Keeping the Fire Burning

It was the 6th of November; a group of lads stood on a spot where the night before they had had a glorious fire; they were measuring the circumference of it, telling each other how high it blazed and talking excitedly about their contribution to it. Its ashes were still smouldering, and after awhile they set to work to scrape them together, evidently hoping to renew the joys of yesterday. They soon gave it up and stood silently, and I thought, sadly, viewing the results of their labour, it was wasted effort. They had no fresh fuel.

Those lads and their fire and its ashes became a parable to me, and as I pondered, it spoke to me with no uncertain voice. I remembered times when I had tried hard to revive old enthusiasms and past devotion to Christ and His service, by dwelling on them — really raking together the smouldering ashes of the past, and I found it to be all in vain, and as I considered it I said to myself again and again, it cannot be done; if the fire is to continue to burn, if the present and future are to be as joyous and vigorous as the past, it will not be by dwelling on the past, but by finding fresh fuel; the fire must have fresh fuel everyday if it is to burn with a steady glow.

Then I remembered that it was written of old in the law of the Lord, "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out," and I pictured to myself the Levites who served that ancient tabernacle, seeking the fuel from afar and watching the altar-fire night and day and feeding it continually, and I asked, How can the spiritual fire — devotion to and fervent love for Christ — be kept ever burning in the soul, and whence the fuel?

The answer to my question came with refreshing speed and power. It was, The Spirit of God has come and it is He who supplies the fuel and delights to keep the fire always burning in the heart. I turned first to what the Lord Himself had said of His coming. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). Those words secure for us in divine and infallible perfectness the Four Gospels, for they were spoken to the apostles, who wrote what they remembered not according to their faulty natural memories, but by the unerring power of the Holy Ghost, that we — yes, you and I — might have the very words and know the very ways of our Lord Jesus as He spoke and acted when He was here on earth. As we hear His words and consider Him, we say to one another, "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us by the way?" and to Him we say with adoration, "Thou hast the words of eternal life." There is inexhaustible fuel for the fire in the Gospels.

But the Lord had more to say of the Spirit than that. He said, "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father. He shall testify of Me" (John 15:26). This testimony of the Holy Spirit is to our Lord's exaltation and glory. We have it in the Acts of the Apostles, an infallible testimony. If His humiliation and grace and gentleness, His sorrows and sufferings and death as recorded for us in the Gospels move us to fervent love to Him, the witness of the Spirit in the Acts fills us with triumph. He is the Conqueror, "God hath made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ." He hath "exalted Him to be a Prince and a Saviour." As we muse on His exaltation and glory, and on His Name that is above every name, and realize that He lives in His glory for us, for "He ever liveth to make intercession for us," the fire burns within us, for here is fuel indeed. When His disciples saw Him carried up into heaven they worshipped Him and were filled with great joy, and were continually praising and blessing God, and so it will be with us as the Spirit testifies to us of His glory in heaven. And how brightly the fire burned in the lives of the apostles, as with power and the Holy Ghost and with much assurance they bore witness to the glory of their Lord.

But further, the Lord said, "When the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall bear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 16:13-15). These words carry us on to the Epistles for there are the heavenly things that the Spirit hears and reveals to us.

1 Corinthians 2 assures us of this, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." And all these things are Christ's things, and ours because they are His, for we are joint-heirs with Him, and He gives, not as the world, but shares all He possesses with His loved co-heirs. What fuel for the fire there is in these Holy Spirit-inspired Epistles! "And He shall show you things to come," carries us into The Revelation, and there is enough of the glory of our Lord unveiled for us there to make our hearts glow; but they will only glow as we have ears to "hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."

The secret lies in keeping rightly in subjection to the Holy Spirit. If we grieve Him the fire will die down to smouldering ashes; and we grieve Him if we are indifferent to Christ. And indifference to Christ sorely grieves His own heart; we learn this from His words to the Laodicean church: "Thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16). May we be preserved from such a condition as that; but if it is to be so, the fire must be fed with fresh fuel daily.

But the Spirit delights to feed the fire in our souls; it is His great work, and it is not in vain, for at the end of the Book we read that the Spirit and the Bride are saying, "Come," to Jesus. The cry arises from hearts that are on fire with love to Him and will not be satisfied until they are with Him.