John the Baptizer was asked whether he was the Christ. "John
answered, saying to them all, 'I indeed baptize you with water;
but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy
to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire'"
"Baptize" means to dip, immerse, submerge. Jesus immerses
His disciples in fire.
Baptism with fire is a metaphor still implored today. During my
freshman year in college, it was commonly known that the professors
made our first year as difficult as possible to weed out the students
who could not handle the work. We called this a baptism of fire.
Likewise, young men and women begin their military career with boot
camp. At boot camp they are mentally and physically toughened through
a baptism of fire.
Other similar metaphors are employed today. If someone cannot handle
a stressful situation we may say: "If you can't stand the heat,
get out of the kitchen." Or we may say: "Out of the frying
pan and into the fire."
Jesus baptizes His disciples in fire to differentiate between those
who are dedicated to Him (cf. Lk. 3:17) and to strengthen His disciples
through trials (cf. Mk. 9:49). We should not think that Jesus' baptism
of His disciples with fire is strange - men baptize with fire for
the same reasons.
Time and space do not allow for a full discussion of this subject,
but let me make these points:
- Lk. 12:49 Jesus came to send fire on the earth. He did
not come to bring peace on earth but to bring a sword (cf. Matt.
- 1 Pet. 1:7 Our faith is tested by fire. The fiery trial
with which our faith is tested is the test of faithfully living
according to God's word (cf. 1 Pet. 1:6; 4:17).
- Rev. 3:18 Lukewarm Christians are counseled by Christ
to buy gold refined in fire from Him. This gold is a genuine faith
which has been tested and refined with fire. With this gold, we
are spiritually rich.
- Mk. 9:49 All Christians are seasoned (i.e., salted)
with fire. Salt is a preservative. Christians are salted (strengthened
to preserve through temptations) with fire (the trials that all
Christians must endure). Therefore Christians rejoice in trials
and tribulations knowing that the testing of their faith produces
patience whereby they become perfect and complete (Jas. 1:2-4;
- 1 Cor. 3:13, 15 Each person's work is tested by fire.
No work will stand in the end except the work which is according
to the word of God.
- 1 Cor. 10:13 God does not allow us to be tempted beyond
what we are able to bear. He provides a way of escape for every
- Eph. 6:10-18 Christians are commanded to put on the
whole armor of God to stand against the devil's fiery darts.
- 1 Pet. 4:12-5:10 Christians cast their cares upon God.
These cares may be from the fiery trial that tries us (1 Pet.
4:12). With a humble heart (1 Pet. 5:-6) we cast our cares upon
God (1 Pet. 5:7) in prayer while vigilantly resisting the devil
(1 Pet. 5:8-9). The result is that we grow to perfection being
established, strengthened, and settled (1 Pet. 5:10).
Jesus baptizes His disciples with fire. Those who are refined by
the fire have an eternal home in heaven. Those who are not willing
to endure the testing of their faith will be eternally lost.
Are you enduring the fiery trials?