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

“For our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:29 

      Here we go again, standing on the precipice of Time, the solitary entrance of the New Year looming before us, denying escape from the inevitable passing of Time. Hesitant mortality, uncertain, discomforted, defenseless, helpless to stop Time; compelled forward into the misty unknown, mocked by the invisible forces of created reality.  We look back, reflecting on the past year, the mountains climbed, forests traversed, shadowy valleys journeyed, storms weathered, challenges faced, losses encountered, sorrows multiplied, and spiritual gains held dear—while struggling to prepare our hearts for the unknown future.

      How can we face one hour, one day, one week, one month, and a New Year without the LORD and the flaming sword of His Word? He speaks to us through the written Word, and through the Holy Spirit when we worship in Spirit and in truth; when we pray in the Spirit; and when we meditate on His Word (which is not the same thing as eastern mystical contemplative meditation and prayer techniques that have infiltrated the churches). As believers we can be certain that God never changes, and His Word never changes, (with the exception of watered down, and perverted powerless “versions” of course.)  We know that the triune Godhead has always been, and always will be and we can rest assured that His Word, all of it, is truth, and while not all of it may be written to us, all of it is written for us. (See Matthew 4:4.) Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” John 17:17. What greater power, what greater assurance, what greater source of comfort, what greater wisdom is there than the truth of God’s Word? Hebrews 4:12 tells us “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” [Emphasis added.] Jesus demonstrated this in the temptation in the wilderness, silencing and vanquishing the tempter with the words, “It is written….”

      Simple, yet profound the flaming sword of God’s Word is a terror to Communist regimes and socialists, anarchists, dictators, globalists, environmentalists, evolutionists, cults, false prophets and heretics, New Agers, secret societies, Satanists, atheists, liberal “intellectuals,” hedonists, abortionists, and all other workers of iniquity in the kingdom of darkness. It is also a terror to the “prince of the power of the air,” Satan, and his followers because he can only operate within the darkness of deception, delusion, and lies (propaganda). Therefore, we need to keep in mind that we live in a world where two kingdoms—the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light—compete for dominance. Which one people operate in depends on whether they love the truth, or not, and that truth is Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” John 14:6. [Emphasis added.]

      In the beginning of earth’s history, God separated, or divided the light from the darkness. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness” Genesis 1:3, 4. We need to keep in mind that the words “divided,” “division,” and “separation” are not equivalent to, nor should they be defined as either good or bad. There has always been division and separation in the world since the day that God divided the light from the darkness, which is good, and the day that Adam rebelled against God, causing separation, which was bad. The tragedy of the great separation that took place between man and God in the Garden revolves around two trees that were different from all the rest. One was the tree of life, the other the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which the Lord God told Adam he was to never partake of.

      The question that has baffled so many since the beginning of time is why Adam failed to partake of the tree of life, and share it with Eve right from the start. Perhaps the tree of life wasn’t as outwardly appealing as the tree of knowledge of good and evil, just as “going to church,” Bible studies, or following Christ in our day and age isn’t half as appealing to the majority of the people, especially our youth, as involvement in Satanism, the occult, eastern religions and anything else that promises excitement, spiritual experiences, power and godhood. All these innumerable broad paths to destruction tantalize the intellect with promises of exotic experiences, metaphysical alternatives, power, and knowledge of the mysteries of the Universe. Sadly, every element of the kingdom of darkness has made inroads into Christian churches dressed up in various disguises sporting “Christian” labels which deceive many.

      If Adam and Eve had loved the truth more than they desired to be as “gods,” knowing good and evil, they would have obeyed the Lord. They would have fled from the presence of the father of lies, separating themselves from the temptation to disobey their Creator, and clung to the tree of life. Once their “eyes were opened” however, they knew there was no going back to their original state of innocence, and as we know, they proceeded to try and cover up their sin in their own way. Sin is the great separator between man and God, and once that first separation took place, “the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” Genesis 3:23, 24.

      What a sight that must have been! We can only try to imagine it—a flaming sword guarding and protecting the tree of life—the way, the truth, and the life that had been offered to the first man. George Kirkpatrick wrote, “God set Cherubim at the entrance of the garden to prohibit man’s access to the Tree of Life. In their hands, He placed a flaming sword (singular – one). There is only one flaming sword. The word flaming means “consuming fire”. The Bible reveals, “Our God is a consuming fire”, Hebrews 12:29. The Bible speaks of two kinds of fire; first there is the fire of God’s judgment; then there is the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The judgment fire destroys the flesh because of sin. The cleansing fire destroys the sin nature in the flesh so that man may live unto God. God’s Word reveals this sword turned every way to keep sinful man from the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is in the presence of God. When man chooses the mixed fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he must be separated from the presence of God. Man has been trying to come back into the presence of God every way his heart can imagine. But he refuses to cease from partaking of the mixed fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.

      “Man is unable to return to God’s presence because he does not understand, nor allow the Spiritual application of God’s Word to do its life-changing work in his life. Only the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit can guide man through the gate to enter back into the presence of God. If man is to enter back into the presence of God, he must pass through the flaming sword. The flaming sword turns every way to purge man from his carnality, sin, and immaturity until the sinful, fleshly nature of man is dealt with. God has prepared a way for sinful man to enter through the gates into the eternal city of His presence and protection.”

      Regardless of the One Way that God offers, there is no end to the push towards “unity” through indoctrination, brainwashing, political correctness, and all the other garbage that makes up gross hypocrisy.  The old saying, “All roads lead to Rome” is as true today as it has ever been as the drumbeat for a one-world, global religion continues to weave its way through all humanity. As for having a “divided nation,” the truth is even if the outward appearance of “unity” is ever achieved, whether locally, nationally or globally, underneath it all there can be never be true agreement in spirit because it is impossible for light and darkness to become one, the children of light and the children of darkness can never be unified, there can be no agreement between good and evil, God and Satan, righteousness and sin, clean and unclean, or between the holy and the profane. The “flaming sword” that separates the holiness of God from the depravity of man is still a flaming sword, brightly burning, and the day will come when 2 Thessalonians 1:8, which declares “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” will be fulfilled. It is an unchangeable fact that the flaming sword of the Lord divides and separates.

      As for Christians, their unity is in the Spirit. When a believer meets a stranger who is also a child of God, there is an instant bond in the Spirit, an unseen current of communion, understanding, and agreement. While Christians don’t all necessarily agree on outward things, they are one in the Spirit, joined together by the blood of Christ and share a common goal to obey and glorify God in whatever they say or do. Concerning being one in the Spirit, we read in Ephesians 4:1-6 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

      The fire of God was encountered by Abram as recorded in Genesis 15. I encourage you to read the entire chapter, noting in verse 17, “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces” (of the offering on the altar that Abram made according to the Lord’s instructions). Remember the Prophet Elijah who built an altar in the name of the LORD; made a trench around it, put wood on it, laid a bullock on the wood, and drenched it with water three times, then prayed, to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, “Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench” 1 Kings 18:38.

      The fire of God is a consuming fire—consuming everything that is unholy, impure, defiled, and unclean. The fire of God purges purifies and burns up the dross and that which is worthless out of our lives. The fire of God burns deeply, it cannot be ignored. Consider the Prophet Jeremiah who said, “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” Jeremiah 20:9. Is the Word of God a fire that burns so deeply in your heart and spirit that you can relate to the Prophet Jeremiah? Does the fire of His Word burn “in your bones” so much so you cannot hold back the words God has put in your heart and mouth, even though (like Jeremiah) you fear the anger and resentment you may face from those who resent God’s flaming sword of truth? Many people, including Christians, have a hard time recognizing the fact that truth divides. Jesus said, Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” Matthew 10:34-37.

      Consider the will of God concerning Moses, who was separated from his Hebrew family as a baby, raised in the royal courts of Pharaoh, separated from his prestigious life to become a shepherd in the desert, and then separated from that serene life to confront the Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Moses initially encountered the fire of God when he was shepherding his father in law’s flock, and going about his usual business on the backside of the desert. When he came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb, or Sinai, Moses was not expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen in this barren, uninhabited place; but he suddenly found himself encountering the fire of God. “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” Exodus 3:2. (The “angel of the LORD” in the Old Testament was Jesus in His pre-incarnate state.) The sight of a burning bush that was not consumed captured Moses’ curiosity. Then God called him out of the midst of the bush, saying, “Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I, And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” vs. 4b, 5. As God spoke to Moses out of the midst of the burning fire, He introduced Himself as I AM THAT I AM.

      We know from the biblical account that Moses’ life totally changed after this initial encounter with Jehovah God in the burning bush, but his experiences with the fire of God was not limited to this first experience. There was the plague of hail and fire that ran along the ground in Egypt (Exodus 9:23); the pillar of fire that gave the Israelites light to travel by night; and the fiery Mount Sinai upon which Moses received the Ten Commandments from the LORD. The fire of the Lord came into the tabernacle in the wilderness “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” Leviticus 9:24. We must not forget the fire of God’s judgment when Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the LORD that He had not commanded them, “And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” Leviticus 10:2. The Book of Leviticus ends with this verse, “For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” Leviticus 40:38.

      God prepared Moses to experience Him in holy fire, He then separated Moses from his life as a shepherd of sheep to become the leader and shepherd of God’s chosen people. The fire of God burned in Moses’ heart, flowed from his lips, giving him courage and power to be God’s vessel to perform mighty miracles.

      The application to us concerning the flaming fire of God, His sword and His Word, is when we offer ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” Hebrews 12:1b, Jesus will baptize us with “the Holy Ghost, and with fire” Matthew 3:11. Just as the Children of Israel shrank back in fear from Mount Sinai and the presence of God, even fearing the shining reflection of God’s glory on Moses’ countenance, so too, many Christians today shrink back from any personal encounter with the LORD, fearing His flaming sword of separation from the unholy, the sword that requires complete surrender to the will of God, fearing it may cost them something they don’t want to give up, fearing loss of control over their life. The sword of the Lord exposes and separates us from our excuses and wrong priorities, causing us to see our need to “get real” with God. The bottom line is you cannot have all of Jesus if He doesn’t have all of you.

      Have you recognized and encountered the sword of the Lord? Both Joshua and Gideon had an encounter with the sword of the Lord. In Joshua 5:13-15 records, “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, what saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” If this man with the sword was not the pre-incarnate Jesus, Joshua would not have worshipped Him, nor would the ground upon which he stood been declared holy ground. The captain of the hosts of the Lord, with sword drawn, fought the battles for the Children of Israel as long as they walked in obedience. Concerning Gideon, the sword of the Lord fought for him and his three hundred men. In Judges 7:20 we read “And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.”

      Some references to the powerful, flaming sword of God’s Word—2 Thessalonians 2:8, “And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:” in Revelation Jesus warned, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges” and “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” Revelation 2:12, 16; “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God,” Revelation 19:15.

      We know that on the Day of Pentecost the fire of the Spirit fell on Jesus’ disciples, who “with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” Acts 1:14b, totaling about one-hundred and twenty people were praying and waiting for the promise from heaven. Acts 2:1-4 says, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 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.” The Apostle Peter explained to the crowds gathered there that this was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, saying “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” Acts 2:17-21.

      How about you? Are you ready for the fire of God to have its way with your life? Have you come to God’s altar, the Cross of Christ, and asked Jesus to prepare you to be a living sacrifice? Maybe it’s time you asked Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” Acts 2:39. Is He calling you?