The last post generated a great question from Diane, “What about the Baptism of Fire?”
Is there a separate experience for believers known as the “Baptism of Fire” or does it speak of:
1. the trials believers will inevitably face or
2. the tongues of fire on Pentecost?
There are two references in the scriptures to “baptize with the Holy Spirit AND FIRE” (Matt 3:11, Luk 3;16). Only John the Baptist uses this combination and it is a prophetic declaration about how people can recognize the Messiah; He will accomplish these acts (whether they are two distinct events or one event marked by two descriptions, phases or facets).
I think the two possible definitions mentioned above are very plausible, but let me add a third which seems to follow John the Baptist’s flow of thought. Let’s work through Luke 3:15-17:
15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ,
SUMMARY: IS JOHN THE MESSIAH?
16 John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
SUMMARY: “NO, THE MESSIAH WILL DO THINGS I CANNOT DO; HE WILL BAPTIZE (IMMERSE) IN PEOPLE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND FIRE.”
17 “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
SUMMARY: “THE MESSIAH WILL DIVIDE THOSE WHO ACCEPT HIM (WHEAT) FROM THOSE WHO REJECT HIM (CHAFF); THE WHEAT WILL EXPERIENCE FAVOR WHILE THE CHAFF WILL EXPERIENCE JUDGMENT FIRES.”
From this brief analysis, it appears to be a two sided experience for two separate groups of people: those who accept the Messiah and those who reject the Messiah.
Verse 17 is the key to understanding this concept. Matthew’s account (3:11-12) verse 12 is almost identical to Luke 3:17; the same two sides to the coin are presented. Those who accept the Messiah will experience Spirit Baptism; those who reject him will experience fire baptism.
This seems like the most logical explanation in context.
Fire baptism for me? No thanks!