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The Word as Fire By Babatunde Olugboji


The Word as Fire By Babatunde Olugboji 

Jeremiah likens God’s Word to a fire: “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.” (Jeremiah 20:9)

Last week, we discussed the Word as that powerful tool called hammer, and this week, we’ll examine the Word as fire.

Jeremiah has been described as a prophet’s prophet, the master of the prophetic gesture; his life became the signs he prophesied. He directly and sometimes forcefully addressed God’s people concerning their own idolatry, their neglect of those around them who are in need, and the coming judgment of God in response to their cruel rebellion. This chasm between the Word and his observation led him to describe this reality of God’s Word in his heart being like a fire, shut up in his bones: “I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” So how is the Word like fire?


Fire ignites, it sets light to men’s souls. Man’s soul is akin to a bonfire heap before being set on fire; it is a dead, dry and ugly mass. But God in His mercy and grace ignites man’s soul so that it comes alive. The Holy Spirit applies the ‘match’ of God’s Word, which is ”like fire”, for it begins a conflagration in the soul and sets it alive with the light and life of God. Has God’s Word set light to your soul?


The Word is the instrument that the Holy Spirit uses to touch and burn our consciences, so that we become aware of the things that don’t please God and are contrary to His will. (See John 8:1-9) Jesus’ Word burned the consciences of the scribes and Pharisees! Does your conscience burn as you read Ephesians 5:25-29? 


Fire purifies, as illustrated in Isaiah 6:1-7. God’s Word is the instrument the Holy Spirit uses to do the work of purification. (See Psalm 119:9; John 15:3; 2 Cor 7:1)


Fire sends out an illuminating ray. (Psalm 119:105,130) Fire brings forth light. That is why we claim that the Bible is our all-sufficient guide for faith and practice. If we reject its authority the result is darkness, for only God’s Word illuminates the individual Christian and groups of His followers.


If fire is put into a steam engine great energy is generated; and God’s Word in the hands of His Spirit energizes the will of the believer. It gives inward strength so that we desire not just to please Him but have the will and strength to do so. As  the psalmist said in Psalm 119:28. ‘Let your Word come to me like fire, to energize me and fortify my will…’ 


We sit in front of a fire to be warmed, encouraged and cheered up; and God’s Word does just that. Often we are discouraged and downcast, despondent and cold. Then we attend church and hear His Word faithfully preached – or better still, in our personal devotions we faithfully read and take in the portion for the day – with what result? We are warmed, encouraged and cheered up. 

Have a great week.

Kingdom Dynamics, a weekly column  written by Dr. Babatunde Olugboji, the President, Kingdom House, a non-profit organization in New Jersey, USA.

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