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 fire.
Baptism has taken on alls sorts of religious connotations over the years. Denominations have been formed around baptism, churches have split over baptism, people have even died over baptism. I was at an evangelistic meeting in Japan in 1984 where approximately five hundred women gave their hearts to Christ publicly. I was told that most of these women would be kicked out of their homes if they followed their decision with baptism. Jesus was adding more fuel to the fire (please excuse the pun) when He spoke of being baptized in fire. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the baptism with fire. this baptism is an absolute game changer. It really does bring power, revelation, and separation (not to mention the criticism).
Jesus used the analogy of fire because of the obvious comparisons. Fire is associated with passion and love for God. This fire baptism absolutely ramps up our passion for The Lord. Fire is also connected to power. Fire power has been used for many years to run the great machinery of the world. The baptism in the Spirit brings us into contact with the power of God. This baptism will bring us into the arena of signs and wonders. Fire is also connected to cleansing and purification. We have all heard of the refiners’s fire. The mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit brings us into a new place of spiritual cleansing. Here is something Martin Luther said about the cleansing nature of fire.
“He will baptize you with fire”: how is this said in German? [Can it mean,] “I will baptize you with water”? How? Especially since being burned by fired blackens and does not clean us. In contrast water washes and makes us clean. Exactly! [This] fire should not blacken or burn but rather baptize and wash white, so it must be a fire above all other kinds of fire, since [usually fire] blackens where it has been and everything smells and is charred…But Christ [said], “I will send fire of such a kind in which they were baptized as in water. It will not consume them but will give them life and strength. It will not blacken but whiten.” Therefore, this fire of Christ’s is of a different nature, etc. The text is clear: “You will received the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Let’s face it, we live in a filthy world. It one sense, we are being baptized, or immersed, daily into the cesspool of the sinfulness of this world. We live in that atmosphere. Our only hope is the purifying effect of the word and the Spirit. The baptism in the Spirit is not just an accessory that we can just take or leave. It is an absolute essential, especially in the condition of our fallen world.