Should We Want to Be Baptized With Fire?
John the Baptist proclaimed that the Messiah would come and baptize "with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11). Some believe they need to receive this baptism of fire. To understand what John was saying, let's take a closer look at this passage. In verse 8 John demanded evidence from the Pharisees and Sadducees of their repentance from sin, making use of two metaphors to drive home his point. First, he noted that, when a tree does not bear good fruit, it is cut down at the roots and burned up (verse 10). Jesus repeated this principle in Matthew 7:19.
John's second metaphor was of winnowing wheat. Winnowing means separating the wheat from the husks, stalks and chaff. John this time was picturing how Jesus will deal with people who bear no fruit. "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12).
Both examples show the major theme of the Bible, that God wants us to become like Christ and produce fruit! For this, Jesus promises us eternal life, which is the message of the gospel. Those refusing to repent and change their way of thinking will be consumed by fire (Malachi 4:1).
Speaking of attitudes of sin, Jesus proclaims: "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). Revelation 20:15 adds, "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."
This lake of fire is the second death, the baptism of fire, for the unrepentant, and is certainly not something that we should desire to experience.
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