Question:Have you ever heard the song "Light the Fire?" I have heard some objections to this song because of the "fire" mentioned and "breathing new life." Doesn't it just depend how you look at it? Denominational people would probably look at it the wrong way. Doesn't Hebrews 12:29 say, "For our God is a consuming fire." I look at the terms "light the fire" as meaning "to purify." Do you find anything scripturally wrong with this song?
Since the writers of songs are not inspired, it is possible for the songs that we sing to contain errors, which we should always be on guard against. Still, we need to recognize that writing songs is difficult because of the restrictions of rhythm and rhyme needed for a good song. Some people decide that if a song can be understood incorrectly, then it should not be song. By such a standard we would have to throw out all our songs because "The entirety of Your word is truth" (Psalm 119:160). No song can reflect the entirety of the Bible, thus no song is "truth." A song can reflect a portion of the truth, but not the whole of truth. If you are looking for a flaw, you will always find one in a song.
What we need to do is see if a song can be understood in a way that accurately reflects the teachings in the Scriptures. So let's see if the author of "Light the Fire in My Heart" said things that match what the Scriptures teach.
"Light the Fire in My Heart"
by Bill Maxwell
published in 1987 by Bloodsmith Music
I stand to praise you,
But I fall on my knees.
My spirit is willing,
But my flesh is so weak.
The song expresses a desire to praise God but being hindered from doing so by the sins within a person's life. This reflects Paul's dilemma,
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Romans 7:18-19).
The first line is borrowed from a discussion of the Old Testament priests who "stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening" (I Chronicles 23:30). Since all Christians are priests today (I Peter 2:9), the idea can be appropriately applied to Christian's praise of God. "Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!" (Romans 15:11).
Bowing on the knees is an appropriate way to pray to God (Daniel 6:10; Ephesians 3:14). But this song is blending this idea with the expression of contriteness over one's unworthiness. "The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all" (Psalm 34:18-19).
The last two lines are borrowed from Jesus' scolding of the disciples in the Garden. They fell asleep while he was praying and Jesus told them, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38). Thus the first verse expresses a desire to serve God but temptation has interfered.
I feel Your arms around me
As the power of Your healing begins.
You breathe new life right through me
Like a mighty rushing wind.
The second verse expresses confidence in God's care and healing. Exactly what type of healing is not specified, but since the chorus speaks of the soul and the heart, it seems to imply spiritual healing.
David stated, "Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth" (Psalm 31:5). The song reminds us when Jesus invited little children to come to him. "And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them" (Mark 10:16). We know that Jesus said that people must be like little children to enter the kingdom (Mark 10:15), so the allusion is appropriate.
Coming to the Lord is an opportunity to be healed. "Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed" (Isaiah 6:10). The healing is not a physical healing, but a spiritual healing from the damage caused by sin in a person's life. "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).
When we accept the Lord's invitation and submit to baptism we are also told that we gain a new life. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).
The phrase "mighty rushing wind" is from Acts 2:2 when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles at the beginning. We know that the Spirit is involved in our salvation because Paul said, "And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:10-11). Again, it would be appropriate to refer to giving life to a spiritually dead body as a healing.
Alternative Verse 2:
There is an alternative second verse. It was song by Hallal Music with this alternative words in 1996. I was unable to verify which version is the original, other than this version seems to be not used as frequently. I found some hints that Bill Maxwell published the song with both versions.
I feel Your arms around me
As the power of Your healing begins.
Your Spirit moves right through me
Like a mighty rushing wind.
This alternate reading has a more charismatic slant. The third line seems to allude to "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (I Peter 1:21). This verse applies to the writers of the Bible and not every follower of God. Thus, it is a claim for modern day prophecy, which is contrary to the teachings of the Bible (I Corinthians 13:8-10).
Light the fire in my soul,
Fan the flame, make me whole.
Lord, You know where I've been.
So light the fire in my heart again.
The first line is an allusion to the disciples' comments when they realized they were talking to Jesus on the road to Emmaus. "And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"" (Luke 24:32). God's word is a fire within the believer. It restores the zeal for godly things.
The key phrase in the chorus is a request to God to "make me whole" because the Lord understands "where I've been." "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
Though Bildad was wrong about his application, he does state, "The light of the wicked indeed goes out, and the flame of his fire does not shine" (Job 18:5). A similar thought is given by Solomon, "The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked will be put out" (Proverbs 13:9). So if we take the concept of fire in a person's soul as a reflection of his righteousness, then sin snuffs the flame, but conversion rekindles the light. "Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday" (Psalm 37:5-6). "But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).
The imagery is appropriate in another way as well. God is referred to as a flame that burns up the wicked (Ezekiel 22:18-22).
"But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness" (Malachi 3:2-3).
"I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God'" (Zechariah 13:9).
""Is not My word like a fire?" says the LORD, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?"" (Isaiah 23:29).
Thus we can desire a flame within us to consume and destroy the wickedness within us.
"Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" (I Corinthians 3:12-15).
Though the view expressed above is very likely different from what the author of the song intended or how denominational people might think of the song; yet, I can find scriptural concepts for all that the song states if the alternative verse 2 is not used. I see no reason why the song cannot be used without the alternative verse 2.