In this post, let’s take an even closer look at this harsh reality of a “baptism of fire.” Even if we have counted the cost, and know our lives are in the hands of the Master Baptist, we can find ourselves balking when faced with the fire, and perhaps feel like cowards. We can feel guilty, like we’re letting God down if we aren’t acting like God’s little “storm-troopers” eager for the heat of battle. If we let it go far enough, we can feel like we have failed God – failed to live up to the terms of our calling.
As we’ve already talked about, Christ is our example for life. He is our example in every way, “in all points tempted as we are” and “yet without sin”(Heb. 4:15). He was fully flesh – it was not “easier” for Him than it is for us!
who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:7-9)
This was no cakewalk – He was crying real tears. The word “vehement” conveys real emotion. It means strong, valiant, sincere to the point of literally sweating blood (Luke 22:42-44). Matthew’s account shows that Christ was pleaded with the Father three times to be excused from the coming trial (Matt. 26:39).
Back in Luke 12:50, Christ spoke of His baptism as something that He was “distressed” by. The Greek word is sunecho (G4912), and means “to be in a mental strait, in a constraint, distressed, perplexed … to be seized, affected, afflicted.” So He was tormented mentally and emotionally by the thought of going through what remained of “His baptism.”
Now something else that is important to realize in Hebrews 5:9 is that “He became” something that He had not been before He went through His baptism of suffering. We can see the product that the Father (Christ’s “baptist”) was producing in His own Son using the same process that is intended for us. “He became the author of eternal salvation.” Zodhiates says the word “author” “does not fully convey the meaning” of aitios ( G159), so he translates this phrase, “the cause, or source, of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” The word“obey,” from hupakouo (G5219), refers to an obedience which springs from a sense of duty and dependence upon a parent.
Let’s not forget one more aspect of this that is really, really important. If Christ was in this process of being baptized throughout His life until it was fully accomplished, His Baptist was fully involved as well. In John 16:32, He said “the Father is with Me.” You see, the One doing the baptizing was right there with Him, hands on and fully involved, and all of it as an example to us.
We’ve talked before about Matt 20:22-23, where He spoke of this baptism as an ongoing thing for the disciples as well. “Are you able?” He asked. In other words, “Have you counted the cost?” They answered that they were able, and He said, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.”
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:3-6)
There is a deeper meaning to baptism than just a ritualistic church tradition that we have to go through – a hoop we must jump through in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and to be God’s children.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Col. 2:6-12)
Here is another of the “deep concepts” that all of us really need to become comfortable with. That throughout our lives, God the Father, and Jesus Christ are working on us sight unseen. No one sees the hands that are circumcising our hearts, just as no one sees the hands of the Master Baptist, working His life-long work in us.
This word “working” in verse 12 is from the Geek energia (G1753), and it says so much about the true work of God that is done within the human heart. This word means active energy, being at work, and refers to the active exhibition of God’s power in mighty works and miracles. Also, notice how each of these things … the inner circumcision done without hands, and the ongoing baptism – are related back to how the Father worked in Christ.
Fellowship In Trials
There’s a verse in Daniel 12 that I’ve always thought of only in an end-time context, but I think that in reality, it is occurring all during the age.
And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. (Dan 12:9-10)
The purpose of trials is to purify us, and the scriptures use many analogies to show us this, including God as the Master Potter (Is. 64:8) purification of gold and silver (Mal. 3:3), and refining in the fire (Rev. 3:18).
In his general epistle, James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). I don’t know about you all, but when it comes to trials of life, especially the mundane, long-term, day-after-day trials, I’m a bit of a whiner. But the instruction is to be joyful, and the word, chara (G5479), means “cheerfulness, or calm delight.”
Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “as our afflictions are in God’s hands, they are intended for the improvement of our graces.” This baptism of fire or fiery trials is there to help us, not hurt us. So I’m trying something new. When I get to the end of my tether, I try to stop and say, “Thank you Father for my baptism.” That’s the attitude with which Paul approached his suffering.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, (Phil. 3:8-10)
Paul was thankful for “the fellowship” – partnership, participation, communion, or benefit that is conferred upon us – of Christ’s sufferings. He wanted to be made “conformable,” or be assimilated into, “His death.” The last thought in our minds when we are suffering is that we are receiving a blessing or benefit from it. Human flesh hates suffering … I do … and even Christ in the flesh asked the Father to remove the cup from Him! That should tell us how hard a baptism of fire can be. But if it was necessary for Christ to learn from it, how much more is it necessary for us?
“If I do not wash you”
In Romans 8:17, it says we are “joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” The Greek word sumpascho (G4841) literally means to suffer together with.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. (1 Peter 4:12-14)
We are told to rejoice that we can be partakers, koinōneō (G2841), “to associate, communicate, participate in, share with” Christ’s sufferings as a part of his body. Notice also, at the end of verse 14, the association with of the Spirit of glory, and therefore the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This comparison is drawn even more clearly in Titus 3:5-6, where Paul talks about “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” which was “poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Regarding Christ washing His disciples feet in John 13, we’ve known and taught for years that washing someone else’s feet at the Passover was symbolic of our humility and willingness to serve others. When we do this, we are washing the feet of Christ “in” that person (see Matt. 25:40). But what is the act of allowing Christ in another person to wash your feet symbolic of? Submitting to this act was so important that Christ told Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8).
This phrase may have a deeper meaning than we have realized. The footwashing ceremony is an integral part of the renewal of our baptismal covenant. When you allow someone to wash your feet, it may be symbolic of yielding to an ongoing process evidenced in submitting to His baptism – a lifelong spiritual baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire much like the baptism that He Himself experienced during his own physical life. He was completely yielded to the Father, putting Himself completely in the Father’s hands, and trusting the Father to see Him through to the end.
I’d like to end with Hebrews 12, and consider “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:3-11)
In verse 10, it says we are chasened “for our profit,” so that “we may be partakers of His holiness.” The word partakers is from metalambano (G3335), meaning to share in something with others. Our suffering, and the correction that God gives us, is what really links and bonds us together with each other and with Christ. Baptism with fire leads to more of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
If I could interject a little personal analogy in relation to verse 11, I am a life-long gardener. I just love growing healthful food at home, but gardening is hard work, and there are times every summer when I’m out there sweating in the hot sun, being harassed by biting flys and mosquitoes, pulling weeds, battling against insects, groundhogs, chipmunks, raccoons, wilts, mildews, and various other plant diseases, and it seems like, MAN, this is just TOO HARD!!! Why don’t I just quit, and buy produce at the local farmer’s market? But the results are what we are in this for, because “afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness “ – the delectable taste of homegrown sweetcorn, fresh tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and potatoes enough to last ALL winter. We are trained to produce good fruit by our baptism of fire.
Brethren, our lives rest in the hands of the Master Baptist, Jesus, The Christ. Hopefully, in this series of six blog posts, we’ve taken a deeper look at the subject of life-long baptism, and seen with greater depth and clarity our need for the daily, ongoing baptism with the Holy Spirit, and with Fire. As we go through even the most difficult things in life, I pray we can sincerely thank God for our Baptist, and His Baptism which leads to eternal life.
Baptism For Life series: