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Rekindling the Flame

A timeless message sparks renewal

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Stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands, for God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1: 6, 7 KJV).

The figure that lies back of the text is a strong one. The Greek word translated “stir up” is a compound of three words, which together suggest resurrection from the dead and the rekindling of an expiring flame. The figure of fire is frequently employed as the strongest natural emblem of the Holy Ghost. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is a baptism of fire, and the text is an exhortation to rekindle the flame which has begun to burn low upon the altar of the heart.

Backsliding was the national sin of ancient Israel, and the later prophets are full of warnings and appeals concerning it. The epistle to the Hebrews rises to a tone of significance and awful warning against the danger of spiritual declension. And in the seven epistles of the ascended Lord to the churches of Asia we find the clearest intimation of a state of backsliding in very many of them, leading finally to the rejection of the church itself in the case of Laodicea for lukewarmness and spiritual indifference.

Are you happy in your Christian life? Is your cup running over? Or is the spirit of discontent, discouragement, moroseness and criticism eating away as a canker the springs of your life? An unfailing sign is your interest in the salvation of souls. Are you praying for them? Are you watching for opportunities? Are you rejoicing when you see sinners returning to the Lord? Or have you outgrown the work of winning souls? Probably the most important of all tests of spiritual temperature is to be found in the sensitiveness of your conscience to duty and sin. Does it hurt you as much as it used to when you grieved the Holy Spirit or fall under temptation? Is your heart growing callous to the voice of conscience and the authority of God? If so, beware, the drift has already begun; the fire is burning low; your back is on the celestial city, and another step may bring you beyond the danger line.

“Rekindle the gift of God that is in thee.” We must put fresh fuel on the fire. God’s Word will nourish our reviving life. His precious promises will comfort us; His holy commandments will cleanse us and reprove us; and the Bible will become a new book and seem as if it was written especially for us. The fifty-first Psalm will have a sweet and sacred meaning it never had before. The last chapter of Hosea will cover our returning pathway with mile posts of encouragement and promise, and the story of the Prodigal Son will become the parable of our own wandering and return.

If you want to kindle a fading fire, you must bring the live coals close together. Scattered, they will die out, but in contact they will glow afresh into a living flame. This is the reason why the Lord has so urgently impressed upon His followers, especially in connection with this very subject of backsliding, “Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.” The fellowship of other Christians, the prayer meeting, the house of God, the place of united and waiting prayer—these are the means of grace which the Holy Spirit has appointed for our growth in grace. Let us realize and receive Him in all his fullness and let the revival which we are seeking be one that shall lift the whole plane of our life, and make us count for the utmost possibilities of Christian experience and fruitful service in the kingdom of our Lord.

—A. B. Simpson, from his sermon “Revival,” September 23, 1906

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