New by Spiritual Fire and Water
Didymus of Alexandria (313 – 398 AD)
Speaking quite literally, and also
in harmony with the words of water and the Spirit, John the Baptist says
of Christ: He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Since we are only vessels of clay, we must first be cleansed in water and
then hardened by spiritual fire – for God is a consuming fire. We need
the Holy Spirit to perfect and renew us, for spiritual fire can cleanse
us, and spiritual water can recast us as in a furnace and make us into
new men and women.
Fire of the Holy Spirit
Theodore of Heraclia (d. 355 AD)
The souls of the saints, in order to receive the mystery of revelation,
are said to be baptized purely “in fire.” This is because the Spirit first
came down upon the disciples in tongues of fire, by which they were baptized
and their souls made perfect (Acts 2:3). Or because, in the age to come,
all will be baptized with fire, for “everyone will be salted with fire”
(Mark 9:49), so that “the fire may test everyone’s work, of what sort it
is” (1 Corinthians 3:13). Fire is appointed for the material element, which
in itself is neither wicked nor evil but powerful and able to purify from
evil. For the power of fire is deemed to be beneficial and strong, destructive
of evil things and preservative of what is better. This is why fire is
associated with wisdom by the prophets. For this reason also, when God
is called “a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29), this is
to be understood as a term and symbol not for evil but for power. As fire
is the strongest of the elements and conquers everything else, in the same
way God is all-powerful and almighty, able to conquer, to create, to make,
to nourish, to multiply, to save, possessing authority over both body and
soul. Just as fire outperforms all the elements, so too all gods, powers
and rulers are no match for the Almighty.
Fire has a twofold potency. On the one hand, it is suitable for the
formation and ripening of fruits and for the birth and sustenance of animals.
The sun is the primary image of this power. On the other hand, fire is
fit for destroying and consuming, as is the case with earthly fire. When
God therefore is called a “consuming fire,” able to destroy, he is being
called a mighty and irresistible power. To God nothing is impossible. Concerning
such a power the Savior also says, “I came to cast fire upon the earth”
(Luke 12:49). This is a power that purifies the saints, causes material
things to disappear and, we might say, educates. Fire induces fear. Its
light spreads outward.
Upside Down by the Holy Spirit
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household
the apostles did not want to make a name for themselves but for God. They
were no longer discussing among themselves who the greatest was. They were
turned upside down by the Holy Spirit, dazzled by the glory of God. Everyone
understood them because they did not speak about themselves but about “God’s
great deeds.” The apostles experienced the Copernican revolution: They
became “decentralized” from themselves and were “recentralized” on God.
We need to ask the Holy Spirit to perform this Copernican revolution in
us too. Let’s make him our center and proclaim his great deeds. Only then
can we say that the revolution has happened!
should be Pentecostal: It should cause heartstrings to vibrate. In the
place where the towers of Babel were first erected and people wanted to
make a name for themselves, those towers are demolished and every one’s
name is forgotten. Let us, therefore, lift up the name that is above all
names and proclaim Paul’s words, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus
is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you
will be saved” (see Romans 10:9).
Completely New Kind of Life
Cyril of Alexandria (378 – 444 AD)
It can easily be shown from examples both in the Old Testament and the
New that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell. He so transforms
them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life... Does this
not show that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell and alters
the whole pattern of their lives?
With the Spirit within them it is quite natural for people who had been
absorbed by the things of this world to become entirely other-worldly in
outlook, and for cowards to become men and women of great courage. There
can be no doubt that this is what happened to the disciples... The strength
they received from the Spirit enabled them to hold firmly to the love of
Christ, facing the violence of their persecutors unafraid. Very true, then,
was our Savior’s saying that it was to their advantage for him to return
to heaven: his return was the time appointed for the descent of the Holy
Spirit Restores Paradise to Us
Basil the Great (330 – 379 AD)
The Spirit restores paradise to us and the way to heaven and adoption
as children of God; he instills confidence that we may call
God truly Father and grants us the grace of Christ to be children of the
light and to enjoy eternal glory. In a word, he bestows the fullness of
blessings in this world and the next; for we may contemplate
now in the mirror of faith the promised things we shall someday enjoy.
If this is the foretaste, what must the reality be? If these are the first
fruits, what must be the harvest?
[from the treatise
the Holy Spirit]
Witness of the Holy Spirit
John Wesley (1703 – 1791 AD)
The Spirit directly witnesses to our spirit, that we are children of
God. That Jesus Christ has loved us and given his life for us. That our
sins are forgiven and forgotten. Faith becomes personal - I, even I, am
reconciled to God.
The testimony of the Spirit of God must come before the testimony of
our own spirit. This is evident by the fact that: We must be holy of heart,
and holy in life before we can be conscious that we are so; before we can
have the testimony of our spirit, that we are inwardly and outwardly holy.
But we must love God, before we can be holy at all. Love of God is the
root of all holiness. Now we cannot love God untll we know he loves us.
"We love him, because he first loved us." And we cannot know his pardoning
love to us, until his Spirit witnesses it to our spirit. Consequently,
the witness of the Holy Spirit precedes our inward consciousness of it
and the testimony of our spirit concerning it.
John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890 AD)
The Spirit comes to us as Christ came, by a real and personal visitation...
Such is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, whether in Jew or Greek,
bond or free. He himself perchance in his mysterious nature, is the Eternal
Love whereby the Father and the Son have dwelt in each other, as ancient
writers have believed; and what he is in heaven, that he is abundantly
He lives in the Christian's heart, as the never-failing fount of charity,
which is the very sweetness of the living waters. For where he is, "there
is liberty" from the tyranny of sin, from the dread, which the natural
man feels, of an offended, unreconciled Creator. Doubt, gloom, impatience
have been expelled; joy in the Gospel has taken their place, the hope of
heaven and the harmony of a pure heart, the triumph of self-mastery, sober
thoughts, and a contented mind.
Glory of the Holy Spirit
Gregory of Nyssa (335 – 395 AD)
When love has entirely cast out fear,
and fear has been transformed into love, then the unity brought us by our
savior will be fully realized, for all men will be united with one another
through their union with the one supreme Good. They will possess the perfection
ascribed to the dove, according to our interpretation of the text: One
alone is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only child of her mother,
her chosen one. (Song of Songs)
Then, when [Christ's] human nature
had been glorified by the Spirit, the glory of the Spirit was passed on
to all his kin, beginning with his disciples. This is why he said: The
glory you gave to me, I have given to them, so that they may be one as
we are one. With me in them and you in me, I want them to be perfectly
Renewing Work of the Holy Spirit
Steve Clark, author of Charismatic Spirituality
The renewing work of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing
part of the life of the pilgrim people of God. In every age, the Holy Spirit
begins movements of renewal. Sometimes he does so through the ordinary
forms of church life, sometimes through special interventions that may
lead to new forms of Christian living.
We live in a special time of renewal…a time in
which we cannot simply rely on the accomplishments or forms of life of
the past. Rather we must live the unchanging life of Christ and his church
in new ways. These have to be both more effective for our age and more
faithful to what was entrusted to the church in the beginning.
As throughout the ages the Holy Spirit has been
active among the Christian people to bring about renewal, groups of Christians
have come together to respond. Many Christians have come together to perform
some special services or foster spiritual growth with no further bond among
themselves than that necessary for achieving particular goals... When the
Holy Spirit renews his people, he often leads groups of Christians to join
themselves to one another to live more fully the life together of the Christian
people. Such a coming together is not intended as an alternative to the
life of the church. Rather, it is a renewed living out of what the
life of the church should be and so signifies the communion and unity of
the church of Christ.