Filled With The Holy Spirit
~ And With Fire
By Rodney W. Francis
John the Baptist, the fore-runner of Jesus declared, “I indeed baptize you with water unto 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. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff (“anything of a comparatively light and worthless character; the refuse part of anything” – Webster’s Dictionary) with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12, NKJV).
John saw that the coming of the Holy Spirit included fire! On the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon and into those initial 120, the Bible records: “Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (see Acts 2:1-4).
Jesus taught His disciples of the importance of receiving the Holy Spirit, as through the Holy Spirit we would be His witnesses from our Jerusalem (home base) to the ends of the earth. In other words, nothing can restrict those who are filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit! A witness is one that has first-hand evidence of the One they are witnessing about. True Christians have a personal relationship with the Living Christ of God, the One Who personally baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire! Out of that day-to-day relationship we have something very definite to witness about to others. The fact is that if non-Christians do not see evidence of Jesus alive in us, they will not know of His love for them.
A BURNING BUSH EXPERIENCE
In Exodus 3 we have the account of Moses encountering God at a burning bush. That bush was very different to any other bush that Moses had ever seen. At 80 years of age the fire in the burning bush arrested Moses’ attention. So much so that he turned to look at it. The moment Moses’ attention was on that bush, God spoke to him through it and gave Him His plans for Moses to become a great deliverer of a nation! I can imagine that the previous 40 years in Moses’ life were not all that exciting, as he had had to run away from Egypt owing to his killing a man. He had received the call of God at 40, but things did not work out the way he thought they would and, instead of being a deliverer, he was a fugitive in a strange land. Instead of leading people into God’s victory, he found himself leading sheep at the backside of the desert (quite a difference, don’t you think)! But God had not given up on His man, and He used a fire in a bush to attract his attention so He could renew the call and plan of God for his life and future. We learn that from that experience, Moses went back to Egypt and delivered a whole nation (Israel) out of its captivity and bondage by mighty signs, wonders and miracles. Many thousands were delivered from their defeatist living.
As I was meditating afresh on Exodus 3, it came to me that today we are to be that burning bush. The Holy Spirit and fire at work in us makes us a witness to others of just how different a Christian is to all other peoples. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and fire, we are set aside for God’s use. And He wants to use us to arrest other peoples’ attention, so that they will stop and look at us (Acts 3:4) because we are obviously different to others. That difference is Jesus alive in us through the power of the Holy Spirit! We cannot be used like this if God has not already got our attention and we have heard His voice speaking directly into our hearts and lives. The voice of God changes and transforms us into living witnesses of JESUS! What a tremendous joy and privilege it is to be used of God to arrest someone else’s attention and then to see them impacted and changed by the Holy Spirit working in and through us! We have learned that there is always someone waiting on the other side of our obedience. The big question is: “Are we filled with the Holy Spirit and fire right now? Are we a ‘burning bush’ for Jesus Christ?” If not, why not? For a ‘committed to Jesus Christ’ Christian there is no room for excuses. Our calling is to be available to Him each and every day. None of us know at this moment whether or not the next person who recognizes there is something different about you, and stops to ask you “a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15), might be a Moses who has been wandering in a wilderness experience for 40 years. God wants to use each one of us to make a positive difference in the lives of others. But that cannot happen if there is no fire of the Holy Spirit evident in our lives. According to Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8 and Acts 2, the evidence of the Holy Spirit and fire being active within our lives is power, tongues and prophesying. With regards our prophesying we are told: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies” or “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:15-23). These gifts of God are available to every believer who believes! We are robbing others when we are not functioning in the purposes of God for our lives.
Fire warms, attracts and comforts, as well as burns up the rubbish in our lives. It has a purifying effect on us, and the accompanying criticism and persecution as a result of our being ‘different’ will keep pushing us closer to Jesus and His purposes. Right now there is an urgent need for every Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit ~ and with fire! You and I have already been hand-selected, chosen and ordained of God to be His witnesses in an unbelieving world ~ you and I have been chosen to be His ambassadors (an ambassador is one who has been given power and authority to speak and act on behalf of the Kingdom he or she represents – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – and we represent the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth). We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world! “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses it flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16). These are the words of Jesus. Be on fire! Shine, burn for Jesus today!