Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)
TITLE: Fire in the Hole
By Al Boyce
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Whether we are dunked or sprinkled, whether in a river or a child's swimming pool, whether it occurs in childhood or as adults, many Christians find great importance in the ritual of water baptism -- and for good reason. The Bible makes it clear that baptism is an important component to the forgiveness of sins. John the Baptist exhorts everyone to repent and be baptized. Even Jesus is baptized as He begins His ministry.
The immersion in water symbolizes the cleansing of our sins; it mimmicks the death that is the gateway to eternal life.
I have even heard some who emerged from being baptized late in life as saying they were now "fireproof" -- presumably no longer subject to the dominion of hell.
But let's not be too eager to don the asbestos gloves just yet. There is another kind of fire, another kind of baptism that the Bible promises us is still to come even when we are saved.
John the Baptist says in Matthew 3:11: "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."
Jesus Himself says in Luke 12:49-51: “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division."
He is not only talking about the tongues of fire that come to rest on His disciples when they are first visited by the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts. Throughout the Bible, fire often refers to the worldly trials the forge our very character into the likeness of Christ -- the "refiner's fire."
Baptism by water can clean us temporarily. Following immersion, we can leave wet imprints on everyone we hug -- at least until we get some dry clothes on.
Baptism by fire leaves nothing to chance. Our impurities are burned off until nothing is left but the gold that God placed there.
Then we are ready to embark on the missions God prepared for each of us. We are emboldened by powerful weapons, we are in possession of the explosive potential of the Gospel so we may pass along this baptism of fire, "making disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Instead of grabbing a towel, those who see our transformed faces should be shouting, "Fire in the hole!"
And if they are running for cover, they'll be heading our way.
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