Thursday, March 10, 2011

Saved, But as by fire?

Baptism by fire. It is a topic that has brought a lot of thought and discussion over the years. The book of acts indicates that when the apostles where baptized with fire, they literally saw tongues of flame resting on each other. Then they went out speaking tongues, that is every person heard them in their own tongue. Will everyone speak tongues? No. But everyone will receive gifts. That's another topic though.

What is baptism by fire? To really understand this we have to understand some of the things that John spoke of. For instance, John said he was baptizing with water, but another would come who baptized with fire. What does water baptism do? The Bible tells us we do it for forgiveness of sin. It makes us ritually pure, replacing all the laws of washing that the Israelites had to follow day in and day out, constantly washing themselves, their cups and bowls, and instruments of worship.

Now that we look at it that way, it becomes a little more apparent what Baptism with fire really is. But we also need to look at a few more verses to clarify. Malachi 3:3 says that the Messiah will refine us like silver and gold, removing the impurities. Peter 1:7 reminds us also, that gold is purified through fire. Yet again 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 reminds us that our life will be tested and the gold, silver, and precious stones will survive, but not the wood, hay or stubble.

You see when someone has a chunk of gold from the ground, he heats it with fire until it melts. Once it melts the impurities float to the top. Then the blacksmith can scoop out the impurities and he's left with pure gold. This is what baptism with fire is. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized with water, and then Jesus, via that Spirit, begins to purify our hearts. For some it's instant, and others it takes time. In the end we will be conformed to that state that God created us for, by purification. He will patiently and lovingly melt our hearts, and then remove the bad things (the wood, the hay, the stubble all things that perish and are of the flesh) and when he's finished there will be nothing left but gold, silver, and precious gems (faith, hope, love, long suffering, etc.)

So be of good cheer! If you are finding it easier and easier to be obedient to the Lord, then you are already under his cloak. You are in the process of being baptized by fire. It is a lifelong process in which God makes us who we need to be. We are not who we used to be, but we are also not who we are going to be. We must put our faith in Him, and trust in His holy work!