“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)
Baptism with the Holy Spirit produces the power of God and manifests His gifts and fruit in us. But, in considering the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, I want to focus on the fire part of that Scripture in this teaching.
To understand the fire more completely, we must look at the infilling of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room.
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
I don’t believe that baptism in fire is necessarily a separate thing, but something that is part of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. So, we need to understand the nature of fire. It eats everything it touches that is of the earth. When fire burns it can consume vegetation, entire forests, houses, towns and people. But when it is contained, it can produce warmth and light. It can also purify and refine.
Consuming the Things of the Flesh with Fire
The things of the flesh and world are consumed by the fire, but the things of God are refined and purified.
In the Old Testament the fire consumed the flesh, or burnt offering, and was a sweet aroma to the Lord!
“It is a regular burnt offering which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.” (Numbers 28:6)
We members of the Body of Christ are being purified in faith and refined so that we can live in the Spirit instead of walking in the flesh. When our carnality is consumed by the fire of the Spirit it is a sweet aroma to the Lord. (Photo via Flickr)
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6-9)
The Glory of the Lord
The Lord became the FIRE that led His chosen people out of Egypt. It was His glory!
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.” (Exodus 13:21)
In Exodus 24:17, the sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.
Then, after Solomon’s temple was finished and “When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from Heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” (2 Chronicles 7:1)
Remember the three Hebrew children thrown into the furnace?
“And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’
“‘Look!’ he answered, ‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.'” (Daniel 3:23-25)
The fire tests us and our faith and work:
“[E]ach one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)
“So the Light of Israel will be for a fire, and His Holy One for a flame; it will burn and devour His thorns and briers in one day.” (Isaiah 10:17)
Fire also represents power and is part of warfare against the enemy.
“Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them [the enemy combatants] and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly as the Lord has said to you.” (Deuteronomy 9:3, emphasis added) (Photo via Unsplash)
The Fire of the Spirit in Warfare Produces Victory
It is the fire of the Spirit in warfare that produces the victory! We cannot effectively do spiritual warfare without the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit we have no discernment about what is attacking us. It doesn’t work to shout and rail at the devil. We need to engage with the power of darkness against us and make it go with spiritual fire. We find in the book of Joel a picture of God’s warriors.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
“A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like swift steeds, so they run. With a noise like chariots over mountaintops they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array.” (Joel 2:1-5)
It is the fire of God that produces internal work that results in repentance.
Internal work has been a theme for us for several years. In a recent vision, I was shown a mountain that had been formed by a volcano, now dormant, which had become a beautiful landscape.
I asked the Lord about the meaning of this vision and I believe this is what He revealed:
The volcano that had once erupted through the crust of the earth and flowed with hot lava and ash was now a beautiful mountain covered with lush vegetation. It was bountiful and teeming with life. And the Lord revealed that this was a symbol of internal work where unrighteousness and sin finally erupt producing repentance from which flows spiritual life.
This vision was a visual aid of the baptism of fire!
• The Holy Spirit produces His life and power in us.
• Fire is the glory of God.
• Fire tests our faith and work.
• Fire purifies and refines.
• Fire is a vital part of spiritual warfare.
• Fire produces internal work that results in repentance and makes us beautiful!
Bill and Marsha Burns are pastors of Faith Tabernacle in Kremmling, Colorado. Bill has a powerful prophetic gifting. His heart is to equip the Body of Christ for the work of the ministry. Marsha is a teacher and prophet with pastoral anointing. She has been commissioned by the Lord to prophesy to the nations through “Small Straws In a Soft Wind” sent out via the Internet.