By Dr. Michael L. Brown
Speaking of John the Baptizer, Jesus said, “He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light” (John 5:35). That’s my heart as well. I want to be a burning and shining lamp. I want to be a torch! In the words of Smith Wigglesworth, “O, if God had His way, we should be like torches, purifying the very atmosphere wherever we go, moving back the forces of wickedness.”
Some things are combustible, other things are not. Dry wood burns. Water puts the fire out. It’s the same with electricity. Some things are good conductors, others are not. High voltage wires can carry quite a shock; thick rubber will stop the watts in their tracks.
Make Me Thy Fuel
So also in the Spirit: A pure heart is easily ignited; unbelief and sin will quickly quench the flames. A holy life will transmit the Spirit’s jolt; the flesh will blunt the force. What about you? What is your spiritual composition?
Missionary Amy Carmichael had prayed, “Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.”
Jim Elliot, martyred by the Auca Indians in 1956, expanded on this: “God makes His ministers a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God, deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ Saturate me with the oil of Thy Spirit that I may be a flame. Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.”
Are You Combustible?
Are you combustible?
During the Hebrides Revival (1949-1952), there had been months of prayer for revival in the parish of Barvas in the Hebrides. A group of men met three nights a week, praying until four or five in the morning. Still, ignition was not achieved until a young deacon stood up one night and read from Psalm 24: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD” (Psa 24:3-5, AV).
Duncan Campbell describes what happened next:
He read the Psalm again, then faced his praying companions with these words: “Brethren, we have been praying for weeks, waiting upon God. Now I would like to ask, Are our hands clean? Are our hearts pure?”
In the wee hours of that morning, the Spirit of God swept into the barn. Had you gone there at four you would have found three of the men in a trance, prostrate on the floor. They had prayed until they passed out of consciousness.
The revival had begun. The fire was beginning to burn. Combustion was realized! Sin had been removed. Are we ready to burn?
Do We Give Off Light?
Here are some questions to ask ourselves: Do our lives purify or pollute? Do we give off light or levity? Do we deepen the working of the Spirit or dampen His flames?
There is no shortage in God. He can work through us in ways that exceed our grandest dreams. The problem is not with heaven’s fires, it is with our flesh. Isn’t it time that each of us — especially those in the ministry — come to an absolute and firm determination to allow nothing in our lives to get in the way of God’s Spirit? Isn’t it time that we too become flames of fire? If not now, when? If not you and me, then who? Servants of the Lord come clean. The fires are ready to spread. Can you feel the heat?
We often settle for second best (or, more realistically, one hundredth best). We are discouraged from reaching for the high mark or shooting for the “impossible.” We think things will just continue as they have always been. More of the mundane, a surplus of the same! But is that a New Testament way to live? Shoot higher, my friends! Why not set for yourself the same consecration goals set by young Robert Murray M’Cheyne?
I am persuaded that I shall obtain the highest amount of present happiness, I shall do most for God’s glory and the good of man, and I shall have the fullest reward in eternity, by maintaining a conscience always washed in Christ’s blood, by being filled with the Holy Spirit at all times, and by attaining the most entire likeness to Christ in mind, will, and heart, that it is possible for a redeemed sinner to attain to in this world.
The more we are like the Master, the more we will be ablaze!
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Rev 1:12-16)
Becoming a Consuming Fire
God Himself is a consuming fire. Those who live in His presence become like Him. The hymn writers of old knew this:
O that in me the sacred fire
Might now begin to glow,
Burn up the dross of base desire,
And make the mountains flow!
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.
This was also the foundation of the early Salvation Army:
To make my weak heart strong and brave,
Send the fire
To live a dying world to save, send the fire.
Oh, see me on Thy altar lay
My life, my all, this very day;
To crown the offering now, I pray:
Send the fire!
In the same way, when the saintly Methodist leader John Fletcher prayed for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, he prayed for fire:
Lord, I stand in need of oil. My lamp burns dimly. It is more like a smoking flax than a burning and shining light. Oh, quench it not, raise it to a flame!
I want a “power from on high”; I want penetrating, lasting “unction of the Holy One”; I want my vessel full of oil; I want a lamp of heavenly illumination, and a fire of divine love burning day and night in my heart; I want a full application of the blood which cleanseth from all sin, and a strong faith in thy sanctifying word. . . .
I do now believe that thou canst and wilt thus baptise me with the Holy Ghost and with fire; help me against my unbelief; confirm and increase my faith. Lord I have need to be thus baptised by thee, and I am straitened till this baptism is accomplished. . . .
O Lord, send the fire! We’re ready to burn.
(Adapted from Michael L. Brown, From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire: American on the Edge of Revival.)
Dr. Michael L. Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.