We Need The Fire!
By Wilfred Moutoux
Many railroad towns have preserved huge steam locomotives as monuments to railroads' glorious past. There the engine stands enclosed by a chain-link fence. It is complete in all its parts: drive wheels, boiler, fire-box, etc. There is no mechanical part missing. The brass is polished. The boiler is painted. A complete locomotive is there. But it has not moved in years. You could fill the boiler with water, and the fire-box with fuel, but still it would stand cold and silent. It is an inspiration to see, but practically useless. It lacks the fire!
The contemporary church, like the locomotive has all the machinery. We have fine church plants, with carpeted aisles and polished pews. Our pulpits are filled with capable preachers. Well trained musicians perform at the instruments. To the casual observer everything seems to be in order. Because of our aesthetical decorum we may be attracting the crowds. However, our efforts lack the SHEKINAH, and thus we have little effect on society. Many church programs, like the locomotives are beautiful to behold but powerless to effect real social change.
We are accomplishing so little in a world bursting with an exploding population, most of whom know nothing of saving grace. Even these persons occupying our pews are often little different from the crowd in the street.
Elijah went straight to the problem when he cried, "And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken" (1 Kgs. 18:24). God's fire upon the human heart is the distinguishing feature of Christianity, setting it uniquely apart from all other religions and cults.
Elijah suggests that the only convincing proof of God's presence is fire. "And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word" (1 Kgs. 18:36).
"Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God" (1 Kgs. 18:38-39).
Holy fire will develop our worship. It will melt and mold our will. It will strengthen our determination to serve the Lord.
Solomon had the qualifications to do the job. He was famous, wise and rich. But he needed the fire and prayed to that end.
"Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
"And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever" (2 Chron. 7:1, 3).
Worship without fire is a farce. It is the hypocrisy God hates. Here we have a revelation of what this fire is, "The glory of the Lord." When there is no glory we are like Samson, shorn of power.
The only quality that will make the church effective, and enable her to overcome the spiritual dearth, and moral rot of our day is a deep sense of God's personal presence. Our human efforts and ability must be motivated and empowered by God's awesome presence. We must not rest until God comes to us in His majesty, and glory and with His holiness and purity. When we see God as He is we will fall down in total abandon. Only His glorious presence will lead us to a deep and terrible sense of our sin, guilt and depravity.
Oh, how we need God to come until our altars are no longer quiet sessions of counselling, but a great cry of' “God have mercy on me, a sinner!'' We need God's fire to fall until carnal Christians will suffer the agonies of the crucifixion of the old man and the body of sin "be destroyed" (Rom. 6:6).
The real test of true religion is fire. Samuel Chadwick said, "The sign of Christianity is not the cross, but the tongue of fire." Finney observed, "There can be no revival when Mr. Amen and Mr. Wet Eyes are not in the audience.'' The persons God has used and is still using are those familiar with holy fire.
David Brainerd prayed, "Oh, that I was a flaming fire in the hand of God!'' Wesley's desire was, "That in me a sacred fire might glow." The great heart of General Booth was moved to cry, "Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame, send the fire!"
We need the fire to produce penetrating preaching, prevailing prayer, and sincere sanctified saints. Oh God, send the fire!
– From Voice of the Nazarene.