah”, we say “praise The Lord”, the word says “that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21). That’s how simple it is - “hallelujah Lord, praise The Lord”. There is no journey, we come to that point where we want to be filled with the spirit. We come to that point to acknowledge The Lord our saviour - he says “you’re going to get it”. It’s the Father’s good will to give you the kingdom, to give you the Holy Spirit. God wants to bless us, he said “His will is that none should perish, but all should come to everlasting life” (2 Peter 3:9) . None should perish - he’s telling people “Get on your knees and call on me”. What have you got to lose? Be shameless and persistent about it. Praise his name, and it’s the same as we go on with The Lord - the promises are the same.
Shameless persistence. Sometimes folk say “I got filled with the Holy Spirit, I decided this is what I need, I said hallelujah and the next thing I knew I was speaking in tongues”. Other folk are mulling it over, going through all the gymnastics of it. Come as a little child to the Lord.
Acts chapter 2 - we see here “the promise of The Father”. We know the scriptures, the “rushing mighty wind”, the “tongues of fire coming in”, all symbolisms of the Holy Spirit. And in verse 4: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”. The Day of Pentecost had begun, the church had begun, here was The Spirit, people were being changed. They heard all these Galaleans speaking in all different languages - “What’s going on here? we’re hearing them speak the wonderful works of God? What is the meaning of this? Are they drunk with new wine?”.
And Peter got up and said (verse 15):
For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
God is waiting on people to call upon Him. All people need to know is to get down on their knees and call on The Lord - time is running out. Here is the power of God, ti’s the experience, it’s the knowledge, it’s the truth. Praise The Lord.
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:”.
There are people all over the world and in the Middle East trying to move this along a bit. It’s incredible what is going on in the world. We leave the world alone, we leave everything alone, we preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified and we don’t care of your politics, your religion, your morals, or what you have going on in your life - come along and get baptised in the Holy Ghost and fire - let The Lord deal with it. Be born again of the spirit.
We have on the sign out the front “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed”? That’s what Paul asked the Ephesians. They said “we don’t know about the Holy Spirit” and that would be much the reaction of people today: “we don’t know about the Holy Ghost, what are you talking about? All I see about religion is what the Roman Catholic Church is up to, or that particular group is doing stupid things, or whatever”. The media loves it all.
We’re to go out and preach the Gospel, tell people they can have an experience, that they can be anointed in the Holy Spirit. And in verse 37:
We live in a comfortable life, can come to a comfortable hall, be warm - but let’s not get too comfortable in our experience. Let’s understand our Holy Ghost experience is one fire, one of persecution, one of persistence, one of standing on the promises. It is contending for the faith - contending - that word in the greek referred to the wrestlers, the olympians that strove with every muscle. “Contending for the faith once delivered to the saints”.
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us” - the old man, the natural man. In Jesus Christ everything is possible, in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit we reign in life and are “more than conquerors”. Praise God we are going into the kingdom of The Lord. Praise The Lord that we’re going to be “changed in the twinkling of an eye”. Thank The Lord because we’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit, thank The Lord because, yes, you may have gone through some difficult and terrible times, praise The Lord because of it - because He’s brought you through them - and will continue to bring you through them. And even if it comes to the point like the Deacon Stephen - who said “like your fathers have grieved (resisted) the Holy Spirit, you also are stiff necked and grieve (or are against) the Holy Spirit”. And for that he got stoned, he looked up into heaven as they were stoning him he and saw the heavens open up. He saw the big picture, he saw that whatever came his way he was a winner and said “lord forgive them, they don’t know what they do”.