In Matthew 3, when John the Baptist is announcing his message of repentance and the coming of the Messiah, he says this about Jesus:
As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).
So what does it mean to be baptized with fire? As a clumsy person, I often burn myself while cooking, so this doesn’t sound fun to me at all!
When we think of baptism, we usually think of water baptism. Water baptism usually occurs when a believer is completely immersed in water then raised up out of the water by another believer (according to the Bible, baptism doesn’t have to be done by a pastor). If this is how baptism works, then does Jesus expect us to immerse ourselves in fire? That sounds awful and painful!
Thankfully, though baptism by fire can be a little painful, it isn’t awful. When the Bible talks about baptism by fire, it’s talking about the fire of the Holy Spirit. The fire of the Holy Spirit does many things, but we’re just going to talk about three of them.
- Refining. Have you ever seen a metal like gold heated to a temperature hot enough for it to melt? Gold begins to melt at 1850 degrees Fahrenheit; that’s hot! But in order to make 100% pure gold, it must be melted and treated so that any impurities in the metal rise to the surface and are removed. Fire baptism does this for us. This happens continuously throughout our lives. Each time we enter into a trial that tests our faith, God is able to use that to refine our faith and make us that much more like Jesus Christ. This can be a little painful, right? Going through trials and things that test our faith isn’t usually very fun, but God brings us through, and at the end of each trial, we are a slightly changed person. That’s pretty cool.
- Sealing. If you’ve ever worked with clay to make pottery, then you know you can’t just shape something in clay and expect it to keep that shape unless you fire it in a kiln. Clay has to be shaped, but once it’s been shaped into whatever it’s supposed to be (plate, cup, bowl, pot, figurine, etc.), it has to be heated in a kiln fire in order to harden it and seal it into a finished product. The fire of the Holy Spirit seals our redemption when we give our lives to Christ. Give your life to Christ, and you get God’s personal seal.
- Consuming. This one depends on our response to God. God wants to use the fire of the Holy Spirit to consume everything about us. He wants to consume our hearts, lives, talents, time, everything. This is something that we have to be willing to allow. The question that precedes this is, “Do I want God to be my entire life and all I desire?” If your answer is “yes,” then ask God to consume you with His holy fire and to help you put Him first in everything. He’ll do it; it’s one of His favorite prayers to answer, I think.
So to answer the question above, “Does Jesus expect us to immerse ourselves in fire?” I think the answer is “yes.” God expects us to yield to Him and immerse ourselves in the fire of the Holy Spirit. God expects us to allow Him to refine, seal and consume us.
Girls, have you yielded to God’s holy fire?
For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now (Acts 1:5).
More Stories Like This on Project Inspired: