Pyrophobic Christianity

Pyrophobic Christianity
Robert Wurtz II
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God (2 Chronicles 5:13).
Here Solomon is dedicating the Temple after it had been newly built and the Ark had been recovered and placed in the Holy of Holies. You will notice that their first response to God was to give thanks for His mercy in returning to the people with His authority and presence. They didn’t deserve God- they deserved abandonment. Eli the High Priest had failed to keep his sons in order and between his apathy and their whoredoms and wickedness they led the children of Israel into a path of destruction. The sons took the Ark into battle and lost it. This is the backdrop of these events. At Pentecost Jesus Christ became our Great High and it will be His objective to ‘keep His sons in order’ so that the authority of God is never lost from the churches.  


In another place it is stated that they spoke as one as the Ark of the Covenant came in. They sang and shouted with lifted up voices in such a way that God saw fit to fill the house with His glory. This was the initial step. The people utterly recognized God’s mercy and desire for reconciliation and they responded to Him in tremendous excitement and thanksgiving. The LORD, then being well pleased, FILLED the house with His glory. So great was the glory of God that the priests were not able to stand to minister. God believed the people as they praised and offered thanksgiving and He responded by filling the house with His glory. This is a foretaste of Pentecost as we read about in Acts chapter 2. 
Holy and Acceptable
…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,
Romans 12:1ff is a turning point in Paul’s explaination of salvation. We are brought fase to face with another priestly aspect of our experience. We are to present our bodies unto our Great High Priest. Here we have ‘holy, acceptable…’ This again, is the language of priesthood. Understand that we cannot offer our bodies as an offering for sin. God the Father in offering His Son Jesus Christ has already paid that price. Our holy offering is an act of worship and service. You will know that we are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is holy and we must be holy. We have in Paul’s theology a figure of our bodies being both the temple of the Holy Spirit and a living sacrifice.
Under the Old Covenant sacrificial system, it was the responsibility of the High Priest to examine the sacrifice for blemishes, etc. God is perfect and is looking for perfection. This is what Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest does under the New Covenant. He examines our individual lives for things that offend God. This is what the old-timers called, ‘controversies’ with God. These controversies are made known to us by the Holy Spirit as He puts His hand on areas of our lives that need repentance. You will recall the rich young ruler coming to Jesus and how Jesus told him that he lacked one thing, to go and sell all that he had. God put His hand on the controversy between Him and the rich young ruler. It was his possessions. They were his god. Jesus continues in this same role in our lives from the moment we come to Him for salvation until we leave this earth. We are continually subject to His priestly inspection for blemishes or spots that need addressing in order that we might be holy and without blame before Him in love. He prepares us to offer ourselves unto God holy and acceptable.
Details in the Service of God
A cursory read of the Old Covenant reveals tremendous numbers of laws and directives that govern the service of God. There was no room for man’s innovations and novel ideas. God is utterly holy and utterly sovereign. Everything associated with the service of God has to be dealt with on God’s terms. This is a very important thing to grasp, as the concept is foreign to us in the 21st century. Today there is an almost ‘make it up on the fly and offer it to God’ type of attitude. People want to mix all kinds of worldly things into the service of God not knowing that God spent the entire Old Testament warning Israel not to do such things. Many do not read their Bible or even consider it authoritative. In many ways we have lost the sense of holy and sacred. Yet, the Old Testament is replete with examples of how not to treat the holy temple of God and the artifacts within it. The service of God was serious business. If a person were to touch the Ark of the Covenant they could be smitten dead, for example. Offering strange fire could result in being burned to death by the Fire of God. Has God changed His mind about these things? We should ask, were these things written for Israel’s sake alone or where they not all together a figurative lesson for us that would experience the habitation of God by the Spirit? All those things were merely a figure of the truth. We that are baptized in the Holy Spirit have the reality of what they longed for. We are holy and are serving a holy God. The world has never appreciated this nor has the mixed-multitude type that always had one foot in Israel and the other in Egypt or Babylon. Yet, what can we learn about Belshazzar’s treatment of the holy vessels that we read about in Daniel’s writings? How did God react to the way he defiled the artifacts of the Temple? He told him that he was weighed in the balance and found wanting.  The whole story is exemplary. It reveals God’s estimation of abusing our bodies in sordid sin. Is there any wonder Paul spoke so strongly about fornication? From the Nadab and Abihu types to the profaners like unto Babylon, this generation needs a crash course in the holiness of God. He will not dwell with people that don’t reverence Him and are not willing to serve Him in ways He has prescribed.
Reasonable Sacrifice
Solomon built and dedicated the Temple to God. It had one primary purpose in Israel; to be a place where the people could encounter God and offer up sacrifices to Him (temple cultus). Here the Old Covenant was serviced to keep the agreement in play when it had been broken. When Solomon originally dedicated it there were over 120,000 burnt sacrifices inspected for purity and acceptability and then offered. Solomon understood that until the altar was full with a holy and acceptable sacrifice, the Fire of God would not fall and the dedication would be incomplete. When the Fire finally fell the people knew that God had come. When the glory filled the Temple they knew he had manifest Himself. Was this important? It was to the ones that truly loved God. Moses already told of how empty it would be to exist as God’s people without God being present. To some it may have seemed very reckless for Solomon to order the people and the priests to bring a river of blood upon such a beautiful place; but to Solomon it was only reasonable to make such an offering to God in light of the mercy He had shown the people. This is a picture of how we should bring ourselves to God. When your friends and family complain that your sacrifice is too great, keep bringing yourself to Christ, holy and acceptable. It is your reasonable service.

Full = Fire!
When the altar was full and Solomon prayed- the Fire of God fell. This dedication was a ‘picture’ of New Testament life. Jesus came to send Fire on the earth and He would do so by baptizing His people with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. This is what John the Baptist told the people. For the first disciples at Ephesus, as today, it is the often neglected aspect of John the Baptist’s message. God’s will all along since before the foundation of the world was that men and women’s bodies would be temples of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t just want to dwell with man He wanted to dwell in man and He spent over 1000 years teaching man about Himself that we would be prepared for His ultimate will.
A Living Burnt Offering
Men and women that are on Fire for God are the ones most qualified to be sent into the world to win the lost. The prophet Jeremiah, that also prophesied the New Covenant, had a foretaste of this when he wrote, Then I said, I will not mention Him, nor speak in His name any more. But His Word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with holding in, and I could not stop. (Jeremiah 20:9 MKJV) Therefore, Romans 12:1 is the beginning of all evangelistic efforts. Paul having explained the reality of what God has done in bringing salvation and reconciliation to man, says, “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God…” Thinking of all that God has done; ‘therefore’ present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your logical (the consequence of his well reasoned arguments) worship. This presenting of ourselves to our Great High Priest for inspection and acceptance that He might baptize us in the Fire of the Spirit is our reasonable worship. It’s the only response that makes sense in light of all that God has done. It is what God wants first and foremost. Without this process little else matters. It all begins here with a recognition of what God has done in Christ, and our responding reasonably to what we realize. Our lives are to be a perpetual living burnt offering for Him. It is the only thing that makes sense. 
The Fire of God
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (Matthew 3:11).
It is unfortunate that so many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the Fire of God. In fact, this is no new situation; for Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) The context reveals that this Fire was going to cause great division in the earth; between those that want the Fire and those that do not (Luke 12:50-52). This is of the greatest importance. To speak of Christianity without speaking of Fire is like speaking of swimming without water. Nevertheless, the Fire of God continues to be a most unpopular subject. Speak on grace and a multitude will amen. Speak on hell and peradventure some in the crowd will amen. Speak on the Fire of God and the voices fall almost silent. Why? Because when the Fire comes, it will burn up everything in a person that is not of God and I dare say many wish to retain yet a measure of themselves even making excuses for their lack of godliness. They want to keep their options open. Many are caught up in sin and compromise, but refuse to come to God for help. As the old timers have said, the answer to our spiritual problems is almost always the Fire of God. A person on fire for God is not having trouble loving their neighbor or going to the sin dens. A person on Fire for God is not needing a phone call or an email to make sure they are assembling with the saints and walking with God. It’s because we have no Fire that we need a phone call in the first place. Folks want to offer God a spotted and lame living sacrifice of themselves and God is not accepting it. This is why there is no Fire in their life. For others there is a sort of holy pyro-phobia. They know when the true Fire comes, that the nonsense will have to go! God’s holy love burns all unholy loves for worldly things and sinful pleasures until we are utterly consumed with Him. But if there is something in us that refuses to let go of ungodly desires and controversies with Him, we will never know the Fire of God. We can’t fool God. And if we take that route we will need some plastic substitute such as emotionalism or soulishness with which to counterfeit the true Fire. The question we have to ask in these things is the question of Jesus, “Wilt thou be made whole?” If so, you will need the Fire of God. 

Burning for God
We are told in Hebrews 12:29 that God is a consuming Fire. He created creatures that are burning fires such as the Seraphim. We as human beings are consuming fires as well. This is why we burn at 98.6 degrees. Where does this energy come from? It originates with the burning fire of the Sun. Plants turn sunlight, nutrients and water into carbohydrates. We eat the carbohydrates. There is a furnace characteristic in man where the carbohydrates are burned in us as a source of energy. In summary, the energy you are using to read this text originated with the Sun. But there is also a spiritual side of man that serves as the driving force behind all that he/she does. God is a Fire and Satan is a fallen Burning One (Seraphim or Cherubim)[1]. Although by comparison he is almost nothing before the Lord, He used to walk up and down in the midst of the stones of Fire. Though merely a fallen angel, Satan is still a formidable energy source. His is the spirit that is not working in the children of disobedience.
So we know that God’s intelligent creations are all burning in some sense. The questions are, what are we burning with and what are we burning for? We are all living sacrifices for something or someone. If we are living for sin and Satan we are no different than the pagans of old that offered sacrifice to false gods or caused their children to walk through the fire to Molech.
Feeding the Fire
What is the energy source of the things we feed ourselves? Do they originate in God? If there were two fields yielding fruit with one having Christ as the light source and the other with Satan as the light source (darkness), which field should we partake of? Would we want to feed ourselves and the people we minister to something that did not have its source in God? The fields of Egypt were not like unto the fields of provision in the Promised Land. God wanted to be Israel’s source of provision and He wants to be the sole source of our provision. If we as ministers of the Gospel glean in the Egyptian fields as it were, we will edify men and women in carnality. If we get our crops from Heaven we will edify ourselves and others in true spirituality. This is the key to what fire burns in our lives. Adam Clarke comments on Matthew 3:11; “This was the province of the Spirit of God, and of it alone; therefore he is represented here under the similitude of fire, because he was to illuminate and invigorate (to give strength or energy) to the soul, penetrate every part, and assimilate the whole to the image of the God of glory.” 
Priesthood
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:5, 6).
The believers at Ephesus were baptized in the Holy Spirit and with Fire. This event made them into living stones in the Temple of the Living God as an assembly and as individuals (1 Corinthians 3:16). On that day the believers were made priests unto God. This is a staggering truth. It was God’s design from the beginning. The Old Testament priests used the Fire of God, not ‘strange’ or ‘common’ fire to do the service of God. We as a kingdom of priests unto God must also be burning with the Fire of God that we might rightly serve as a living link between god and this lost world. God had been working to this end all along. This is the jest of the message of Stephen in Acts 7:1ff. God does not desire to dwell in temples made with hands or church buildings; He desires to live in man. It is impossible to understand the Bible unless you realize this great truth. God wants to live in you. He wants to be who He is; a consuming Fire inside of you and me. He wants it to be said of us as it was of Christ, “For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” God wants to be in us reconciling the world unto Himself.  


[1] See Ezekiel 28:14. Root Hebrew word is seraph meaning to burn.

The Vehement Flame

The Vehement Flame
Robert Wurtz II


Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:35-40)


Love as a Fire
It is interesting that God describes both love and lust metaphorically as fire (Romans 1:27, James 4:3). In Song of Solomon 8:6, 7 we read, Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and in this passage love is translated from the Hebrew into the Greek as agape. It is important to note that this word agape is also used to translate Jeremiah 2:2, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. The Greek word agape is used in the Septuagint just 14 times, with all but 2 being in Solomon’s writings. Surely if agape love is a fire, then as with all fires, they must have an origin as well as a means of being sustained. You will notice in Jeremiah 2:2 that God coupled kindness and love together. This is love in it’s youthfulness long before time and circumstances have succeeded in bringing the flame low. Israel’s love towards God was like a fleeting flame that burned for a little while and then vanished away.

Burning for God

Solomon described love as a ‘vehement flame.‘ This could be translated as the flame of God (Yah). Many waters cannot quench this love and floods cannot drown it. That is, earthly calamities and struggles cannot put out this fire. So long as this fire is cultivated it will continue to burn. God’s love towards us needs no cultivation, but our love towards Him must be cultivated through devotion and faithfulness to Him. Our lives must be a perpetual burnt offering. (Romans 12:1, 2) The power of this love has been demonstrated in the lives of the Saints that gave their lives for the cause of Christ; they loved not their lives unto the death: they loved Christ unto the death. And yet the proof of this love is manifest not just in our zealous love for God, but in our compassionate (kindness) towards others; even our enemies. This is the great lesson of the stoning of Stephen. He was full of the Holy Ghost. The love of God had been poured out in his heart (Romans 5:5). He burned for God with the fire of agape love and that love withstood the test as he passed from this life praying for his enemies that persecuted him. (Matthew 5:44) Solomon understood the altar. (GW North see II Chronicles 6 &7) Stephen understood the altar also. He put himself utterly on the altar until the fire of God fell in his life and from thereon as did Solomon he continued to bring the sacrifice in a reckless fashion. Stephen burned for God and nothing else.

The Root of All Declension


Anthony Norris Groves

“It seems as though love of refinement, love of power, and consequent love of money, were sapping its spiritual strength. How plainly we can see everywhere that the absence of spiritual enjoyment of God, and finding all-sufficiency in Him, is the real source of all declension: spiritual affections must be cultivated, for they grow not. so as to render their fruits to the careless husbandman; and true affections toward God, are indeed a spring of unmixed joy, yet how seldom with most are they in lively exercise. The, surest way of attaining all we need is in pouring forth prayer in God’s ear, under the sweet and firm assurance that Jesus helps our infirmities and directs our petitions ; this is so wonderful a grace that nothing but grievous unbelief prevents our enjoying it—and oh ! how little do I enjoy! how little do I pray with undistracted thoughts and undisturbed feelings! and yet the conviction that the Lord is with us, if truly felt, would drive away every misgiving. I believe we know little of Satan’s power to hinder communion with God.” (Anthony Norris Groves Memoirs 1845)
The Cultivated Flame
There is another flame that we must concern ourselves with that challenges our burning for God. In James 4:3 we read, Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Here we have lust being described as a fire that consumes and the items for which God is being petitioned are meant to be fodder for that flame. Yet God will have none of it. He will not provide praying men that ask amiss with those things as they seek to heap upon their lust until it burns as an inferno for the things of this world. God wants His people burning for Him- consumed with Him- ablaze with an unquenchable love that goes after Him even in an uncultivated, dry, barren, rock infested dearth. And was it not what God called them out to? Did He not call Israel to Himself as a husband would His bride- expecting that she would cling to Him in devotion and look to Him for provision? God remembered. He said, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. But now Israel burned for the gods of the land and for the security and prosperity that this world promises to deliver. When men burn for that which is other than God the light that is in them is darkness. When they no longer like to retain God in their knowledge, God will give them over to the thing they lust after. (Romans 1) At last they that reject God are handed over step by step until they even burn in their lusts one for another in the grossest of unnatural desire. This is what it is to cultivate and feed the wrong flame. This is what happens when men and women are enticed away from their first love for God. God is simply left to, ‘remember’. He remembers the way it used to be. He remembers the times when we burned for Him before the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches robbed Him of the love He so richly deserves. No man or woman can simply ‘not burn’; if there is heat in our bodies we are indeed burning for something or someone. We are commanded not to love this world or the things of this world. We cannot burn for God and this world at the same time.

The Key to the Fire of God

The Key to the Fire of God

Robert Wurtz II

W
hen we truly understand what God has done in Christ we are awed. To think that God could have given up on this sin-sick world and yet had a plan of redemption from the beginning. It was a mystery that had been hid from before the world began. (Romans 16:25) Can we comprehend such things? Do we long to understand them that we might love God rightly so as to fully give ourselves to Him? Paul brings us to this great question in Romans 12:1.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1)
Romans 12:1 is the altar-call if you will of the book of Romans. Both passages remind us of what the old Bible teachers used to say; ‘when you see a therefore (wherefore) you need to stop and see what it is there for.’ The ‘therefore’ in  Romans 12:1 turns our attention to 11 chapters of salvation theology (soteriology). Paul has described the great work of salvation bringing sinners back into relationship with Himself by faith and setting them free from sin. This is line upon line and precept upon precept. He calls us to bring all of what he has said to that point before our minds for consideration. He then says, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.
An Imaginary Line
When I read the book of Romans there is an imaginary line splitting Romans 11:36 and Romans 12:1. I draw this line because I believe Paul draws this line. For eleven chapters he gives us the closest thing we have to a systematic theology. He probes the mysteries of the Gospel and sets before us soteriology. He transitions with a simple phrase, I beseech you therefore. It is a term that means ‘consequently.’ Therefore (Gk. oun) is an inferential participle that gathers up all the great argument of chapters 1-11 and places it before us. We have to reckon with it. What say you? It staggers the mind to consider the manifold wisdom of God. Now Paul turns to exhortation (parakalō), “I beseech you.”
I Beseech You
Our Greek word for beseech is Παρακαλῶ (parakalō) and it means to call alongside. Para is ‘side’ and kalo is ‘call’. It carries the idea of urging someone earnestly to do something. It could be translated ‘to beg.’ To give a sense of the strength of the word we have some examples of its use throughout the New Testament. Urgent appeals (parakalō) to Christ for healing are made in Matthew 8:5; 14:36; Mark 1:40; 5:23; 8:22. Paul “pleads with” (parakalō) God for the removal of his “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12:8. Demons “beg” (parakalō) Christ to send them into a herd of swine in Matthew 8:31ff. In Acts 2:40 and 2 Corinthians 5:20, people are “urged” (parakalō) to be reconciled to God. 

Therefore by the Mercies of God
Paul has effectively came alongside us to beg, urge, beseech us by the mercies of God. That is to say, all that Paul described from chapter 1-11 was a clinic on God’s great mercy. Consider where we would be without grace. We would have no hope and would of all men be most miserable. Eternity without propitiation would be to face the wrath of God without mixture never-endingly. Consider the smoke of a sinners torment ascending up before God forever and ever. That’s what we deserved. This is not something we should accept and then wipe our mouths as if we have done no evil. The sheer magnitude of our crimes, heightened by the light that we have sinned in, aggravated by a life of resisting the Holy Spirit, would paralyze one with fear if they had any sense at all. Yet God has chosen to cast our sins behind His back- never to be remembered against us again. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…
The Language of Priesthood
Words and concepts in the Bible have powerful histories. When a word is used in the New Testament we often can benefit by going back and understanding how that word was used in the Old Testament, beginning with its first use. To understand Romans 12:1 we need to recognize that Paul is using the language of priesthood when he speaks of offering our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God. Solomon was the great king that built God a house (temple) where the priestly service could be performed in Judaea. Israel had sinned and lost the Ark of the Covenant in battle. It had been retrieved and brought back into the area by David the king. This event so excited David, that he danced before the Lord with all of his might. He wanted to build a house for the Lord, but God told him he could not because he was a man of blood. The project came to Solomon, David’s son by Bathsheeba. He built it on the mount of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite- where the angel had stayed his hand in slaying thousands after David numbered Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1-18) This is instructive. God could have wiped Israel off the face of the earth and been justified in doing it; but God showed kindness and grace to Israel. David remembered the mercy of God as He could have slew everyone down to the last man, but stopped at Araunah’s threshing floor. David responded by buying the property with his own money. Araunah tried to give it for free to David. King David said, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.(1 Chrononicles 21:1ff) This event will be etched into Israel’s consciousness as a people so that when they think of this mount they will remember what took place. Here are two initial pictures; one of the mercy of God and the other a right response of a grateful heart; a burnt offering that ‘costs’ the full price. It can also be viewed as a picture of God’s separation (threshing) of wheat from chaff. When we consider this event we have to ask ourselves, what will I do with God’s mercy? How will I respond to grace? We have David as a pattern. All of these questions are here. This is the place where Solomon built the Temple. We will need to keep that in mind as we think of Romans 12:1. 
A Picture of a ‘Right’ Response to God
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13)
You will notice that their first response to God was to give thanks for His mercy in returning to the people with His authority and presence. They didn’t deserve God. They deserved abandonment. In another place it is stated that they spoke as one as the Ark of the Covenant came in. They sang and shouted with lifted up voices in such a way that God saw fit to fill the house with His glory. This was the initial step. The people utterly recognized God’s mercy and desire for reconciliation and they responded to Him in tremendous excitement and thanksgiving. The LORD, then being well pleased, FILLED the house with His glory. So great was the glory of God that the priests were not able to stand to minister. God believed the people as they praised and offered thanksgiving and He responded by filling the house with His glory.
Holy and Acceptable
…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,
Here we have ‘holy, acceptable…’ This, again, is the language of priesthood. Understand that we cannot offer our bodies as an offering for sin. God the Father in offering His Son Jesus Christ has already paid that price. Our holy offering is an act of worship and service. You will know that we are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is holy and we must be holy. We have here in a figure our bodies being both the temple and the sacrifice. The High Priest would examine the sacrifice for blemishes, etc. Moreover, the Old Testament is replete with examples of how not to treat the holy temple of God and the artifacts within it. We should ask, were these things written for Israel’s sake alone or where they not all together a figurative lesson for us, that would have the habitation of God by the Spirit? All those things were merely a figure of the truth. What can we learn about Belshazzar’s treatment of the holy vessels? How did God react to the way he defiled the artifacts of the Temple? The whole story is exemplary. It reveals God’s estimation of abusing our bodies in sordid sin. We are called to be holy.  

Reasonable Sacrifice
Solomon built and dedicated the Temple to God. It had one primary purpose in Israel; to be a place where the people could encounter God and offer up sacrifices to Him (temple cultus). Here the Old Covenant was serviced to keep that agreement in play when it had been broken. When Solomon originally dedicated it there were over 120,000 burnt sacrifices inspected for purity and acceptability and then offered. Solomon understood that until the altar was full of a holy and acceptable sacrifice the Fire of God would not fall and the dedication would be incomplete. After all, Moses already told of how empty it would be to exist as God’s people without God being present. To some it may have seemed very reckless to bring a river of blood upon such a beautiful place; but to Solomon it was only reasonable to make such an offering to God in light of the mercy He had shown the people. When the altar was full and Solomon prayed- the Fire of God fell. This dedication was a ‘picture’ of New Testament life. Jesus came to send Fire on the earth and He would do so by baptizing His people with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. Men and women’s bodies would become temples of the Holy Spirit. We will need to revisit this crucial facet of the Christian life in our next chapter.
A Living Burnt Offering
Romans 12:1 is the beginning of all evangelistic efforts. Paul having explained the reality of what God has done in bringing salvation and reconciliation to man, says, “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God…” Thinking of all that God has done; ‘therefore’ present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your logical (the consequence of his well reasoned arguments) worship. This presenting of ourselves to our Great High Priest for inspection and acceptance that He might baptize us in the Fire of the Spirit is our reasonable worship. It’s the only response that makes sense in light of all that God has done. It is what God wants first and foremost. Without this process little else matters. It all begins here with a recognition of what God has done in Christ, and our responding reasonably to what we realize. Our lives are to be a perpetual living burnt offering for Him. It is the only thing that makes sense. 
The Fire of God
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. (Matthew 3:11)
It is unfortunate that many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the Fire of God. In fact, this is no new situation; for Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) The context reveals that this Fire was going to cause great division in the earth; between those that want the Fire and those that do not (Luke 12:50-52). This is of the greatest importance. To speak of Christianity without speaking of Fire is like speaking of swimming without water. Nevertheless, the Fire of God continues to be a most unpopular subject. Speak on grace and a multitude will amen. Speak on hell and peradventure some in the crowd will amen. Speak on the fire of God and the voices fall almost silent. Why? Because when the Fire comes, it will burn up everything in a person that is not of God and I dare say many wish to retain yet a measure of themselves even making excuses for their lack of godliness. Many are caught up in sin and compromise, but refuse to come to God for help. As the old timers have said, the answer to our spiritual problems is almost always the Fire of God. A person on fire for God is not having trouble loving their neighbor or going to the sin dens. God’s holy love burns all of that out until we are consumed with Him. The question we have to ask in these things is the question of Jesus, “Wilt thou be made whole?” If so, you will need the Fire of God. 

Burning for God
We are told in Hebrews 12:29 that God is a consuming Fire. He created creatures that are burning fires such as the Seraphim. We as human beings are consuming fires. This is why we burn at 98.6 degrees. Where does this energy come from? It originates with the burning fire of the Sun. Plants turn this light, nutrients and water into carbohydrates. We eat the carbohydrates. There is a furnace characteristic in man where the carbohydrates are burned in us as a source of energy. The energy you are using to read this text originated with the Sun. But there is also a spiritual side of man that serves as the driving force behind all that he/she does. Adam Clarke comments on Matthew 3:11; “This was the province of the Spirit of God, and of it alone; therefore he is represented here under the similitude of fire, because he was to illuminate and invigorate (to give strength or energy) to the soul, penetrate every part, and assimilate the whole to the image of the God of glory.” 

Priesthood
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:5, 6)
The believers at Ephesus were baptized in the Holy Spirit and with Fire. This event made them into the Temple of the Living God as an assembly and as individuals (1 Corinthians 3:16). On that day the believers were made priests unto God. This is a staggering truth. It was God’s design from the beginning. He had been working to this end all along. This is the jest of the message of Stephen in Acts 7:1ff. God don’t desire to dwell in temples made with hands; He desires to live in man. It is impossible to understand the Bible unless you realize this great truth. God wants to live in you. He wants to be who He is; a consuming Fire insideof you and me. 
The burning bush and the burning man
When God got ready to reveal Himself to Moses He revealed Himself as an unconsuming fire; And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. (Exodus 3:2) He then revealed Himself as a consuming fire as in the case of Nadab, Abihu, Korah, Dathan and Abiram. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. (Deut 4:24.) God is a God of Fire. The picture of Fire as a symbol of the flesh-consuming presence of God is replete through the Old Testament. 
Fire on the altar
All of the services that were to be performed in the Wilderness Tabernacle and later the Temple were to be done with the FIRE of God. It was impossible to light the lampstand, burn incense, or offer burnt offerings unto the Lord without the Fire that God kindled and was continually kept. Without the Fire of God the Wilderness Tabernacle was an empty tent. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out. (Leviticus 6:13)Fire was to be kept constantly burning upon the altar without going out, not in order that the heavenly fire, which proceeded from Jehovah when Aaron and his sons first entered upon the service of the altar after their consecration, and consumed the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, might never be extinguished (see at Lev. 9:24); but that the burnt-offering might never go out, because this was the divinely appointed symbol and visible sign of the uninterrupted worship of Jehovah, which the covenant nation could never suspend either day or night, without being unfaithful to its calling.” (Keil & D.)

Continually Burning
Indeed the priests were not allowed to let the heavenly Fire go out; this was common sense. But this is not specifically in view here. They could do nothing without the Fire of God. If that fire went out they could not strike a match, rub sticks together, or any other thing. God’s Fire was His sacred Fire. Leviticus 6:13 deals with the continual burnt offering of flesh unto God like unto Romans 12:1, 2. We are to be continually on Fire for God burning as a sweet smelling savor, as a consequence of our placing ourselves wholly, holy, and continually on the altar as a living sacrifice. “God will not dwell with people that will not burn upon the altar. He wants to live will the altar is.” (G.W. North) What use to God is a man or a woman that will not burn for Him? 
The God that answers by Fire
When Eli and his sons were derelict in the service of God they lost the Ark to the enemy. That Ark represented the throne or authority of God. The Fire obviously went out. David desired to build God a House, but to do so would require the Fire of God to fall from heaven to provide the priesthood with that essential element. They could not use a striker or a lighter. Nadab and Abihu learned the hard way that you don’t presumptuously offer God anything; especially false or common fire. Their death was God’s estimate of the behavior. It is shocking to me how today some move in such a cavalier attitude (dismissive attitude) towards something so serious. Without the Fire of God all that we do stinks and is useless to God.
You are dead without Fire
When our breath goes out, our body immediately starts to go cold. If the Fire of God goes out we become lukewarm and worth but to be vomited out of the mouth of Christ. Why? No burning. No Fire. If there is no Fire there is sin in our lives. God don’t answer your sacrifice with Fire. Why? because it is not holy and acceptable to Him. Solomon understood the altar. He brought so much flesh they needed an alternate location to house it all. It was an extreme sacrifice. Solomon knew the altar had to be FULL. It had to be holy and acceptable. When he prayed the Fire of God came down and reinstated the priesthood providing them with the means of doing their service again, FIRE.
No Fire
Obviously by the time of Jesus this Fire had gone out and the Ark was gone again. The priests must have tossed the blood on the floor behind the veil in Herod’s Temple and performed the services with common fire. God was not there. God was in Christ. For He said, destroy this Temple (speaking of His own body) and I will raise it again in 3 days. He called the place the Father’s house and His house (Matthew 21:13, John 2:16), but at last He revealed to them that it was ‘their house’ that had been left unto them desolate. (Luke 13:35) Why? No Fire. No Ark. No way to do the service of God and no desire to have Him. When the Fire came in Christ; they didn’t want it or Him. They had no desire to burn for God or to be temples of the Living God. They wanted to keep God under control in the temples made with hands. This is a constant temptation for anyone that has known the Lord; but God desires to live IN man and not in a building. Again, we will take this up in the next chapter.

Keeping the charge
And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also [set they in order] upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. (2 Chronicles 13:11)
It is unfortunate that many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the Fire of God. How can priests unto God do the service of God with no Fire? Jesus told Ephesus, Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5 ESV) What good is a lampstand if there is no fire? What good is a church that is not burning for God? The question becomes, ‘what do you and I burn for?’ What do we love in such a way that we are burning for it? Maybe it is a person? Everyone is burning for something or someone. In the churches of God we must be burning for Christ. Yet substitutes are put in place that spread death and wreak of unconsumed flesh. Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) We are responsible to keep the Fire stoked in our lives as surely as were the Levites. We are to keep presenting ourselves to God holy and acceptable. What is acceptable? Simply put- And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:32) Do you have a desire to obey God? Do you want God to rule and reign in you? Have you filled the altar? Those that have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire- is the Fire still burning? Are you keeping the charge as did Abijah and his priests? This was the basis on which Abijah knew he would win the battle. “If you keep the charge of God, that is to say, if you will burn for God you will be the devil’s master.” (GWN) 

The Curse of Firelessness
The greatest judgment that ever came to Israel was that the Fire of God went out. God withdrew His presence and they were eventually evicted from the land. When the lamp of the Lord goes out there is no way to keep the flesh in subjection- because the only way to walk upright in this fallen world is to keep on burning. The Seraphim burn, so must we. God is a consuming Fire- so are we. Are we content to allow this world to go on lamenting void of men and women of Fire- having never seen a true believer in the book of Acts sense? If the Fire be burning in us- we have confidence towards God. He must come. We must make ready. We must invite Him in an attitude of desire to obey. We have to present ourselves holy and acceptable. It is our reasonable service. If we sing to God with no Fire; it cannot be rightly said to be worship in Spirit. The incense does not rise to God unless there is Fire. Not the fire of hype and instrumentality. Not something worked up, but a Fire sent down from God. We must make ready. He has come to send Fire on the earth. Will we be the one? Will He be able to send us?