In Matthew 3:11 we read, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
John said that the repentant were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit later. However, at the end of the verse John the Baptist mentions another baptism – the baptism “with fire.” What about the baptism with fire? Should a Christian seek it?
To baptize means “to put into,” “to plunge into, “to be totally immersed.” In speaking to the unrepentant religious leaders of his day – the Pharisees and Sadducees – John said, “…Brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” John plainly told these hypocrites that they were going to be “baptized with fire” – immersed in the lake of fire unless they repented. They would be burned up as chaff. “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (verse 12).
This fire is the ultimate fate of all the incorrigible wicked (Malachi 4:1-3; Revelation 21:8). Surely no one will seek the baptism with fire once he or she understands what it really is.
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