Fire extinguishers are popular tools. In fact, did you know that the most popular type of fire extinguisher sold by the industry today is the Class A extinguisher, which accounts for 41.8% of total sales; in total volume, more than 18.8 million Class A fire extinguishers are sold globally each year (Safety Now, 2021)? Closely related, did you know that 147,000 fires within commercial structures are handled through the use of a fire extinguisher annually without the fire department being notified (Safety Now, 2021)? It is safe to say that the modern fire extinguisher is readily available to be both handy and helpful in most facilities of American life.
The concept of a fire extinguisher is a simplistic one; inside the extinguisher is either air-compressed water, foam, dry chemicals, or various combinations of fire suppressants designed to be released with the expressed purpose of extinguishing a fire. While the design and technique of use can be more adequately detailed by a fire professional, the purpose of the product is purely to extinguish a fire.
While fire extinguishers are helpful and undeniably handy in our society, not all fires are intended to be extinguished. For instance, a person would not desire their campfire to be extinguished as he or she is about to roast marshmallows. Likewise, if a person works hard to chop wood and then build a relaxing fire in the fireplace preparing for a cozy winter evening, he or she would not welcome the extinguishing efforts of the fire extinguisher. The point is pronounced; not all fires are intended to be extinguished.
Understandably, there is a relatable concept of this imagery within scripture; the apostle Paul exhorts believers to avoid extinguishing the Spirit as he says, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Talking in context about the moving of the Spirit in the community gathering of the believers, Paul advises that Christians must avoid putting out the moving of God. This can be truthfully interpreted as the Greek word for quench in Thessalonians 5:19 is defined as, extinguish. In other words, Paul says do not extinguish the Spirit.
The moving of the Holy Spirit is most assuredly a fire that God does not intend to be extinguished. This is a reoccurring theme for Paul; he prceeds forward in the following verse saying do not despise prophecies (1 Thessalonians 5:20), he says to the Corinthians to not forbid speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39), and he encourages all believers to eagerly desire spiritual gifts especially prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1). Paul straightforwardly says do not extinguish the Spirit; rather, welcome and allow the Spirit to move.
Yet, there remains much phobia in the church world concerning the gifts of the Spirit, the moving of God in display and power, dynamic worship, as well as God performing miracles in faith and prayer. There is much, as it has been coined by others, charisphobia, in the church world. Many believers grab the Spirit extinguishers and quickly extinguish any resemblance of a fire. However, this is opposite of what God tells us through the apostle Paul.
It is unfortunately true that many extinguish the Spirit; many believers quickly run to grab the Spirit extinguisher based upon fear, ignorance, church tradition, a lack of love, or even a lack of invitation; it is something that is not taught in the traditional denominations, so many who have traditional church in their history or family are fearful of what they do not understand.
Others grab the Spirit extinguisher over a misunderstanding of scripture; many incorrectly assume that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased on the earth. Some cling to a misappropriation of scripture claiming that Paul teaches that the gifts would cease or that the gifts cause chaos (1 Corinthians 13:10; 1 Corinthians 14:40).
However, the contextual point from Paul in Corinthians is not anathematizing or avoiding the gifts in Corinth; Paul is teaching that they must be manifested out of love, sincerity, control, order, honor, and with the desire to minister to other people. Further, 1 Corinthians 13:10 teaches that the gifts will cease when the church is collectively in heaven with Christ, not on the Earth.
Yes, it is true that the gifts are to be controlled in a positive manner by the human agent; however, they are not to be extinguished. There are, in fact, guidelines taught by Paul in which the gifts should be limited. Yet, in a simultaneous fashion Paul encourages the desire and usage of the gifts. On this poignant point Author Ben Witherington states, “Paul is correcting abuses of various gifts, but to correct abuse of a gift is not to rule out its proper use” (Witherington, 1995).
Order, structure, love, and ministry-centric mentalities are the instructions in 1 Corinthians on how to manifest the gifts of the Spirit. Gifts of the Spirit are manifested, in order to bless the body of Christ, and to bring hope to a world in need! The gifts were being abused in Corinth, and Paul pushed back against those abuses. Tongues were out of order, and everyone had a prophecy. People were, apparently, over running each other with his or her moment in the church charismatic spotlight. To this Paul firmly replies, stop it. Yet, he never says to extinguish the Spirit.
Remaining in the contextual facts of 1 Corinthians and not deviating into the realm of opinion or doctrine, believers today who practice the gifts of the Spirit are to follow the clear ambitions of Paul when he instructs to control the gifts in such a fashion where people can receive good from them. Gifts of the Spirit should never be used to hurt people or cause harm in the church. True. However, do not extinguish the Spirit.
Contrary to traditional church teaching, the gifts are available to all believers who believe and desire when a study of 1 Corinthians is performed in an unbiased format. The grace of the Holy Spirit operates his gifts through human vessels of high or low social stratus, in order to heal, deliver, set free, and in order to uplift others! Stop extinguishing the Spirit, and allow God to heal people, give direction, speak to the church, give prophecies, operate in the discerning of spirits, and set people free!
Tracy Hartman states concerning the gifts and the moving of the Spirit, “I love how God chose to gift us as believers. God knew that we would need a variety of gifts to accomplish God’s mission” (Hartman, 2017). This comment dives straightway to the heart of the matter; the gifts taught by Paul are to expand God’s mission by ministering to people! The Spirit is all about ministry in the grace of Christ. Believers must let the Spirit work! Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you as a vessel of grace! Paul would say to the church today, put away the Spirit extinguishers as the fire of the Spirit was never intended by God to be put out.
How do we avoid the Spirit extinguishers and allow him to move?
- Ask and desire to be used as a vessel. Invite. Humility. (1 Cor 14:1; 1 Cor 12:31).
- Refuse to despise prophesy (1 Thess 5:20).
- Read the Bible in proper context and put aside traditional views (2 Tim 2:15).
- Reject tradition. Tradition extinguishes the moving of the Spirit (Mark 7:13).
- Keep order and use the gifts of the Spirit for edification (1 Cor 14:40; 1 Cor 14:12).
- Use discernment and ensure that it is the Holy Spirit in operation (1 Thess 5:21-22).
- Operate in love toward others. A lack of love with extinguish the Spirit (1 Cor 13:1).
Hartman, T. (2017). “A sermon for Pentecost: Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 12,” Review &
Safety Now ILT. (2021). Fire extinguisher – Stats and facts. https://ilt.safetynow.com/fire-
Witherington, B. (1995). Conflict and community in Corinth: A socio-rhetorical commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. W. B. Erdmans Publishing Co.,