19 October 2022 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“John answered, saying unto them all, 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; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The Bible makes prodigious use of the nature of fire in describing the Spirit of the Lord working through His Creation and His creatures. When God brought the Children of Israel out of captivity in Goshen of Egypt, He used a Pillar of Cloud by day and of Fire by night to both follow and lead them across the Red Sea and into the wilderness:
“And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.” (Exodus 14:23-25)
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy spirit descended on the disciples as Tongues of Fire: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4) One must ask the question that is preeminent on the occasion. What changed? The disciples had the witness of the Word of God and, in fact, the incarnated Word itself, as testimony to faith, but for some reason, they lacked the Fire of the Spirit. With the descent of the Holy Ghost, they were empowered beyond all measure and went forth into all quarters to propagate the Gospel with the force of a fire in a dry forest. They spoke in a common tongue understood by listeners of every language group – truly a great miracle to support their testimony.
Behavior scientists have studied the cognitive abilities of the chimpanzee to be able to stack wood in perfect squares – the smallest at bottom and increasing to the topmost. This manner of stacking wood is perfectly suitable for building fires.
In 1892, a missionary team was sent to Africa to share the Gospel there. Under the guidance of a veteran missionary as they traveled into the interior of the continent. After a week’s preparation for each night in camp, one of the new missionaries spotted large piles of wood built up precisely in the same manner as the campers had done each night. When he inquired about these stacks of wood scattered throughout the surrounding jungle, the lead man told them that they were being watched by the chimpanzees who observed precisely the manner in which the missionaries were stacking the wood for the camp’s fire. As the missionaries departed the area, the chimpanzees would collect small twigs, sticks and larger timber and stack them precisely as the missionaries had done in preparing the campfire. They had done all things precisely as the missionaries except for the final result – they had no fire.
There are many Christian professors and churches that have great understanding of God’s Holy word, yet seem impotent in sharing the message. These churches and individual Christians are much like those disciples gathered on the Day of Pentecost ere the Holy Ghost came down. They have plenty of fuel (God’s Word) but lack the Fire of the Spirit. You will recall the counsel of Christ to the Woman at Jacob’s Well:
“Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” 23“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” 24“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:22-24)
We may possess a fulness of the knowledge of God’s Word, but we must combine Truth with Spirit. We worship in BOTH Spirit and in Truth! We must share the Gospel in love and knowledge as our Lord showed to us. Else we will be likened to the chimpanzee who builds a beautiful campfire stack of wood, but to no avail – they lack FIRE!