Mat 3:10-12 “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
There’s an interesting tradition in Yosemite National Park. At Glacier Point, there was a ‘beautiful fire fall’ for almost a century. It was like a waterfall of fire. It all started when James McCully made a campfire at a hotel there. He talked around this fire and kicked the embers over the cliff 3,000 feet into the snow. Many dwellers saw it and were fascinated. They would pay to see the fire fall 3,000 ft. People like to see fire fall, not to experience it themselves, but to just watch.
So, once a year, people would take dead trees and get a fire burning. They kept building the fire up and pushed the burning trees over the cliff. They don’t do it anymore.
A tourist wanted to see it and the response was, ‘The fire doesn’t fall anymore.’ The same could be said in many churches today. Gone are the days that the fire is in the praise. Holy Ghost fire seems to have fizzled out. Gone is that burning sensation in a man for the salvation of souls.
‘Either let fire be in the sermon or let the sermon be put in the fire.’
Mat 25:8-9 “And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”
If you’re wise, you’ve got enough oil. The oil was what was to burn. Without oil, there is no fire. The foolish virgins realized their mistake too late. The fire must always be burning. They asked the wise for their oil. You can’t get oil from somebody else. You must get your own oil. This is a spiritual thing.
Is your fire growing dimmer? We must have the fire to burn again. Ignite my soul!
We might get too excited about programs and stuff. Don’t let carnality get you more excited than God, His Word, His Spirit, His fire.
The poison of the world is no longer rejected. It’s actually welcomed. When temptation is too strong, it’s time to get more fire.
Some signs are the lack of urgency, a running out feeling. ‘Should I go to church?’ Check your oil!
What does the fire do? What is it that John was preaching? He said, ‘You must repent and wait for the Holy Ghost.’ He was tough and rough, strong. Yet, he said, ‘You think I’m tough, there is somebody coming who is tougher than me! I baptize with water, He will baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire.’
Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff. The chaff will also be baptized with fire. It won’t stop burning.
There are three purposes for fire in Scripture. The fire burned the lips of Isaiah and the fire in Jeremiah (shut up in his bones) was a purifying fire. Job said he’d come out like gold purified in a fire. The fire is a refining fire.
Malachi 3:2 “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”
God will put you through a fire so that you will come out purified and righteousness. It gets rid of the stuff that is impure and keeps the stuff that’s good.
Paul said every man’s works will be tried by fire. Everything will be tried, proved. God will prove you to see what you’re made of. This is called the fire, a refining fire. It hurts. It burns.
There are two other kinds of fire beside the refiner’s fire, there’s a passionate fire from the Holy Ghost and a fire that is unquenchable.
Let that Holy Ghost fire burn!
The accuser hates fire. He wants to put out that fire. He wants to snuff out the fires of the Holy Ghost inside. You are exempt from the unquenchable fire if you allow that Holy Ghost fire to burn bright.
It is in God’s will and Word for the fire to fall and to burn in you. When the fire fell, it was God’s acceptance of an offering.
There is a fire of judgment. This is not a baptism of fire, this is the unquenchable fire.
In the Old Testament, there are crazy things. Way back, when we talk about hell and the devil and horns, at the time of the Tower of Babel, there was a warrior named Nimrod that wanted to defy God. A tyrant back then meant ‘bull’ or ‘bully’. It was a kind of crown they wore, helmets with horns to show their strength. It turned into a symbol of evil. Over the years, they began to worship things like goats or things with horns, owls, bulls, etc. They built things to honor the devil. There was always a fire burning. They actually took children and burned them on an altar as a sacrifice to this evil god.
The Israelites understood the power of fire. They built an area where a fire always burnt. They called it Gehenna. Instead of sacrificing children, they threw their trash there.
When Jesus talked about judgment, He compared it to this place, a lake of fire.
John said, ‘Either you burn with Holy Ghost fire or you’ll burn with something else.’ These are the choices. This is the reality.
If you want to hear, ‘Well done,’ from the Lord, you’ve got to burn with the right fire. I’d rather burn now than later.
God doesn’t want you to suffer, but He wants you to be fruitful. This requires fire.
Cold causes butter to become hard and rigid. When the Holy Ghost gets close to us, things get out of control. When we resist that, our hearts grow colder so we can regain control. God wants us to keep us from being burned with unquenchable fire, so He allows this fire to grow.
There are things the fire will do. The devil wants to destroy your efforts and intentions to keep that fire burning. He doesn’t want the fire to burn in you or in the church. He wants to make you just like everybody else.
Proud King Nebuchadnezzar had a statue built that he wanted everyone to bow to. Jews won’t bow down to other gods. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow.
If you burn, you’ll stick out. Many people don’t want that.
What happens to a church where people won’t bow to the world? That church becomes a beacon of hope.
Don’t fizzle out and grow cold. You’ll end up just like the world, without hope.
Jesus will baptize you with a different kind of fire that you and I need, the kind of fire that destroys the works of the world and the devil.
The devil desires to control people, but Nebuchadnezzar made a mistake and threw them into the fire. The three Hebrew boys refused to bow down. They weren’t careful. They didn’t need to pray about whether or not to bow down to a false God. The king said, ‘Do you think your God is able to deliver you?’ They answered, ‘He’s able, but that’s not the issue. We will not bow.’ Maybe they were nervous, but they refused to snuff out that fire of God. They would rather die than let it be put out.
They were bound right there and had big guys throw them in. Right before that, the king had the heat turned up, more fire. The guys who threw them in died from the fire. Six soldiers died, but not the men who were thrown into the fire who refused to bow to the false god.
Then, the king asked, ‘Didn’t we throw three men bound in? Why do I see four men loosed?’
The stuff that bound them was burned up, the blindfolds burned, but not their eyelashes, the ropes were gone. The world was wrong. God has control over the fire. The things that held them were released. There was freedom in the fire.
There is freedom in the fire!
In the fire that God controls, you are not alone. Jesus controls it all and is in the fire with you! Jesus stays in the fire. He IS the fire!
The fire isn’t on you, it’s in you. God is glorified. The Hebrew boys didn’t even smell like fire. The king proclaimed that this God is the God of the fire. He is in control!
If you want to be free from fear, carnality, worry, stress, anxiety attacks, let the Holy Ghost fire burn in your spirit. Let Him burn in you.
Jeremiah sat in a dungeon and was told to stop preaching. They wanted to shut him up. His attitude, something changed. The fire started down in his feet and up to his legs and in his arms and chest. The Word of God was in him like fire shut up in his bones. He refused to listen to what the world said to do. He feared God more than the world. He chose to obey Him.
Peter chose to obey God rather than men.
How can you get the fire to fall?
God just needs something to burn, even if it’s an old, ‘useless’ rag. You may think you’re nothing, but God can cause you to burn. Even if it’s saturated with water, God can make it burn. Just ask Elijah.
What kind of fire do you want? You will burn one way or another. You get to choose. Holy Ghost fire or unquenchable fire? Let the Holy Ghost burn up the things that need to go.
Your life may be a mess, but God can still take you and cause His fire to burn bright in you.
More Questions for Personal or Group Study:
- What are some things that you really, really like?
- Why is it so exciting to be a follower of Jesus? What are the benefits? What are the challenges? Why do the benefits outdo the challenges?
- Read Col 3:23, Psalm 84:2, Mat 6:21. What is your motivation in your work? What was David’s deepest desire? Where is your treasure?
- What are the three kinds of fire mentioned in the sermon? What do you need to do/change to keep the right kind of fire burning in your life?
Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.
If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!