Baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire
The Spirit is grace and the fire is truth, and these are inseparable. What does this mean for us?
John says, “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.” Matthew 3:11.
Spirit and fire are inseparable
You cannot separate the Holy Spirit and fire. The one cannot be present if the other is excluded. The Holy Spirit brings peace and joy; the fire consumes the self-life and causes pain. Just as the fire dwells in the Spirit, so the Spirit dwells in the fire, for God is Spirit, but He is also a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29.)
The fire will make its presence felt immediately after a person has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. If we have known Him and the power of His resurrection, then fellowship with Christ in His sufferings will follow directly. God’s will is our sanctification; but he who wants to do God’s will soon will feel pain as he becomes a partaker of the sufferings of Christ. God has no pleasure in someone who draws back, who spares himself. The image of Christ comes forth in us as we obey the Spirit. Christ offered Himself for us in the power of an eternal Spirit, and God raised up that great Shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, through the power of the blood of an everlasting covenant. (Hebrews 13:20.)
Enemies of the cross of Christ try to retain the power of the resurrection, while at the same time rejecting the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. This is exactly where people go astray. The Holy Spirit and fire, power and pain: these are inseparable. God never allows them to be separated. Only ignorance and a desire for fleshly comfort will cause a person to attempt to separate them. It always becomes evident that such people are going astray.
The Holy Spirit and fire: Grace and truth
To show the difference between the Holy Spirit and fire, we can say that the Spirit is grace and the fire is truth. Grace covers and keeps us until the fire has done its work. Righteousness will become manifest only where the fire has raged; the new earth will come forth where righteousness dwells. The intention of grace is not to cover and hide, but to preserve for the fire. God’s wrath is not satisfied with grace; His burning wrath requires that the fire do its work. A criminal can be pardoned, but by bearing his punishment, he has paid for his crime, and is righteous in the matter according to the law of the land.
It is the same in the spiritual realm. God requires us to bring spiritual sacrifices in Christ Jesus. You can avoid making those sacrifices by saying that Christ is the sacrifice in your place. That is true, of course, but it is not the truth that leads to sanctification. Sanctification requires our agreement and our obedience to God’s will. If we suffer with Him, we will also be glorified with Him. If we do not suffer with Him, we will not be glorified with Him. The cross is a weapon in our hand. It will keep self-life and fleshly pleasures from taking control. Satan cannot thrive unless you “spare yourself.” The world nourishes the flesh in every possible way, and all sorts of evil spirits flourish in and around worldly people.
How to satisfy God
The cross drives Satan out. Jesus overcame on the cross, and there we overcome with Him. There is power in the word of the cross; it gathers and unites. The church becomes one when the word of the cross is effective, but when people give themselves to sweet feelings, evil spirits thrive.
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God—with us. (1 Peter 4:17.) God has come forth from His sanctuary for judgment, and He begins with the saints—with us. The judgment was carried out in Christ and is now being carried out in those who have been baptized with the Spirit of Christ. Thus the way, the truth and the life are revealed. All of God’s burning demands toward mankind were satisfied in the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, if a person is to satisfy God, he must have this Spirit.
This article has been translated from Norwegian, and was first published with the title “Ånden og ilden” (“Spirit and fire”) in the periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in May, 1912.
© Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag | ActiveChristianity
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.