Snuffing Out the Living Flame

Snuffing Out the Living Flame


Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel   (Matthew 5:15).
Purpose of the Illustration

  1. To indicate the necessity of living in a spiritual atmosphere to nourish the living flame of the Holy Spirit in one's life.

  2. To show that Christians die when their souls are subjected to the cold atmosphere of worldly associations and activities and organizations, as well as of spiritually dead churches.

  3. To urge Christians to nurse the flame with the living oxygen of God's Word and prayer.


  1. A half-inch length of a standard size candle.

  2. A dish of water.

  3. An empty glass.

Chemicals: No chemicals are required.

Method of Procedure

  1. Float the candle in the dish of water, taking care that the wick is kept dry.

  2. Light the candle.

  3. Carefully place the empty glass over the candle. Take pains that the flame is not put out by splashing water on it.

Chemical Reaction

  1. The water inside the glass gradually rises.

  2. The candle finally smudges and then goes out.

  3. It has used up all the available oxygen in the glass, and it is oxygen with which the flame is fed.


  1. It is necessary to practice this experiment at home until you can easily cover the lighted candle with the glass and not snuff out the light.

Men in submarines fear the consuming of their oxygen more than anything else. They will husband it carefully, lest they come to the moment when all the oxygen will be gone and they will die. Martin Niemoeller, the famous German preacher whom Hitler sent to a concentration camp because of his stand against the dictator, was formerly a captain on a submarine. In his book, From Submarine to Pulpit, he tells of spending twenty-four hours under Mediterranean waters, when the oxygen was almost exhausted.

"And when we came up the next night to surface, what a wonderful feeling it was to breathe once more the night air," he says. "When we were in the sub's belly, the   oxygen was almost gone, and the men became groggy."

In this experiment I want to show you what happens when air or oxygen is used up by a living flame. While you talk, prepare the experiment, leading up to the exhausted flame part. Time the talk and experiment after careful practice.

This candle represents a Christian's light, for Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world." He also cautioned us not to put our lights under a bushel, for this puts the light out, and keeps the flame from shining upon the path of others who may be seeking the way to Christ. We are to put it on a candlestick, place our testimony where others may hear. We are to live openly as Christians so that our light will be a beacon to guide others to Christ.

This candle burns in the open, as a Christian shines when he lives a brilliant Christian life, testifies to his faith in Christ and breathes the free air of spirituality. But when I put this glass over the little flame, it does not take long for it to be exhausted. See how it begins to smudge? Put the glass over the flame and leave it until the flame begins to die. Then take it off. When the air is used up, or the oxygen is burned from the glass container, that which feeds the flame dies and it goes out.

If a Christian covers his light by not testifying to Christ's marvelous changing, converting, uplifting and transforming power in his life, the oxygen of his spiritual nature is soon used up, and the light of Christ goes out. It takes a constant renewal of the spiritual oxygen to keep the flame burning brightly.

A young college student on his return from the logging camp where he had worked during his vacation, said to his pastor, "No, they never even found out that I was a Christian." The pastor had asked if he had been persecuted during the summer for his Christian life. But the lad, by hiding his light under a bushel, and refusing to let it shine into others' lives, had literally put it out.

When I lift the glass from the flame, it revives, because it has oxygen from the fresh air.

So it is with the Christian life. There must be constant refueling of the flame. You must live under the blessing and glory of Christ's presence and smile each day. You must seek the spiritual oxygen found in the reading of the Bible. Each day you must come into the vitalizing contact of the spiritual ozone of prayer, which makes the flames of your soul shine blessedly and powerfully into others' hearts and lives.

How may you rekindle the flame?

You should attend church regularly, go to Sunday school, take a part in the Christian activities of the church, read wholesome and Christian literature, testify to others that Jesus is your Saviour. You may keep the flame burning, or add oxygen of the Spirit to it, by associating with other Christians who believe as you do.

You must let God breathe upon you daily, if the light of your soul would shine brightly.

You must not live in an evil atmosphere where others are doing things contrary to the Bible and the will of God. The young person who associates habitually with sinners, goes to the same places as they do, soon loses his power in prayer. Then his testimony is lost, his faith in Christ is weakened and he soon backslides. The oxygen of. his soul-flame is burned up, and there is no refueling of the heavenly light.

If you would live as God would have you live and have your light shine as He would desire, you must turn yourself wholly over to Him, go all the way with Him, seek His will. These things add spiritual oxygen to the soul.

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