Word on Fire

Paul writes to Timothy

'I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you'
(2Tim 1:6)

so, to help the church with this, we offer this brief word, because

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord'
(Jeremiah 23:29)

Victory Fire of Unity

Being a Christian means being on fire. Before Pentecost, the church consisted of about one hundred and twenty believers (Acts 1:15). They had a form of unity with God, in the sense that they believed in him, wanted to serve him, and wanted to know him more. But they were lacking. The Holy Spirit was with them but not in them (John 14:17). They lacked gifting, because the Holy Spirit's gifts - the Greek word is charismata - had not yet been given. Then the fire came.

Whooosh! Waaghghrr! Crackle! Roar! What must it have been like in that upper room when the fire fell and the gifts of God were given? When I first received the gifts of the Spirit back in 1986, I was sitting in a room with a group of other new believers, and I lost all sense of time and space. On another occasion I was transported in the Spirit, seeing the room I was in, yet sensing myself far beyond its physical limitations. On other occasions I've shaken, cried, laughed, been struck down motionless and dumb, jumped with endless energy, and much, much more - though not always at the same time! What must it have been like when the Holy Spirit and the fulness of his gifts came to the world? Wow! Can you imagine it?

The truth is that for a Christian, we don't need to imagine the fulness of the Spirit's gifts. They are ours to experience and to use through faith in Jesus Christ.

"For in Christ all the fulness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fulness in Christ, who is the Head over every power and authority." Colossians 2:9-10

The New Testament Greek word for fulness is pleroma. It conjures up the image of a ship or cargo container that is filled up to the brim, complete abundance, and nothing omitted. This is the fulness of the deity, God, that lives in Christ. Unsurprising perhaps, as God is El Shaddai, the all-sufficient God, in whom nothing is missing, broken, or taken away!

Notice that this fulness lives in Christ in bodily form. Paul is refuting the heresy known now as Docetism which said that Jesus only seemed to have a human body. Jesus did come in the flesh. John tells us that this is how we recognise the Spirit (1John 4:2). There is a version of this heresy today that says that Jesus doesn't really live in these human bodies of ours - that our faith is just some kind of religious 'mystery'. The implication of this is that there is then justification for not expecting Jesus to work his miraculous acts, speak his authoritative words through us. But he does, because he is in the flesh. Ours! Jesus 'lives', not just 'lived' in bodily form. Present. Current. Really truly. Here and now.

Paul continues that we too have been given fulness in him, Christ. The life of Christ, fully there, in our bodies. Given abundance (John 10:10), to the brim (Luke 6:38), lacking nothing (Psalm 34:9), possessing every good thing (Philemon 6) and therefore nothing being impossible for us (Matthew 17:20) in our flesh, in this life.

If Christ is the 'Head over every power and authority', as the Apostle goes on to say, because of Jesus and only in Jesus, then we too have the fulness of his headship over these powers and authorities. We need to be sure of this, because in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul spells out that this is where our struggle takes place.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

Because of this unity that we have with Christ through being in the fire that he sends from heaven, we are assured of victory in every spiritual conflict. This is ours, whether that conflict is in deliverance from oppression, in spiritual warfare against our finances or communities, or against sickness, disease or disability, Jesus has assured our victory. When you chose Jesus over the world ... when you let God in your life and accepted Jesus as Lord, whether you knew it or not at the time, the decision you made meant that you were being enabled to become like him! Made in his image (Genesis 1:27), being transformed into his likeness (2Corinthians 3:18), in this world like him (1John 4:17). Victory comes through the fire of unity with God!

This message is abbreviated from chapter 1 of 'Seeking Heaven's Fire', available from The Shop