Pamela Ayn Austen
The Symbol of
Image Artist: Unknown
Fire symbolizes the Holy Spirit's judgement, having no destructive effect on that which is spiritually holy and cleansed by God, but burning up anything that is spiritually unholy.
The Holy Spirit came as fire upon the Apostles at Pentecost. But rather than burn them up, since they had been cleansed by the grace of God, it empowered them to enter into the heavenly and holy work of God. It also proved them to be spiritually saved, in that they did not burn from the Spirit's judgement against all that is spiritually sinful and common. God told Peter concerning gentile believers, "Do not call common what I have made clean." Acts 10:15
In Enoch's visions of heaven, the floors and ceilings of crystal-like structures were surrounded by fire: let's see anything evil even try to get through. Only the holy is allowed in heaven before the throne of God.
Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire, and Elijah could not have been taken through the fire unless God's witness for Elijah was that he was God's cleansed and chosen prophet. And the same for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were cast into the burning furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, but instead of watching them burn, the king saw them and Jesus standing and talking. We're told that when the three men came out of the raging fire, their clothes didn't even smell like smoke. The fire had no effect on them, and this was a sign from God that, spiritually speaking, these men were made clean and holy by their strong faith in him, and spiritually speaking, the king had no power to burn them up, because only the Holy Spirit of God has the right to judge by fire.
Paul said about those who build on the foundation of the Gospel, "If what he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as if through the flames. Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:15-16
So, a Christian teacher may be saved and cleansed by faith in Jesus, but if his teachings and ministry are based on natural instinct and bad motives, the judgment of the Holy Spirit, on the day of judgment, will reveal it as either burning up or coming through the fire. Though the man may come through the fire due to his faith in Jesus, anything else he did that was against God's will must pass through the fire and be discovered as unworthy. And Paul said in Romans 14:23, ". . . anything that is not done in faith is sin."
Scripture says, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." Hebrews 11:15 And so, we know by this that faith will not burn up in the fire of the Holy Spirit's judgment, and we can see how vastly important to our spiritual well-being and heavenly future faith is. And we see what we need in order to have our deeds and words and works for God endure the fire of judgment. We must have faith.
It's one thing to do and say things that are wicked, and then have those things burned up; but it's another thing when a person entirely rejects and has no faith in Jesus. Then they, as a living soul, will burn with fire. What else can happen to them? We're told that all things will be judged by fire, and since faith alone will not burn up, where are these people to find salvation from the fire? There is only one name we're given to believe in for salvation from our sins, and they have rejected faith in him. They will burn in the enduring fires of judgment.
So fire is the Holy Spirit's judgment against all that is not of God, and we can see that hell, the place of fire, is reserved for all things that sin against God, and those who refuse to have faith in Jesus as their Savior. Revelations 19:12 tells us that Jesus has eyes of fire: eyes to weed out and burn up every lie and every sin and sinner. Since eyes in Scripture represent how we judge what we see, and the Holy Spirit's judgement burns up anything that is unholy and without faith in God, then we understand that Jesus, who is the Spirit, has perfect and right and pure judgment, and he'll get it right every time.
So have strong faith in Jesus, and let the fire rejoice that it does not burn you.