NOW COMES THE FIRE
The Sermon on the Mount
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The ‘baptism with fire’.
To be “Poor (in spirit)” is usually watered down to mean “spiritually bankrupt” or something like that. To get a fuller understanding of what Jesus is teaching about becoming “Poor in spirit” let’s look at Strong’s concordance,
Strong’s concordance #4434 πτωχός ptochos pto-khos’ from πτωσσω ptosso is a picture of crouching, the idea of being terrified. It describes being
1) reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms
2) destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour
2a) lowly, afflicted, destitute of the Christian virtues and eternal riches
2b) helpless, powerless to accomplish an end
2c) poor, needy
3) lacking in anything
3a) as respects their spirit
3a1) destitute of wealth of learning and intellectual culture which the school affords (men of this class most readily give themselves up to Christ’s teaching and proved themselves fitted to lay hold of the heavenly treasure)
This is a complete crushing of a person, spirit, mind, will, emotions and body. Scriptures tell us ‘it is a terrifying thing to fall into the Hands of The Living God” (Hebrews 10:31) except for the purpose of being purged, purified and refined (Daniel 12:10) And here, the purging and purifying is begun. Truly a Baptism directed by the Holy Spirit and by Fire.
Have you ever suffered such a loss? Perhaps a great loss? The pain can be unbearable. The confusion, the hurt, the anger can be almost insurmountable. Yet, this is the process that prepares us, which makes us fit to lay hold of the heavenly treasure.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
And, we too, will mourn those things God removes from us, but, given time and wisdom, we shall be comforted.
Jesus tells us and shows us the natural consequence of having suffered so great a loss by the example of the “rich young ruler”. This young man asked what he must do to inherit eternal life yet and Jesus told him to give away his wealth. He refused to give up his wealth and was grieved by even the thought of such a great loss.
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Matthew 29:21-22)
5“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
It is in our human nature, once we have been disciplined, if we submit to our chastisement, we will mourn our loss. Later, however, we may find comfort in restoration. Our spirit and emotions begin to find peace and a gentleness may come to us.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Interestingly, while being tested, we naturally lose our desire of nourishment. Just like a child who has been chastised and restored and comforted, once the process is complete, their hunger and thirst return. Not just in a natural sense but also in a spiritual sense.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
How much better we can see through God’s eyes and have His perspective toward others once we have suffered and found mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Having been purged by the fire of the Holy Spirit, we are also purified by that same fire. Jesus tells us in John 15:3, that we are already made clean by the words He spoke to us, and this ‘cleanness’ is the word which means “to be cauterized by fire”.
To be Clean: taken from Strong’s concordance #2513 καθαρός katharos kath-ar-os’ AV-pure 17, clean 10, clear 1; 28
1) clean, pure 1a) physically
1a1) purified by fire
1a2) in a similitude, like a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit
1b) in a levitical sense
1b1) clean, the use of which is not forbidden, imparts no uncleanness
1c1) free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt
1c2) free from every admixture of what is false, sincere genuine
1c3) blameless, innocent
1c4) unstained with the guilt of anything
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
This is a true hallmark, a true characteristic of a child of God. A Christian takes on the character, the attitude and the behaviors of our Lord and God.
10“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 10 is too deep for explanation. It should just be accepted at face value with all humility, awe, wonder and gratitude.
11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Again, verse 11 can only be fully understood by the person who has been baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His or her mind is no longer set on things of this world but on the things of God.
Matthew, chapter five, outlines and describes
- God’s great gift of Salvation,
- the process of sanctification,
- the of separating the Wheat from the chaff, (God’s sheep from the goats) and
- the reward of Believing upon the Name of Jesus and the consequence of unbelief.
This is the path every believer will be asked to walk. You may turn away. You may refuse to accept this Baptism, but, this is Baptism by the Holy Spirit and Fire. The Follower and Disciple of Jesus Christ will face these trials at some time or another. Read what the Apostle Peter says about this:
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7s o that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.