Fire seems an unusual attribute to relate to Christ and the Holy Spirit as the source. What does the Word mean that states, "Christ will baptize us in the Holy Spirit and with fire"? (Luke 3:16). How do you rightly discern the reason, the source, and purpose of the fire that you face in circumstances and trials? Did you know that John described the risen Lord in the Book of Revelation three (3) times saying, "His eyes like a flame of fire"? Did not the church begin with fire on the Day of Pentecost? How and why is fire used by God for us today? Are the believer's works going to be tested by fire one of these days? Holy Spirit guide and lead us as we look into the Word of God for some answers on these questions and others as we look into the meaning and use of fire.
"John once then answered, continually saying to them all, 'I indeed ever baptize you with water; but One mightier than I ever is coming, whose sandal strap I am not ever worthy to loose. He will forever baptize you in the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will at intervals thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and at intervals to gather together the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will forever burn up with unquenchable fire' " (Luke 3:16,17, Expanded Greek Translation – EGT).
First, Fire is Used to Spiritually Purify and Purge His Rebirthed Sons
Fire is the word pur in the Greek text, that we derive our words purify and purge. John is telling us that while he himself was baptizing with water, that Jesus Christ was coming. John clearly states that Christ will forever baptize you in the Holy Spirit and with fire. Then John speaks of the winnowing of wheat process. When wheat was harvested, the wheat grain had chaff that surrounded the wheat grain, that was often pre-beaten in some manner to crack the chaff. The custom was to get a large wide hand fan, and place the grain on the fan. As they tossed the wheat up high into the air many times, the chaff would break apart and loose itself from the wheat grain. The blowing wind would take the light chaff and blow it off of the grain during the process. After several times of thoroughly tossing the wheat up with the winnowing fan, all the chaff would be broken off and blown away. All that remained was the pure wheat grain. Christ will baptize us in the Holy Spirit and with fire in a winnowing process in our lives to burn up every bit of chaff or flesh that remains. Fire is used by the Father to spiritually purify and purge His Spirit rebirthed sons.
Second, God Chastens His Rebirthed Sons to be Partakers of His Holiness
We read in Hebrews that God chastens His sons. "My son do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him: For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives" (Hebr. 12:5b,6). This is certainly a part of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and with fire. Since our Heavenly Father truly loves us, He permits us to go through circumstances and situations that pre-beats the chaff or the flesh that surrounds the life of His Son Jesus within us. He may take us through circumstances and trials that are to separate us from the flesh, so that nothing but His Son Jesus will be expressed in and through us. It is all done in love, so "that we may be partakers of His holiness," where Christ will be our full expression (Hebr. 12:10).
Third, God Will Turn the Fire's Heat Up to Get Repentance from His Son
The Father is not looking for our excuses and our justification about what we do or don't do. The Father is looking for genuine repentance to where nothing is left in our life, but Christ as our life, our only life (Gal. 2:20). If we won't admit and deal with our own flesh, God will expose it to others, and send others our way to deal with it. We will not see the Lord, without peace with all men and His holiness (Hebr. 12:14,15). "For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebr. 12:29). The Father can turn the heat up with His fire, to get full repentance from His sons.
Fourth, We Must Discern the Reason, Source and the Purpose of the Fire
Certainly, all the fires we go through are not because of the flesh winnowing process. Peter tells us, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (I Pet. 4:12,13). We all like to grab those verses, and are for sure our circumstances fall into this category. However, Peter cautions us to weed out the flesh. "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, and evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters" (I Pet. 4:15). If we are expressing the body of sin from the unrenewed mind and our body, we are not actually partakers of Christ sufferings, but reaping what we sowed. Paul states, "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap eternal life" (Gal. 6:8). We must properly discern the reason, source and the purpose of the fire.
Fifth, The Church Began with His Fire and Also Needs His Fire In Us Today
The Day of Pentecost was the day that the fiery finger of God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone for Moses on Mount Sinai for Israel (Exod. 31:18). Moses came down from the mount and found the people in idolatry, threw the tablets down, separated the Lord's people and had 3000 people slain (Exod. 32:19,27,28). "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come" (Acts 2:1), exactly 50 days from Passover (Lev. 23:16); God saved 3000 people and the Church began (Acts 2:41). The Holy Spirit came with a rushing wind sound that filled the house, and appeared and sat on each as cloven tongues of fire. "And they were all led with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:2-4). Jesus had instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father for this initial baptism in the Holy Spirit and with fire (Acts 1:4,5). The Holy Spirit fulfilled it, superceded the flesh and used these Jews to speak with other tongues so 17 different nations heard "the wonderful works of God" spoken to them in their own language (Acts 2:5-11). We are sometimes afraid of wild fire and often have ended up with no fire. The Church began with His Fire and needs His Fire today with Christ now alive in us.
Sixth, The Fire of the Judgement Seat of Christ on the Works of the Saints
Christ is the foundation of the Church (I Cor. 3:11). Christ is our very life, our only life that we are to live (Gal. 2:20). We are literally saved by His life in us (Rom. 5:10). Paul tells us to take heed what is built on this foundation. We either build with gold, silver, precious stones – sourced from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; or we build with wood, hay, and stubble – sourced from the devil, the flesh, and the world. Things may look good on the outside, but one day we will stand before our Lord at the judgement seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10). Everything built on His foundation will be tried by fire. Every work of wood, hay, and stubble will be consumed by the fire of His judgement on that Day (I Cor. 3:13-15).
Seventh, The Eyes of Christ as a Flame of Fire to Initiate Our Chastisement
John speaks of our risen Lord and says, "His eyes like a flame of fire" (Rev.1:14; 2:18; 19:12) – and "His feet were like fine brass" (Rev. 1:15; 2:18). Brass speaks of judgement. The Lord Jesus Christ lives in us and sees all flesh. Christ sends the Holy Spirit and fire to purge out flesh foreign to His Nature and Spirit in us. His chastening fire is far better, than His later fire consuming works not of Him.