The Baptism and the Burning
August 1, 2008

C. R. Oliver

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August 1, 2008

The Baptism and the Burning

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.' And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.
Luke 3:16-17
(Author's note: Jesus made a show of Scribes and Pharisees who promoted a religious delusion. Their practices emulated truth but did not hold the truth. It was difficult for the communities to see their form "was one that denied the power." Jesus exposed them. In this study, using the passage in Luke 3, again He will expose the chaff and gather the wheat.)

John, the Baptist, spoke clearly and concisely about two different kinds of fire. According to John, the chaff has to be burned with unquenchable fire! John did not hesitate during his oracle, using the same breath in which he spoke of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, he declared there would be judgment fire initiated by the Son of God. His report was both to the saint and the non-saint. The portent for the saint was to be a fire from on high and a baptism in that fire. Such baptism would undeniably be the mark of sonship.

Flames, however, would burn the chaff, who are not true sons. Everyone will be touched by one of these two fires.

Both fires are from a common source: The Son. Both fires are real and both expressions come from the same base of revelation.

(Author's note: For many years, I divided the fires of God under three headings: the fire of the Holy Ghost, the fire of judgment and the fire of hell. However, with increased understanding, I find a melding of these fires under one heading; they are all expressions of the Presence of God. He is a consuming Fire!

These expressions of fire, that all come from His Presence, are various forms of His Holiness. The Spirit of Holiness is just one portion of the same equation. Judgment is another facet of it (which expresses itself as consuming fire against all things that rebel and seek their own). Hell, then, is another aspect of the same Holiness. There are many other aspects of the Fires of God, all of which reveal His Righteousness. (Several of them will be examined in this chapter.)

Luke's passage, at the beginning of the chapter, has two recipients of the fire of God. The wheat, who will be gathered into His barn, (the ones baptized in the Spirit of Holiness and fire) form one group. The chaff becomes the second group (they are destined to be gathered separately and burned). Because the winnowing fan is in Jesus' hand, He wields it as a tool for separation; He is the separator!

One of Jesus' acts of separation precipitates burning the chaff. This is an eternal separation. It is this variant expression of fire which segregates the two groups. The church will not always be the harbinger of two groups. (All end-time passages relating to separation are done in terms of fire [and no one will be capable of extinguishing the flame.])

In another place, (Matthew 13:24-30) Jesus, not John, taught about the separating force of fire.

Instead of wheat and chaff, His parable was about wheat and tares (the tares were sown by the enemy). Here, a distinction is created. Chaff is a natural by-product of wheat, but tares are separate entities deliberately sown by the hand of one who seeks to destroy the wheat. (It is interesting to note that at harvest, the wheat bows its grainy head, while the tares maintain their rigidity and turn dark.) Tares are to be separated and burned by the reapers.

"The servants of the Lord," who are genuinely interested in the whole spectrum, are given instructions to allow the tares to grow. At harvest, Jesus will instruct the reapers (angels under assignment) to introduce fire and burn them up.

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, "Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?" "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, "Do you want us then to go and gather them up?" 'But he said, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn' ".'
Chaff must be burned; tares must be burned. Both groups are people who look like believers, act like believers, attend functions with believers, but they are different than believers, because believers have the fire of God in them and are baptized in the Holy Ghost. Who, then, are the chaff? The Jews in attendance to Jesus' teaching knew exactly who they were.

For years the Jews had read Isaiah, who defined the chaff.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!
Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man!
Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
And the flame consumes the chaff,
So their root will be as rottenness,
And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 5:20-24
Would someone be able to recognize chaff and/ or stubble with this description? Yes!

The "servants of the Lord (the Wheat)" should have been able to identify the tares by the gifts of the Spirit (discernment). The tares probably know the Wheat as well, for they are different, their lives are different, their character and spiritual prowess is different and their very existence is like fire to the tares. A tare has the look of wheat and the heart of a tare. (Thousands have the look of a believer but the heart of unbelief. Leonard Ravenhill's estimation might be too high. He said he doubted 2 percent of the congregations were truly born again!)
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
Hebrews 6:4-8
Thorns and briars also end up in the flames. Those thorns and briars are those who have turned away from the power and Spirit of God. Unlike chaff which "falls away" or "tares which have been sown by the wicked one," these thorns and briars produce from their roots the fruit of their ruin. They are like fruit trees which produce leaves and thorns but have lost their graft.

(Author's note: I have two grapefruit trees which have never born fruit. They bear briars and thorns and are trees which have lost their grafts. The tree looks like a grapefruit tree, their leaves are like grapefruit trees, so does their framework, BUT, they are destined for the fire.)

Thorns and briars are valueless in the economy of God, destined for fire. Jesus said it a different way:
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
John 15:5-8
One must note the word: abide (relationship) (NT: 3306)
meno (men'-o) abide; a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry. (The graft remains.)
Because these are a people who are "not My people," a fire is kindled for them by the Lord of Hosts. This people do not reside in Him, do not abide in His Son, do not produce the fruit of righteousness and their end is flame.
Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
Will send leanness among his fat ones;
And under his glory
He will kindle a burning
Like the burning of a fire.
So the Light of Israel will be for a fire,
And his Holy One for a flame;
It will burn and devour
His thorns and his briers in one day
Isaiah 10:16-17
The works of chaff, tares, briars and thorns is wood, hay and stubble. They can produce nothing greater. Isaiah captured it:
'Now I will rise,' says the LORD;
'Now I will be exalted,
Now I will lift Myself up.
You shall conceive chaff,
You shall bring forth stubble
Isaiah 33:10-13
It is the forsaking of the Lord that produces their kind. These are not those who never knew Him, nor are they ignorant of His ways. Having known His word, His power and His Love, they have walked away and produced what the disconnected always produce "tinder" for the fire.
And those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
Isaiah 1:29

The strong shall be as tinder,
And the work of it as a spark;
Both will burn together,
And no one shall quench them
Isaiah 1:31

The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:41-43
Notice, the gathering is from His kingdom. Unrighteousness will no longer be skirted nor swept "beneath the rug;" there will be a showdown between God and those people fit for the flames. The fire of His Presence is "unavoidable and inescapable (to quote Jonathan Edwards)."
For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up
Malachi 4:1-2
Coming full circle back to the opening Scripture, the two fires are juxtaposed: the Spirit and Fire and the Judgment Fire. In this next verse, a certain clarity arises from the page and is like a giant-genie, loosed from a bottle. The compression of expression in these verses overwhelms the chaotic scene called the "modern church" and refuses to be put back. The separation is made among the builders and their choice of materials. One must remember the difference between a "kingdom builder" and a "builder in His kingdom."
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
1 Corinthians 3:11-17
It is the fire that reveals; it is the fire that tests. God brings His Presence on the scene and surveys that scene, and flames breakout upon those things which are not of Him. No excuses, no explanations, no questioning of motive is allowed. If the flame touches it and it burns-it is to be destroyed. Thousands, who will "lose it all" to the flames, continue to build their temples of "International" dreams in increasing numbers, growing ideological edifices of grandeur, only to discover no insurance policy or fire department will be able to assure them. Beyond their works being burned, they themselves will also experience the flame of separation. They appear before the God of heaven and earth as the embodiment of their enchantments.
"Stand now with your enchantments
And the multitude of your sorceries,
In which you have labored from your youth--
Perhaps you will be able to profit,
Perhaps you will prevail.
You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels;
Let now the astrologers, the stargazers,
And the monthly prognosticators
Stand up and save you
From what shall come upon you.
Behold, they shall be as stubble,
The fire shall burn them;
They shall not deliver themselves
From the power of the flame
It shall not be a coal to be warmed by,
Nor a fire to sit before!
Thus shall they be to you
With whom you have labored,
Your merchants from your youth;
They shall wander each one to his quarter.
No one shall save you.
Isaiah 47:12-15
There is an Elijah-like confrontation approaching in the spiritual world. With rapid speed and the flash of its fury, it will be felt globally. No longer will it suffice to placate, modify, politicize or moderate this organized affront to the kingdom of God. One of the instruments of judgment projected to Amos, the prophet, was "conflict by fire." Although the prophet interceded against this plan and the Lord relented, it nevertheless is still in the arsenal of the Almighty.
Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, the Lord GOD called for conflict by fire, and it consumed the great deep and devoured the territory. Then I said:
'O Lord GOD, cease, I pray!
Oh, that Jacob may stand,
For he is small!'
So the LORD relented concerning this.
'This also shall not be,' said the Lord GOD.
Amos 7:4-6
Now, there will be no relenting because the intercessors have ceased and the nations are not small. When the affront of universal ecumenism ultimately raises its head against the Spirit, it will be met by flame. The days of Elijah will demand it. Elijah would not allow himself to be arrested by the king's men, neither would he tolerate being challenged by the prophets of Baal. He challenged both groups and met them with fire. Heaven's fire stands ready for the prophet who will challenge the machinations of modern ecclesia!

Account of Elijah and the arresting Fifties:
Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty men. So he went up to him; and there he was, sitting on the top of a hill. And he spoke to him: "Man of God, the king has said, 'Come down!' So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men." And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
2 Kings 1:9-10
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal:
'Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.' Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
1 Kings 18:37-38
Where are the men of God who will dare call down the fire? The end-time will see at least two. They are the two Witnesses from whose mouth flames will come forth and in that manner will they destroy those who come against them. It is time! More than the likes of the prophets of Baal challenge the truth of the Word and the Lordship of Jesus in the modern world; where are the Elijah's?

Throughout the Old Testament, God used fire to vent His anger, to correct His people and to destroy His enemies. Perhaps no passage in the Bible is more illustrative of the love motive behind those flames (of His anger) than this one. (The "spirit of judgment" and the "spirit of burning" are tools of His power.)
When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.
Isaiah 4:4-6
The flame of His Anger and Jealousy:
What causes the Lord to vent His anger and jealousy? What evokes Him to action? Who are the recipients of His flames? Are there groupings or certain events that call for His intervention with fire? The answers to these questions are categorized in a review of certain passages throughout the Word.

Nothing seems to provoke the Lord more than three interrelated activities: Idolatry, Apostasy and Presumption. Around these three indices can be grouped most of the scriptures relating to His anger and jealousy. A strange phenomenon arises in searching passages along these lines. Those whose righteousness paralleled the Lord's in travail against these three elements were most often characterized as the Righteous. They interceded for and were most likely to plead God's case with their compatriots than others. Righteous Ones were often more likely to be maligned by those whom they were seeking, than their counterparts. Burning on the inside of them was a flame of Godly anger and jealousy. They were just like God in that they pursued a course of forgiveness and love until there was no other option but to stand against their fellows.

(Undoubtedly, many parallels will arise in the minds of the readers between the passages cited and their own society. Nonetheless, one must keep in mind God's confession, "I change not.")
When you have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you."
Joshua 23:16
National security depends on not angering the Lord God. National economy depends on not angering the Lord God. Freedom depends on not angering the Lord God. God's anger can be the only outcome for a church and society that bows their knees to every whim, agency and program that rises to prominence. The new world order has created a new set of foolish idols (like centralized world government and a universal people of faith).
They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.
But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation;
I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.
For a fire is kindled by my anger,
And shall burn to the lowest hell;
It shall consume the earth with her increase,
And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Deuteronomy 32:21-22
Golden calves have never looked good to God! Dancing hilarity around them is no positive force either! Symbolizations of national idolatry may not take the form of an Egyptian idol today, but their presence is real and noticeable. Whatever stands between the populace and the true God must be eliminated. Idols must always be incinerated.
And the LORD was very angry with Aaron and would have destroyed him; so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. Then I took your sin, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it and ground it very small, until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that descended from the mountain.
Deuteronomy 9:20-21
Lurking somewhere in the shadows of every denomination, convention or gathering is the demon of Apostasy. (Apostasy is that special sin which no longer honors the covenants of God, while claiming to honor them.) Nothing so angers God and provokes Him to jealousy and fire quicker than this sin. When Moses addressed the congregation, he reminded them of the short road between receiving the blessings of God and being the recipient of the Fire of God.
'When you have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you.'
Joshua 23:16
In the industry of apostasy, whole families contribute. They all shared the responsibility of this dreaded challenge. Entire families today formulate their lives around the erudition of medical science, economic rubric and social dictation while crying out to God, "We are your elect."
'Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you. Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. Do they provoke Me to anger?' says the LORD. 'Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?' Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place--on man and on beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it will burn and not be quenched.'
Jeremiah 7:16-20
(No greater presumption can be found in the Scripture than those who were invited to the wedding feast. They did not regard the invitation with enough respect to honor it but assumed it would make no difference to the one inviting. Yes, this was spoken to the Jews who presumed on their status as the "chosen of God.")
Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding."' But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' Matthew 22:4-10
Yes, again, God will indeed resort to flames toward those who reject Him regardless of their religious standing or prestige. Let no church, no convocation, no assembly, no fellowship, no society, no "adjunct to Jesus" presume they are exempt.
And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
I will lay it waste
Isaiah 5:5-6
Ah, there is a hedge about the true people of God, the saints. Let it be known, however, there is no continuing protection for those who abandon their God.
The LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven.
Deuteronomy 29:20
Let leadership be put on notice; let apostles, pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets take notice. Let there be an "alarm in the camp of the famous and infamous." Let the caution flag be erected in Zion and the warning shofar be sounded in the nations of the earth that God is angry and His anger is about to be manifest-that if the chosen city of Jerusalem would be targeted by God, there is no safe haven in the earth-He changes NOT!
And all inhabitants of the world,
Would not have believed
That the adversary and the enemy
Could enter the gates of Jerusalem--
Because of the sins of her prophets
And the iniquities of her priests,
Who shed in her midst
The blood of the just.
Lamentations 4:12-13
Consistency with the Lord is a major issue. What He announces, He will do. Having used the flood the first time, there will be unquenchable fire the next. Aside from His, "coming in flaming fire taking vengeance on those that know not God and obey not the gospel," there are other occasions He will meet with flames.
  1. The judgment of Gog over Jerusalem and the nation Israel. Ezekiel 39:9-10
    'Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years.'

  2. The judgment of the great Whore/ Harlot. Revelation 17:16 & 18:4-8
    And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.

  3. The judgment of the nations and the promise to the saints. Zephaniah 3:8-9
    'Therefore wait for Me,' says the LORD,
    'Until the day I rise up for plunder;
    My determination is to gather the nations
    To My assembly of kingdoms,
    To pour on them My indignation,
    All my fierce anger;
    All the earth shall be devoured
    With the fire of My jealousy
    For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language,
    That they all may call on the name of the LORD,
    To serve Him with one accord.'

Jesus' flaming entrance on the Last Day will be one of purging and cleansing His floor.
And under his glory
He will kindle a burning
Like the burning of a fire.
So the Light of Israel will be for a fire,
And his Holy One for a flame;
It will burn and devour
His thorns and his briers in one day.
Isaiah 10:16-17

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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