Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits, and doctrines of devils” 1 Timothy 4:1

       For some strange reason many people seem to have been born with one goal in mind—to flirt with danger. Whether it is walking on a cable stretched across the Grand Canyon, snowboarding down a remote mountainside (accessible only by helicopter), surfing in shark-infested waters, photographing an erupting volcano up close, wrestling alligators, running with the bulls, or jumping out of planes, off cliffs, the world’s tallest building in Dubai, or what have you, I think (in my humble opinion) that they are all a bit nuts. Go ahead and call me a chicken, but I am one who believes that if you play with fire, sooner or later you are going to get burnt. Maybe that’s one reason I never smoked even one cigarette when some of the kids my age were trying it—I was totally convinced that if I lit a match or even a lighter I would catch on fire.

       Fire is an important subject in God’s Word. There we learn about Satan’s fire, and God’s fire. One of the things we read about Satan’s lying wonders at the end of time is that he will do “great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do…” Revelation 13:13, 14a. Jesus warned that if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22.)

       Jesus said in Luke 12:49 that he [Jesus] came “to send fire on the earth.” Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is not my word like as a fire? Saith the LORD: and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Those who mess around with God’s Holy Word by adding to it, subtracting from it, twisting it, wresting it, using it out of context, reinterpreting it, misinterpreting it, misdirecting it, misusing it, misrepresenting it, minimizing it, subverting it, perverting it, and mocking it are playing with a fire that will judge them in that day. Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” John 12:48. God’s Word is a powerful fire that purifies, refines, consumes, and judges, causing separation. “But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap” Malachi 3:4. The eyes of the Son of God are like “unto a flame of fire” Revelation 1:14b; 2:18b; 19:12a. Concerning the two witnesses of Revelation 1:5, “And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.” Yet, declaring to know all this, deceivers and wolves in sheep’s clothing still play with fire.

       Concerning judgment, consider that the LORD rained brimstone and fire out of heaven upon the terrified, yet unrepentant people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24). The judgment of fire also fell upon Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, for committing sacrilege when they offered strange fire before the LORD (Leviticus 10:1-3). The fire of the LORD burned the people who complained and displeased the Lord in the uttermost parts of the camp in Moses’ day (Numbers 11:1). Two-hundred and fifty men who were not of the sons of Aaron offered incense and were consumed by a fire from the LORD (Numbers 16:35). Fire came down from heaven at the word of Elijah, and consumed two companies of fifty men each (2 Kings 1:10-12.). In spite of all this, Satan’s ministers continue to offer strange fire in the name of the Lord, deceiving and leading astray multitudes of souls.

       God’s fire was involved in personal encounters with men. God met Moses in a burning bush (Exodus 3:2); He descended on Mount Sinai in fire (Exodus 19:18); fire came out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat, (Leviticus 9:24). Think about Abram’s sacrifice in Genesis 15, Elijah’s sacrifice in 1 Kings 18, King David’s sacrifice in 1 Chronicles 21, and Solomon’s sacrifice in 2 Chronicles 7. In each of these exciting accounts we read of the fire of God falling from heaven, consuming the offerings. In all of these events we get a picture of God’s holiness, power, majesty, glory and honor. The fire of God should cause us to fall on our faces, and worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

       God’s fire will be an instrument of His divine judgment. “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” 2 Thessalonians 1:8. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” 2 Peter 3:10. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” Revelation 20:14, 15. Those who ignore, refuse to trust and obey, despise and reject the Son of God not only play with fire, but they will be lost in the fires of judgment forever.

       God’s fire is a purifier. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” 1 Corinthians 3:13. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7. When the Prophet Isaiah had a mighty vision of the Lord and His power, glory and holiness he said in Isaiah 6:5-7, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged”. After Isaiah was purified, then the Lord spoke to him and gave him his commission. The question is have you had a personal encounter with the purifying fire of God?

       The fire of God is a symbol of the divine presence and power. “Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire” Deuteronomy 4:36.”Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people” Psalm 50:3, 4. “A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about” Psalm 97:3. “For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many” Isaiah 66: 15, 16.

       “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” Hebrews 12:25-29. Knowing that our God is a consuming fire should strike holy fear into the hearts of all those who become “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” 2 Corinthians 11:13b. Yet, they foolishly continue playing with fire, wresting the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16) while offering “strange fire” to God that will doom them to eternal damnation.

       John the Baptist talked of the fire that the Son of God would baptize His followers with. In Matthew 3:11, we read, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” After Jesus’ ascension, He indeed baptized them with fire. “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” Acts 2, 3. Therefore, knowing all these things, how reverent, fearful, and diligent should we be in our approach to God’s Holy Word? “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15. This means to rightly handle and skillfully teach the Word, knowing how to discern the intent, spirit, principles or precepts, connect topics, and understand the context. Anybody can take a verse out of context, misinterpret it, and establish a cult. Christians need to be continually on guard against the “wind of doctrines” that is blowing through the earth in these last days. (See Ephesians 4:11-16.)

       One night in April, 1995, at about 3:00 a.m. in Everett, Washington, I had a terrifying dream. (That very same night, a friend’s daughter had a parallel dream in Phoenix, Arizona, which I will reveal at the conclusion of the interpretation of this dream.)

       In my dream, I was oil painting outdoors with a friend. I happened to look towards one of the volcanic Cascade Mountains and saw a little puff of smoke. I said to her, “Look at the mountain. There’s smoke coming from it.” She didn’t seem concerned. I kept painting while she watched me paint. Again, I looked over at the mountain, and this time there was a greater amount of smoke. As before, I directed her attention towards it, and then resumed painting.

       The third time I looked up at the mountain there were great billowing clouds of gray smoke and ash spewing forth in a continuous and increasing volume. Then I began to hear people screaming, and while staring in horror at the erupting mountain I became aware of multitudes of people running and screaming. They were streaming away from the mountain and running in our direction. As they came closer I saw them, one by one, bursting into flames. Their screams were horrifying, and terrible. I shall never forget it.

       Meanwhile, a few firemen appeared with fire hoses and began hosing off the burning people one at a time. As soon as one person’s fire was put out, the firemen would turn their hose on another person, but, just as quickly, the person whose fire had been extinguished burst into flames again, and they resumed screaming.

      I turned and ran backwards a little ways and put my hands on the ground. I felt it shaking, and felt heat from underground fire beginning to break through. All I could do was yell to my companion to run. I woke with my heart pounding and the hideous screaming of the people ringing in my ears. It was vivid and real.

     Interpretation: I believe there is much more to this dream than space will allow at this time, but briefly here are some of my understandings of this horrible revelation: There were three distinct warnings that tragedy was about to strike, but the people didn’t take it seriously. By the time everything broke loose, it was too late. The terror and suffering of the multitudes was incomprehensible, and speaks of the end times Jesus warned about in Matthew 24. The firemen represent God’s faithful remnant that are doing their best to help the people, but they were too few and too late.

       Often prophecies and visions have double or even triple fulfillments and, in part, I have seen numerous instances in which the fire was heretical and erroneous doctrines destroying the souls of people. The firemen were the few watchmen who still stand for the truth as once delivered to the saints, and they were contending for sound doctrine. (Jude 3). Through the years of ministry I have witnessed people being set free from doctrines of demons, only to be swayed by other heretical teachings, thereby “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Ephesians 4:14).

       My friend’s daughter, who lived in Phoenix, Arizona, dreamed a like dream that very same night. It went like this: She, her husband and her mother were asleep in their apartment when suddenly the building was engulfed in flames. People were running and screaming and bursting into flames. A Catholic priest came with a squirt gun and unsuccessfully tried to put the fire out, one person at a time. She tried in vain to wake up her sleeping husband, but her mother did awake and they both managed to escape the inferno.

       At this point, she related that she sat straight up in bed, screaming in terror at the reality of this dream. She, too, will never forget the sound of those screaming people.

      Through the years, Rayola and I have seen wave after wave of “strange fire” movements within Christendom. They all have a common source—the master of deception, the enemy of God, and the deceiver of all mankind, which is Satan. Every heretical fire that sweeps through the Christian community, and there have been and are many, appeals to certain aspects of people’s fallen condition, whether it be religious pride, self-love, rebellion against the truth, or unbelief. Rayola summed it up well when she said, “People are not satisfied because they are not walking it (the Word) out in their life. They are always looking for something else, and because they don’t walk it out they don’t have the goods.”

      In Part three of this series we will look at some of the major winds of doctrines that have swept multitudes into a sea of deception and despair. In the meantime, may we all be like the Bereans of Acts 17:11 who “were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”