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The Fire God

• Greg Boyd

God is a FIRE. To all who are open to him, God’s presence is a fire of love, salvation, healing and purification. To all who are not, God’s presence is experienced as a fire of destruction. Jesus reminds and warns us to build our lives on him; depending upon where our hearts are, God’s fiery and holy love either saves and purifies us, or it destroys.

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How does a person make sense of this passage? It sounds as though Jesus is angry with all this talk of fire, division and judgment, especially in the like of the fact that He has so much to say about saving, healing and liberating. This passage expresses a paradox, which is a seemingly contradictory or absurd statement but one that actually expresses profound truth. So what is this truth? God is a FIRE. The fire Jesus unleashes with His death and resurrection is the fire of God’s presence. To all who are open to Him, God’s presence is experienced as a fire of love, salvation, healing and purification. To all who are not, God’s presence is experienced as a fire of destruction. This is why the fire Jesus unleashes is both one of love and wrath, one that brings peace and division, and salvation and condemnation.

God is a loving fire. God is love. Love is not just part of His nature. It is the totality of who He is. Everything else that can be said about God is an aspect of love. And if you understand this love, you know that it is like a fire. It is an unquenchable fire in ways that are untamable and consuming. It never quits even in the face of rejection, rebellion and all the sin of the world. God’s love cannot be extinguished.

God is a purifying fire. God is holy. The intensity of His holiness so contradicts our sinful nature that it would kill us to look upon Him directly. God’s holy fire exposes sin, burns it up, heals and restores. This intensity might be painful, but the fire of God’s holy and loving presence burns up every obstacle that could separate us form God. The fire of the Holy Spirit is working in the world to burnaway everything in our lives that is not consistent with the Kingdom.

God is a destroying fire. All that refuses to be purified by the fire of God’s holy love is destroyed by the fire of God’s holy love. It’s not that God destroys them. They’re destroyed by their wax nature which is incompatible with the fire of God’s holy love; therefore the loving purifying fire of God’s love is experienced as a destroying fire.

The fire Jesus unleashes is life to those who receive it, but it destroys those who won’t. The same fire brings peace to all who receive and destroys families who are set against it. It is a fire that brings salvation to those who receive it but condemnation to those who refuse it. It purifies those who embrace it but destroys those who stand against it. God is a fire of holy love that saves, purifies or destroys depending on where our heart is.

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Topics: Healing, Hell, Love, Salvation


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 12: 49-59

    “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

    He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?

    “Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."

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3 thoughts on “The Fire God

    Liban says: Tuesday November 11, 2014 at 4:33 am

    Hi,

    thank you Greg for this powerful word of God. I have a question. Are you somehow endorsing the idea of purgatory? Because if we can not enter directly because of our ungodliness than it seems the right thing to conclude? Secondly, why is it better to ‘burnt up’ now instead of later. Maybe because the fire is hotter, because we are closer to God?

    God bless

    Liban

    Reply
    Connor Unger says: Thursday November 13, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Liban,

    Thanks for your message! You might want to check out Greg’s blog over at http://www.reknew.org. He’s written a couple times on the subject of purgatory. You might be interested in this post in particular:

    http://reknew.org/2009/03/purgatory-and-the-judgment-seat-of-christ/

    Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help!

    Reply
    Pieter says: Sunday April 19, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Good sermon but one question remains: how will Jesus bring division? By fire people get formed into the likeliness of Christ so the fruit will be connection to each other, not division, right?

    Reply

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