Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Baptism of Fire

“Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am about to kindle a fire in you, and it will consume every green tree in you, as well as every dry tree; the blazing flame will not be quenched’”—Ezekiel 20:47 NASB.

“For if they do these things when the timber is green, what will happen when it is dry?”—Luke 23:31 Amp.

On the narrow road to crucifixion, our Lord and Savior maintained His divine composure.  Ever our example, and always our Teacher, He tells the weeping daughters of Jerusalem to cease weeping for Him and to redirect their tears and concern back to themselves and their children.  If we can crucify the Lord when He is green (flourishing) and manifest before your eyes (when the time of His visitation is presently with us), what will happen when He is dry (when He withdraws from us and removes His blessings from us) and He hides from our sight?

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, said this concerning Luke 23:31: “Christ was a green tree, fruitful and flourishing; now, if such things were done to him, we may thence infer what would have been done to the whole race of mankind if he had not interposed, and what shall be done to those that continue dry trees, notwithstanding all that is done to make them fruitful. If God did this to the Son of his love, when he found sin but imputed to him, what shall he do to the generation of his wrath, when he finds sin reigning in them?  If the Father was pleased in doing these things to the green tree, why should he [not] do it to the dry?  The consideration of the bitter sufferings of our Lord Jesus should engage us to stand in awe of the justice of God, and to tremble before him. The best saints, compared with Christ, are dry tree; if he suffer, why...not they?  And what then shall the damnation of sinners be?”

“AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?”—1 Peter 4:18 NASB.  

 “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt”—Mark 9:49 KJV.

According to Charles J. Ellicott (in his commentary regarding Mark 9:49), “there can be no shadow of doubt that ‘fire’ represents the righteousness of God manifested as punishing and chastising—the discipline, in other words, of suffering. Of that discipline, our Lord says ‘every one’ shall be a partaker. He shall thus be ‘salted with fire,’ for the tendency of that fire, the aim of the sufferings which it represents, is to purify and cleanse. Even when manifested in its most awful forms, it is still true that they who ‘walk righteously and speak uprightly’ may dwell with ‘everlasting burnings’—i.e., with the perfect and consuming holiness of God (Isaiah 33:14).  The second clause is obviously far simpler. The ‘sacrifice’ throws us back upon the ritual of Leviticus 2:13, which prescribed that salt should be added, as the natural symbol of incorruption, to every sacrifice. Here our Lord speaks of the spiritual sacrifice which each man offers of his body, soul, and spirit (Romans 12:1), and declares that ‘salt,’ the purifying grace of the Eternal Spirit, is needed that it may be acceptable. Punishment, the pain which we feel when brought into contact with the infinite Righteousness represented by fire, may do its work in part; but it requires something more for completeness. The sacrifice must be ‘salted with salt,’ as well as with ‘fire.’ To use another figure, there must be the baptism of the Holy Ghost, as well as that of fire (Matthew 3:11).”

“Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:13 KJV).

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish (pass away) with a thunderous crash, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.  Since all these things are thus in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought [each of] you to be [in the meanwhile] in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities, while you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire?  But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise, in which righteousness (uprightness, freedom from sin, and right standing with God) is to abide.  So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him [at His coming] without spot or blemish and at peace [in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]” (1 Peter 3:10-14 NASB).