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.
“He who is coming after me” was referring to Jesus Christ. So John was saying that he was baptizing with water and Jesus would (in the future) baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
The word baptize comes from a Greek word that means ‘to immerse’. God did not just promise that he will immerse us in His spirit, He also promised to immerse us in His fire to the end that we may become like Him – Heb12:29.
When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
In the above scripture, Jesus imparted his disciples with the Holy Spirit. This established them in the faith and gave them a loving relationship with the Father, but he asked them to wait in Jerusalem until the heavenly baptism of the HolyGhost and fire would come upon them. It is amazing that the disciples has seen and worked lots of wonderful miracles but these great experiences couldn’t stop them from denying Jesus.
Peter had such great encounters and revelations of the Lord, yet, in John 21:3 he went back to fishing for fish rather than fishing for men. He was beginning to lose the faith he once received, until Jesus came after him and restored him – John21:15-19.
But you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the Earth.
It takes immersion in the Holy Spirit and fire to become effective witnesses of God’s kingdom. Fire of itself is consummate, it is passionate, and it is transformative and highly influential. No living thing comes in contact with fire and remains the same. It always carries an influence for change wherever it goes. God wants to make you a burning and shining light to the world. You cannot be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit and still be lukewarm or lackadaisical. Fire is decisive, it wants to turn everything it comes in contact with into itself!
This is as seen in Acts 2:1, on the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were transformed to Apostles! An irreversible exchange happened to them; Boldness for Timidity, Light for Darkness, Joy for despair, freedom for captivity and many more! That’s what the baptism of fire accomplishes in the life of a believer; to become a powerful and effective witness.