Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Baptism By Fire

Have you ever gone through a baptism by fire?

It has a particular secular meaning, but most Christians probably think of 1 Peter when they hear the phrase.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is 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 ESV)
Modern usage has derived from a soldier surviving enemy fire, with the first use coming from Barry E. O'Meara's Napoleon In Exile (1822):
I love a brave soldier who has undergone, le baptême du fer [baptism of fire], whatever nation he may belong to.
-Yale Book of Quotations (p. 545)

But if you're reading this, you have not undergone a baptism by fire, at least not the one John the Baptist speaks of it in Matthew 3:11, "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

The baptism of the Holy Spirit, which was fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3), sounds like it goes along with baptism by fire in this passage. But the context provided by the rest of John's quote in the next verse shows they are actually contrasted:
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)
In other words, everyone will be baptised. But in the judgment of Christ, you will be found to be wheat or chaff. The good grain are those who have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. The chaff will be consumed in the baptism by fire. This matches Jesus' teaching through his ministry (John 15:6, Matthew 13:41-42).

That's why it's of first important to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Even many who go to church every week don't really believe, because they haven't surrendered their whole lives to Christ. I beg of you to consider this carefully in your own life; ensure that you will not be one baptized by fire! If you want to explore what it means to sincerely believe, to have faith, or to fully trust what Christ accomplished for you on the cross, spend some time reading An Open Letter to Seekers.

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