I preached this message in April 2020. this should explain some of the fire references and the condition of the world at that time.

Fire

How many of you are tired of all the smoke in the air from the California and Canadian fires?  I looked at a satellite photo of the earth.  Not only were there fires in North America, the photo showed that about ¼ of South Africa was on fire, many places in Asia, South America, Central America and parts of Europe.  It seems that the world is a tinderbox ripe for fire.

I have titled my message this morning, Fire.  What most people do not realize is that fire has several purposes.  Looking at it in the simplest and most common beneficial forms, fire makes heat to keep us warm in the winter.  It cooks our food.  It disposes of our trash.

For the not so beneficial forms, it lights the cancer sticks (cigarettes) that people suck on.  It destroys homes, fields, and forests.  It kills animals and people and is used as a weapon in many cases.  WW1, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, flame throwers and incendiary bombs wreaked havoc as they burned everything in their path.

But how does fire relate to us as Christians?  Is it good or bad?  There are three kinds of spiritual fires.  I want to focus on these three fires this morning.

First, we are going to look at how Fire Judges.  Is that good or bad?

THE FIRE OF JUDGEMENT

Gen 19:24, “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;” Sodom and Gomorrah were allied with the cities of Admah, Zeboim, and Bela, and all of them were destroyed at the same time by fire.  All five cities were immoral and a moral cancer to the core, where there was no possible repentance.

Sexual depravity and all sorts of blatant and horrible sins were the normal and even highly encouraged.  God had no choice but to destroy them or that deplorable sin mindset would sweep the world just like it is today.

Ex 9:23-24, “And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt.  So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.  Of course, we know that here Pharaoh refused to allow the Hebrew children to leave Egypt, nor would he allow them to even go into the wilderness of Egypt to make sacrifices to God.  So again, God had no choice but to use fire to get Pharaoh’s attention.

Lev 10:1-2, “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.”

There are varied explanations of what happened here and why. Nadab and Abihu offered an unauthorized strange incense along with a fire not from the Altar of Incense.  They were also not instructed to offer incense.

One theory was that because of their disregard to the protocol God set forth, they, possibly drunk with wine or drunk with supposed authority, lit the incense outside of the tabernacle or somewhere that they were not supposed to have the incense, as if they were doing God a favor by disobeying.  God judged them immediately by fire.

Jeremiah 15:14, “And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.” 

Because of their disobedience, God’s fiery anger was kindled against them.  He was HOT, and His anger was going to burn them severely. He wasn’t upset with all the people, just the ones who mocked Him and counted His blessings as their own doing.  Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, cried a lot for his own safety and deliverance the deliverance of God’s people.  As you read on, you will see that the remnant was spared from His harsh fiery anger.

Now if we look at this, we can see that if people are not living according to His Word, His ways and in His morals, they are subject to His fiery anger.

Matthew 3:10, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

We all recognize this verse.  We all like to think that we are the good tree and the good branch that bears fruit.  Will anybody admit that they are not a good tree or a good branch?  How many of you will admit that you don’t bear any fruit or bear very little fruit?

How many of you are making disciples as you are commanded to do?  OR might I ask, how many of you can hear and feel the axe striking at your roots as one would chop down an unproductive tree?

Though that is something that nobody wants to even think about, we need to face the real and honest facts that it might just be happening right now at the root of your very own tree.  You and you alone know the state of your tree if it is bearing good fruit or not.

Revelation 8:7-8, “The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.  And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;”

Here we see quite vividly that fire judges and judges quite harshly.  Like Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities that get no recognition for their depravity, the end result of sin, immorality, and a person’spseudo-relationship with God does not end well.  The judgement of fire on this earth, as bad as it sounds here, is compounded by the eternal judgement of fire.

Mark 9:43-50, “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.  Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

Each of these show God’s wrath being poured out with a judgement of fire where there is no return.  God judges the people and the land.  His judgements are not extreme. They are just, even though people see God’s judgements as hateful, they are not.  They are a just and righteous retribution for sin.

This worst fire judgement, however, is the final judgement, where there is no possible chance for repentance.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.  Go directly to Hell. There the fire is intense and will NEVER stop burning.  There will never be a cool spot to stand and no possible way to escape these horrible flames.

If Christians are the salt of the earth, then we had better get salty and stay salty.  We need to be well seasoned like a good steak, because if we lose out saltiness, then we are of no good to God.

None of us want to see judgement’s fire, so let’s move on the next level of fire, the:

The FIRE OF REFINING.

Zech 13:9, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.”

Prov 17:3, “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.”

Mal 3:1-6, “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 refiner's fire, and like fullers' 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.  Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.  And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.  For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

There are times when God sends a fire, not to consume, but to refine, purge, cleanse, and purify.  If you would take gold fresh from the gold mine, out of the sluice box, or out of the pan, you still need too put it in the crucible to get it melting hot so that you can get the dross or the filth out of the gold.  When the gold is melted, and the scum is skimmed off of the top, it will be as shiny as a mirror.  If you look into it, you will see your reflection.

From there, it is poured and shaped into some magnificent piece of art or jewlry.

This is what God wants in us.  When He looks at us, He wants to see a reflection of Himself.  He wants to see perfection and purity.  I don’t know of anybody who has enjoyed the trial/cleansing by fire, but I know many who have enjoyed the result of the fire when AFTER it was over.

I have had many serious cuts and injuries.  Iodine and mercurochrome were very popular in my days of growing up and I can still feel the BURN.  Though I didn’t like it much (not at all) I knew it was for my own good.  It cleansed and purified the injury to prevent infection and bring about a more rapid healing.  My mother also used hydrogen peroxide (which wasn’t bad at all), very strong salt water, or rubbing alcohol.  As sadistic as that sounds, it worked.

If we are going to be pleasing, perfect, and pure, before a Holy God, we need to be as pleasing, perfect, pure, and holy as possible.  This comes through a purging process or a purifying process.  We experience the Refining Fire.

Now, let’s look at the third fire:

THE FIRE OF TRANSFORMATION.

Matt 3:11-12, “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.”

Here we see two fires at work.  The Fire of Judgement and the Transformation Fire.  We have first the transforming fire of Holy Ghost.  Jesus told of this transforming fire before it was to come.  However, many have focused on the fire of judgement that will consume the chaff.  That fire is hotter than anything we know as hot and it is unquenchable. Like a phosphorus grenade (popular in Vietnam), when it explodes, it blasts white hot, burning phosphorus everywhere.  This phosphorus cannot be extinguished.  It just burns until it runs out of fuel.  If it lands on your body, it burns until it drops out the other side of you or it just runs out of fuel phosphorus.  No matter, it is unquenchable and HOT!

But now let’s look at the fire of transformation.  Jesus refers to it as a fire to be desired.  This is a desired fire to be baptized in.

Luke 3:17-18, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.  And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.”

This transforming fire is a life changing fire.  We need to allow Holy Spirit to refine us by fire, to purge us by fire.  There are things within each one of us that is going to require some extreme heat to change.

When a fire in a forge is subjected to the fan, the fire gets hotter and will literally melt steel into a molten, liquid state.  When the fan of God begins to blow, sin is blown away and then burned in a fire that is unmerciful and final.

2 Tim 2:21, “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.”

A vessel that is formed by the potter’s hands and completed, is still worthless and useless until it is put in the kiln and heated.  It must be subjected to a very intense fire.  Then and only then is it worth using.  Then and only then can it be a vessel of honor and good to use to carry water, store grain, flour or anything else.  Then and only then is it prepared for good work.

Heb 9:14, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Like the potter’s vessel, our conscience, our entire being, body, soul and spirit, must be purged/transformed from dead works to living works in order to serve a Living God.  Jesus offered himself to go through a fiery trial and death that we might not have to do so.

Do you remember the two men that walked along the Emmaus Road?  Let’s take another look at it.

Luke 24:13-15, “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs (about 7.5 miles).  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.”

Now, imagine that you were with them.  How incredible would it be to walk with Jesus for even one mile?  They walked with Jesus for several miles and did not know who He was.

Luke 24:31-33, “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.  And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?  And they rose (a couple weeks later) up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,”

Wasn’t there a fire kindled within us when we had the Scriptures opened to us?  Wasn’t there a fire burning in us to learn more?  Wasn’t there a fire raging in us to tell others?  Was that not a transforming fire, when we first truly met Jesus?

Acts2:3-4, “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.”

The fire here, we all know as the baptism of Holy Spirit.  A fire of transformation.  A baptizing fire of being immersed in the fire of Holy Ghost.  A new tongue and a new passion and power to proclaim the Truth of the Word of God transformed all who were in the upper room.  Their testimony went out with power and authority from on high.  They proclaimed Jesus as Lord and Savior with a passion and genuineness that could only come from a transformed life.

This transformation was way beyond that of merely salvation and water baptism.  It greatly exceeded being a member of a denomination or a fellowship of believers.  Their transformation was one of being purged and remade or transformed into a living, Holy Ghost filled, powerhouse, testifying saint.

It transformed cowards to preaching dynamos of boldness, who were willing to lay down their lives for the Jesus who saved them.  They had no fear of what man could do to them.  They had no fear of tribulation or imprisonment.  They displayed a boldness that could only come from the fire baptism of Holy Ghost and a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior

We all need is this baptism of fire transformation.  The only way we can get this transformation is  allow Holy Ghost to toss out the beer, cigarettes, whisky, profanity, lust, chew, pride, selfishness, and whatever else stands between you and the fire baptism and your witness as a Christian.

Sometimes, this Transforming Fire will require some Judgement Fires.  It will always require some Fire of Refining.

I focused of three fires this morning, but the Fire that Judges, we all know about and want to avoid it altogether and that is the fire of Hell itself.  There is only one way to avoid this fire and that is through accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.  It doesn’t come because you are a good person or your parents were Christians.  It doesn’t come by baptism or membership in a church.  The cold, hard fact is, is that it doesn’t even come by claiming to be a Christian.  You HAVE TO BE a Christian.  Any other attempt will only confirm Hell’s eternal fiery damnation for your eternity.

You might be in the midst of a Transforming/Refining Fire right now.  That is awesome, now is the right time to fall on your face before your Holy God and let the Refiner’s Fire cleanse you.

But if you are pretending that you are a Christian, and you know in your heart if you not, that Fire of Judgement is yours.  Without true repentance, there is no escaping that fire.  There are so many great pretenders out there.  They live like the world 6 ¾ days a week and for the slightest portion of the week, that ¼ of a day or less on Sunday, usually, they put on their best Sunday acceptable behavior and flaunt their pseudo-faith.

You are awful judgmental there aren’t you, preacher?  I am not judging anybody, but you are judging yourself right now.  Between you and God, you are waging a battle of wits right now.  You are trying so hard to justify your life while He is busy point out the things that separates Him from you and you from Him.  He is asking right now, “What are you going to do about it?”

ALTAR CALL


Submitted: April 15, 2020

© Copyright 2023 Gail-D-Prentice. All rights reserved.

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