Lord, Set Me On Fire
Today, the title of my message is, [Lord, Set Me on Fire].
One of the greatest decisions my parents ever made was to raise my siblings and me in church. I am thankful for that, but I am so grateful they raised me in a Pentecostal church.I LOVE being Pentecostal!
With that being said, much of what happens in Spirit-filled worship services has been there my entire life. In our church people:
spoke in tongues
clapped and raised their hands
anointed with oil
prayed out loud
gave message in tongues with interpreation
some would prophesy
others danced in the Spirit
get slain in the Spirit or fall out
and a few people would run around the sanctuary
But there is a difference between witnessing someone else do that and experiencing it personally. At some point, I stopped watching what others did and began experiencing God for myself.
I remember the first time I spoke in tongues, raised my hands in church, was anointed with oil, gave a message in tongues, danced in the Spirit, was slain in the Spirit, and I have even ran around a sanctuary.
But our desire for freedom in the Spirit translated into a call for a passion to live for Jesus in such a way it would draw others to Him.
It was more than getting touched on Sunday. We knew God wanted to use us throughout the week. Knowing this made me want to draw closer to God.
My transition from watching to participating in a service started when I seven or eight. Our church entered into a season of revival. Every service God was there so strong and as a child, it got my attention.
Especially once when an evangelist preached, GOD WANTS TO SET THIS CHURCH ON FIRE!
I may have shared this before, but I was very concerned. All I knew was fire was bad. I got in trouble for playing with fire once. I knew if a building was on fire we had to leave ASAP. If I ever caught on fire I had to stop, drop, and roll.
And what’s more, in the 1970s our church was struck by lightening and burned to the ground. And now someone was preaching, GOD WANTS TO SET THIS CHURCH ON FIRE.
What confused me is everyone shouted AMEN. I was distracted and concerned thinking, someone has to tell this man, the last thing we need is FIRE.
But the fire of God is a topic we sing about:
Tis burning in my soul, the fire of heavenly love is burning in my soul
Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain that I can’t control, I want more of you God.
And this morning, I want to preach about God setting us on fire. But what does that mean? How is the fire of God something we should desire?
As we ask these questions, I want us to think of our text. What did the original audience think when they heard John the Baptist say, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with Fire?
John spoke to a group of people who had not heard from a prophet of God for 400 years. The had written prophecy, but not spoken words from God.
Then, almost out of nowhere, a peculiar man comes on the scene. He lived in the wilderness, eating locust and wild honey, only wearing camel’s hair clothing.
His message was simple, REPENT, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Those words caught their attention. They had waited for God’s kingdom to come back stronger than ever.
They wondered, is this the Man we’ve wanted to come for centuries? Could this be the Christ? Could he be the one to overthrow the Romans and establish Israel a superpower once again?
John answered, I am not the Coming One, I am merely responsible to introduce the Him. I baptize with water because you’ve repented of sins.
But the one coming after me is better and mightier than me. I am not even worthy to carry his shoes or be his slave. They had to get excited by this point.
Until John explained, I baptize with water, but He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with FIRE.
What did they think when he pronounced a baptism in Fire?
I want us to look at the Fire of God and see how Jesus changes our perspective on Fire. I pray by the end of this message we will pray, Lord, Set me on Fire.
But first, let me describe three aspects of God’s fire. It is [A Purging Fire], [A Purifying Fire], and [A Passionate Fire].
1. A Purging Fire
1. A Purging Fire
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and Fire? The word fire is found 549 times in scripture. But it did not have a positive connotation in for the original audience.
In their minds, fire often meant purging. To purge mean to rid of whatever is undesireable, to eliminate.
On more than one occasion, God sent fire to purge certain parts of civilization that were deeply engrossed in sin.
Fire and brimstone rained down on Sodom and Gomorra—Genesis 19:24
Two priests of the Old Testament disobeyed God by providing the wrong sacrifice and fire, and they were devoured with fire—Leviticus 10:1-2
When the Israelites complained in the wilderness, God sent fire to consume some on the outside of the camp— Numbers 11:1
One of the consequences of murder was to burn the guilty and all they owned with fire— Joshua 7:15
These are a few examples, but those who listened to John knew them. Think of it, he promises, someone better than I will come, and He will baptize you with FIRE!
3 A fire goes before Him, And burns up His enemies round about.
6 Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him.
For them fire meant purging. God purged people through fire, but he would also cover people’s sins through fire. Whenever God’s people would make a sacrifice, the fire of God would come down and consume the sacrifice.
How did the crowd feel with they heard John say, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire? I would say they did not understand.
John may not have even fully comprehended what it meant to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire.
So we see, the fire of God purges of sin. But the fire of God is also...
2. A Purifying Fire
2. A Purifying Fire
When John spoke there were two groups of people listening. There were those who were genuine in their desire for God and the prophetic words of John.
Then there were the religious crowd. John called them a “brood of vipers.” Then John described the work of Christ, He would separate the wheat from the chaff with a winnowing fork.
In ancient times, those who worked in the field would have shovel or metal fork where they would separate the grain from the chaff, which humans cannot digest.
They would then take the chaff and set it on fire.
John’s point was, through the One who is to come, He will separate those who are true in their repentance and those who are not sincere in their devotion to God.
The point is simply, there will come a day when sin and those involved in sin will burn. We can also say those in sin with go to the Lake of Fire.
This still leads us to the questions, why would anyone want the fire of God?
Because fire purges, but it also purifies. The prophet Zechariah said it this way:
9 I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ”
Precious metals are purified by fire, to remove all impurities.
I read that gold found in mines is 90% pure. The gold people purchase in jewelry is often 37% pure. To remove impurities, a refinery will heat the gold to 2552°F.
Once the gold is melted, they wash the gold, to remove impurities. By the time they are done, the gold is 99.99% pure.
So the same fire that judges sin and purges it, is the same fire that can purify us from sin.
By saying Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire, John looked to the day when God would purify humanity from the sins that held us down for so long.
When we come to Christ and repent of sins, the Holy Spirit takes residence in us, cleaning us and purifying us from sin.
We can then answer that the Lord is our God. Not because of what we accomplished, but through blood of Jesus. The prophet Isaiah saw that this day would come:
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
The wages of our sin is death. Should we live an unrepentant life, we will eventually endure a lifetime of torment in the lake of fire.
But when when we turn to Jesus, the flames will not purge, burn, or scorch us, instead they will remove our impurities and enable us to stand clean and holy before God!
Jesus changes the perspective on fire. Without Jesus, the fire of God’s judgment will purge us. With Jesus, the fire of God purifies us.
But what happens when we are purified? God wants His fire to become...
3. A Passionate Fire
3. A Passionate Fire
John spoke at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Now, in Acts 1, we read the word’s Jesus spoke right before He ascended to heaven.
He reminded His disciples. Do you remember what John said? He promised I will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with Fire. Stay in Jerusalem, for the day is coming soon when the promise will come to pass and you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
By this time, Jesus changed the perspective on fire. God would not send HIs fire to purge the New Testament Church, but to purify His church.
But there is a third aspect I want us to notice about fire: it spreads.
This month a couple had a gender reveal party in California. They lit firework/smoke bomb that was blue or pink to show the gender of their baby. It messed up, lit on fire, and now 8,600 acres of land are burning.
In 2017, another gender reveal party went wrong and a fire started that burned 46,000 acres and caused $8 million in damage.
Fire spreads. Here is another reason God promised Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Once God has purified us from sin, there is an experience available to us where the Holy Spirit will become like a burning within us. This experience is called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament church experienced. Jesus promised they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and what happened?
Tongues as of FIRE came upon them. From that moment forward, the New Testament church went forward with a burning passion to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God’s people are to be people of passion. He wants people who are enthusiastic about extending the Kingdom of God. And He provides the means to enable us to become excited about:
growing in God
and helping others grow closer to God
Once the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost, the church went on mission, empowered by the Holy Spirit with a passionate message:
If we stay in sin, there is a day where we will be purged by the fires of God’s judgment
If we repent, He will send His fire to purify us and refine us with His fire
Then there is a gift from heaven. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and you can become an impassioned follower of Christ!
The church was so passionate in their pursuit of God that, they turned the then known world upside down.
No wonder John explained, Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
The fire of God is a purging fire, a purifying fire, and a passionate fire.
Our perspective on the fire of God comes down to our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Those who reject Him as Savior and choose not to live for Him, will not have their names in the Lambs book of Life and will be cast into the lake of fire.
But for those who receive Him as Savior and choose to live for Him, will be purified with fire and can receive the power of the Holy Spirit, where they will receive a passion to live for God.
I have a book in my office entitled, Like a Prairie Fire: A History of the Assemblies of God in Oklahoma.
It is 453 pages and I remember the first time I opened the book. Pastor Tucker lent it to me. I expected to skim it and try to hit the highlights. Instead I read every word within a few days.
It describes how God worked through a handful of people in the late 1800s. They grew hungry for God and began seeking the Lord. Suddenly, one of them began to speak in tongues.
From then, the fire of God could not be consumed and people sought God for salvation and He purified them. They they prayed for the baptism in the Holy Spirit and He gave them a burning passion for Him.
The book discusses how Pentecost came to Oklahoma and began to spread like wildfire across the state. People cried out for God to send the fire and He did.
They burned with passion and they witnessed:
filled with the Spirit
healed of sickness
delivered from addictions
Revival broke out in the city and the country as people longed to draw closer to God.
One old song described the cry of people:
Thou Christ of burning cleansing flame, send the fire
Thy blood bough gift today we claim, Send the fire
Look down and see this waiting hose
give us the promised Holy Ghost
We need another Pentecost
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire
God heard the pray of people who longed for purity and passion, and He send His Spirit and baptized them with fire. The fire of God burned so strong:
they were not ashamed to speak in tongues
they were not intimidated by demonic spirits
they were not afraid to lay hands on the sick
For their was a burning passion for more of God.
And I want to declare this: The church of Jesus Christ started with the Fire of God being poured out on hungry hearts.
Furthermore, the Assemblies of God started with people hungry for God. He baptized them with His Spirit and they got on fire for Jesus.
We started in the fire, we cannot stay content with the smoke from the burning embers of yesterday’s outpouring of the Spirit.
No, for in these last days, God is separating the wheat from the chaff. And I am not speaking of believer and nonbeliever.
I mean, God is making a distinction between Christians who really want more of Him and those who are content without spiritual growth.
In these last days, they difference will be those who are on fire for God.
So Lord, set met on fire.
God, set our church on fire.
Set our worship on fire.
Set our children on fire.
Set our parents and grandparents on fire.
Lord, let the fires of revival burn at our church.
For a day will come where those who rejected Him will be purged with fire.
But for those who seek Him, He will purify with fire, and but within us a passion for more of Him.
Lord, set us on fire!