Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
This picture of Jesus is seen through the eyes of John, who was perhaps caught up to the third heaven or perhaps transported in vision into heights beyond our ability to know. We know that for him, the veil was taken away and he interacted with God and angels in a spirit of revelation that transcended time and space. This one vision of Jesus could occupy many volumes of speculative theological writing, but let us concentrate on a particular aspect of the revelation- the fire of God. The scriptures speak, in Proverbs, "the eye is the light of the soul". Jesus speaks in through the testament, "If your eye is single the whole body is full of light". Here we see Jesus and "His eyes were like a flame of fire". If the eye is the light of the soul, then Jesus' soul is consumed with the fire of God. It is written, "Our God is a consuming fire", and Jesus is full of the divine being, "for so it pleased the Father to make all the fulness dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself by the blood of His cross(Colossians 1:16-20)."
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
There is a relationship between this vision of John's in Rev. ch.1 and the passage in Heb 4. Notice the similarities. John is speaking to us through the language of spiritual vision about the embodiment of truth that is in Jesus, as it is written, "For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." If God was in Christ and God is a consuming fire, what is it that He is consuming?
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
"The day shall reveal it for it is to be revealed with fire". What fire? The fire that is in the eyes of Jesus, "for all things are open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do"(Heb 4:11-13). The word of God is the two edged sword proceeding out of the mouth of Jesus-"dividing asunder....making manifest the thoughts and intentions of the heart". As Jesus speaks of Himself in John's revelation, "I am He that tries the reigns(plans) and the hearts (motivations)". The day shall reveal it because, "His face is as the sun shining in its strength". The Day shall reveal it because as Isaiah speaks, "In that Day I shall slay Leviathan, the twisting fleeing serpent with the sword of My mouth. In that Day, sing of it, a vineyard". The Day shall reveal it because, "Everything that is hidden in darkness shall be brought to light." As it is written, anything that is made visible by the light becomes light (Eph 5:13). This is because light consumes darkness, and our God is a consuming fire. It is also written, "God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all". We who know Him are, "children of the day", "walking in the light"- and the trial of our faith is "more precious than gold tried in the fire". As Peter writes,"Therefore we have the prophetic word made more sure to which you do well to pay attention, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts". In these things we are speaking in the language of prophecy and parable, "mysteries hidden from the foundation of the world."
So, God is light, God is a consuming fire and finally and foremost, God is love. His light is consuming everything that resists His love -like a fire.... "The Day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire". The fire reveals the wood, hay and stubble, and the fire consumes the works not motivated from love.
To put it simply, light is fire to darkness. Light consumes darkness. As it is written, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it"(John 1:5).
In the language of parable, Jesus says many things about the function of fire. "Behold the axe is laid to the root of the trees and every tree that is cut down will be cast into the fire". "My threshing fork is in my hand and I will separate the wheat from the chaff and the chaff I will burn with unquenchable fire. I will thoroughly purge my threshing floor." What does the fire do in these passages? It purges! And what exactly gets purged? Both in 1 Cor 3:12-15 and in Matt 3:10-12, the wheat and the chaff are parts of the person being tested. Every grain of wheat has chaff. It isn't the good guys (wheat-going to heaven) versus the bad guys(chaff-going to hell). Every kernel of wheat is surrounded by chaff. Until the chaff is broken the grain cannot grow. Until the chaff is broken off of the grain and "separated" -the grain cannot be made into bread. The threshing floor must be "thoroughly purged" because any chaff that remains in the grains to be ground into flour, will ruin the flour. Bread made with chaff in it tastes terrible and scratches the throat going down. Why is the chaff burned with unquenchable fire? because, like the wood, hay and stubble- it is garbage, good for nothing but to be burned because it is the self life, that which resists love.
In Mark 9, the famous "worm dies not and fire is not quenched" passage, Jesus concludes the whole thing with this statement, "Every person will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt"(Mark 9.;41-50). This means not that the fire will burn forever, but that it cannot be put out by the person in it. Until the worm is turned and the heart repents the fire will burn. Every pearson knows this fire. It is the salt that preserves the believer and "seasons" them. It is the unrest in every adversary of God(there is no rest for the wicked). Christians should be more concerned with the purpose of the fire TODAY, in their own lives, rather than to go about trying to convince anyone else that they are going to burn in "hell" forever. Jesus never told anyone they would burn in "hell". He told them they would be cast into Gehenna or experience aionian pur(agelasting fire) or aionian kolassis(agelasting correction) He also said, "You shall not escape until you have paid the last penny", and some will be beaten with may stripes and some with few stripes".
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned."
(Joh 15:5-6) Where are these branches "burned"....in Hell?
Because of scriptures like this Christians have long debated "eternal security" versus "losing ones salvation". The next level of the "hell deception" has even Christians who were once saved going to "hell" forever. This is not what Jesus is saying in the language of prophecy and parable, to those who have ears to hear, He is saying that He is the "Vine of love" and unless we stay in the love of God we will no longer be useful to Him. If we dry up of love, which is the "water of life", we will find ourselves outside of the sustaining(emotional and spiritual) covering of God and back into a place where His light is acting like fire and is pursuing the darkness in us. Even as the Pharisees were cut- off from serving God, so also are we, whether we know it or not, when we fail to abide in love. When this happens we dry up and the fire begins to burn, just like the axed trees and the chaff off of the wheat kernels, we enter into purging again until we humble ourselves- at which time the fire no longer burns. We stand in the fire and shine. God is a consuming fire and God is light. To stand in His presence is to be purged and purified into His love. We are back "in Christ" and the fire burns in our souls even as it does in His. There are many parallel illustrations in the scriptures, different ways of expressing the same truths.
Consider the possibility that the fire of God in the eyes of Jesus will "open all things" in you and I..."saved" or "unsaved" . Those who are "saved"(sozo-delivered/healed/saved) are already in the fire as they stand before the one whose "face shines like the sun" and whose "eyes are like flames of fire". They are already being "separated", "purged" and "salted(preserved)". Those who submit to being perfected in love will hear the words "Well Done". Those who do not continue, or abide in it, will "suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire".
This verse (1 Cor 3:13-15)clearly states that people will go through fire and be saved in the DAY, YET SO AS THROUGH THE FIRE.
Remember, Jesus said, "Be careful how you hear". If you listen only with the prejudices of religion, you may miss the truth hidden in the parable. He also said, "As you judge, so shall you be judged", and, "As you mete out to others, so shall it be meted unto you". Do you worship a god who would rejoice as much of his creation suffers eternal torment? Could you rejoice knowing this fate was being experienced by loved ones. Perhaps you are not worshiping who you think you are, or perhaps you do not know Him like you think you do.
"Depart from me disobedient ones, I never knew you". Their disobedience was their failure to love. "I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was lonely and you did not visit me." Maybe you had a Jesus sticker on your chest- but who saw my love through you?
Those who who reject the light and live in the self-centered life fall into all kinds of fire. As Peter wrote,
"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ"(1Pe 1:6,7)
God knows the secrets of our hearts. His light will penetrate, and open all the locked doors of our hidden selves. His love will shine in and rescue us from our wounds, our weaknesses and our sins.
Someone may ask, "What of the wicked?" God knows the wicked and at one point or another, we have all been wicked. He knows how people get the way they are and He knows how to rescue them from themselves as well. The wicked will be sorted out in the ages to come- some of them perhaps in Gehenna(we will look at what this means), some perhaps in the lake of fire(this too)- perhaps these are the same-we see through a glass darkly and a lot of detail is not given. One detail we are given however, is this.
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation(payment made) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1Jn 1:&-Jn 2:2)
Next we will look at Gehenna and the Lake of Fire and the destiny of the enemies/adversaries of God, and what the scriptures say the end of all these things will be.
THE END OF ALL THINGS