Wheat, Chaff, & Fire
One of the encouraging lessons I’ve heard recently — perhaps from something Brooklyn Tabernacle’s Jim Cymbala spoke about — anyways, it struck a chord within me.
The reference is in John chapter 3, verses 11–12 where baptism is introduced. There is a baptism of repentance in water by John. There is also reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There also is mentioned a baptism of fire with an accompanying warning.
As for John’s baptism for repentance, he refused to baptize anyone who did not “produce fruit worthy of repentance, telling them not to presume…” their credentials meant anything to God. Also, in another place “God won’t hold anyone guiltless” just because they claim the Name. ( Just because I say I’m a Kennedy doesn’t make me part of the clan and welcome to spend a week at their Compound in Hyannis Port!)
Note when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove, but when the Disciples were baptized, it was as with “cloven tongues of fire.” And that is where a chord struck. John the Baptist warned “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove his sandals. He himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Let me step out of the ofttimes understanding of what John said. The context here is not referring to the Disciples’ experience. Why? Because John says what the fire is during the very same discourse: “His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn. But the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out.” Some say that the “fire” is referring to how Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness that is getting rid of our outer shell. Nevertheless, I insist on sticking to the current incident and its inherent context. The power of God in Jesus will separate the fruitful wheat — which will grow and become nourishing — from the useless chaff — which will be useless and simply be destroyed.
You may have heard the term “on fire for God” which may all be well and good. However, here in Matthew’s recollection, I would much prefer to be considered the wheat, not the chaff. You?