Fire from Heaven

The burning desire of individuals to follow the voice of the Lord can be realized to-day just as in Jesus' time. The Way-shower proved that all could have the same privileges which he had in walking and talking with God. Jesus said, "I am come to send fire on the earth." To experience this fire one needs the unselfing of self, loving obedience to the divine will, and an understanding that God is All. Again in Jeremiah we read: "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" In human experiences cunning plans arise to blockade the progress of the spiritual. Human learning seems to require stages of experience, but such footsteps should not be scorned. Sometimes there seems to be a crisis, when a standstill prevails; but right in the very darkest hour of earthly trial the fire from heaven gives the solution. God's word as fire can consume the dross and leave the pure gold of character to enjoy the sweet blessings of Spirit. In strict obedience to God the sacrifice of self brings purity and innocence, while the eternal fire reveals divine ideas. Thus spiritual progress continues under the fire of the Spirit. Writing to the Hebrews Paul declared, "For our God is consuming fire;" and Mrs. Eddy commenting on this wrote in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 151): "God is a consuming fire. He separates the dross from the gold, purifies the human character, through the furnace of affliction."

A disobedient and stubborn people experience the consuming fire of affliction. A fiery day arrives which vengeance has had a hand in producing and which shows the destructive consequences of rebellion against God. The old temple of Jerusalem has to fall and give place to the permanence and stability of New Jerusalem, the real holy city, where dwells the spiritual building resting on the foundation of the works of God. The affliction of the body has often brought a revelation of the heavenly doctrine of Christian Science when the fire of heaven has consumed fears and evil thinking and revealed the light of spiritual resurrection, a glorified view of the real ascension. When a Christian turns from trust in God to trust in the carnal mind, it may take fire from heaven to arrest his backsliding; while he who rebukes the error ascends above material conditions.

When error seems to bring false unity, suddenly fire comes from heaven, a great light shines and dispels the darkness. Backsliding cannot interfere with progress; pacification which condones error and lulls the senses cannot heal, therefore cannot take the place of real peace; the depths cannot lord it over the heights, nor human will over the divine. The fire and flash of divine revelation turn the curse of Balaam into a blessing for those who love God with all their hearts. Works and not words are the demand of the hour. Theory, arguments, conflicting opinions, may endeavor to wrest the scepter from the hands of the righteous, but God's angels stand guarding, protecting, and directing the elect of God while the false doctrine is being burned under the fire from heaven. In I Corinthians we are given wise counsel: "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." At this hour, when the works of men are being tested, why not put forth a new endeavor to have the mellowness of spirit, a humble mind for God to guide, a readiness to respond to spiritual progress?

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March 1, 1919

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