The chestnut, like other nuts, is encased in two shells, an outer and an inner shell. The outside case is very rough, full of sharp thorns and stickers. In the proper season, when the rains and frost come they soften this outside burr, and when the sun shines on it the burr cracks open and folds out, and the chestnut falls from its rough encasement.
How true this may be said of the sinner!
His outer life is full of wickedness and sin, his mouth is full of harsh, vile words, but there comes a season when God thunders at that man's life and rains conviction upon his soul, and softens his heart, and the sun of righteousness begins to shine upon him. Suddenly a new life appears and the old life is gone; old things have passed away! Behold, all things have become new, and there is love and sweetness in his soul.
When the chestnut first falls from the old rough burr, the kernel is sweet and palatable, but there is in that chestnut a germ of life that was deposited there when it was in its infancy. This germ of life was enclosed in the heart of the nut and developed into a worm. This worm lives in the kernel and in the course of time all the juice and sweetness of the kernel is eaten up by the worm and nothing left but the old chestnut shell. The only way to preserve the chestnut after it falls from its first thorny shell is to put it into a hot oven and destroy the germ by fire; then it will keep sweet and good.
Every child that is born into this world has sin in its heart, and despite being saved from its sins and becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus, it still has that sin germ remaining that keeps gnawing away at its spiritual life. If left unchecked, like the old chestnut, there may be nothing left but an old shell of an experience, telling the same old testimony, praying the same old prayers, the real spirit and life is gone; the worm of inbred sin has consumed it.
Empty Christians have a form of Godliness, but without the power. There is but one way to preserve a young convert and that is to get him to Pentecost and get him baptized with the Holy Spirit and cleansing fire; let Him who sits as a refiner's fire put him in the crucible and destroy the germ. This fiery baptism is the real purifier of the soul. This fire is not only purifying, but exceedingly impulsive. Just as fire propels our mighty steamers against wind and tide, so this mighty baptism of fire will impel its possessor onward to glory, against all the opposition of earth and hell.
Some empty Christians are like sailing ships—they are "driven with the wind and tossed," and if you want to know where to find them you have only to ask which way the wind of opposition has been blowing for the past twenty-four hours. They lack the force of heavenly fire.
The great want in the church of today is fire—fire in the pulpit, fire in the pew, fire in the heart, fire in the head, fire in the tongue, fire in the choir, fire everywhere.
We want less form and more fire, less head and more heart, less "letter" and more life, less property and more power, less rhetoric and more relationship, less profession and more praying, less talking and more work, less doubting and more doing, less promising and more performing, less hollowness and more holiness, less criticizing and more grace. In fact, the one thing most important is the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the Father’s refining fire.
Rev. John T. Hatfield, The Nazarene Messenger, February 12, 1901
Used with permission from Nazarene Archives for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.