Daily Archives: October 5, 2010

Baptism of Fire

Luke 3:[15] As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, [16] John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. [17] His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Luke 3:15 – He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Just a little thought about the meaning of what John The Baptist said and meant here. John the Baptist’s work was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Some people thought that he was the Messiah and he is quick to deny that and do his work of pointing to Christ. “All I can do”, John says, “is baptize you with water, but He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

A lot of Christians, some of them preachers and pastors, talk about the need and the desire to be baptized with fire. They are usually referring to being on fire for the Lord. Nice thought, but it sure isn’t what John is referring to here. John is talking about the two fold work of Christ of salvation and judgement. He will save people – that is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. And He will judge the wicked – that is the baptism with fire.

We know this from the context of John’s words. To bring home the point that he has just said, John gives an illustration. Jesus is pictured as a farmer threshing grain. He separates the wheat from the chaff. The wheat is collected and stored into barns – that is those baptized with the Holy Spirit. The chaff is thrown into the fire, that’s the baptism of fire. We even use the common expression of someone in deep trouble going through a “baptism of fire”.

After the resurrection, and just before Jesus ascended to heaven Jesus told His followers that they should not leave Jerusalem but wait for the promise of the Father. “John”, He said, “baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4)-5). Note the absence of any reference to being baptized with fire. Why? Because none of Jesus’ followers will ever be baptized with fire. Jesus has saved us from such a horrifying event.

We come into this world headed for the baptism of fire, but because of the great mercy of God we can be saved from that and brought into the glorious baptism of the Holy Spirit, which comes to all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. It is what He came to do and there is a vast number of people who have experienced it and Jesus will not return until He has granted it to all that the Father has given Him. What a glorious thing God has done.