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What is the Baptism With Fire?

September 13, 2018

 (Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash)

 

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24

 

Both Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16 say that Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mt. 3:1-2), but when he saw the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don't just say to each other, 'we are safe because we are descendants of Abraham.' That means nothing because God can create children of Abraham from stones. Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Every tree that doesn't bear good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire" (Mt. 3:7-10).  In a previous post, I talked about the context of fire in these verses and how it is reasonable to see the baptism of fire as a separate act. But others say it is talking about the purification of the Holy Spirit which is something He does now.  

 

SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR THE TWO VIEWS

 

VIEW ONE: The baptism with the Holy Spirit happened at Pentecost, but the baptism with fire will not take place until the judgment that will accompany the second coming of Jesus.

 

The Lord of Heaven's Armies says, "The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed--roots, branches, and all."

Malachi 4:1 NLT

 

The day of judgment is described in Zephaniah 1:14-18 and is referring to the Great Tribulation. [1] Revelation speaks a lot about the judgments that take place during the tribulation and culminate with the White Throne Judgment. When John says "baptism of fire" in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16, the tribulation and White Throne Judgment is the time he is speaking of.

 

When you read both of these passages in context, you see John warning the Pharisees and Sadducees and speaking of judgment, not refinement. They were the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and most never did turn to Jesus. The religious leaders who did not trust Jesus as Savior will be baptized with fire at the White Throne Judgment.

 

Lastly, Malachi 4:1 says the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up. It doesn't say the deeds of the arrogant and wicked will be burned up, again pointing us to the time in the future tribulation when this will take place.

 

VIEW TWO: The baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire both happened at Pentecost, and the fire represents purification. Fire is a metaphor for God's judgment, either to destroy the wicked or test and purify the righteous. [2]

 

I will bring that group through the fire and make them

pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold...

Zechariah 13:9 NLT

 

The Holy Spirit does purify you through the process of sanctification; Scripture teaches this (1 Cor 6:11; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2). Through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, you are made holy. When you accepted Christ as Savior, you were made right with God (justified), you were made holy (sanctified), and you were washed clean (declared righteous). This is the way God sees you. But that doesn't mean you and I don't still struggle with sin in this life because we do, so the Holy Spirit is purifying us now. It comes through testing (Ps 66:10; Prov 17:3).

 

I remember being taught that God uses marriage as a way to refine us of wrong motives and selfishness as we learn to put one another first, have multiple chances to forgive, and refuse to keep a record of wrongs. The idea of marriage being a tool used by God to purify me was revolutionary. Being a parent or child, having siblings, friends, co-workers, or classmates are all ways the Holy Spirit uses to purify us. In a sense, the Spirit uses people and relationships as avenues to test us, and to act as fire. God uses the analogy of gold and silver, and that's how metals are purified and refined. Fire removes the impurities of metal like the sanctifying fire of the Holy Spirit removes sin from our lives. We become more like Christ! And since the Holy Spirit refines believers now, and purity is a picture of fire, the baptism of fire started at Pentecost.

 

Either one of these views is reasonable. So why are there some people who are teaching a different baptism of fire? Even some evangelicals are considering there might be more to the fire than previously accepted.

 

A THIRD VIEW THAT IS MORE EXTREME

 

There is another view taught in the New Apostolic Reformation movement and some Pentecostal/Charismatic and Catholic groups as well. These groups take the second view written about above and turn it into an experience, a feeling, and an anointing you can pass on to others. But it's not based on the Bible. It stems from the Latter Rain Movement of the late 1940's and into the 50's & 60's. [3] The Bible never talks about Holy Spirit experiences of fire in the way the following people speak about it.

 

EXPERIENCING THE FIRE IN THEIR OWN WORDS

 

Rodney Howard Browne says “In July of 1979, I cried out to God in sheer desperation. I wanted Him to manifest Himself to me and in me. I was hungry...As I prayed that day, I told the Lord, “Either you come down here and touch me, or I am going to come up there and touch you.” I was desperate. I must have called out to God for about 20 minutes that day. Suddenly, the fire of God fell on me. It started on my head and went right down to my feet. His power burned in my body and stayed like that for three whole days. I thought I was going to die. I thought, 'He has heard my prayer, 'Either you come down and touch me or I win come up and touch you,' and now He has come down here and touched me and He is going to kill me and take me home.'

“I was really praying, 'Lord I'm too young to die.' In the fourth day, I am not praying, “O Lord send your glory,” I am praying, “Please lift it off me so that I can bear it.” I was plugged into heaven's electric light supply and since then my desire has been to go and plug other people in.

“My whole body was on fire from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. Out of my belly began to flow a river of living water. I began to laugh uncontrollably and then I began to weep and then speak with other tongues.”

I was so intoxicated on the wine of the Holy Ghost that I was beside myself. The fire of God was coursing through my whole being and it didn't quit ....Because of that encounter with the Lord, my life was radically changed from that day on” (Rodney Howard Browne, The Touch of God, pp. 73-74.)

 

Laverne Tripp on TBN in front of Paul Crouch channeled Jesus and said, “For the fire has come. The fire has come to burn out all the chaff, ...to burn out all the disease,. ..the sickness,...to burn out all the enemy has done. For this is My Day. This is MY DAY. For the Day of the Lord has Come!” (TBN telethon 1997)

 

Dr. Patrica and Will Green describe the Baptism of Fire and their experience in receiving the Baptism of Fire. At the end of the video, they impart the Baptism of Fire to all those who want to receive it.

 

HOW LEADERS DESCRIBE THE FIRE

 

Kenneth Hagin says: “He went on to instruct me that when I would pray and lay hands upon the sick I was to lay one hand on each side of the body. If I felt the fire jump from hand to hand, an evil spirit or demon was present in the body causing the affliction. … If the fire, or anointing, in my hand does not jump from hand to hand, it is a case of healing only...When the fire, or the anointing, leaves my hands and goes into his body, I will know he is healed.” (Hagin, Kenneth, I Believe In Visions, p. 51.)

 

Randy Clark claims that the “greatest revival of all times” is now a reality. That “people are being raised from the dead and temples are being hit by lightning or fireballs and knocked off their things. It's all over. Germany and Africa. It's everywhere. God's doing it” (Randy Clark, “Catch The Fire: Questions and Answers,” TACF, 10/14/94, audiotape)

 

Benny Hinn describes a video with Paul Crouch on TBN “Paul, when, when, when I felt this atmosphere on me, and I spoke of a word, FIRE, like that. They were thrown in the air, began to, to roll real rapidly, and they went into the, what do you call that, like when a baby, a fetal, fetal position, with their bodies vibrating from head to toes violently, almost to the place you thought something was going, something physically was wrong with them” (TBN, Oct.23 1999).

 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

In this post, we have talked about three views of the baptism with fire. The first two are mainstream views, and the third view is making its way into mainstream Christianity. I agree with the first view, understand the second view, but disagree with the third view because I don't see it demonstrated in the Bible. But I encourage each person to go to God and read the Word and decide for themselves what they believe. This is not a matter of salvation.

 

 

Sources:

[1] J. Vernon McGhee: Thru the Bible: Proverbs through Malachi (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983) p.868

[2] NLT Study Bible note on Zechariah 3:9 (Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) p.1542

[3] Moriel Ministries: Todd Bently - The Fire, Fresh Fire

[4] The Quotes were taken from Let Us Reason Ministries: FIRE on You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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