Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jesus Will Baptize You With The Holy Spirit AND With Fire

A Look At Prophecy In The Gospel of Matthew


41-365 (Year 8) Water & Fire

He Will Baptize You With The Holy Spirit And With Fire

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Matthew 3:11-12 NLT

“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
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1.  A KEY TO NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING


Many theologies rise and fall on these two verses. Not just a stage setting for Jesus' baptism, these verses are key to New Testament teaching. The theologies rise and fall on the integration of this teaching into practical, daily, normal Christian living.

John's baptism is with water. It is for those who repent of their sins (note the plural) and turn to God. This is not inconsistent with Peter's call for people to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Peter, you will remember, was once a disciple of John. He and the other disciples continued the baptism of repentance while following Jesus though scripture is clear to state Jesus himself did not baptism anyone with water which is also consistent with this passage.

In a prior passage we heard John condemn those who come for baptism but don't truly repent and turn to God - have no fruit of repentance. In many cultures a person is not baptized until that fruit of true repentance becomes visible. This helps eliminate false believers from true, and people merely born into a Christian family from children who have embraced repentance, come to God, and born fruit.

2.  MESSIANIC PROPHECY


In these verses John makes a messianic prophecy:
  • Someone is coming soon (fulfilled in vs. 13-17)
  • He is greater than John
  • His baptism is greater than man's baptism
  • The means of his baptism are greater than water
  • Those means are two fold:  a.  the Holy Spirit  b. fire

3.  JESUS' FIRST MEANS OF BAPTISM IS THE HOLY SPIRIT


This prophecy brings to mind two passages from the Old Testament prophets;


“Then, after doing all those things,
    I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your old men will dream dreams,
    and your young men will see visions.
29 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
    even on servants—men and women alike.


And I will give you a new heart, 
and I will put a new spirit in you. 
I will take out your stony, stubborn heart 
and give you a tender, responsive heart. 
And I will put my Spirit in you 
so that you will follow my decrees 
and be careful to obey my regulations.

Believers will be immersed (baptized) in the Holy Spirit of God, actually live immersed in the Holy Spirit. Following God and obedience are the visible fruits of Jesus' (Holy Spirit) baptism. It is tied to something beyond a water baptism or the exercise of spiritual gifts. Jesus' baptism first and foremost produces obedience and following the Way Jesus presented in his earthly life and now by the Holy Spirit himself and that obedience produces visible fruits.

4.  JESUS' SECOND MEANS OF BAPTISM IS FIRE


True penitents will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Not a comfortable phrase, but Jesus' baptism is not complete until the penitent is baptized with both!

As to the fire, we know we pass through the refiner's fire as we are transformed into the image of Christ. Yes, there are times when transformation seems like a loss, even a death, by fire.

But perhaps here verse 12 explains the fire. Christ is bringing a great separation, a sifting of what is pure and good from what is wind blown caff. 1 Peter 1:7 and  1 Corinthians 3:11-17 speak of two ways this happens to believers: trials by fire in this life and perhaps a final trial by fire. Then, of course, Jesus' teachings use similar images to speak of the great and final judgment separating the justified and the unjustified.


Chaff5.  DON'T BE CAUGHT AMONG THE CHAFF, SUBMIT TO JESUS' BAPTISM NOW!


One thing is sure. The reference to never-ending fire connects this prophecy to the end of time.

  • The chaff will be separated from the wheat at the great judgment
  • The earth will be swept clean with the chaff burned
  • The wheat (those transformed by the baptism of fire) will be gathered into God's storehouse.


HE WHO HAS EARS - LET HIM HEAR!



Photo Credits:
41-365 (year 8) Water &Fire by George Redgrave some rights reserved @flickr.com
Chaff by coniferconifer some rights reserved @flickr.com

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