© 2013 Jasper Life Publications 1st Edition in English – April 2013 1st Edition in Portuguese – August 2012
Espírito e fogo Translated from Portuguese with permission of Editora Árvore da Vida All rights reserved by Jasper Life Publications Inc. 725 Viscount Road London, Ontario, Canada N6J 4G9 Email: email@example.com http://www.jasperlife.com ISBN 978-1-926970-49-3 Printed in Brasil All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version® is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000. Other versions of scripture are indicated as follows: NKJV NU‑Text
New King James Version variations according to the twenty-seventh edition of the NestleAland Greek New Testament and the United Bible Societies’ fourth edition
American Standard Version
1 The Fire.........................................................9 2 The Spirit....................................................25 3 Be Fervent in Spirit.....................................43
PREFACE During the whole time he was with Jesus, Peter, who later became the leader among the twelve apostles, always tried to be faithful to the Lord. He followed Him, so he wanted to please Him and spare Him from suffering and hardships. Our first reaction is to praise him for having these attitudes, full of sweetness and love towards Jesus. In this book, however, Dong Yu Lan reveals what was actually behind Peter’s attitudes and how he was helped by the Lord. We know from history that only in his maturity could Peter realize the importance of the fire that purifies the “gold that does not perish”, which was inside of him. Today we also need to be enlightened by the Spirit in this regard in order to deal with the real problems in our everyday life. The author also highlights the words of John the Baptist, and reveals the purpose of his baptism when 5
he said: â€œHe who comes after me is mightier than I.... He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire â€œ (Matt. 3:11). We hope that through this book, God may enlighten you and find a free way in you, with no obstacles in making you more useful to Him today and in the coming age. The Editors
Chapter One THE FIRE
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
God sent John the Baptist as a forerunner of the Lord Jesus, to prepare the way for Him and make straight His paths (Matt. 3:3). In the beginning of this chapter in Matthew, we read: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” (vv. 1-2). From before birth, John knew his role. So when Mary, who was already pregnant by the Holy Spirit, visited Elizabeth, John the Baptist leaped in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:13-17, 41). John’s family were Levites of the household of Aaron, and his father, Zechariah, was serving God as a priest in the temple (v. 5). He began his ministry in a new way, for he distanced himself from the priestly traditions of the Old Testament. Because of his religious position as a priest, John was entitled 11
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to minister in the temple, to wear a linen garment, and eat the showbread and the portions designated for them from the offered sacrifices (Luke 1:9; Lev. 7:34). However, John the Baptist, even though he was a priest, gave it all up. His preaching took place in the wilderness, his clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he ate locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4). He abandoned the ancient religious traditions because his function was to pave the way for the Lord Jesus, preaching repentance and foretelling His arrival, which established a new beginning. “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins” (vv. 5-6). “I indeed baptize you with water unto 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. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (vv. 11-12).
With the Holy Spirit and Fire Some Bible teachers interpret the last part of verse 11 of Matthew 3 as follows: “He will baptize 12
you with the Holy Spirit or fire.” The explanation for this interpretation is that the context indicates that the fire referred to in this verse is the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). The argument would be that the verses next to it (Matt. 3:10, 12) speak of the fire of eternal perdition. Thus, the interpretation of the end of verse 11 is that, if anyone repents and believes in the Lord Jesus, He would baptize him in the Holy Spirit and he would have eternal life; otherwise, he would be thrown into the lake of fire for punishment. However, when reading the entire context of the Bible, we see that fire plays a very important role in the growth of life of those who believed in the Lord Jesus. Verse 11 does not say “with the Holy Spirit or fire”, but “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” So then, let us check what is the meaning of fire in the context of the New Testament.
Salted with Fire One time in Capernaum when His disciples disputed among themselves about who would be the greatest, the Lord Jesus told them that if anyone wants to be first, he must be the last of all and the servant of all (Mark 9:35). Later, the Lord said, “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its 13
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flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one anotherâ€? (vv. 49-50). The fire mentioned here has nothing to do with eternal perdition, but aims to refine us so that we may not be salt that loses its flavor. The role of fire in this context is to cleanse us from all impurities, such as ambition or jockeying for position, which only brings envy, jealousy and conflict.
Jesus Came to Send Fire on the Earth The Gospel of Luke records that Jesus also spoke about His second coming, encouraging disciples to be vigilant. The Lord told them that He will make the faithful and wise servant who is found giving others their portion of food in due season, ruler over all that He has in the coming kingdom. Then Jesus also said, â€œI came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law 14
and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:49-53). Fire in the context above is to burn all laziness, ease and comfort existing in our soul-life, which is not willing to pay the price required to do the will of God. On the other hand, it aims to kindle in us the burden of caring for the people the Lord has entrusted to us. This fire will cause division among families who want to do the will of God, renouncing those of their own who are not willing to lose the privileges of their soul-life.
The Work of Each is Revealed by Fire The apostle Paul says in First Corinthians, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:11-15). The text above speaks of the work that each one does for the Lord. Not only our person, but our work 15
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must go through fire. Every building work that is not made with the Triune God Himself will be burned by fire.
The Fire in the Experiences of the Apostle Peter The apostle Peter in his maturity, warns us not to think that the fiery trial among us is strange. In the traditional concept, fire is always something negative. In Job’s case, his three friends condemned him, thinking that he must have committed a very serious unrighteousness for God to punish him in such a ruthless way. That is also the current thinking among Christians. When Peter was young, he had to be enlightened several times by the Lord Jesus, because even his good side of the soul hindered God in doing His will. After Jesus revealed the church and the kingdom to His disciples, He showed them also that He had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and resurrected on the third day. “Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matt. 16:22-23). 16
That must have scared Peter because when he spoke out of the kindness of his heart, not wanting to see his Lord suffer, Jesus called him Satan. This episode began to reveal a difficult thing to accept; that the good side of the soul, expressed by good opinions, can be used by Satan to try to prevent God from doing His work. For this reason, Jesus then said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (vv. 24-25). On the mountain where Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, Moses and Elijah also appeared. Peter, excited by their appearing, said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:4-5). Again Peter was helped to see how his good soul was a serious problem to God. In recounting these episodes from the life of Peter, our intention is to show that his reactions and attitudes in different situations, are very similar to ours and we also need the fire to burn the good side of our soul. 17
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Do Not Think That the Fiery Trial is Strange Peter wrote his first letter to help us with all his experience and maturity, saying, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12-13). The fire in the life of a Christian is not something negative; rather, it is necessary to try him. In our concept, fire is always related to something negative: the lake of fire, punishment, consequence, etc. But the apostle Peter explains that for our growth, it is normal that fire comes to try us. These sufferings are intended to help us no longer live by our soul-life. But we must always deny our self with its many opinions in order to follow the Lord and exult in the revelation of His glory.
Tested by Fire In his maturity, Peter helps us to see that our soul needs to be saved. So he says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may 18
be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,... receiving the end of your faithâ€”the salvation of your soulsâ€? (1 Pet. 1:6-7, 9). There are many impurities in our souls that we cannot see. We easily mix up the actions of the soul with the Spirit. The great help we received from the apostle Peter is that our soul needs to be cleansed of its impurities just as gold is refined. The value of gold is according to its degree of purity; the purer, the more valuable it becomes. The way to purify gold is through fire; as the temperature rises, the impurities rise to the surface for removal since gold is heavier than they are. In order to refine gold ore which is in its raw state, it needs to be crushed, ground, milled, and then washed with water or some special liquid. This process removes the obvious impurities, but in order to remove those that are impregnated in the internal structure of gold, it is necessary to take it to a crucible where the gold goes through an intense fire. This fire cannot be quenched, otherwise the crucible breaks, but it must always be burning. When gold is placed in the crucible, the temperature increases until it melts and is liquefied. By possessing high specific weight (19,250 kg / mÂł), the molten gold goes to the bottom, and the impurities rise to the surface where it is possible to remove them. 19
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Thatâ€™s what happens in the church life too; sometimes we go through sufferings. According to Peter, this is part of the burning of the Spirit so that the impurities of the soul-life are removed. The more fire, the more impurities come to the surface, so the Lord raises the temperature: five hundred, six hundred, and twelve hundred degrees. In the end our faith will become more precious than gold tested by fire (1 Pet.1:7). In the Garden of Eden there was gold, bdellium and onyx stone (Gen. 2:12). These precious metals were in the river that flowed from Eden. These are the same materials found in the New Jerusalem: â€œthe city was pure gold, like clear glass.â€? (Rev. 21:18). Once the gold is clear, the Lamb as a lamp shines forth through the whole city with the glory of God (v. 23). This transparent gold is more precious than gold that perishes, for as we have seen, it is produced through sufferings and tribulations (1 Pet. 4:19). It is not an outward suffering in the flesh, like illnesses or tragedies that lead us to an often temporary repentance, but shortly later are forgotten and our soul-life remains as active as before. The suffering mentioned by Peter is inward from the purifying fire of the Spirit. The most important thing today is to deny our soul life, but we see that this is not easy because we know it 20
is not possible to do it once and for all. It is something that happens gradually in our experience. Sometimes, some brothers attend lectures about marriage and family life and read 1 Corinthians 11, which says that man is the head of the woman, Christ is the head of man, and God the head of Christ, but in everyday life they lose all the heading up of the Lord. Sisters may even submit themselves at first, but after a week, they begin again to force their husbands to do what they want. This shows that only the mental conviction of certain doctrines cannot change us. The purpose of the fire, therefore, is to eliminate the impurities of the soul so that the value of our faith is confirmed and becomes increasingly precious. The lower the degree of impurity in our soul, the greater the value of our faith, the end result of this process will be the salvation of our souls (1 Pet. 1:9). Our spirit was saved in regeneration, that is, we are saved when we call on the name of the Lord and receive Him. Our mortal body shall put on immortality at the second coming of Christ. The biggest problem is that our soul needs to be saved each day, so we need the fire to complete our salvation. The fire of the Spirit saves us from ourselves, our opinions, and the slavery of the old man. So we should not consider the fire mentioned in the Bible merely as 21
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punishment or retribution. This fire is for salvation, for deliverance from our natural man to live by the Spirit. This is Godâ€™s full salvation. Hallelujah!