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Fire From Heaven

by Elder Steve Perrigo

There is great energy exhibited in fire. Fire has become the basic element of mankind's development upon the earth. In scientific studies, the origin of fire is still a mystery just as the origin of creation. Fire is from God. It is a gift as much as anything else God created to sustain us. Mankind's ability to control fire is fundamental to our present existence as well as the multitude of inventions of man to this date. Unfortunately, the sin and pride of mankind in his inventiveness has made mankind blind to the true nature of fire.

Fire, when expressed in the Holy Bible, denotes extraordinary power. It signifies both God's consuming wrath and His power to save. Natural disasters of fire, forest fires, grass fires, etc., seem to inflict a great amount of damage and apparent unrecoverable destruction. However, new life soon sprigs forth with ever increasing beauty and splendor. Although the naturalist cannot see the source of this life, the discerning child of God can. We know that God has from the very beginning brought forth life from death. Before anything was ever created there was nothing. "And the earth was without form, and void;" Gen. 1:2 The word "void" used in this verse means empty, waste. The character of death is the same as void being both empty and waste. All death seems to be a waste to those who are superficial, yet God has used this order to reveal a great truth. God has brought forth life from death. To one who is yet unsaved, who knows not God, within them is the sense of emptiness, a void. This experience is in the soul and confirms the lifeless that exist where God is not present. Where death now exist in the soul, God can enter in and give life, everlasting life.

Fire from Heaven is the symbol of God's divine presence. When God confirmed His promise to Abram, as recorded in Genesis chapter 15, it was done by fire from heaven. God had instructed Abram to build an altar and prepare the sacrifices as instructed, but he was not to put the fire to the offering. God began to speak to Abram during the time of greatest darkness confirming His promise to Abram and prophesying also to Abram. Then God consumes the sacrifice by " a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp". This was the beginning of God's covenant relation with His chosen people testified by fire from heaven. God's presence continued to be revealed through like circumstances. Moses was attracted to the burning bush by which God revealed His will for Moses. In like manner God dealt with the Children of Israel in both His leadership in the form of the cloud, or pillar of fire, and the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai; fire on the mountain. But the covenant God made with Israel followed the pattern of the covenant God made with Abraham, or Abram. Leviticus 9:24-AV And 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. In reality, the fire should have consumed the people because of their sins but God's grace is made known in that He chose the sacrifice instead as an atonement for sin. How wonderful it is when those who have been saved come to a greater realization that God's grace and love has been extended towards us," in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8 Indeed, our God is a consuming fire (Heb, 12:29). For our sakes Jesus was given to be consumed. Is not, therefore, God's presence made known to the believer when he sends His Holy Fire into our souls the moment we are redeemed from sin be cleansing, sanctifying blood of the sacrifice, Christ Jesus? Yes! At that moment our lamp is lit by God's Holy Flame which is the light of Jesus Christ. Have you had that experience?

Perhaps you are halting between two opinions concerning God's presence and power. Israel was in that condition being divided between idol worship and the worship of the one true God. Elijah came forth to give the challenge." 1Ki 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. And the people answered him not a word." Would you be

willing to challenge the adversary to day? If so, what is your confidence?

This is what Elijah said; "1Kings 18:24-AV And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken." Will your god answer you today? The God of Elijah answered a prayer of faith offered up on behalf of the people of God. God will answer the same type of prayers today, the prayer of faith. Working faith! James says faith without works is dead. Elijah showed his faith before he ever prayed to God by the actions he performed in preparing his sacrifice. God was pleased to answer Elijah's prayer because everything that was done demonstrated faith in God's Power to do the most impossible work. 1Kings 18:38-AV " 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." How will God answer you today? Will it be by fire?

Sometimes we need to repent towards God for sin in our lives. How will God answer and how will we know we have been restored to fellowship with God? David sinned by numbering Israel. After David sought the Lord and repented, God gave him special instruction concerning the sacrifice He required. Before one is ever forgiven, before and after salvation, there must be a sacrifice. Our sacrifice is Jesus. But at the time of David, Jesus had not come into the world. Therefore God's instructions to David were special. I Chr. 21:18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite....26 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, an offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. God's satisfaction and acceptance is made known in His consuming the sacrifice. Notice! It is God's sovereign will to except or reject the sacrifice. The acceptance is all on God's part. It was God who sent the fire, not David. Nor will anyone be reconciled to God unless God accepts the sacrifice. It is wholly of God's grace. The answer is from God and so it is to every one who will come to God seeking redemption and reconciliation. It is not a claim you make but the answer from God's Holy Spirit; God's presence made known in the heart of the believer. This is Holy Fire from Heaven

Fire from heaven is God's way of making His presence known to men. Fire is also used to purify. In scripture, an analogy of purifying gold and silver is used to describe how God purifies His chosen people

(Psalms 66:10; Pro.17:3; Isaiah 1:25; Isaiah 48:10).

The fire of purification, the Holy Spirit of God, empowers those chosen by God to do His work. It enables them to speak and do for God. Read Malachi chapter 3. (Malachi 3:3-AV) " And he shall sit [as] a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness." God does not change. He sent Jesus into this world as he sent fire from heaven; filled with the Holy Spirit. Even before Jesus came into the world God sent John The Baptist to prepare the way for the coming of Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah. The Bible says of John, "and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." Luke 1:15 John says of Jesus when he pointed him out to his disciples, "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:" ( Luke 3:16) Water baptism symbolizes in ceremony an inward cleansing, the washing of regeneration, the answer of a good conscience towards God. But baptism of this Fire from heaven which comes from Jesus is greater than any ceremonial work. Submitting to the ordinance of baptism is the first work of faith a true Christian can do. Without faith it is impossible to please God and faith without works is dead. Therefore, water baptism is fundamental to the reception of the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to John for baptism not to be saved through baptism but to fulfill all righteousness and to receive the witness of the Father. All four gospels agree (Mt 3:16; Mr 1:10; Lu 3:22; Joh 1:32).

If fire is the symbol of divine presence, then Jesus was the embodiment of that fire for, indeed, Jesus was the fullness of God in body. Full of the Spirit, full of power, full of love; " Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Jesus is the light, or lamp, of the world. As Abram saw a burning furnace, the lamp of God in the stillness of the night so also do all those who come to God by way of the Lamp of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of John the Baptist as a light, "Joh 5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." But there has come one greater than John. John's light was in reference to Christ and soon went out. The light of Jesus Christ is ever growing and filling the whole world. Without this light the world is in darkness. Without the fuel of the lamp of God there can be no light at all. The fuel for this lamp comes from heaven and God is its source.

The symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was the Holy anointing oil and the specially prepared oil for the candlestick in the Temple. No one could perform the priestly office without first being cleansed, purified and sanctified. Last of all, they had to be anointed with the Holy anointing oil. Priest and Kings had to be anointed. So also do all those who are called into God's kingdom today. Jesus was the anointed of God. He was anointed to be both King of Kings, Lord of Lords and the only High Priest of God. We, too, who are "the called", are anointed to be " kings and priests unto God and his Father" (Rev. 1:6) Peter says, " But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" (I Peter 2:9) To know whether or not you are in this "chosen generation" requires Fire from heaven, an anointing revealing God's presence within you. This knowledge is both individual and corporate. It is given to individual persons and to groups of people. It is a burning desire to serve God; to obey God's word and tell people where ever we go about the wonder working power of God found in Jesus Christ. If you have this fire from heaven within you, upon hearing the true Word of God, your "flame" is turned up; you begin to experience the presence of Jesus by a "burning heart", the sensation beyond fleshly circumstance, but the glowing of the "lamp of God" within every obedient child of God. There is a reference in scripture as an example of such an event;

Lu 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Read the context of this passage. The word "burn" was translated from the Greek word kaio {kah'-yo}. It means, to set on fire, light. These men, therefore, were relating an experience of walking and talking with the Lord Jesus Christ while He expounded the scriptural prophecies concerning the suffering Christ and further related how His words effected their spiritual hearts. Indeed, their hearts were set on fire because they were in the presence of God's Eternal Light, the Lamp of God, the light that shines in

darkness.

The Lord's called out people, His church, are the "light to the world". When a person is saved, receives God's precious gift of life and follows the Lord in baptism, another light is added to "the candlestick". Jesus preached, (Mt 5:14) "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." How then does this "light" accomplish the intended purpose of God? It does so by the power of Almighty God. Just as Abram had to wait upon the Lord, Moses waited also upon the Lord, David waited upon the Lord and Elijah waited upon the Lord the answer, which was by fire from heaven, came from God. So also should the Lord's church. Jesus had to wait until the fulness of time before he began his earthly work and was anointed with power from on high. Jesus in like manner instructed His church to wait until they "be endued with power from on high." These people completely obeyed Jesus' words remaining together in prayer and meditation awaiting the promise of the Father. We find recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, the second chapter, how God's promise was fulfilled. God poured out His anointing Holy Spirit upon those chosen people. This was fire from heaven. The third verse of this chapter says, " And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." The word "cloven" means to divide or distribute and the term "fire" means luminous or to illuminate. Fire, being the symbol of divine presence, the means also by which purification is accomplished as well as a source of light, illumination, is now describing a similar action upon God's people. God's empowering Holy Spirit, His Holy Fire from heaven enabling His people to declare His wonderful works as well as sending the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ into the darken hearts of the sinners was poured out.

Fire will spread. So also will the Word of God, Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it. As fire fell came from heaven to reveal God's presence in the days of old, so also will God reveal Himself to day by way of the fire of His Holy Spirit. Have you ever felt the presence of God? Would you express the sense of God's presence as a burning in your heart or would you feel the condemnation of God's wrath consuming you because of sin? Remember this scripture. Hebrews 12:29 For our God [is] a consuming fire.