Acts 2:3
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Acts 2:3 (Holman) “Tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them.”

At Pentecost, fire fell on the disciples, as if vividly picturing the fact that the God who rained down fire at Elijah’s request on Mt. Carmel had returned in power. For our missions efforts to succeed, we need God’s fire to fall again.

First, we need God’s fire to burn away our weakness. A voice within us USA believers is saying something is awry among us. The church we are part of today is not the church we read about in Acts. We know the church was never meant to be as powerless as it is now. The power the early church had, but we don’t have, should be ours because its Source was God, not people.

I fear we claim the age of miracles is over in order to cover up our guilt, to hide the fact we are to blame for no longer having abundant power. Is saying “the age of miracles is over” a provable statement, or a weak excuse for their cessation?

Did miracles end because God’s mission to the lost was accomplished, or because His mission was no longer the church’s number one priority? Supernatural signs have always abounded, and still abound, in proportion to the measure of the response we yield to the Great Commission (Pierson).

We all quickly acknowledge, the greatest miracle of all is to be born again. Our argument here entails the need to generate an aura of awe that captures the attention of unbelievers, so they will pay attention to what we say about Jesus.

The content of our message is constant, ever remaining the same. What we need is fresh, new, powerful, miraculous ways to arrest the world’s attention to hear the unchanging message.

Moses would not go forward unless God was obviously manifest among His people. This was also the attitude of the early church, and should be ours.

When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, “the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried” (Isaiah 6:4). When the early believers prayed, the place where they were was shaken (AC 4:31). Even dead walls felt God’s power in bold believers. He who shook Isaiah’s temple was saying to the early believers, “I’m back.” Oh, Lord, do it again.

Pray for miracles to open doors to the lost, to awaken the slumbering. Say to the lost you know, “I’m praying for you.” Boldly ask God to do things that will gain us an audience to significantly discuss spiritual things with prechristians.

Pray a sense of awe will precede and accompany our preaching and witnessing. Whenever the church experiences Holy Spirit revival, Heaven sent power, society experiences revolution, and is forced to take notice of our message.

Second, we need God’s fire to burn away our complacency. Complacency about missions is rampant in our churches. Preachers feel they often have to rudely prod their people into doing the main thing God wants them to do.

Our congregations seem bored and apathetic. A pastor asked his people, “Don’t you think our biggest missions problems are ignorance and apathy?” A member replied, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Pray for God to burn missions into our hearts, to make this task easier for us, a joy and a delight. At Arbela in 331 B.C., Alexander’s forces marched into battle confidently, with fervor and gladness. Darius’ officers had to use whips to force the Persians into battle. The outcome was decided before the battle began.

Complacency about missions dogs our steps. When the famous missionary, Adoniran Judson, returned to visit the USA, he said his “hand was nearly shaken off, and his hair nearly shorn off for mementos, by those who would willingly let missions die.” We tend to talk a good talk about missions, but most churches give very little to missions, and pray about it even less. We have met the enemy, and it is us, our complacency.

Third, we need God’s fire to burn away our wrong thinking. We too often try to be original thinkers. We are to do God’s work God’s way.

God has a plan. He recorded in His Word His instructions as to how missions is to be done. We are successful when we understand His plan, accept it, and then act it out. His ideas, not ours, are to be enacted through our actions.

What is God’s missions plan? Only Christians can take the Gospel to prechristians. We believers are the only ones who can do the work of missions for the Lord. Angels wish they could do it for us. They “desire to look into” these things, and would be thrilled to tell prechristians how to be saved, but can’t. Surely the angel wanted to share the Gospel with Cornelius, but was only allowed to tell him to find Simon Peter. “He will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved” (AC 11:13-14).

We all have a vital role to play in missions. Our duty to the lost cannot be fulfilled indirectly by others, nor by ourselves inside our church buildings. We each must accept our own personal, individual responsibility, and go. No one can take our place. This duty cannot be done by proxy. This buck cannot be passed. God wants us to fill the spot we alone can fill.

Regarding missions, we all need to say, if it is to be, it is up to me. Dr. Duff, leaving for India in 1829, prayed, “Lord, silver and gold have I none. What I have I give. I offer Thee myself! Wilt Thou accept the gift?” God accepted Duff’s offering, and will accept us as well. He merely waits for us to offer.

Some need to go and stay. All need to go. Missions is the one thing worth giving our lives to. It keeps us from a life of mediocrity. Christianity has produced her best, finest, and most productive fruit on mission fields. Out there in the field, rather than here in the granary, our finest heroes have been made.

Ann Judson, Baptist missionary to Burma, did so much to bless women there that Burmese women would kiss her shadow as she passed. We kiss her memory.

A going life is worth living. After cannibalism in Fiji fell before the power of Christian missions, a stone, on which human heads had been regularly crushed and their blood poured out as sacrifices, had a cavity hollowed out of it, was carried to a church, and was changed into a Font. God give us grace to go.