John, the baptist, said himself of Jesus (Yeshua):
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. -- Matthew 3:12 (NKJV), Luke 3:16, Revelation 2:5
The Lord, Jesus also said himself that the purpose of the "baptism of fire" is to separate people, even from the same families, according to their faithfulness (Luke 12:42).
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” -- Luke 12:49-53 (ESV)
You have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith
— more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire —
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
-- 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)
Peter refer to this "trails" in the past tense. Something that was already happening to them during the believer's lifetime. The "test by fire" is not a future event that happens when you die.
Paul also adds that this "fire test" is necessary so that some could be saved.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done:
- If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
- If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
-- 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (ESV)
The point that Paul is trying to make is that all people are building a kingdom. Either you
- build for Jesus Christ (the foundation) who is eternal, who's works cannot be destroyed and who will reward his servants or
- you build a structure for yourself, which will burn up when the "fire test" come so that you will suffer a loss.
If you study the gospel written by the apostles it becomes clear that they encourage believers to focus on the eternal life, rather than temporary pleasure during our short lifetimes. King Solomon, the richest king who ever lived in Israel, who had and accomplished everything he ever wanted, wrote this at the end of his life in the Book in the book of Ecclesiastes:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
“What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?”
-- Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 (NIV)
Then King Solomon, closes his final book with the words:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. -- Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NIV)
If you die today, want purpose or benefit did your life bring?
- Will all the treasures you had gathered in your life, everything you had build be destroyed or stolen? (Matthew 6:19-21) What benefit does that have in your eternal life? How will you explain the wasted opportunities you had? Will you be saved?
- Will you meet the souls you had led to repentance (1 Thessalonians 4:17, Matthew 8:11) and be welcomed by your Lord Jesus and inherit your adopting Father's kingdom instead (Matthew 25:34)?