By Terry Somerville


Matt. 3:11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Many Christians today are seeking to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire! Sometimes fiery heat comes upon them at the altar. But this is an outward token of the baptism of fire. When we look at Matt 3:11 we see this baptism, and many desire it. But in verse 12 we find it indicates a great separating and purifying. The very thing God is doing in seekers today!

1. It is a baptism Here is a definition:

1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)

2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one's self, bathe

3) to overwhelm ++++

Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change.

When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. 'He that believes and is baptised shall be saved'. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!

Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.

2. It Is With Fire

This word is simply FIRE What sorts of fire come on the Christian?

1Cor3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

1 Peter 1;7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ

Re 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

There is no doubt this fire involves a great purging and purification of us to be holy vessels! Many are the afflictions of the righteous! Many are experiencing the fiery trails - called the testing of our faith, which is necessary in this process! Be sure you respond by repentance and trusting God!

3. There is Winnowing or Threshing

Winnowing is the separation of the husk from a kernel of wheat. Both are part of the original plant but are separated by force . Physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit are tokens of Jesus winnowing us. For instance:

Violent shaking. The fan or winnowing fork is used to violently separate the kernel and husk. This reminds us of the actions of the Holy Spirit on believers today when many are being terribly shaken - a token of this threshing!

The Wind . The wheat was tossed into the wind to blow away the chaff. Again the wind of the Holy Spirit is being experienced, and a separation of chaff and wheat is going on.

Separating By the Holy Spirit Jesus is now separating husk and kernel. This is in us individually, requiring repentance and dedication to holiness. Also corporately. Those who will move with God are being separated from those who resist Him!

Fire Our chaff is burnt with fire! The token is the fiery heat of the Holy Ghost sometimes felt.

Why Is This Happening? To Gather the Grain!

This is clearly God separating out His people for Himself. One reason is He wants a dedicated, Holy yielded people so that He can pour out His mighty end time revival harvest. This is merely the result of the early rain. He wants vessels ready for the big one! He will not work through unholy vessels. 2Ti 2:21 If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work. (RSV) We are refined by fire. Secondly, this is in preparation for the end! Matt. 24 tells us that at Jesus coming the angels will be sent out to gather in His saints. Let the baptism of fire come!


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