NKJV - 11 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.
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Matthew and Luke mention fire along with the Holy Spirit but not Mark and John (Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16; Mk 1:8; Jn 1:33). When Jesus quoted John the Baptist to His disciples, He did not mention fire (Acts 1:5). Because, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is a blessings for the believers whereas the burning with fire is a judgment for unbelievers. In none of the four instances of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost in Acts, Luke mentions fire (8:16,17; 9:17; 10:44; 19:6). Concerning the ministry of Christ through the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist foretold, "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn" — work of the blowing fan! "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" — work of the burning fire! (Mt 3:12). Both these symbols of wind and fire were present on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2,3). But they were not witnessed in the subsequent instances. The Holy Spirit is God. He is a "consuming fire" (Heb 12:29). He consumes with "jealousy" all idols in our lives (Dt 4:23,24; Ex 20:4,5). He commands them all to be burnt up (Dt 7:5). He cannot tolerate anyone or anything take His place in our hearts. In all things He must have the preeminence! (Col 1:18). His anger is aroused when we flirt with the world (Js 4:4,5). God is like a "refiner's fire" (Mal 3:2,3). He refines our silver to make us a useful vessel for honour (2 Tim 2:21). The process of refining will be painful. It's a baptism of suffering! (Lk 12:49,50). But as we go through the furnace, our faith which is more precious than gold will be purified even more (1 Pet 1:6,7). When we walk daily in the "fellowship of the Holy Spirit," His fire will keep on purifying us until we become like Jesus (2 Cor 3:17,18). There's nothing as a separate experience called baptism of fire. Some people testify about feelings of warmth in their bodies when they pray or praise. While we don't say anything against such ecstatic experiences, there is certainly no Biblical basis to call this as the baptism of fire.
Acts 2:1-4 "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Notice the cloven tongues resembled fire, but they weren't claimed to be a true material fire. In my opinion, the Holy Ghost is composed of the Holy Spirit and fire. Fire is needed for purifying the soul so the Holy Spirit can reside within a believer. Is it possible for a fire baptism without also receiving the Holy Spirit? Yes, and we do have the numerous examples today of healing with feelings of warmth or heat, and "slaying in the spirit" where a person becomes temporarily unconscious from laying on of hands. This fire is spiritual, not a material fire that harms the body. In Numbers 31:23 we have the original basis for the baptism of fire, speaking of objects coming into the camp: "Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation [water baptism]; and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water." Mark 9:49 "For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." Fire, either for good, as with the baptism of fire, or bad, as mentioned in the preceding verses, will be eventually experienced by everyone. Again, the verse is speaking of a spiritual fire.
John the Baptist came preaching repentance and baptizing in the wilderness of Judea, and he was sent as a herald to announce the arrival of Jesus, the Son of God (Matthew 3:1-12). He announced, “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). After Jesus had risen from the dead, He instructed His apostles to “…wait for the Promise of the Father which you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5). This promise was first fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), and the baptism of the Spirit joins every believer to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). But what about the baptism with fire? Some interpret the baptism of fire as referring to the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was sent from heaven. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2-3). It is important to note that these were tongues as of fire, not literal fire. Some believe that the baptism with fire refers to the Holy Spirit’s office as the energizer of the believer’s service, and the purifier of evil within, because of the exhortation “Do not quench the Spirit” found in 1Thessalonians 5:19. The command to the believer is to not put out the Spirit’s fire by suppressing His ministry. A third and more likely interpretation is that the baptism of fire refers to judgment. In all four Gospel passages mentioned above, Mark and John speak of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but only Matthew and Luke mention the baptism with fire. The immediate context of Matthew and Luke is judgment (Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3: 7-17). The context of Mark and John is not (Mark 1:1-8; John 1:29-34). We know that the Lord Jesus is coming in flaming fire to judge those who do not know God (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; John 5:21-23; Revelation 20:11-15), but praise be to God that He will save all that will come and put their trust in Him (John 3:16)!
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