The Flaming Tongues

I always thought the term “Flaming Tongues” could be a really cool name for a praise band. It’s edgy and biblical! What more do you need?

Not only is the term “flaming tongue” creepy and cool all at the same time, it also comes from a biblical story found in the book of Acts. Check out how it reads in Acts 2:1-3:

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. (NLT)

When I first read this story, I will admit, I was creeped out. I can imagine sitting in a room with a bunch of my friends, the doors and windows fly open, and in come flying, flaming tongues. (OK, the literal translation is sort of like “tongues appearing as fire,” but you get the idea.) At that point, I would probably have been looking for the closest exit.

But, the people in this story don’t even flinch. Why? Why wouldn’t they freak out at a moment like that? It’s because they were expecting something awesome from God. Jesus, as He returned to Heaven, promised that He would send something as a parting gift to humanity. Here is how He put it in Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (NLT)

The believers, including the disciples, knew that God would be sending them something very cool. Frankly, everything Jesus did was pretty cool. But this one was a great mystery. What would the Holy Spirit do? What would it look like? What would it smell like? OK, maybe not that last one, but they were curious what Jesus was sending their way.

Back to the story…

As the flaming tongues enter the building, they do something absolutely incredible. They IGNITE a movement. Many people argue that this was the moment when the Christian movement was truly born. So, what happened when these tongues of fire ignited a movement? Let’s look at the next verse in Acts 2:4:

And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. (NLT)

How cool is that? Some of you may think it’s a bit strange. But, really, a flaming tongue settles on your head and you instantly begin speaking another language. That’s pretty amazing stuff! Notice, however, what they were speaking. They weren’t just talking gibberish. There were a lot of merchants, tourists, and travelers nearby the location of the believers that heard these people speaking in the language of their homelands. In Acts 2:11a, they said:

“…And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” (NLT)

These people, these Christians, were filled with the Holy Spirit and immediately began proclaiming the Gospel message, the good news of Jesus Christ. Peter (remember, he was the one that denied Christ three times at His execution) was so filled with the Spirit that he stepped out on the front porch of the building they were occupying and delivered perhaps one of the greatest testimonies in history. When he was finished, something amazing happened. In Acts 2:40-41, it reads:

Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. (NLT)

I dream of a day when I speak before an audience and 3,000 people give their lives to Jesus Christ. Some might say “Dream on! Those days are over.” But, I say, it can, and will happen again. If Jesus could IGNITE a movement 2,000 years ago, He can certainly do it again. In fact, He promises to do so. Check it out in Acts 2:17 (It’s actually a quote from Joel 2:28):

‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams. (NLT)

I’m not particularly old, but I’m not a “young man” any more. So, I am dreaming of the day when this movement of young people will IGNITE.

My prayer is that this generation of youth and young adults will band together and pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Pray in faith, pray in earnest, pray for IGNITION. Pray for the flaming tongue experience. Pray for a movement that will finish our work and prepare us for eternity. Allow God to work in you and through you; and prepare to be amazed at what He does.

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