The other night, the Scruggs hosted a hayride out at
their place. Someone had built a nice fire for us all.
There was a pretty stiff breeze blowing, and it kept the
flames of fire dancing wildly! That fire was not only
good for cooking our food, but it kept us nice and warm as
well. That was the positive and helpful side of fire,
but there's also a negative and destructive side.
Someone here may have experienced a burnout that destroyed a
house or some property. When “Little Boy”, the first
atomic bomb, was detonated about 2000 feet above Hiroshima,
it created a fireball which emitted radiation and heat rays.
A conventional one ton bomb, would destroy everything within
a radius of 130 feet. Little Boy destroyed everything
within a radius of 1.2 miles! Of the 350,000
inhabitants, about 120,000 were immediately incinerated!
Fire is one of the most powerful and awesome creations of
God! Jesus said in Luke 12:49: “I came to send
fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
We see some of that holy fire when Jesus cleaned house in
the temple at Jerusalem! Are our hearts burning within
us? To help us evaluate, let's look at our text in
Acts 4 and 5 where we can see four characteristics of lives
that have been set on fire by Jesus Himself! Let's be
Let's be BOLD like fire! We see in 4:31 that the
apostles and others were praying that God would help them to
continue to preach boldly. They had been told by the
Jewish officials not to teach any more about Jesus, but they
prayed that they would continue to be bold. In fact,
they had already been bold in their preaching, and we read
why they were bold in 4:13: “Now when they saw the boldness
of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated
and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized
that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)! They had
learned to be bold by seeing the boldness which Jesus
displayed before the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus
never backed down from their confrontations! Jesus
wanted His Gospel proclaimed, and we see how He gave these
apostles the strength to get the job done! We see
these apostles standing confidently and without shame before
an audience that would have been very difficult to address.
You see, the question is not who are you, but whose are you.
“It is exciting that Jesus can take any willing person and
make him bold for His name. Education, nobility, good
looks, natural ability—none of these is as important as a
close relationship with Jesus. So the question is not
WHO you are but WHOSE you are” (Saunders)! If you
weak, hesitant, reluctant, or fearful, remember Peter and
John, and remember that Jesus can make you bold!
Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 20:9 that the Word of God was like
a fire in his bones. He wanted to hold the message
inside and not speak it, but he said that he could not
contain it, and he had to share it! “Nothing so
arouses a sick church like the vision of the risen Christ
[whose eyes burn and whose face shines like the sun—Rev.
1:14-16]! He is the great physician, the refining
fire. He strength makes us well, His presence gives us
identity and life, and His [challenges move us]! It is
sad that we often turn to Him last. We seek initial
remedies in other places—rearranged the furniture,
straighten the pictures, get a new program, stir up more
activities. But what we really need is to see the
glorious living Jesus again! To know He is alive,
real, and active! To see and know Him so vividly and
powerfully that we sense His fire in our bones! A fire
that causes us to share the Gospel; we just have to share
it! Our fire has no other source. Anything
created any other way has no more spark than a flame painted
on a canvas.” There was an ancient document discovered
in Egypt which claims that the following is a statement of
Jesus: “He who comes close to Me comes close to the fire”
(Gospel of Thomas). Be bold like fire! Let's be
ablaze! Let's be ablaze!
Next, let's be ACTIVE like fire! Because these
apostles were boldly preaching, they were put into prison.
But now notice what happens.: “But at night, an angel of the
Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,
'Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the
words of this life'” (Acts 5:20). The Jewish
rulers are meeting, and they call for the apostles to be
brought before them. The officials went to get
prisoners but discovered and then reported that they were
not there! The rulers then wondered what was going to
happen. Someone then told them that the apostles were
in the temple preaching! You see, the point is that
where Jesus is, there is activity! The angel told them
to preach the words of this life. Those are the
“wonderful words of life” that we sing about. Those
words of the Gospel that give life, transform, and change
others! We see how the Jewish rulers “prisoners” were
really Jesus' freed men doing His work! You see, it
was the Lord who was helping them. He had sent His
angel to free them, and He had given them directions to
follow! Once a fire is active, it's hard to stop it.
Jesus was unstoppable! “Wherever Jesus was, something
was happening. When Jesus dwells among Christians,
something will happen! There is action and awareness.
The crying need heard throughout the church and the world
today is to see something happen that is [from Jesus].
Isn't that what we want in congregations and in our lives?
We want a relationship with Jesus that makes a difference!
We want a congregation that [active in our community] and
[making] a difference! The story is told of a stout
young man who built a blacksmith shop. Hundreds came
by to wish him well at the open house, but there was no
business afterwards. He called upon one a wise man to
get his advice. “Son, you are well built for the task,
and you have fine equipment and tools. But you lack
one thing: you lack the spark. Without the spark, you
can never do the work of a blacksmith” (Saunders). “No
matter what's wrong with our lives, Jesus can give us the
spark and restore us! The same is true with a
congregation. Nothing remains still where Jesus moves.
He creates disturbance and activity. There is no
“ho-hum” life if Jesus is really your Lord and your Fire!
... Where Jesus is alive and real, things can't help but
happen” (Saunders)! Be active like fire! Let's
be ablaze! Let's be ablaze!
Next, let's be FEARLESS like fire! Notice in 5:28-32
how the Jewish rulers told the apostles that they had
essentially said to shut up and preacher Jesus no more.
Peter countered with the bold statement: “We ought to obey
God rather than men!” Then notice what he said: “The
God of our forefathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by
hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right
hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel
and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these
things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to
those who obey Him.” We see here how Peter is not only
defending the Gospel, but he is fearlessly trying to convert
these men! Isn't this amazing? He is offering
salvation to the very people who had crucified Jesus!
Now if that isn't a demonstration of Jesus' love, what is?
Jesus is giving His persecutors a chance to repent!
“Of what is the church afraid: political parties, religious
corruption, the academic elite, the scientific community?
The church aflame will never waver before these; it only
knows its identity and mission, and it pushes hungrily
forward to do it. ... Fire rages on fearlessly. No palace is
too grand, no forest is too vast, no city is too strong
against its flames. Have we forgotten that God has
spoken His truth to us? That this truth will be the
final arbiter of meaning in this world? Are we so
[swayed by our almost pagan culture] that we have failed to
grasp [the wisdom] of God's revelation to humanity?
Have we stopped believing that the humblest person on earth
who knows God is greater than the wisest in the world's
wisdom? Will we praise the conferral of degrees while
caring nothing for the sonship God has conferred on those
who [obey] Him? Do we believe [that a man stands the
tallest] when he stands as a son of God? Are we
confused? Have we forgotten” (Saunders)? Let's
be as fearless as our Master who affirmed that He is the
way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to God except
through Him (John 14:6)! Let's be fearless like fire!
Let's be ablaze!
Lastly, let's be UNCOMPROMISING like fire! We see in
5:42 that the apostles kept right on preaching and teaching
that Jesus was the Messiah, both in the temple and in
others' homes! They did not compromise, but continued
teaching the Gospel! In fact, notice what 5:42 says:
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not
cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
Pain from beating and threats from death, did not stop them
from continuing to preach the that Jesus was the Messiah,
the Prince of Peace, the Savior of all, the Lord of Life!
They used every occasion they had to exalt the Lord Jesus.
And did you notice where they did it. In the temple.
Now who is over the temple? The Sanhedrin, the very
men who had told them not to speak any more about Jesus and
beat them for doing so. Here they were right back in
their “territory” preaching their uncompromising message
that Jesus is the Messiah. Fire never compromises.
Take a dollar bill and put a match to it, and you'll see
that fire doesn't compromise! Do we? We live in
very tolerant age. We're not suppose to say anybody is
a sinner anymore. We're not supposed to judge anybody.
We can't call a spade a spade. But this was not the
way of our Master. Jesus did not negotiate when it
came to sin. Look at Revelation 2:14-16 where He spoke
these words to the congregation at Pergamos: “... you have
there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam [a false
teacher]... to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit
sexual immorality [notice how Jesus is naming particular
sins here; He calls a sin a sin]. Thus you also have
those who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans [this
group is also promoting falsehood], which thing I hate.
Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight
against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:14-16)!
Do those last words sound very tolerant to you? After
Abraham Lincoln announced The Emancipation Proclamation,
freeing the slaves during the Civil War, he was condemned by
The London Times as “as sort of a moral American pope”
destined to be “Lincoln the Last”. After Lincoln's
assassination, the paper realized his greatness by saying:
“Abraham Lincoln was as little a tyrant as any man who ever
lived. He could have been a tyrant if he pleased, but
never uttered so much as an ill-natured speech.”
Christians must take unpopular stands and uncompromisingly
stick to truth. If we stand in God's will, we'll be
vindicated in the next life, and sometime maybe even in this
one (Bailey and Kennedy in Larson/Elshof). Closeness
to Christ will help us to be uncompromising. “Staying
close to Christ secures the proper balance of the message.
It keeps prominent what should be prominent. Its focus
is sharp and clear. It insures purity of the message.
... Separate Jesus and the message, and the result is
disaster. He is truly the living and abiding Word”
(Saunders)! Be uncompromising like fire! Let's
be ablaze! Let's be ablaze!
Be bold, active, fearless, and uncompromising like fire!
“O Fire of Love, O Flame Divine, our faith and hope renew!
Burn in our hearts, burn evermore, till we burn out for
Lord, as we look at these disciples, we see how often we
fall so short of being ablaze. Please help fill our
hearts with the fire of Jesus. Help us to speak a good
work for Him when we have opportunity. In Jesus name,
God is love, but Hebrews 12:29 also reminds us: “For our God
is a consuming fire!” If you are not a Christian, and
Christ returns, you will face God's wrath! Don't let
that happen! Make Jesus your Lord by repenting,
confessing, and being immersed for the forgiveness of your
sins, and confess that sin, and we'll pray that God
will help you to be ablaze in the future!