The global Pentecostal movement (classic Pentecostals, charismatics, Neo-Pentecostals, and AIcs) is known as the fastest-growing branch of Christianity across the world, especially in the global south. Therefore, what gives strength to this movement are its characteristic features or distinctives that attract more people and keep God’s presence at work. These Pentecostal marks are well recorded in Acts 2: 1-4. This paper aims at reflecting on these features with the purpose of safeguarding authentic biblical Pentecostal experience especially now that we have several intruders into the Spirit-oriented churches in Africa and beyond. Four marks deserve some consideration in the following paragraphs (1) Unity in diversity, (2) the experience of the supernatural power, (3) the experience of the fire from heaven, and (4) hearing God’s voice.

  1. Pentecost and unity in diversity

The first verse of Acts 2 begins with “they were all together in the same place”. This verse is well expounded in 2:9-11, here all the ethnic groups that were in the upper room are presented. There was indeed unity in diversity – all races and languages of the world in those days were represented. If Genesis 11 made people scatter across the earth, Pentecost in Acts 2 brought people together.

This feature of Pentecost should be encouraged rather than breakaways and divisions that have become rampant in most Spirit-oriented churches in Africa and other parts of the world. More and more independent ministries and church denominations are being planted almost every day in Africa not necessarily out of passion or God’s calling but because of breakaways in other existing churches. This trend is against the unity that is displayed in the Triune God, the unity that characterized the early church, the unity that was central in the Lord’s prayer in John 17, and the unity that is embedded in the body metaphor for the church in 1Cor 12. As Pentecostals, we should learn from the mainline churches that do not put much emphasis on the Spirit as we do but they remain united. For unity promote the Missio Dei as it helps the body of Christ draw strengths from every member. Where there is God’s Spirit there should be both freedom and unity because he is not the Spirit of confusion and division. To help us reflect again on this important feature of Pentecost here are some questions: when did you last hear about breakaway in the church and what denomination was it? What was the cause for that breakaway? What do you think should be done to address this evil, especially amongst Pentecostals?

  1. Pentecost and the experience of the supernatural power

The unity of the disciples in the upper room made it possible and easier for the promise of the Father to come. The Holy Spirit came like a violent rushing wind from heaven, Acts 2: 2. The wind symbolizes the power of the Holy Spirit that cannot be resisted by anything or anyone. Christ in Acts 1: 8 promised the reception of divine power by the disciples before they venture into the mission. This agrees with what Luke says about the Lord Jesus who was filled with the Holy Spirit and power and went about preaching, healing, and doing good to people. In fact, the manifesto of Christ’s mission in Luke 4:18-21 emphasizes the anointing with power for mission.

God’s mission includes preaching the gospel, teaching the truth, healing the sick, teaching the truth, and doing good to the poor. But all these can not be done without supernatural power from above. As Pentecostals more emphasis should be laid on the infilling with power continuously for mission to be accomplished, we do not do missions in our own strengths. When this feature in encouraged the desire for Satanic power will reduce and have no place in the church. It is very surprising that amongst Pentecostals we hear about preachers, prophets who consult Sangomas to get magic or Satanic powers to attract the crowd and perform wonders. This is a pity indeed for a church known for experiencing divine power from heaven seeking magic powers from the earth. Of course, this has come into the church because the genuine supernatural power has disappeared in some contexts and people try to bring in what is false or fake to close the gap. It is time as Pentecostals we emphasized the authentic mark of supernatural power so that the church in Africa will desire it and be filled with it as it was declared by the Lord in John 7:37-39. Here are some questions for our reflection based on this second sign of Pentecost: how often does your church teach about spiritual empowerment? When did you last hear or teach about Spirit- baptism? How do you know that you are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit? What have you done in the recent past because of Spiritual power?

  1. Pentecost and the experience of fire

Not only did the Holy Spirit come with a symbol of the wind but there was also like tongues of fire resting on each one of the disciples, Acts 2:3. The language of fire was also used by John the Baptist when referring to the coming of Jesus who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. The use of fire in this context meant judgement, Christ’s coming opened a door for Christians to receive the Holy Spirit and the non-Christians to be judged by his word. But the fire in the book of Acts 2 symbolizes the coming of God the Spirit amongst his people, he has come to dwell among us just as Christ lived among people. Pentecostals are known as People who sense God’s presence, walk with God and experience God where they gather. This distinctive must not be lost in the church, people are not interested in seeing the so called “men of God” and “women of God”, people come to church to encounter the Lord, to enjoy his presence. The cult of men or the church that promotes men more than God is not the church of God. We should avoid quenching the fire of the Spirit in our personal lives and churches, let the church be the place where God is real and touchable. For where God presence is more people will come and wonders take place, Acts 2: 43, 47.   This Pentecostal distinctive requires some reflective questions: how present is God’s Spirit in your life? How often do you experience God’s presence in your church service? What makes God’s presence real in your ministry? How do you know that God’s Spirit is present practically?

  1. Pentecost and hearing God’s voice

The last sign of Pentecost from Acts 2:4 was that the Holy Spirit spoke in human languages because he wanted people to be drawn to God. He is the speaking Spirit, he reveals God’s mysteries to the church, he did it on the day of Pentecost, he did it with apostles like Peter and Paul and he is doing it today. Pentecostals should continue to teach and emphasis the need to be sensitive to the voice of God. When we gather for worship, when we sing and pray, we should expect God to speak to us. We serve and worship God who speaks, he uses various ways to speak to his people. Christians do not need to consult prophets or any seers to hear what God is saying about their lives and families, especially now that we have an increase of false prophets and miracle workers in Africa. Christians should be encouraged to consult the Spirit and be sensitive to his voice. He dwells in them, and he is ready to counsel and guide them.

The church should be a place or an environment where God speaks to his people through scriptures but even directly through his Spirit as it was on the day of Pentecost. Hearing God’s voice is a very important mark of Pentecostalism that must be promoted and protected by all those who are led by the Holy Spirit. As you reflect on this mark of Pentecost here are possible questions for you: when did you last hear God speak to you? How does he speak to you? Why has he stopped speaking to you?


This short article was simply a reflection on the four distinctive features of authentic biblical Pentecostalism that need to be preserved especially in the church of Africa. The coming of intruders into the church has started to bring doubt among some people about these marks and we are likely to lose them and their relevance among us who continue to believe in and work under the Holy Spirit. Unity in diversity instead of breakaways, Spiritual power for mission instead of magical power for deception, divine fire as a symbol of God’s presence instead of having churches where men are the centre and finally, we need to be eager and sensitive to listen to God’s voice through the Holy Spirit.

Short Bio:

Jesse earned his D. Th in Missiology from UNISA and has been in full-time ministry for more than 20 years. Jesse is passionate about Pentecostal missions and ministry and has published three books. Jesse is the SATS BTh Honours coordinator, MTh & PhD supervisor, Lecturer, and Senior pastor Liberating Truth Mission church international, Lubumbashi, DRC.