“Why is this happening to me?” or “Why is God allowing this to happen?” These are some of the more frequent and difficult questions that ministers, chaplains and pastors get asked. While each situation is different we should consider that some situations may be part of the Baptism of Fire.
When the subject of baptism comes up it is normally focused on water baptism or the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but today I want to examine a subject a little hotter, The Baptism of Fire.
Much like the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of fire has an initial event, but is not limited to that one time event. With the baptism of the Holy Spirit the Bible clearly shows the initial event, but then goes on to tell believers to be filled with the Spirit, walk by the Spirit and even that we can grieve or quench the Holy Spirit.
With the baptism of fire there is also an ongoing refining process that believers go through. In fact we have a responsibility to participate on an ongoing basis. The baptism of fire also known as the “Refiner’s fire” is part of being a Christian and is a necessary part of our spiritual growth.
The Baptism of Fire is mentioned in Luke 3:15-18 and in Matthew 3:5-12. The baptism of fire mentioned in these passages has two very different aspects.
First, fire represents judgment throughout the Bible. This aspect primarily applies to the unrepentant or non-believers. Consider what John the Baptist told the religious leaders in Matthew 3:7-8, 10, 12:
“But when he saw many of 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? “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance… And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire… And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
This aspect of the baptism of fire can be explored further in passages like Malachi 4:1, Matthew 13:24-30 & 36-43. It can also be clearly seen in the book of Revelation and the lake of fire.
Second, fire represents purification and refining in the Bible. For believers the baptism of fire comes through trials, struggles and even temptations. Consider these verses on the subject:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials. That the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
In the middle of difficulties when we ask those tough questions like, “why is this happening to me?” or “why is God allowing this to happen?” We need to consider that God may be using the trials as the Refiner’s fire.
The Baptism of Fire is somewhat predictable. Here are a few times when we should be expecting to be touched by the Master’s fire:
- When we first become a believer. This is especially true if we are struggling with the old life and behaviors.
- When you are being called into the ministry or making an advancement in ministry.
- When we have bad attitudes, bad beliefs or bad behaviors that we justify or are not willing to change it is an open invitation for the Refiner’s fire to discipline us.
There are also two things that can help make the Baptism of Fire an easier and more pleasant experience:
- Participate in the process. Consider 2 Timothy 2:19-22 and 1 Corinthians 7:1
- Understand what is happening and that God is for you and not against you. Consider Hebrews 12:1-14
If you are experiencing the Baptism of Fire and would like prayer or encouragement you can contact us through the blog or email us using the contact page.
If you have made it through the fire feel free to share how the Lord used it to refine you.
Blessings,Pastor Dave SmuinPresidentNCCChurch.org