Actually, you do have a choice! Now and later or simply take it all later.
I think I'll take the first one.
When you think of "fire" what comes to mind?
I asked my kids this question this morning and got several answers: purifies --like with gold, warmth, kills brush and weeds (sin) and light.
There are three types of fire mentioned in the Bible:
The Baptism with Holy Ghost and Fire (Matthew 3:11)
Fire of Judgment (1Corinthians 3:13,15)
Eternal Doom (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
John told us about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire: "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:" (Mt. 3:11) The Baptism, in Greek means a continuous dipping or cleansing, with the Holy Ghost and Fire is an ongoing process that is revealing, refining and purifying fire. It will reveal, illuminate, and heat. Fire gives energy, and as we all know, it can spread like wildfire.
- Fire is revealing because, "Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire!" (1 Corinthians 3:13). Last year I prayed King David's prayer "Search me, O God, and see if there is any wickedness in me." Ouch! Not only did God answer me, but he showed me that I was proud and a glutton to boot. It was painful and not revealed all at once. It was through prayer and fasting that He revealed it. I acknowledged what He was telling me and repented. I know I am not perfect of myself, but by abiding in Christ. Now, I find that I am more aware and watchful of these two things.
- Fire purifies and refines. Nothing purifies like water; however, water cannot cleanse like fire. If we had a piece of gold and it was filthy inside and out, water would only clean the outside. To properly clean it, we would need to throw it in the fire. With humans, if the filth is on the outside it can be washed away with the Word of God; but if it is on the inside, we need the fire of the Holy Spirit penetrating to the very depths of our soul -burning and cleansing. (Malachi 3)
- Fire consumes the filth and dross; all vanity, all self-righteousness, all personal desire or drive, all undisciplined temper, all worldliness (Ezekiel 24:11-13).
- Fire illuminates and breaks us as it burns. When we live in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we may see things that we haven't seen before in Scripture or in our lives. Jeremiah 23:29 says, “ “Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” ” The truth that was dark to us before becomes bright as day. His truth reveals God's heart to us and shows us things that we did not know. Our former pastor would tell us, "Read the Bible, it will mess you up." It will change you and make you more like Christ. If you were to be honest with yourself, would you rather sit down with God's Word (Bible), watch T.V., read a novel, or be doing anything other than read the Bible? So, why do we even read the Bible? Maybe you read because you know you need to, but you don't get anything out of it. What you need is for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and ears to what God is saying to you. So, that it becomes a "new book" and glory would shine from each page. His mysteries and truth would be revealed to you.
- Fire gives heat and can be intense. When God has your heart, He also has your mouth and you won't be able to help but proclaim all that He tells you. For if you were to try to hold it back, it would be like an intense fire shut up in your bones. "Then (Jeremiah) said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not." (Jeremiah 20:9) God knew that if we would love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength that we would be willing to do, go, serve His love to the world around us. We couldn't help but tell others; glorify His name; praise Him for all that He has done and is yet to do.
- Fire gives energy. Jesus tried to withdrawal on several different occasions with his disciples. (Matthew 12:15; Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 3:7-12; Luke 9:1-6,10-16) He tried to get away but, the crowds pressed in demanding His attention. Have you ever been so tired and thought, "I can't go on. I just want to get away from all the demands." Jesus could have sent the people away and banked the fires until another time. But instead, He drew on God's strength, He had compassion and ministered through the power of the Holy Spirit. We too can do this when we are abiding in the Fire -walking in step with the Spirit of God. He can give us a fresh breath of air and energy to keep going. It is like He throws more wood on the dying embers and blows to get the fire going again. He will supply all of your needs, we only need to abide and ask.
- Fire spreads and nothing can compare to how it spreads. Just like a fire, our tongues can cause devastation ("Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." -James 3:5) or we can use them to glorify and magnify the LORD and draw others to Him. (I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Psalm 34:1-2). When you are walking in the Spirit, you cannot help but boast in the LORD. Just like Peter and Silas, your praise and prayers during difficult times can not only move God, but the hearts of those around you. (Acts 16:16-40). Not only was the jailer saved, but his whole house believed on the LORD Jesus!!
The fire of judgment is talking about the Day of Judgment in 1Corinthians 3:13-15, "Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" This is a warning that our works will be tested, not our salvation, but works. Ask yourself honestly, are you looking to receive praise and glory here on earth or are you seeking to bring praise and glory to Father God only?
The fire of eternal doom, "...the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed." (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). And (Jesus) said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:6-8)
It is our choice to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, obey the gospel, follow Him, His examples and His teaching. Otherwise, we can continue to do things our own way and face His judgment. Some of those who believed and followed may lose their reward(s) and others will spend eternity separated from Him, living in Hell without Him.
Either way we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. He is a consuming fire and He wants us to be consumed with Him as well.