January 1, 2016

On Fire for God

This article was adapted from the curriculum written by Ryan and Iudita Trotter for the 2015 Northwest Youth Camp.

If you do a Google search on “how to start a fire,” you will find that the process is actually very straightforward. First you need an ignition source to create the fire and some tinder to ignite. Tinder catches fire easily but it also goes out quickly, so you will soon need some kindling to keep the flame alive. To sustain a fire for a long period, you will need a steady supply of fuel and a fire pit that is dry and protected from elements that could extinguish it.

In times past, being able to make a fire was also essential for survival. These days, the only reason most of us would make a fire is for recreation—maybe on a camping trip or for a bonfire on the beach. We love meals and snacks roasted over an open flame, and stories told around the glow of a campfire. Thankfully, it is not complicated to start one and keep it going.

In some ways, our relationship with God is like a fire. It is something to enjoy for sure, but more critically, it is also necessary for life. Thankfully, it is also not complicated to start a spiritual fire and keep it going. Based on the steps for starting and maintaining a physical fire, here are basic instructions for how to start and maintain a spiritual fire.

Starting the Fire

The flame in our souls begins when we are saved. God himself is the ignition source and we allow the fire to ignite when we respond to Him by confessing and repenting of our sins, asking Him to forgive us, and believing in Jesus’ sacrifice for our salvation. The moment we do that, a flame is kindled.

Just as clearly as we can see when a fire has started, we will know when we are saved. A person cannot be “almost saved” or “kind of saved”; it is a yes or no question and it happens in an instant. Salvation is a supernatural experience that has real effects in our lives—the load of guilt for sins is gone. Instead we have a relationship with God, and He gives us power to live without sinning. This is what we need in order to make Heaven.

Stoking the Fire

Without any outside intervention, a flame will go out. To keep it burning, it must be built up and fueled consistantly. This is called “stoking”—adding fuel to a fire in order to increase its size or strength.

We stoke the fire started at salvation by building a stronger relationship with God. One way to do that is by experiencing sanctification. Like salvation, sanctification is a definite experience that happens in an instant. When we choose to set our lives apart for God to use however He wants, He will cleanse us of the sinful nature we were born with, leaving us with a nature that is pure and holy like His. That is called being sanctified. Then we are able to live a wholly committed life that honors God—our fire is growing.

Once we have been sanctified, we stoke the fire even more by seeking and receiving the third definite experience God has promised us—the baptism or infilling of the Holy Ghost. When He baptizes us, He fills us with His power, which helps us to be more effective witnesses for Him.

The Bible and prayer are our main spiritual fuel sources. Church attendance and regular personal devotions are also critical for maintaining a fire that will last a lifetime.

Sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are two wonderful experiences, but they are not the end of stoking our spiritual flame. God has so much more for us! Every day our relationship with Him can grow deeper, but for that to happen it is important to regularly read His Word and seek Him in prayer. The Bible and prayer are our main spiritual fuel sources. Church attendance and regular personal devotions are also critical for maintaining a fire that will last a lifetime.

Protecting the Fire

There is one more necessary step for maintaining a fire. Even when sufficient fuel is provided, there are other forces that can cause a fire to go out. Natural elements like wind and rain can put out even a blazing fire, so something must be done to protect the flame. There must be barriers to counter anything that would hinder.

It is critical to remember that we are not alone in the struggle—God is with us and He will help us protect the fire He started in us.

The opposition that comes against our spiritual fire could be a challenging turn of events in our lives, or it could be a targeted attack from the enemy of our souls. Whatever the circumstances, it is critical to remember that we are not alone in the struggle—God is with us and He will help us protect the fire He started in us. He promised that for every temptation He would provide a way to withstand it (1 Corinthians 10:13). God wants us to keep burning brightly for Him and He is able to help us overcome every force against us.

A critical tool God has given us is faith—our belief that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do. Faith is a barrier against the storms of life. In contrast, doubting God and choosing to do things our own way can cause us to fall.

Ephesians 6:16 tells us that our faith is a shield that can “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” That means that our faith is literally a weapon to protect us from the attacks of the devil. If we keep believing, trusting, and obeying God, the enemy’s attacks cannot harm us.

Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” God’s Word is the truth, and it can guide us through times of trial, confusion, and discouragement. Jesus gave us an example of how to use God’s Word when He was tried by Satan in the desert; three times He used Scripture to refute the lies of the devil and resist his schemes.

The key to remember is that in order to use the weapon of God’s Word effectively, we must read it regularly. 

The key to remember is that in order to use the weapon of God’s Word effectively, we must read it regularly. If we do not know what His Word says and what it means, how will we recognize when the enemy has lied to us or distorted the truth? When we study His Word, we are building up our faith and strengthening the barrier between the storms of life and the flame God put in our hearts.

Spreading the Fire

In the natural, fires can spread. In the spiritual as well, being on fire for God can spread to others around us. Our testimonies could be a spark that God uses to start a fire in someone else or to stoke the fire of another believer.

After Jesus ascended back to Heaven, the Gospel spread rapidly as the Early Church formed. This is because Jesus’ followers obeyed His command to share the Gospel throughout the entire world (Mark 16:15-16). They witnessed to their close relatives, acquaintances, and strangers—anyone who would listen—telling what God could do for them. The result was that many were saved, sanctified, and baptized with the Holy Spirit. The same thing can happen for us, if we are willing to keep our own flame burning and share it with others.

Telling people the Good News is not always easy. The Old Testament tells of Jeremiah, a prophet of God who was hated by the Israelites because He told them the truth and they did not want to hear it. He was openly mocked and even put in prison for his dedication to spreading God’s message of repentance. After enduring this for a while, he finally thought to give up telling people what God had said. However, he found that God’s message was like “a burning fire, shut up in my bones” (Jeremiah 20:9) and he couldn’t stop. He just felt compelled to keep telling people!

The Early Church also faced great persecution, yet they could not stop telling others about Jesus. Similarly, we will face opposition, but no matter what, we must not stifle the fire God has given us. Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel extends to us, too. Just like the Early Church and the Prophet Jeremiah, we can be on fire for God and spread His message of repentance and hope.

Escaping the Fire

The Bible tells about a different kind of fire that we also need to be aware of. For those who reject God, there is a lake of fire that will burn for eternity. We want no part in the fire of Hell. According to the indicators recorded in the Bible, we are living in the last days before Christ will return to take all believers to Heaven and dispense His final judgement on the unrepentant. There may not be much time left for people in this world to come to Jesus; we must make sure we have God’s fire burning inside us. It will take effort, but it is not complicated to do. With His help, each of us can have the fire started and keep it going until God calls us home to Heaven.

apostolic faith magazine