Ministry #5 November 17 Winnowing Fork
Let me set the stage. Hundreds of people are gathered at the shore of the Jordan River. Imagine: you are meandering through the crowd of people, and John the Baptist calls you to repent of your sins and turn to the Messiah. You find yourself believing what he is telling you, and John baptizes you in the river. Excitement comes over you. The feeling is great! You make your way back to the shore and right after you get done drying off, the same guy utters these words:
“I baptize you with water for 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. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” – Matthew 3:11-12
Then you think to yourself: Winnowing fork? Threshing floor? Chaff? Unquenchable fire?!? What in the world is this guy saying? Did I not just get baptized? But now he is telling me someone is going to baptize me with the Holy Spirit and fire??
I asked myself those questions while reading this portion of Scripture. Let us start with what we do know. The Bible is very clear on how to be saved. John 3:16 covers that. After you have truly believed that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again to pay for your sins, the Bible is clear that your next step is to be baptized. It is a step of obedience. This step tells other people you are now associated with the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The word ‘baptism’ means ‘immersion by water.’ Jesus Himself was baptized by going under water, and we are all supposed to imitate Jesus. So, what does John mean when he said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire?”
John uses this powerful analogy to prove a point. He is simply saying that he only has the ability to baptize you with water. But the Messiah (who is Jesus) is coming after him and has the actual power to incorporate your soul with the Holy Spirit. When you believe in Jesus, the belief baptizes you in that fire. You take on the Holy Spirit who helps guide you through life so you can live it more abundantly. Then, and only then, when Jesus separates (with his winnowing fork), those who have believed (wheat) from those who have not (chaff), will you be able to withstand the fire that separates the wheat from the chaff. Wheat stays in Heaven and chaff is burnt up with unquenchable fire.
Water baptism is symbolic of being baptized with the Spirit. It is an outward expression of an inward connection to Jesus. So how about it? When life is over, and you stand before God Almighty, is He going to take his winnowing fork and sift you like chaff? Or is he going to gather you like wheat?