The Baptism of Fire

Question: “What is the baptism of fire? Do you think Christians should pray for it?”
Answer: Let’s go to the Bible for an answer. Please study the following:
John the Baptist promised that Jesus would administer two baptisms — Holy Spirit baptism and the baptism of fire. “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier that I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:10,11).
The apostles would receive the overwhelming measure of the Holy Spirit’s power on Pentecost (Luke 24:48,49; Acts 1:4,5; Acts 2:1-4); the unrepentant Pharisees and Sadducees would receive the penalty of hell at the final judgment.
The baptism of fire is “hell fire”. “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12).
It is clear that John was referring to “hell fire” (i.e., eternal destruction) in this passage. H. Leo Boles observes:

“Is it credible that ‘fire’ should have one meaning in the first and third verses, and an entirely different meaning in the second? We must conclude that ‘fire’ has the same meaning in verses ten, eleven and twelve. With this conclusion, we must believe that two baptisms are mentioned here, that two classes are to receive the baptisms; that one class is to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the other class the baptism of fire. ‘Fire’ as used here cannot be taken as a symbol of the Holy Spirit; this would be a confusion to say Christ would ‘baptize in the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Spirit.’ Where fire is used in a literal sense in the Bible, it invariably sets forth God’s divine judgment upon sin; where it is used in a figurative sense it represents this process by which evil is removed, and destruction. No sound principle of interpretation admits of representing the same truth under a literal and figurative form in the same connection” (H. Leo Boles, “Holy Spirit and Fire,” The Holy Spirit ? His Personality, Nature and Works, pp. 304-305).

Jesus will administer the baptism of fire when He comes again. “And to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:49; cf. Revelation 20:14, 15; 21:8).
No. Christians should not pray for the baptism of fire. Rather, they should endeavor to avoid it.
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For a further study of this subject, go to: http://www.christiancourier.com/questions/baptismFireQuestion.htm.

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