Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
If you will check the Book Library page of the wor.org Internet site, you will see that I have written several times in the past concerning God’s use of fiery trials to purify us. Visit www.wor.org/book
However, it appears to me that American believers will be enduring some difficult times in the near future. Perhaps it is a good idea to refresh our minds as to how God works with us.
For our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)
I guess one needs to serve God for a few years before the idea that God is a consuming Fire becomes a reality. In our life on the earth, though our father may be a military commander, he is gentle with his little children. So it is true that when we first are saved, we do not see God as a consuming Fire but as a loving parent. But the day will come, if we serve Christ long enough, that we will discover that to have fellowship with God, we must learn to walk in the Fire that is God.
The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil (Isaiah 33:14-15)
Every true Christian must learn to dwell with the consuming Fire.
Every true Christian must learn to dwell with everlasting burning.
How can we do this?
He who walks righteously, who is honest, truthful, faithful. “But doesn’t God see us through Christ?” If we wish to live with the consuming Fire, we must be honest, truthful, and faithful. If we are not, we will be consumed, and not in a good way! We cannot claim God sees us through Christ, and then be dishonest, a liar, and unfaithful, and walk with God without being consumed. The Scripture cannot be broken!
On a certain occasion, I had told a lie. Then the Lord spoke to me: “Liars shall not eat at my table.” I have been careful to be strictly truthful ever since.
And speaks what is right. My prayer every day is that I will think Christ’s thoughts; speak Christ’s words; and act as Christ acts. With the words of our mouth we are justified and with the words of our mouth we are condemned. Every vain, foolish word an individual speaks has its consequence in the spirit world if not in the present world.
Who rejects gain from extortion. We never are to gain our pleasure at some other person’s expense, if we want to survive in the Fire.
And keeps his hand from accepting bribes. We must render honest judgment. We do not make unjust decisions because someone is pressing us to do so.
Who stops his ears against plots of murder. The Christian churches are filled with gossip. Ordinarily the gossip is not directed toward building up someone in Christ, but toward tearing the individual down.
And shuts his eyes against contemplating evil. We must take control of our thoughts, bringing every thought into obedience to Christ. Much of our overcoming involves gaining victory over unclean or hateful thoughts. God will help us do this if we ask Him in Jesus’ name.
This is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him. (Isaiah 33:16)
Regardless of who the President of America is, our country will still suffer calamities of all sorts. This is because of needless abortion, sexual excesses, the love for pleasure more than love for God, the worship of money and power, and all sorts of abuse of the body including alcoholism, drugs, and weird sexual practices.
No political machine is going to bring us peace and joy while sin runs rampant in America. Therefore, if we want to be safe and have our bread and water during chaotic times, we must think, speak, and behave righteously, and obey Christ in every aspect of our lives.
Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar. (Isaiah 33:17)
If we in America are to survive with our loved ones in these perilous days, we must keep our eyes focused at all times on the King, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
What does the Fire do? It burns up the chaff in our life. First God permits circumstances to pound us to remove gross sins. This is called threshing. Then God permits the winds of adversity to blow on us. The wind separates the chaff from the wheat, so to speak, and then God burns up the chaff. This operation is not always comfortable, but it is always necessary if we are to walk with the Fire of Israel.
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11)
Many of us may be familiar with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We may not be as well acquainted with the baptism with fire. But it is coming!
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Wheat is winnowed by tossing up a pitchfork full so the air blows away the chaff. The wheat falls to the floor being heavier than the chaff, and the chaff then is burned up.
If I am not mistaken, we American Christians are going to experience the threshing, and then the winnowing winds, and then the burning up of the chaff that is separated from the grain. This is absolutely necessary if we are walk with Jesus in the white robes of the Royal Priesthood.
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. (Zechariah 13:8,9—KJV)
I am not saying that two-thirds of American people shall be cut off and die. I merely am pointing out the way God works at times. God will take the third part through fire and refine them, burning away the dross. Then, having been refined, they will call on the name of the Lord and He will hear them. God shall refer to them as His people.
We might think that God never would cause two-thirds of the American people to be cut off and die. But, according to the Scripture, it is going to happen to some nation. Why are we better than the nation of Israel, for example? We in America are altogether too arrogant and have lost the fear of God!
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were walking around in the fire unharmed. Jesus was there with them, as He always is when we are in trouble. The three men were a portrayal to us of what it is like to dwell with the consuming Fire. Notice that their bondages had been burned away. That is true of us also when we are dwelling with everlasting burnings.
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)
He who has suffered in his body is done with sin. This is what the fire of God does—it delivers us from the bondages of sin. And notice also:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (I Peter 4:12-19)
Continue to do good! The passage above reveals the errors in today’s Christian teaching. We are to rejoice as we participate in the sufferings of Christ.
It is time for judgment to begin with the family of God. This means that Christians will suffer until their bondages of sin are burned away.
Why is it hard for the righteous to be saved? Did you ever hear a preacher state that it is hard for the righteous to be saved—or for anyone to be saved, for that matter? This is because we do not understand that to be saved means to endure to the end, to persevere until we have entered that rest of God where we think, speak, and act in agreement with the will of the Lord Jesus for us.
The Gospel today is watered down until it is skim milk. We have a religious exercise in which people say they believe in Jesus and now are on their way to a mansion in Heaven. We have not been taught that it is through much tribulation that we shall enter the Kingdom of God.
I have lived long enough to see professing Christians balk when they were told they must take up their cross of deferred gratification and follow the Master. America is filled with disobedient Christians who suppose they can “accept Christ” and then wait to die to go to Heaven.
If that were the case, why would the Apostle Peter say it is hard for the righteous to be saved? If all we must do is to slip up our hand and say “I accept Christ,” and now we are eternally saved, what is so difficult about that?
The truth is, we have been lied to. To be saved, we must live a crucified-resurrected life and follow Jesus wherever He leads us. It is not a matter of “accepting Christ.” Rather, it is a case of receiving Christ every moment of every day as He knocks on the door of our personality.
Are you sure you want Jesus to come today? Those who want to be members of the Royal Priesthood must be refined by fire.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. (Malachi 3:2-4)
We simply cannot bring an acceptable offering to the Lord until we have been baptized with the fire of suffering, and the bondages of sin have been burned away. So we should not be amazed when we go through God’s fire.
The following passage is of interest:
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (I Corinthians 3:11-15)
I believe the above passage is speaking of the Christian ministry. If a person labors in the ministry, his work will be revealed by the fire of God’s judgment. If his work stands, he will be rewarded. If his work is burned up, he will suffer loss of a reward, though he himself will be saved as by fire. What does this mean? I believe it means that he will not receive a reward, but he himself shall suffer Divine judgment. If he repents of his misdeeds, he will be carried over to the new earth after the last judgment.
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5—KJV)
We know from the Scriptures that not everyone will be saved to the new world of righteousness. The Book of Revelation speaks of those who are thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is not so they will be saved. It is an eternal punishment. However there are some people, like the incestuous man in Corinth, who are given over to suffering, and then repent. Thus they were saved by the fire of Divine judgment.
Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (II Corinthians 2:6-8—KJV)
Notice, in the passage below, that the servant of the Lord can pass through the fire without harm.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)
Let each one of us determine to be a person of fire, one who delights in the burning of the Lord, in the putting of His discerning fire on each decision we make. That’s the kind of person I wish to be. How about you?
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. (Ezekiel 22:30)
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)
(“Fire”, 3646-1, proofed 20210927)