What is the ‘baptism of fire’ which John wrote about in Mt 3:11 and Luke 3:16, and what does it mean?
Is it a distinct baptism from water baptism and the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Is it synonymous with the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or is it something else?
The answer is found in the pages of the holy Bible –
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you in 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 in the Holy Spirit and in fire:
Mat 3:12 whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.
May I suggest that the ‘fire’ of Yahweh serves two purposes: the cleansing or purging of his people, and the destruction of the wicked, unbelieving, and hypocrites. As you can see in Mt 3:12, Jesus has a ‘fan’ (ptuon; a winnowing shovel) which he uses to ‘cleanse’ or purge his ‘threshing-floor’ (the church). The righteous are winnowed by the Lord so that their uncleanness is purged from their souls. Then he gathers his ‘wheat’ (the righteous) into his ‘barn’ (his kingdom), but the ‘chaff’ (fake believers or tares) will be burned up at the end of the world. Thus, God’s ‘fire’ is for both purging and judgment, depending upon whom it falls. It will judge and burn up the wicked and unbelieving, but only purges or cleanses the righteous of their ‘chaff’ (uncleanness). God is a consuming FIRE (Heb 12:29) who purges uncleanness from righteous souls and burns up unrepentant wicked souls with unquenchable (unending) fiery torment – 2 Thess 1:8. Thus, the baptism of fire is a purifying fire which cleanses the believer’s soul and destroys the wicked.
Mat 13:25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away.
Mat 13:26 But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
Mat 13:27 And the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it tares?
Mat 13:28 And he said unto them, An enemy hath done this. And the servants say unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
Mat 13:29 But he saith, Nay; lest haply while ye gather up the tares, ye root up the wheat with them.
Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.
Mat 13:37 And he answered and said, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
Mat 13:38 and the field is the world; and the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;
Mat 13:39 and the enemy that sowed them is the devil: and the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels.
Mat 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered up and burned with fire; so shall it be in the end of the world.
Mat 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity,
Mat 13:42 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears, let him hear.
Mat 13:49 So shall it be in the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the righteous,
Mat 13:50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
God promises to perfect us, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” – Col 1:27 to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Col 1:28 whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect (G5046 teleios; complete, mature, wanting nothing) in Christ.
1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
How does he purify and perfect us? One way is by sending us fiery trials and tribulations which burn away our imperfections, faults, bad habits, etc. A more pleasant way we can be cleansed is by immersing ourselves in the Word, prayer, and worship.
Faithful is he who calls you! – 1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; (purify, consecrate, perfect) and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Th 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
“Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see… all I have needed Thy hand has provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” (Refrain only)
The song, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was written by Thomas Chisholm (1866–1960) with music composed by William M. Runyan (1870–1957) in Baldwin, Kansas, U.S. The phrase “great is thy faithfulness” comes from the Old Testament Book of Lamentations 3:23. [Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
So let us seek the baptism with fire! May the ‘fire’ of God purify our souls, that we may be ‘perfect, mature, complete sons of God, ready to go in with him to the marriage supper of the Lamb when he returns!
Debra R. Stout, July 4, 2015