Pentecostal and charismatic Christians are unique in describing the “three acts of salvation:” being saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost. We view Calvary the same way as most other Christian denominations. However, we believe in pressing through a sanctification process (which is often overlooked) to being filled with the Holy Spirit, which is synonymous with the baptism in fire on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:3-4: And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
God works in order. He constructed all things within seven days. Water had to be here before land could appear. Plants had to cover the earth before animals survive off them. There had to be an Old Testament before there could be a new. The New Covenant is built on the foundation of the Old. Ignorant of what the scriptures say, Christians tend to scramble the order of or neglect one or more of the three works of grace. It’s very dangerous when the Spirit leaves and flesh takes over.
On Mount Sinai, the Lord gave Moses the exact instructions on how the tabernacle should be built and how the ceremonies of sacrifice should take place. The blood of lambs and bulls served as a temporary covering for sin until Jesus could come and be the one sacrifice for all. Hebrews 9:12: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. On the Day of Atonement every year, the Israelites would gather all over the kingdom to partake in the ceremony.
The sacrifice was the first gruesome step. And thou shalt kill the bullock before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar (Exodus 29:11-12). The sacrifice had to be made outside of the tabernacle where the Lord’s presence was; likewise, Jesus was forsaken by the Father as He hung on the cross. Matthew 27:46: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? The earth had just gone dark because God turned His back on the sight of His Son dying; the plan of salvation had to be complete before He wiped out the human race for what it was doing.
Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not: (Exodus 30:18-20). A laver of water was outside the door for the priest to wash their hands before entering the tabernacle. To go into God’s presence without being completely clean could mean death.
Sanctification is the step between Calvary and Pentecost. Some speak in tongues for the first time shortly after receiving salvation, and that’s wonderful. But being sanctified has to happen at some point. It’s more than just water baptism, which was clearly foreshadowed by the laver. God will not allow any uncleanness in His presence, and that hasn’t changed.
Sanctification is getting rid of everything ungodly from your life. For example, if you’re delivered from alcoholism, pour out every bottle when you get home. A girl testified at our church once told of being freed from drug addiction. After she gave got saved at a revival, she came home and flushed every drug down the toilet. All ties had to be cut off. She never did another drug again because of this sanctification process.
We all have to do this no matter how painful it is. It may require removing things that will hurt so bad, they’ll seem like chopping one’s own limbs off. It’s what Jesus meant when He said And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Matthew 5:29-30). This doesn’t mean God expects us to literally cut off our own hands or gouge out our own eyes, but that we must take whatever measures necessary to remove sin.
The burnt offering was next. Inside the tabernacle was a brazen altar where clean meat was burned. But outside the camp was a separate fire where the unclean parts of the animal, the bowels and dung, were taken. Exodus 29:13-14: And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering.
Fire has a purifying effect. It burns out the impurities of precious metals. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is a burnt offering separating the clean from the unclean. The Holy Spirit’s job is to burn out any aspect of our personalities that are not like Christ. But going into the fire can be frightening, which is why so many Christians are afraid of Pentecost. They become content to be saved and coast their way into heaven.
But the burnt offering wasn’t the only fire. The inner court of the tabernacle also included a candlestick with seven branches (in Judaism called the Menorah, though this exact word doesn’t appear in the Bible) Exodus 25:31: And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. Aaron and the priests were commanded to keep the candles lit at all times. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out (Leviticus 6:13). They also had to burn incense before the Lord every morning. Exodus 30:7-8: And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.
If Pentecostals don’t believe in “once-saved, always-saved,” they shouldn’t believe in “once-filled, always-filled,” either. The fire should flow from our lips daily, like a mighty river!
We place great importance on the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. But we need to be very careful in not letting the plan of God get mixed up. Far too many Christians achieve Calvary but never press on to Pentecost, which is spiritual laziness. But trying to bypass Calvary and go straight to Pentecost is fanaticism and not of God. People who attempt that are in danger of offering strange fire before the Lord, just like Adab and Nabihu. Exodus 30:9: Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.