The Scriptures present us with a variety of visible images which signify the presence and action of the Holy Spirit. These signs include wind, fire, breath, and rivers of living waters.

Signs of fire in Scripture signify in a special way God’s holy presence, power, and glory, as well as the purification and cleansing action of the Holy Spirit. Some examples include:

  • The Burning Bush – Exodus 3
  • The Pillar of Fire in the wilderness – Exodus 13:21-22
  • The Consuming Fire on Mount Carmel – 1 Kings 18:17-40
  • The Burning Coal that purified the lips of Isaiah the Prophet – Isaiah 6:6-7
  • The Tongues of Fire at Pentecost – Acts 2:1-4
  • God’s Consuming Fire in the new heavenly Jerusalem – Hebrews 12:22,28

When the Lord  Jesus began his public ministry, the first thing that John the Baptist said about him was:

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”.

(Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16).

What does it mean to be baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit? 

When the Holy Spirit comes he sets our hearts on fire with the love of Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle tells us that,

“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”.

(Romans 5:5).

When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, and pray for the Holy Spirit to be fully released in our lives, what happens – what does the Holy Spirit do?

  • The Holy Spirit opens our ears to hear God’s voice – the Spirit enables God’s Word to come alive in us so that God’s word becomes a living and life-changing Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword – Paul the Apostle calls the Word of God the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6).
  • The Spirit opens our eyes to give us vision of what God is doing today in the Church, the world, and our personal lives. “Without vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18)
  • The Spirit opens our minds to give us knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of God and his ways (Isaiah 11:2). Jesus said the Holy Spirit will teach us the truth and help us remember all that Christ has taught (John 14:26; 16:13).
  • The Spirit opens our tongues to praise God and to speak his word with faith, conviction, and boldness and to encourage the fainthearted, the hopeless, and the weak.
  • The Spirit anoints our hands to bring blessing, healing, comfort, and help to others.
  • The Spirit equips our feet with speed and haste to bring the good news of the Gospel to every neighbor near and far.
  • The Holy Spirit purifies our hearts and minds and sets us on fire with the love of Christ.

When Jesus began his ministry, he was led by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news of the kingdom to every village, town, and region of Israel. The Spirit gave force or power to every word Jesus spoke. The Spirit revealed the thoughts and intention s of people’s hearts to Jesus. The Spirit empowered Jesus to perform signs and wonders and miracles, and power to free people from Satan’s oppression in their lives.

We are Christ’s body – members of his church on the earth.  Jesus calls us to do the same works he did and he equips us with spiritual gifts to carry on the work which he began.

Saint Theresa of Avila wrote:

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

Outpouring of the Holy Spirit today

Why is God pouring out his Holy Spirit today, with signs, healings, and spiritual gifts? I believe one reason is that the Gospel and the Christian people are under unprecedented attack today. 

We need spiritual power to counter this attack and to proclaim the Gospel in the joy and power of the Holy Spirit.

The charismatic renewal is a key part of God’s work to renew, restore, and equip God’s people to stand strong in faith and courage, to persevere with unwavering hope, and to be on fire with the love of Christ.

Our task is to make Jesus known and loved by all who will receive him and the good news of salvation he brings.

Our role in the charismatic renewal movement

We are first foremost disciples of Jesus – disciples who are personally committed to the Lord Jesus, to follow him and obey him and to submit to his word for our lives.

The Lord Jesus calls us to be servants just as he came “not to be served, but to serve.” As his servants who use their gifts, talents, and time to generously and selflessly serve others to help them grow in faith, hope, and love. We use our gifts, not to build up ourselves, but to build up the body of Christ and to advance his mission in the world. 

The charismatic renewal is a sign of what God is bringing about through the gift of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is a visible public sign of the Lord’s work of renewal in bringing people into a revitalized relationship with God and a sign of the unity he desires for all of his people. 

The Spirit unites, Satan divides. A true sign and fruit of charismatic renewal is love for our church – our church leaders and members, and for all believers who are brothers and sisters in Christ. A sign can’t do everything – but it can point to God and to the work of the Holy Spirit to renew the churches and to bring God’s people into greater unity and love for one another. 

Some traps or pitfalls we must avoid

We don’t lead or serve to draw attention to ourselves, to gain esteem, praise, or applause. We serve in humility like John the Baptist who said, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Our reward comes from our Master Jesus Christ. He suffered abuse, mistreatment, and even rejection, and yet he loved his own to the very end (John 13:1), even those who rejected him and those who nailed him to the cross. Paul the Apostle said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Don Schwager is a member of the Servants of the Word and he is the editor of Daily Scripture. This article was adapted from Living Bulwark June-July 2015 issue. Used with permission.