God will perfect us | Religion – Milton Daily Standard

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“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 with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3: 11-12)

The words in Matthew 3: 11-12 were spoken by John the Baptist. And the person who John says is mightier than him is Jesus. But the words John spoke can be easily misinterpreted. Too often people think that the wheat is the people who God will save and the chaff is the people who God will not save. But when wheat grows in nature it is a kernel imprisoned by chaff. The kernel is God’s Spirit inside of us, because we were created in the image of God. And God’s Holy Spirit reveals God’s goodness inside us. But we became enslaved by our disobedience when God gave us free will. In my last column I pointed out that we can never become perfect in this earthly life. So we will continue to be trapped by our sinful chaff as long as we live on this earth.

However, to enter Heaven where everything is perfect and everyone loves perfectly like God does, we need to be perfect and love as perfectly as God does. That means we need to change from being imperfect to being perfect. Since this will not happen in our earthly life, that perfect change must take place after we die. And the only one who can perfect us is God, who is perfect and all powerful. So it is God who then frees us from our sinfulness by separating out Godlike kernel from the sinful parts of our nature, which enslave us and cause such trouble on this earth for us and others. When John talks about Jesus baptizing us with fire, we should understand that fire is understood as something that purifies, not destroys. So when our imperfect parts, symbolized by the chaff, are burned up in an unquenchable fire, the result is our purification, not our destruction, because the kernel of the wheat is preserved and is gathered into the granary, which is Heaven.

It is important also to understand that we may be able to give our lives more fully to living and loving like God on this earth. In that case our life can be more heavenly now. But we cannot make ourselves perfect in this earthly life. So we cannot save ourselves, or earn our way into Heaven in this life or the next. Only God can save us. And he eventually will save us all. So Paul writes in Romans 11: 32 “For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” God had to give us free will so we could love like God. But in this life we are incapable of loving perfectly like God, until he frees us from our imperfections in the next life Then God can and will gather us into the granary which is God’s heavenly home and then our heavenly home too. So Romans 5: 18 says, ”Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness lead to acquittal and life for all men.” The first man was Adam and his sin, and the act of righteousness was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

The Rev. Walter Williams has been serving the Lord since he graduated from seminary in 1966. He currently resides in McAlisterville. To comment on his column, send a letter to Standard Journal, 21 N. Arch St., Milton, Pa. 17847 or e-mail [email protected]

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