A Baptism of FireBy: Joseph H. Murray
“For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire.”
“Our God is a consuming fire.”
(Heb. 10:27, Ps. 50:3, Ex. 24:17, Is. 66:15)
We find all through the Old Testament, men who were anointed of God were endowed with a fervent zeal. This zeal was often referred to as a fire. David said, “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then I spake with my tongue, LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps. 39:3–5).
The prophet Isaiah, foretelling of the coming Messiah, gave us these words, “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the Spirit of judgment, and by the Spirit of burning” (Is. 4:3, 4).
Jeremiah, after prophesying destruction to the house of Israel, was smitten and put in the stocks, said, “ O LORD, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer. 20:7–9).
Malachi was the last prophet, before John the Baptist, to foretell of the coming Messiah in these words, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refinerís fire, and like fullersí soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:1–3).
Those who are under the new covenant are to have this same anointing of fire. John the Baptist said this, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:11, 12).
We must have this baptism of fire within us and it burning or we will be burned with the chaff. Fire will not burn fire. Neither will it burn anything that is purged by fire.
The first disciples of our Lord got their purging by the fire on the day of Pentecost. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 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” (Acts 2:1–4).
It is also written again, “And of the angels He saith, who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire” (Heb. 1:7). The zeal of the Lordís Servants or Ministers is not their own zeal but the zeal of the Lord. We have to be baptized with the Baptism of the “Holy Ghost, and,” yes, “with fire” also before we can become firebrands for God as were the first disciples of our Lord.
We are badly in need of fervence of spirit, but we must be sure the zeal with which we are moved is the zeal of the Lord. This we find not to be true in every case. “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the Spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquilla and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:24–26). There is nothing wrong with being fervent in Spirit, for the scripture admonishes us to be “fervent in Spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). James tells us, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
Peter instructs us in these words, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1Pet. 1:22). Again, he tells us, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1Pet. 4:7, 8).
The last warning concerning the necessity of being on fire for God is given to us by the beloved apostle John in Rev. 3:15 in these words, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15, 16).
“I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the hearts of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words everyone from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD” (Jer. 23:25–32).
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2Cor. 2:17).
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever” (1Pet. 4:10, 11).