He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Luke 3:16b)
What does being baptized with fire mean?
ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί - [in the Holy Spirit and fire]
This expression is used also in Matt 3:11. Some believe the conjunction "and" requires that the baptism “in the Holy Ghost and in fire,” should be regarded as one and the same thing. Others see it as two distinct baptisms: Firstly, baptism with the Spirit and then baptism with fire. I will let you ponder that for yourself.
Here are the range of interpretations from the experts.
It refers to the tongues of fire that appeared at Pentecost, the cleansing fire that comes in association with the Holy Spirit. It is associated with the equipping power He brings.
It distinguishes the repentant (who are baptised in the Spirit) and the unrepentant (who are baptized with fire or judgement). Fire in the Bible symbolizes both the presence of God and judgement.
It refers to the purifying power of God in a believers life. But if the purification is not willingly received by the person in question then judgement is all that remains.
The fiery trials which purify the soul of the believer to a deeper level. The fire is all part of the process God uses to take us to deeper levels in Him.
The fire is used to test the quality of our spirit life.
You will need to chose which of these options in your opinion most accurately represents the meaning of the baptism of fire.
The difficulty has always been in associating fire with the Holy Spirit. But in the connection of fire with the work or influence of the Holy Spirit the difficulty disappears. John's Gospel suggests God would give us the Divine Sanctifier as purifying water to wash away our sins and as a refining fire to consume our dross, the rubbish in our lives. The use of fire in 1 Corinthians is clearly to test our work and burn out what is not of God. The analogy of fire also represents the kindling of the holy flame of Divine love and zeal in our hearts and the illuminating work of the Spirit in our souls. The statement in this verse indicates the manner in which Christ will purify and cleanse us and prepare us for His service.
I add this personal story: during my years in Sulawesi, I regularly prayed with a friend on Friday mornings. We would meet alternatively early in the morning in his house or mine. We arranged it so that we didn’t stipulate a time to start. The door would be left unlocked in each house for that morning and the other of us could come when we were woken by the Lord. We left it to Him to wake us. Sometimes we woke and normal times and sometimes we work EARLY. We spent many hours in prayer each Friday morning being led by the Spirit of God in what we prayed. If we prayed in my house we would have breakfast today afterward Tania would ask. "Well what did you pray about this morning?"
One particular Friday morning after praying at my house we came out for breakfast and Tania asked the question. We both said excitedly, and perhaps a little naively, "We asked the Lord to baptize us with fire." Tania looked shocked and somewhat apprehensive and said, "Oh! Do you guys know what you have done?" The simple answer to that last question was "No". But we would learn the full significance of what we had done in the months and years to follow. It was like everything turned to custard soon after that. Only not as nice tasting as custard. What followed were some of the hardest years of my life. In the midst of it I could sense there was an intense refining going on in me. But I would not have chosen it if I had known what was to happen beforehand.
It probably goes without saying but I will say it anyway. I favour #4 and #5 above as the likely meaning or use of the baptism with fire.
Your greatest obstacle to personal growth isn't ignorance; it's the illusion of knowledge. It's in believing you've 'arrived.' Bob Gass
Our greatest ignorance is not of what we have yet to learn, but of how little we really know. Bob Gass
The Test Of A True Servant Is If He Acts Like One When He Is Treated Like One. Robb Thompson
Have you read my #1 best seller? There will be a test. God