Trial by fire reveals all. When gold is tested for its authenticity, it is placed into fire. Even the value of diamonds may be qualified by fire.
In 1 Corinthians 3:13, Paul says that each person’s work will be revealed by fire. Yes, what Christ will do at His Second Coming is what the Holy Spirit reveals here already to each individual. One of the first experiences we make when we receive the Holy Spirit is a personal revelation as we have never before experienced.
Fire purifies, clarifies, and refines
There is no greater purifying power than fire. A gold coin that has been passed from hand to hand may be cleaned and polished with soap and water. However, when the metal itself is impure and has been mixed with foreign material, it may only be purified by fire.
That is how it is with us humans. Outward flaws in our walk are relatively easy to remove. But what about our inner impurity? Much more important than outward refinement is the purification of our inner being. The influence of the Holy Spirit can bring about more change in a short time than a morally upright human can accomplish in a decade. Training is a slow process. Purification through fire happens wonderfully swiftly.
We only need to examine the Apostles. Up until Pentecost, they were consumed with selfishness. Even at the last Passover meal, they argued over who might be the greatest among them. However, after Pentecost their motto was “not I, but Christ!”
Oh, how they wavered even just before the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord! Peter denied Him three times. All the others left Him and fled. But then, after Pentecost, this same Peter stood before the Sanhedrin, which had condemned Jesus to death. He looked into their faces and spoke: “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole” (Acts 4:8-10). What a transformation! That is just what we need: purifying fire!
Fire purifies by consuming. In Ezekiel 24, we see a symbolic picture of God’s verdict over Jerusalem. Here, Jerusalem is compared to a cooking pot that is placed on glowing coals, “that it may become hot and its bronze may burn, that its filthiness may be melted in it, that its scum may be consumed” (verse 11). In this manner, the fire of the Holy Spirit must melt away and consume all that displeases God: our tendency towards vanity, pride, forcefulness, selfish ambition, and all uncleanness.
We read in the gospel of John about John the Baptist: “He was the burning and shining lamp” (John 5:35). He shone because he was a burning lamp. There is no light without a combustion process. An oil lamp produces light while the oil burns. Daylight happens because the sun glows. And so the fire of the Holy Spirit illuminates. The baptism of the Spirit can produce light momentarily in a soul that has been in the dark for years. The Holy Spirit, who baptizes with fire, also illuminates our minds and unlocks the Scriptures for us.
Fire warms and glows
A piece of black iron is very hard and cold. When it is thrown into the fire, it is still black at first but then becomes red until it glows.
By nature, we are cold and unattractive. However, when Jesus places us into the “fire,” we become warmer and warmer until we are on fire with love for God and Jesus, as well as for a lost world.
Fire is converted into power
Science teaches that heat can be converted into power. “Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and One sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:3). What amazing power was revealed: three thousand souls were converted and saved that day!
A gentleman led me through a huge factory. The building was superbly equipped. As I studied my surroundings, I asked the man: “But with all this impressive equipment, why is nothing operating?” “Yes, well, we are without power at the moment.”
You may wander through some of the enormous churches, admire the beautiful buildings and the majestic organ, and listen to the magnificent choirs and the talented preachers. Yes, the “machinery” may be excellent, but nothing is in production for God. There is no power, no fire! We need fires in souls, fire in the churches, holy fire for God!
The year was 1871. It is said that a woman in Chicago was in a barn milking a cow when it overturned a small flickering oil lamp. The flame ignited a nearby hay bundle, then a second one until all the hay in the stall was on fire. Then the entire building caught fire, igniting another building as well. The fire continued to spread, even jumping the river. The small flame from the little lamp had caused all of Chicago to turn into ashes. Only two buildings remained intact.
When God’s fire gets hold of you and ignites you, you can ignite others; they in turn can also ignite others until the most remote corners of the world are affected by God’s fire.
How can this happen?
The turning point in my life happened as Matthew 3:11 penetrated my heart: “…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
I knew that I was serving God. But the words “with fire” resonated in my heart. If anyone needed fire in their soul, it was me. I knelt down and prayed: “Oh Lord, I need this fire!” We can receive it just as the disciples received it when they gathered together in one accord.
Do you desire to receive this fire? There is a price for it, and the price is high, but it is wonderful and glorious! Open your heart and receive it. You simply must be willing to surrender completely. You may not dictate anything to God. You must completely and entirely submit to His will and be willing to let everything happen according to God’s will.