Article written by Dr. Christi Butler July 2015
For quite some time now, the Lord has been impressing on my spirit the urgency of the hour we are living in. Jesus Christ is coming, and He is coming soon! With that being said, I believe it is more important than ever to exhort the Body of Christ to be fully awake, alert, and ignited in the realm of the spirit. Believers cannot afford to be living in a spiritual stupor. We must “arise and shine,” for it is time for our light to shine and for the nations to come to the brightness of our rising (Is. 60:1-3). We must stir up the gifts of God within us and fan into flame the fire of God in our hearts (2 Tim. 1:6).
In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus begins to tell his disciples a parable about 10 virgins who were waiting for the appearing of “the” bridegroom. The bridegroom in this parable is a pictorial type of Jesus Christ who will come again for His church (the bride). As the virgins wait, five are described as foolish and five as wise. The foolish virgins did not look after and care for their lamps properly. Therefore, they ran out of oil. The wise virgins, on the other hand, were diligent to care for the condition of their lamps. Therefore, they were ready and prepared to meet the bridegroom when He arrived.
The lamps in this parable are mentioned to illustrate to believers the importance of looking after and caring for the condition of the human heart. Christians must “keep their hearts with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23), because it is from the heart that the issues of life flow. The oil that was used to fuel the flame within the lamp is meant to speak to the reader about the necessity of abiding in Christ (who is the Anointed One and His Anointing), as well as being filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit (who is the Spirit of Christ). Oil is frequently spoken of in scripture as a symbol for the presence of the Spirit of God.
This means that Jesus’ illustration is meant to teach that believers must look after and care for the condition of their hearts. They must see to it that their faith in Christ remains alive, active, and effective. And finally, they must pursue and maintaining a deep communion with the person and presence of the Holy Spirit who is with them and in them. Believers who do these things will be “wise” and they will be prepared for the coming of the bridegroom when He returns for His bride.
Along these same lines, I was reminded of a scripture from the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus chapter 6, verse 12 and 13, Moses writes some instructions for the Levitical priests that are very applicable for believers today. Moses says, “And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. 13 A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.”
In the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple, the fire that was used to burn the sacrifices on the altar was a holy fire. It was a fire that originally came from God Himself (Lev. 9:24). The fire was initiated and ignited by God. It came from heaven by grace and it was to be kept perpetually burning on the altar in the temple. There was never to be a man-made fire or a fire that was created by human effort. Instead, the fire that burned in the Temple was to be the fire that came down by grace and it was to be kept perpetually burning by the priests who tended to what grace had provided.
In much the same way, the Apostle Paul teaches that in the New Testament, believers are living temples who carry the presence of Christ’s Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). When a person becomes born again and filled with the Spirit of God, by grace through faith, the fire of Holy Spirit descends and ignites the flame of eternal life within the heart of the believer. A fire is kindled on the altar of the human heart, and from this alter, one’s life is to be presented up to God as a “living sacrifice” which is a holy, acceptable, and pleasing act or worship (Rom. 12:1-2).
Furthermore, just as the Old Testament priests were told to keep the fire burning, so to believers are exhorted throughout scripture to maintain a burning fire in their heart for Jesus Christ. Romans 12:11, in the Amplified Bible reads, “Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, in the Message Bible, Paul writes, “Do not suppress the Spirit,” and in 2 Timothy 1:6, in the New International Version, Paul says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
The witness of scripture is clear. The human heart is a holy altar ignited by the living presence of the Savior, and as believers, we must care for the fire on the altar and see to it that the flames of our love for Jesus never go out. Be blessed as you go and fan into flame the fire of God that is in you.
Look for Part 2 of this message to be coming soon.