Friday, September 23, 2016

Fire as a force .......... Parables 488

October 17. 1995

The National Fire Protection Association publishes booklets on fire safety tips because even careful people can find themselves in emergencies. These booklets deal with the importance of planning ahead in case a fire occurs.

The rules are simple. Know the house, know all the exits and how to unlock them. Know two ways out of each room. Arrange a meeting place outside and discuss this plan with those in the household. Carry emergency information numbers with you always so you can call for help from any location.

Floods and storms are different. A rescue raft or even a piece of wood may save someone in a flood. Suitable shelters may protect potential victims from high winds. A sturdy roof diverts torrential rains — but fire consumes anything and everything. Saving yourself from raging flames requires water, other suitable extinguishers or putting distance between yourself and danger.

Fire is frequently used as a metaphor in Scripture. For instance, Proverbs 6 warns men to avoid immoral women. The passage adds, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?” In other words, sin is like fire — it burns anyone who plays with it.

An uncontrolled tongue is also like fire. James 3 says, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

The process of purification also is like fire. For instance, Peter compared going through that process was something like being in a refinery or smelter. However, he pointed out that refined gold will eventually perish but faith proved genuine by “fiery trials” will never perish.

Fire is also used to describe God’s judgment. Scripture says someday “the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Further, when God judges individual lives, those whose names are “not found written in the book of life” will be “thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Fire purifies, scorches and destroys. On the other hand, when fire is under control, it provides light in darkness and warmth in the cold. Can we control those negative, uncomfortable “fires” in the Bible?

We learn the hard way that we cannot control the fire of sin. For that we need a Savior. The fire of an untamed tongue also needs supernatural help so we can obey commands like: “Let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth...” and “Let your speech be full of grace and seasoned with salt...”

For this power, we need a special fire that God alone provides. As John the Baptist said of Christ, He “baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” This is a fire we must not “quench,” a fire like the amazing bush Moses encountered, “on fire but not consumed.”

Through the fire of the Spirit of God, we have power to say no to sin and its destructive force, endurance to grow and become more godly in trials, and most important of all, that fire is His escape route from that final fire of judgment.

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