Updated: Jan 7, 2020
I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you (2 Timothy 1:6).
The First Church, as recorded in Acts, started with a spark as Jesus who is the “baptizer with the Holy Spirit” laid His hands on 120 and then 3000 more on the day of Pentecost. He has been doing so ever since…! This is the Fire of the “Kaleo!” This is the Fire of the Called!!! And we, brothers and sisters, are Kaleo, the Called!
The First Church fanned out and flamed up into a movement that changed the world—amid great hostility from those who resented the counter-cultural call of this wild, consuming Fire. Part of Timothy’s spiritual gifting was the courage and authority to confront confusion and religiosity as Satan and the world tried to pollute, dilute, and substitute false piety for the true faith that was entrusted once for all time to God’s holy people.
Did the First Church know as the flames like tongues of fire came upon them what amazing glory—and resistance—they were about to encounter? No, I don’t believe they did. But I would suggest that they realized at least on some levels the usual progression: a spark becomes a flame which becomes a fire and then a consuming one…
One of my favorite John Wesley stories begins as Wesley left the American colony of Georgia—as a complete failure and under threat of arrest. While on the ship back to England, a storm hit. Wesley, in despair, thought his end had come. In reality, it was his start. A group of German revivalists called the Moravians were on board, singing praise choruses as the shipped rocked. Naturally, Wesley, the Oxford educated, Church of England Clergy looked down on such “nonsense,” but the storm forced him to see faith in them where he had none. A few months later and after much prayer, God supernaturally assured Wesley of his salvation and within a few months baptized John, his brother Charles, and their friend George Whitfield with the flames of the Holy Spirit.
Did the Wesley’s and Whitfield know what kind of fire would arise from that spark? No, they did not. But that Fire saved England from a revolution and birthed revival into the very fabric of the American colonies/United States.
Did the Early Church know what a wildfire was about to explode through them? No. Did Timothy know what kind of Fire was burning within him as he rose in apostolic authority? No. Did Wesley know what kind of Fire was about to burst through him, his brother, and their friend—the kind of fire that changed the world? No. Did Luther know? No. Did Francis of Assis know? No. Did Billy Graham know? No.
Do we have any idea what kind of wildfire God is wanting to fan into flame through us, First Church and Shiloh? No. But we can at least realize the usual progression. God lights a spark. A spark becomes a flame. A people submitted to God are willing to fan the flames until they begin to spread and consume. The flames create intense heat as lives are changed and multitudes saved, and the flames create intense resistance from those intent on extinguishing them.
God has called us to be different. God has called us to a unique place. Some will look down on us. It is easy to just want what is common and culturally acceptable and popular. But that is not the Fire laid upon us, and that is not the Fire that will change the world. Like the Moravians, we need to sing! Like Timothy, we need to fan into flame! Like Wesley we need to burn until the world is ablaze! Like the very first Church, we need to fan out, flame up, and watch the world burn—with the Fires of our all-consuming God!!!