Summary: A sermon on Hebrews 12:29, "Our God is a Consuming Fire" (Outline and material adapted from F.B. Meyer at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/meyer/into_holiest.i.xxxiii.html#i.xxxiii-p0.1)
The Northside Church of Christ in Newport News, Virginia, lost their church building to a fire caused by a lightning strike on July 1999. Their response to the fire was seen on their church sign a few days later: “We’re still on fire.” May that be true of us!
Hebrews 12:29 is one of the shortest verses in the Bible. It is a powerful sentence “Our God is a consuming fire.” It is like other brief sentences that describe God: God is light, God is love, God is life. To many this is a verse to be avoided because it reminds them of their future. To others this verse is a source of comfort and encouragement.
The background of this verse comes from a section about how the New Kingdom is better than the Old Kingdom. Mention two ways it is better:
1. The emotions and experiences are better in the New Kingdom
Vs. 18- 21 talks about the beginning of the Old Kingdom. Emotions and experiences are terrifying.
Vs. 22-24 talks about the the New Kingdom. Emotions and experiences are joyful.
Because of Jesus, we have a fuller picture of God, and we don't have to relate to him the way the Israelites did. God, reigning as king in this city atop the heavenly mountain, is approachable. We are not down at the foot of the mountain, trembling in fear. We're at the top of the mountain, in the presence of the king, intimate with him, dwelling in the a city bustling with the life of people with joy in their spirits for being cleansed by the better blood, joined by worshiping angels. Why would we want to go back to the Old Kingdom?
2. Our kingdom cannot be shaken.
The kingdom of Israel was constantly shaken and destroyed.
Daniel 2:44: the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
Thesis: Let’s talk about why “Our God is a consuming fire” causes some calamity and others comfort.
There is terror in this picture. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10: He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified.
Hebrews 10:26-27: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Mark 9:48: where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
Have we ever suffered a burn to our flesh? How painful was it? Burn pain can be one of the most intense and prolonged types of pain. It will be even worse in hell. Rich man in Luke 16:24 says, “I am in agony in this fire.”
Given the context of Hebrews 12:29 we are reminded of the event that Moses experienced in Exodus 3:1-3: Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
This can be a picture of hell but in another angle it is not. Talking about the bush that is hell. However, that same fire that burned but did not consume the bush can be living in us. When we respond to the gospel with the plan of salvation (give plan), God comes and lives in us.
The Holy Spirit is associated with fire because the Godhead is one. When the Holy Spirit arrived in Acts 2, it says in vs. 3: They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
1 Thessalonians 5:19: Do not put out the Spirit’s fire
How is “Our God is a consuming fire” a comfort? When we open our hearts to Jesus Christ, he enters into us, and becomes within us a consuming fire. 3 things here:
1. Fire is light.
John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Back in the days before electricity, a tightfisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things, I always went in the dark.” “Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look at what you got!”