By Dr. Christi Butler Feb. / March 2016
Recently I was invited to share a message entitled, “Becoming a Living Flame of Love,” in Temecula, California at Legends of Faith Church. I believe this is a timely Word for the body of Christ, as well as a word that is near and dear to my heart, because it reflects the vision the Lord has placed in my heart for God’s people in these last days.
I have a passion to see the body of Christ as a whole come to full maturity in the faith and do great exploits in the Name of Jesus as they spread the influence of God’s glory across the face of the earth. I believe God’s people are being called to become “burning ones.” In other words, individuals who are radiating the light, life, and love of God everywhere they go.
Believers are being called to come up higher, to become “living flames of love,” that cannot be stopped, quenched, or contained. A clarion call is going forth in the realm of the spirit. God is preparing His Bride. He is calling for His people to go deeper into His fiery heart of love. He is calling the church into a passionate love affair with the Son of God, and He is becoming all believers to awake, arise, shine, and take their place in God’s end time army of soul winning warriors for Jesus. Hallelujah!
There is a flame that should be burning in the heart of every believer. It is a flame that has burned in many notable men and women of God throughout history. As I write, I am reminded of Charles Finney, John and Charles Wesley, William Booth, John G. Lake, Katherine Kuhlman, Aimee Semple McPherson, Maria Woodwoth-Etter, Smith Wigglesworth, T.L. Osborn, Oral Roberts, and so many other firey evangelists that could be named. I love to study the history of revival just because I want to catch the fire these people carried and spread that fire to the next generation. I hope all the readers of this article want the same thing!
At any rate, the fire of God has been one of the subjects rolling around in my heart this month. The church needs some fresh fire. I think there are many Christians in the church who have heard about the day of Pentecost; they have read about how the fire fell on those who were gathered in the “upper room” in prayer; they have heard Acts chapter 2:1-4 quoted in church, but they have never actually had a divine encounter with a living God of Fire. They have never been touched, overcome, and totally transformed by the fiery God of love that scripture describes.
This should not be the case. If Jesus Christ is the same “yesterday, today, and forever,” as the writer of the book of Hebrews claims (Heb. 13:8), then the same God that came of the Day of Pentecost should be showing up in our churches today. Every believer in Christ should know what it means to be tangibly touched by the fire of God, and every believer in Christ should be a living flame of love that is burning brightly in this world for Jesus. The world should be able to look at every Christian and know, without a shadow of a doubt, Jesus is alive and living in His people today!
The fire that fell on Pentecost was not an incident that was meant to be left behind in the annals of history. Instead, that fire was the express manifestation of a living person. His name is the Holy Spirit, and He is One with the Father and the Son [Jesus], and He is every bit as real and as powerful today as He was on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is called to help, strengthen, equip, and empower the body of Christ. Furthermore, it is by the presence of the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ is “with us” and “in us,” until the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). The Holy Spirit is given the title of the “Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9). Therefore, when the Holy Spirit is operating through God’s people, so is Jesus, and Jesus is the most anointed fiery evangelist that ever lived. He is the role model of a man who was living as a “living flame of love.” I pray that the church would come to a full realization of who it is that has taken up residence within their hearts.
At any rate, when Jesus left this earth, he left His followers with specific instructions about how to have this same empowering presence of God in their lives. He said, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).In other words, Jesus told his disciples to come together and pray until they experienced being, “endued with power from on high.” Christians praying for an increase of the anointing of God is a totally scriptural concept and it is something the modern church needs to return to.
Furthermore, John the Baptist said, in Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” So, the endowment of power that Jesus talked about in Luke 24:49, actually involves being baptized or “immersed,” in the fiery presence of God. This is further proven to be true by the fact that the answer to the prayers of the saints in the upper room came as “a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2-3).
Fire was an express manifestation of God’s presence. This was true for believers on the Day of Pentecost and this has also been the witness of scripture throughout recorded history. For example, in the book of Genesis, chapter 15, God made a covenant with Abraham, and in the night, God came as a burning torch of fire and passed between the pieces of an animal sacrifice (Gen. 15). In Ex. 3:2, Moses encountered God in the flames of a burning bush. In Ex. 13:12, God led the Israelites out of Egypt and His presence was manifest as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In Ex. 19:18, God’s presence came down on Mount Sinai in burning fire and smoke. Later, when Moses set up the tabernacle in the wilderness, God’s glory was manifest and a fire that came from the Lord’s presence to consume the offering (Lev. 9:23-24). Furthermore, as worship was established in the tabernacle, the Lord commanded that the fire on the alter was to be kept continually burning as a symbol of the Lord’s presence in the midst of His people (Lev. 6:12-13). This fire on the alter in the temple was a shadow and a type of the fire that is to be kept burning on the alter of our hearts as New Testament Christians. (I have written previous blog articles entitled, “Tending the Flame Part I and II,” from July 2015, that discuss this fire in our hearts in more detail).
To be complete about this teaching, I must continue discussing God’s habit of manifesting His presence by fire throughout the Old Testament. In the book of Judges, Manoah and his wife provide an offering to God, the Angel of the Lord appeared to them in a flame of fire and consumed the offering (Judges 13:19-21). In 1 Kings18:24 the prophet Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest and the fire of God falls from heaven to consume the offering. Solomon also saw the fire of God fall from heaven and consume his offering when he dedicated the temple (2 Chron. 7:1). — And then there is the wonderful prophetic visions of God experienced by Daniel, Ezekiel, John and others where the prophets actually saw visible manifestations of God’s presence.
In Dan. 7:9, Daniel describes his vision saying, “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire.” Then in Rev. 1:14, the Apostle John writes, “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire,” and so on …
The point of all of this is that Our God is a God whose presence is often experienced through the manifestation of fire. Paul tells us in Heb. 12:29, “Our God is an all consuming fire.” With these truths in mind, believers should be awakened to the reality that a baptism in fire is a complete immersion in the presence and anointing of God, and it is this type of immersion in God’s presence that is meant to empower and equip the church to bring in this last days harvest of souls. When the early church experienced the fire of God, the fruit of that encounter was that the church “turned the world upside down” with the power of the gospel (Acts 17:6).
If the church today is no longer effective, and the world is changing the church instead of the church changing the world, God has an answer. The answer is this: we need the fire of God! Therefore, let us contend, let us “tarry,” let us return to prayer and to the old paths. Let us dig again the wells of revival and see the God of the bursting forth of might waters come forth (2 Sam. 5:20). Hallelujah and Amen!