The Appearing of Christ 25 – Encountering the Fire of the Refiner

But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness (Mal. 3:2-3).

We are living in an hour when God is moving powerfully in the hearts of His called and chosen sons. A purging is taking place in His ‘little flock’. God is purifying His elect in the furnace of His fire. He is cleansing them from every pollution of religious Babylon, from their soulish devotions and from every residue of carnality until they become as He is. It is for this divine work that the Lord comes as a refiner’s fire in each of our lives.

As previously shared throughout this message series, the coming of the Lord is not a physical event that is to take place one eminent day. Rather the coming of the Lord is a spiritual experience that is now taking place within each son of God. For Christ is the One who IS coming, who WAS coming, and who will CONTINUE to come (Rev. 1:8). This is a present and ongoing inworking of His Lordship in each of us that is increasing unto His fullness. To ignore this truth is to miss the divine order of our Father’s working in His kingdom.

Dear reader of these line, of His coming I bear witness within my very own spirit. I write because today He has come within in a greater measure than my yesterday. I am not a man of many words but yet His appearing within has caused me to pick up my pen. And still I am certain that He will continue to reveal Himself in an even greater glory in all those He has apprehended in this hour. So, why have so many turned a deaf ear to us? As John has written, they do not know us because they do not know Him. In all that we write, there has to come a Christ consciousness, a knowing and experiencing of His appearing within for men to bear witness to the things they read. Dear saint, I reiterate that the coming of Christ is an inward experience that He calls you to press into today.

One certain day, the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked when the kingdom of God would come. He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luk. 17:20-21). Much like the Pharisees, many today are preoccupied with the ‘when’ of the Lord’s coming. But Jesus’ answer settled both the ‘time’ (when) and the ‘location’ (where) of the coming kingdom. The kingdom is NOW for it is WITHIN you. It is a present reality having its existence and divine working in a people. It is not located out there in the ether. It does not come from without by external observation. It comes in ever-increasing measure from the inward reality of the Spirit of Christ in His saints.

However, despite these plain words by our Lord, many today believe the exact opposite of what He taught. While Jesus says the kingdom is within, the church system says it is without. While our Lord says it doesn’t come by observation, religion says He will come physically through the sky so that every eye will see Him. Religion has always had a predisposition of putting things outside. This is a veil that today blinds God’s people from laying hold of the glorious truths of the everlasting gospel. But, when this veil is removed, men will begin to see the reality and power of the manifold workings of the kingdom taking place within them.

One such working is that of judgment. Much like the coming of the Lord, many also view the judgment of God as an external event that will take place somewhere out there at the end of time. But, the judgment of God is not to be reduced to a particular future event where we stand before a tribunal to hear our verdict. How many know that the judgment of God is now actively at work in the lives of His apprehended? Dear brother and sister, if the kingdom of God is within you then the judgments of God, which are part and parcel of the kingdom, will also take place within you. The Lord’s judgments, much like His comings, are a progressive dealing of the Spirit of God in the lives of His saints. His judgment is a past, present and future in-working of God’s Spirit. It is an ongoing and ever-intensifying experience in our journey into His fullness. Is this not why Jesus declared: “now is the judgment of this world” (Joh. 12:31)?

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to minister judgment. He said: “for judgment I have come into this world” (Joh. 9:39). Yet, He continues to do so today. Even now, He is ministering judgment, for He is still in the world abiding in each of His saints. Judgment is now being administered in each of us by the indwelling Christ. This judgment is first an inward work. For He has said that if the inside of the cup is clean, then the outside will also be clean.

With every increase of Christ’s mind, nature, glory and power in us comes not only judgment but a purging and a purification of our soul. Jesus stated: “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luk. 12:49). Why was it not kindled? Because the Holy Spirit had not yet come to inhabit His people. John the Baptist testified: “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luk. 3:16). God is a consuming fire and His righteous judgment flows from the consuming fire that He is. “For the LORD will execute judgment by fire” (Isa. 66:16). This is the same fire that will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done (1 Cor. 3:13). As we read in the opening verse in Malachi, this judgment by fire is not vindictive but purifying and purging. The fire will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.

Anyone who desires to be counted among God’s sons shall go through His day of refining. Zechariah speaks of the purpose of fire among His elect: “And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.'” (Zec. 13:9). Dear saint, when the divine Refiner appears in His temple, there is no negotiating with Him. Then will begin the work of His purifying work from within. He will patiently purge every area of your life in the furnace of fire which He is.

Notice that Malachi prophesies that the Lord will “sit as a refiner” (Mal. 3:3). The word ‘sit’ in the original language indicates; “to dwell, to remain, to abide, to have one’s abode, to settle, to marry”. Does this not speak of His dwelling in us and the eternal covenant God has made saying: “My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Eze. 37:27)? He dwells in us sitting as a refiner’s fire. Dear saint, the more we get to know Christ and enter into identification with Him there will by necessity be a divine dealing by fire until we become as He is. For the Lord will make “His ministers a flame of fire” (Heb. 1:7).

The refining purpose of God’s fire is clearly relayed in the scriptures. However, there is yet much misunderstanding among the saints regarding the purpose of fire as it relates to unbelievers. Fire refines, it purifies, it purges. And yes, it destroys. In every case, the fire of God is positive. It accomplishes God’s intended and glorious end. The dealings by fire relayed in scripture are not contrary to God’s character. God is love. God is good. God is merciful. And the consuming fire, which He is, is not contradictory to these attributes of God.

Consider the goldsmith. He uses fire to refine the gold ore in order to remove its impurities and reveal the hidden beauty of the pure gold. But, what is the gold and what is the impurity which the ore signifies? That image of God hidden deep the recesses of every man’s spirit is that precious gold that has been covered over by the impurities of flesh and carnality. These impurities demand the fire of God’s very nature and the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire to remove them so that man can be brought to the place of repentance (turning). God is not a tyrant, He does not purge people. He purges the root of the problem; their carnality. He purges the one man in all of us who deceives and corrupts – the first Adam.

I trust that those who read these lines will understand that the fire I speak of is not a literal fire but a fire in the spirit. Literal fire has no power to effect change in the spiritual realm. The inspired words of Isaiah tell us that the refining work of God by fire are accomplished by the SPIRT OF JUDGMENT and the SPIRIT OF BURNING. These are spiritual realities which proceed from God who is Spirit. “It shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the SPIRT OF JUDGMENT and by the SPIRIT OF BURNING” (Isa. 4:3-4).

If we desire to enter into union and identification with the Father and advance the kingdom of God on the earth, we shall have to partake of the consuming fire of God which will burn away every chaff and corruption in our inward condition. Dear saint, when you are experiencing the judgment and refining of the Lord in your life, rest assured that He is appearing in greater measure to accomplish His glorious purpose. For when He has tried you, you shall come forth as gold.

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