Refined By Fire

Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29) and this has implications, as you would expect.

There are two direct implications of God being a consuming fire, but before I look at those we must understand what a consuming fire does. It devours, it destroys, it eats everything it touches. Nothing is left untouched by a consuming fire. Even the fire-safe in your house will be opened and exposed by the fire of the One who tamed the sun.

In the same way, because God is God (omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, and all that), He is always in our business, like a busy-body. But this busy-body is not what you would expect. He busies Himself in a flaming reformation all the time. He has sent His Holy Spirit to earth as His consuming fire. God is at work preparing something for His Son: a city, a bride, a new creation, a new human race.

This leads to the two things God does as a consuming fire and they are the same things physical fire does. Fire either destroys or refines. Fire either turns something to ash, or cleans it up by removing the dross and hardening it. Fire consumes forests into ash and yet makes gold more gold-like.

In the same manner, when God judges as a consuming fire there are only two outcomes, death and ash, or resurrection and glory. For the unrepentant and wicked, they will be consumed by the fire of God and swept off from God’s hearth. The repentant, on the other hand, will be consumed by the fire of God as well, but they won’t be destroyed because they are in Christ and He was already destroyed for them. In this second category of person, the Christian, God’s fire will refine us, making us more Christ-like.

This does not mean that those in Christ will not suffer, but rather those in Christ will suffer as precious metals being refined. When we suffer in Christ, the dross is falling off. The entangled roots of sin are drying out, turning to ash, and floating away. Our faith is purified through fire, and this fire comes from God.

The discipline of God will either strengthen us, if we are in Christ, or it will destroy us if we try to stand on our own.

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