Matt. 3:11 – Those who repent I baptize with water, but there is coming a Man after me who is more powerful than I am. In fact, I’m not even worthy enough to pick up his sandals. He will submerge you into union with the Spirit of Holiness and with a raging fire!
The prophet John shocked his world with his lifestyle, his apparel, and mostly his message. He had lived as a veritable hermit all of his life until he suddenly burst on the scene. Talk about a throwback, John was dressed like prophets from hundreds of years before, drinking (even the social kind) was out of the question, and his vow of a Nazarite meant he had never cut his hair or beard. The most shocking thing about John was his blunt message. Repent, turn away from sin, and turn to God was his cry. He said the Messiah was about to appear and He would baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. The fire part is quite interesting. Here is how Barclay describes the effect of this fire.
“(i) There is the idea of illumination. The blaze of a flame sends a light through the night and illuminates the darkest corners…. In fire there is light and guidance. Jesus is the beacon light to lead men into truth and to guide them home to God.
(ii) There is the idea of warmth…. When Jesus comes into a man’s life, he kindles his heart with the warmth of love towards God and towards his fellow men. Christianity is always the religion of the kindled heart.
(iii) There is the idea of purification. In this sense purification involves destruction; for the purifying flame burns away the false and leaves the true. The flame tempers and strengthens and purifies the metal. When Christ comes into a man’s heart, the evil dross is purged away.”
Two thousand years later and I think our world needs the shock treatment once again. Its time to turn from our sins and turn back to the Lord. Too often, folks are Christian in name only but their lifestyle is no different from the rest of the ungodly culture. It will take this fire of God to help us become different kinds of people. This holy fire burns us on the inside. He illumines us to Christ, cleanses us from our sins, and then puts a passion in our hearts for the Lord. I think its time to be baptized in His fire.