The Supernatural Torque of Pentecostal Fire

By Jules Gomes Published on May 19, 2024

The Tourist Trophy is the most exciting motorcycle road race in the world. It’s also the most dangerous. I used to watch the TT every year when I lived on the Isle of Man. In India, I rode a 50cc moped — puttering along the roads, avoiding potholes, dodging pedestrians, and escaping sacred cows.

My only goal as a biker was to upgrade my bike from a 50cc moped to a 100cc motorcycle. It would help with commuting. Most Indians use two-wheelers to get them to work or school or shopping — often carrying a pregnant wife, three children and a goat on the pillion of a 50cc moped.

Then in June 2013, I saw the first bike shoot past me in the TT race. It came screaming down the road, tearing up the tarmac, and rocketed past me faster than a Formula 1 Ferrari. My life changed forever.

I had always equated motorcycling with dull commuting, so I never imagined riding a bike with more power than a 100cc engine. I never dreamed of touring Europe or riding on Route 66 in Western Arizona on a 1200cc sport tourer at more than 110 mph. TT 2013 turned my world upside down.

That’s what Pentecost did, too.

Turning the World on Its Head

Pentecost 33 AD turns the world upside down. Pentecost 33 AD is the Tourist Trophy of the Bible. Pentecost changes the lives of Jesus’s disciples forever. Before Pentecost they were dull commuters puttering around on 50cc mopeds — a timid and tongue-tied bunch of Jews who for three years followed a man who claimed to be Israel’s Messiah.

But then Jesus died, rose, and ascended into Heaven. He left them on their own while the Jewish leaders who had Jesus killed plotted with the Romans against His followers. They banded together in a holy huddle behind locked doors “for fear” (Jn 20:19).

Suddenly, like a TT racer screaming down the road and tearing up the tarmac there was a sound like a 1000cc sports motorcycle engine revving at full throttle. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit blitzed them and they started speaking in different languages (Acts 2:3-4).

The Spirit not only filled them with power, but gave them a sudden burst of torque. The acceleration was astonishing. They shot forth into Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and with breathtaking speed, risked their lives racing around the world.

God’s Torque for God’s People

Why is Pentecost the Tourist Trophy of the Bible? Motorcyclists often speak of horsepower and torque. Horsepower is how fast your bike can go; torque is how fast it can reach its maximum speed. Torque is a measure of an engine’s snap. Torque is what leaves me with a cheeky grin when I shoot a mile away from the traffic signals as poor car drivers like you are just moving into first gear!

In the trajectory of biblical history, torque-filled Pentecost is what boosts God’s purposes for the world with a sudden snap. It is what radically transformed a localized faith limited to Jews into a global faith for both Jews and Gentiles.

In the trajectory of biblical history, torque-filled Pentecost is what boosts God’s purposes for the world with a sudden snap. It is what radically transformed a localized faith limited to Jews into a global faith for both Jews and Gentiles.

Pentecost performs five torque-filled purposes.

First, it overturns the age-old curse of Babel, where the citizens of the world united in collective defiance of God’s purposes, building a tower to Heaven so they could ascend on their own strength and “be like God” rather than living in a relationship with Him, as He created them to do, and filling and subduing the earth, as He commanded them to do.

So God came down and confused their language. People could no longer understand one another because of the babble at Babel. The world fell under a curse.

But God reversed this curse at Pentecost! Jewish pilgrims had come from every nation to Jerusalem, and in an ecstatic outburst, God gave them the gift of languages. Suddenly everybody could understand them as they started speaking about Jesus.

The gift of tongues is a torque-filled tool that revved the apostolic throttle — a sign and a wonder for the people of that time, and something believers can still use to commune personally with God today.

Fulfilling the Prophecy of Joel

Second, Pentecost sends God’s spirit rushing into all His people to live with them. In the Old Testament God’s Spirit would indwell people who were chosen for a special task. When Moses appointed 70 elders to assist him, we read how the Lord “took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied” (Numbers 11:25).

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But as the prophet Joel foretells, in the new age God’s Spirit is no longer restricted to a spiritual elite. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28-29). Peter, who preached the Church’s first sermon on the Day of Pentecost, based it on Joel’s prophecy and said it had been fulfilled.

Pentecost changes God’s people forever because the Holy Spirit is no longer restricted to religious professionals. Every believer can be filled with the Holy Spirit and rev their throttle like crazy.

Reaping the Fruits of a Great Harvest

Third, Pentecost brought a rich harvest of new believers. The word itself comes from the Greek word pentekostos, which simply means “fifty.” On the fiftieth day after Passover, Jews celebrate a feast called Shavuot, or Feast of Weeks — Israel’s second most important feast after Passover. Exodus 23:16 refers to this feast as “the feast of harvest” and Exodus 34:22 as the “feast of first fruits.”

The Day of Pentecost was a harvest festival of 3,000 souls — the first fruits of apostolic evangelism. It also was a feast of ingathering; God gathered not only Jews, but also Gentiles into His Kingdom. Pentecost changed the world forever by creating a new united nations where Jews and Gentiles are accepted into one family of God.

Fourth, Pentecost enabled God’s people to be filled with His gifts to build and strengthen His Church. In the Old Testament, when God called the artisan Bezalel to build Israel’s tabernacle, He filled him with His Spirit and gave him supernatural creativity to execute Israel’s most splendid artistic creation.

At Pentecost, God gave gifts to all believers for ministry, including some that are related to natural abilities (like teaching, serving, giving, encouraging, helping, leadership or administration) and some that are more “miraculous” (like prophecy, healing, or tongues). Six New Testament passages list more than 25 gifts.

The supernatural sign gifts, like healing and miracles, provide the church with added torque. The natural gifts, like hospitality and administration, provide the church with sustainability. Pentecost creates a community where every member has gifts to share with others, and every person’s gift is valued.

Cultivating the Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Fifth, Pentecost changes our character by cultivating in us the fruit of the Spirit — a torque-filled burst of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit cultivates in us Christian virtues so that we may become more like Jesus.

The pioneers of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley, wrote about how they were transformed by the torque of the Holy Spirit. Charles was the first of the two to experience salvation by grace through faith, and on Pentecost — May 21, 1738 — he experienced the Holy Spirit.

Three days later, his brother, John, was converted:

“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed.”

After his Aldersgate experience, John found that the Church of England had slammed the door in his face. Undeterred, he started preaching in fields to miners and farmers. His ministry took off with such torque that he traveled 250,000 miles on horseback, averaging 20 miles a day for 40 years; preached 40,000 sermons, produced 400 books; spoke 10 languages.

One of the 7,000 hymns Charles wrote uses the Pentecostal imagery of holy fire to describe what happens when the Holy Spirit fills us:

O thou who camest from above

the fire celestial to impart,

kindle a flame of sacred love

on the mean altar of my heart!

 

There let it for thy glory burn

with inextinguishable blaze,

and trembling to its source return

in humble prayer and fervent praise.

 

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire

to work, and speak, and think for thee;

still let me guard the holy fire,

and still stir up the gift in me.

 

Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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