Fire Montreal/Cornwall December 27, 2008; January 4, 2009 Fire is said to be a wonderful servant but a very poor master. Each year we see the reality of this in the news reports of home fires and of loss of lives that occurs far too often. Just days ago, 70 people were made homeless because of one fire in central Montreal. In others, the results have been worse. Fire is a great tool for warming us when we’re outside and cold, for cooking food when we might be camping, sailing, or doing other outdoor activities, and for helping to do some worthwhile tasks like clearing of land to increase a farm’s output. When John the Baptist announced the coming of Jesus, he spoke of fire. Luke 3.16- the sense of this is, “I’m baptizing with water. He’s going to do so much more. Water? Yes, But that’s not all He’s going to do Add to that the Holy Spirit and fire? Do we want all that Jesus offers us? All of these go with conversion. Do we want all of these? Or do we only want water baptism? Or water and the Holy Spirit? Are we courageous enough to want water, Holy Spirit and fire baptism? Do you embrace God’s fire? We understand the importance of water baptism. Acts 2.38, 41; Ro.6.4- all of this is part of the signalling of conversion in a new believer and all of this presents a sign or symbol of what God is beginning to do in the young life of another one of His children. All believers ought to embrace water baptism and the identifying symbol it is to himself/herself as well as to the Christian community and to any observers of change and development that is occurring. Then there’s baptism with the Holy Spirit. Do we want this baptism, too? John 16.5-8-11-14- this Spirit comforts, judges, convicts and does so much more. 2 Ti.1.7- This is the spirit of power (courage, strength), love (response to others), and a sound mind. This is something to seek and something that God freely offers us so we aren’t tossed about as so many are. He is concerned about our not being tossed about by every strange and wonderful idea that appears- Eph.4.14; Jas.1.6- yet so many Christians will jump on the band-wagon of so many unusual ideas as they get their focus off Christ and onto such smaller ideas as prophetic interpretation, health and wealth, blessings, and healing. We are to be free of embracing fables and untrue stories. 1 Ti.1.4; 4.7; 2 Ti.4.2-4. Baptism with the Holy Spirit, and effectively using the Holy Spirit is very important for each one of us. But what about baptism with fire? Do you embrace this baptism as eagerly as baptism with water or with the Holy Spirit and do you yield yourself as energetically and eagerly to this baptism as you, hopefully, do to the other two? Baptism by fire carries at least four different ideas and realities that are vital for our lives. First of all, baptism with fire points us to the reality of the Day of the Lord and the need for us to live the kind of works that spring from obedient response to the Lord who has called us. Do we embrace this aspect of our baptism? 1 Cor.3.11-13 (fire)- 17- fire and the Holy Spirit dwell in you. Part of the work of the Holy Spirit and fire is to enable not defiling the temple of the Spirit which each of us is. 2 Thess.1.3-8- we do not want to be among those upon whom vengeance of fire must be taken because of not obeying the gospel of our Lord Christ. This reality tells us that we need to respond in particular ways in order to live as we’re called to live. We cannot be slack and lazy about our obedience. Obedience is part of the deal for us when we’re baptized with water and the Holy Spirit. How fully do you embrace that obedience? Secondly, baptism with fire presents, on the heels of the first reality, a personal challenge. Perhaps this could be called number 1 (b) but I’ve put it separately because it has to do with a particular challenge for each of us. Do we embrace this aspect of our baptism? Jas.3.5-6-12- we’re not free to use our tongues however we want to use our tongues. Tongues can be incredibly destructive and we know that we’ve all been at both ends of this- both hurting and being hurt through an unleashed tongue. The baptism of the Holy Spirit enables us in this. We have to be aware of the destructive potential- the blazing fire potential- of the tongue and, by extension, all the abilities we’re given, physically and spiritually. Most abilities can be turned to evil if not used appropriately. This reference simply highlights this. Maybe when we were converted, we didn’t understand this but as we’ve grown in the faith we have both been taught and have come to understand through our own maturing that self-control exhibits itself in many ways. To this we have been called and into it we have been baptized. Thirdly, fire baptism has to do with those trials we have in our lives that are to strengthen and enable us for the journey of the present and the future. Do we embrace this aspect of our baptism? 1 Pet.1.6-7- our faith will be tested. This faith and the testing are precious and fire will be involved. Did you expect your Christian journey to involve one easy victory after another? Do you embrace the reality of the fight that is necessary for the faith that is in you? 1 Pet.4.2- we must endure often fiery trials. We’d all like them to be less hot and vicious, as they often are. We all wish they were easier to endure. But the reality is that the testing leads to benefits far beyond anything we can understand at any particular time. When we’re in them it’s hard to be grateful. However, we are told to welcome these and to allow them to be useful for our greater good. We need to fight courageously and energetically- the Christian life is not for weaklings- but our strength is not in ourselves but in Christ. Fourthly, fire baptism allows us to ‘buy in’ to the potential for our own fullest destruction. The trials by fire, that we’ve just considered, are a fore-type of this. In the same way as our physical pain reminds us of our mortality and impending deaths, so trials of faith and the pain in those reminds us of the potential for our own spiritual deaths. Jude 20-23- some have to be pulled out of the fire of destruction Rev.3.18- we are to buy gold refined in the fire. Rev.20.10- 15- there is a lake of fire. It has been prepared for the devil and his angels, principally. However, anyone not found in the Book of Life will end up there, too. That could, in theory, at least, include you and me. We live, once having embraced God’s calling, with the reality that we’ve more to lose now than we did before conversion. But, hopefully, we considered that and go forward, believing the battle to be worth the effort, and living in such a way that there is no chance of our losing the incredibly wonderful reward that lies before us. Conclusion John baptized with water as a sign of forgiveness of sin. Jesus does that and baptizes with the Holy Spirit, to enable obedience, and with fire, to stir and to warn. We’re about to begin a new year and as we do so, let us do it with understanding of what is available to us now- and what is going on in our lives. We have obtained a better baptism, in Christ. It has more guarantees. It has more risks. It has a greater reward. It’s worth everything necessary to make it to the end. May we all embrace the fire of God given us through Jesus Christ.