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William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army (whose motto ‘Blood and Fire’ reflect core beliefs in the death of Jesus Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit), wrote the hymn ‘Send the Fire’ in 1894. The first verse speaks of his longing for the fire of God in his life through the Holy Spirit:

‘Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Thy blood-bought gift today we claim,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Look down and see this waiting host,
Give us the promised Holy Ghost;
We want another Pentecost,
Send the fire today, send the fire today!’

The line ‘we want another Pentecost’ begs the question ‘is that possible?’ Many have claimed that the events described in Acts 2 were ‘one-off’, never-to-be-repeated, events. They believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the supernatural miracles described in the book of Acts were simply to ‘launch’ the church, so to speak, and are not needed today. To crave another Pentecost, to talk about the need to be baptised in the Spirit today or to speak in tongues, is regarded by many as unnecessary and even heretical.

As a Pentecostal church, we obviously don’t agree with that interpretation of the Bible. We believe that we are still living in the era of Pentecost, in the times when God pours out His Spirit on all people (as prophesied by Joel in Joel 2:28-32). When Paul talks about tongues and prophecies ceasing, he says that will be ‘when completeness comes’ (1 Cor 13:9), when Jesus comes again. We don’t think we’ve reached that point yet and so we believe that the church today needs the Holy Spirit to be effective in living and witnessing for Christ and therefore we echo William Booth’s sentiments.

Does that mean we will see tongues of fire or hear the blowing of a violent wind? Not necessarily, for the Spirit will come in His own way and in His own time. But the New Testament speaks of Him as the guide, the teacher, the living water and the power behind our witness (see John 14:16, John 16:12, John 7:37-39, Acts 1:8) and speaking in tongues and the gift of tongues are mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament (see Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:6, 1 Cor 12:7-11, 1 Cor 14:1-25). We should, like William Booth and those early Pentecostal pioneers, seek the fire of the Holy Spirit and His power in our lives today, for we need Him desperately if we are to have any impact on our community and see people won to the Lord. The signs and wonders described throughout Acts (Acts 5:12, Acts 6:8, Acts 8:6, Acts 14:3, Acts 15:12) are needed in our churches in our times. Let’s seek God together, as these disciples did (Acts 2:1), for the blessing of the Holy Spirit to be poured out afresh, not for our sakes, but that others may see and hear the wonderful works of the Lord and thus be saved.