Tag Archives: John

Baptism For Life, part 6

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.

Deeper Baptism

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:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Baptism For Life, part 5

What if God had shown us right up front what we would have to suffer and sacrifice for His name’s sake? All the trials we would have to go through throughout our lives? Would it have scared us away, or would it have been encouraging if it were God Himself Who told you personally and added His assurance that He would be right there by your side every moment, hands on through every bit of it?

When Paul (aka Saul) was called, a disciple named Ananias was given the task of performing his physical baptism. When he protested this commission, “the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake’” (Acts 9:15-16).

 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. (Acts 9:17-18)

Paul’s Baptism

Paul was baptized here in verse 18, presumably by Ananias in water. As we have been talking about for the past four blog posts, this is where his baptism for life began. Look what God’s Spirit began to do with Paul after he had eaten and spent some time with the disciples at Damascus.

 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 9:20-22)

Here, we see his baptism with the Holy Spirit had begun with great power. In the very next verse, though, we can see that his baptism with fire began also, and was ongoing for the rest of his life.

Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. (Acts 9:23-29)

For Paul, these persecutors could have been among his best friends, and even family in the hierarchy of Judaism. He was most likely deserted by former friends and family, and totally lost his standing in the Jewish society. Now,  keeping in mind what we discussed last week regarding Luke 14:26-33, let’s look at Paul’s attitude about this persecution.

If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 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, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:4-11)

If these things were happening to me, I might have just a little bit of resentment, but Paul had “counted the cost.” The word “count” is from hēgeomai (G2233), and means to judge, deem or consider. Again in Acts, we can see Paul’s attitude of joyful acceptance of his “baptism of fire”.

 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:22-24)

Life In His Hands

It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. (2 Cor. 12:1-6)

from OurDailyBread.blogspot.com

If we read between the lines, this passage shows the balance achieved in Paul’s life, at the hands of Master Baptist. Notice the personal involvement of Christ here.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

Remember your baptism? For me, it went this way: I was instructed to cross my arms over my chest and squeeze my nostrils with one hand as the minister gripped the top arm in front and put his other hand on my back. Then, he just pushed me over backwards, and down into the water, briefly immersing me, and then with the hand on my back, brought me up out of the water.

I hadn’t ever really thought about it in these terms, but in effect, when you submit to that ordinance, you are placing your life (however briefly) into the hands of the man who is doing the baptizing. I don’t imagine any minister that I’ve known over the years would have had the strength to actually drown me, but my daughter, for instance, would probably not be able to overpower a “psychopathic” baptist who had her in a vulnerable position like that. The point is – symbolically, at least — you are putting your life into the hands of the baptist.

Now if you carry that into the spiritual realm of the Baptist who comes after John’s baptism, Who is “mightier than” John, you are literally putting your life in the hands of this Baptist. This happens in every aspect of your life, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Not in water, but for a baptism with the Holy Spirit and the fiery trials of life that lead to an even greater infusion of the Spirit.

 

Baptism For Life series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 6

Baptism For Life, part 4

To briefly recap the last three posts on Baptism For Life (read previous post) we began in Matt. 3:11 with a clear distinction being made between two types of baptism – one physical, and the other spiritual. We established the fact that where a baptism is taking place, there is also a baptist performing it. John said that he “baptized with water unto repentance,” and he did, but he also said, “there is one who comes after me who is mightier than I” with a higher (spiritual) form of baptism – “with the Holy Spirit, and with fire.”

baptismforlife.wordpress.com

The two members of the Godhead set forth an example for us, using the baptism of Jesus Christ to show us exactly what was taking place in the spiritual realm after we had fulfilled our obligations in the physical realm. We saw that after the physical baptist, John, had immersed Jesus Christ in water and brought Him back up his involvement in this process was over, and he became a spectator to the work of a greater Baptist. Christ’s spiritual Baptist took over at this point. The Holy Spirit descended from heaven in the form of a dove, then a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.” And that ends chapter 3, as well as Christ’s baptism … right?

An Ongoing Baptism

It’s all good up to this point … we all want the power of the Holy Spirit, and we all want to be God’s sons, and we all want God to be well-pleased with us. But let’s not forget that the chapter breaks were added by man, not God, and that John said the greater Baptist would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. So it should be natural for us to assume that there would be more to follow, but our human minds want to believe that it’s all going to be easy and good. We get the power of God, and God is “well-pleased” with us. But if we’re honest with ourselves, there has to be more to it than that. So Christ begins His trial by fire, or His baptism of fire, in Chapter 4 with fasting to prepare for a direct battle with Satan.

In Luke 12:50 Christ said, “I have a baptism to BE baptized with” … and He was greatly stressed, seized, mentally and emotionally tormented by this ongoing baptism. And this was quite a while after His Physical baptism by John in Luke 3:21. Looking at the context of Christ’s statement about His own “baptism with fire,” it’s pretty evident that the “fire” kindled here was the fire of persecution … a fiery trial whose purpose was to refine the Body of Christ, purge away the dross, and burn the chaff.

 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)

Many of us have experienced that with our own families and friends. It can be a mild form of persecution like being ignored … but it can also escalate, until you’re ostracized, disenfranchised, or actively persecuted even unto death. We all want to be liked, and accepted instead of being made to feel “different.” For some personality types, that can be the kiss of death.

Counting The Cost

Let’s go back to Matthew 3. Immediately after John says, “He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire” in verse 11, he adds, “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).

If you really think about this verse, it speaks of baptism as more of a long-term process than just a one-time immersion in water. This Baptist (Jesus Christ) is going to be actively “winnowing,” “purging” or separating, and “gathering” His wheat during this “baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.” So there is a work that is being done on those being “baptized” that utilizes both the Holy Spirit, and “fire” to complete the harvest of His wheat.

Let’s take a look at the famous “counting the cost” verses in Luke 14. It almost sounds like Christ is trying to discourage people from becoming disciples, but He’s just being up front, honest, and open with them about the life of a Christian.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26-33)

The bottom line is that if you want to be Christ’s disciple, it’s going to cost you. It could very well cost you everything you have. In effect, He was telling them that their lives were going to be a fiery trial with benefits, or to apply it to this article “a baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Baptism For Life series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 5

Part 6

Baptism For Life, part 3

This is the third post in the Baptism For Life series. Read part one and part two here.

When Jesus Christ was baptized, He submitted Himself to the very same physical ordinance as we must. But let’s take a closer look at what really happened here. Christ allowed John to immerse Him under water only “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:13-15) He didn’t need a baptism “with water unto repentance” because He didn’t have anything to repent of, but He did allow John to perform a physical water baptism for Him as an example to lead the way for us.

In Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is called the Author of our faith. The Greek word is archegos (G747), the beginner, originator, and leader of faith. He went before us to set the example, to show us how to begin, and what to do to attain life. This word is also used in Acts 3:15 to describe Him as “the Prince of life,” and in Hebrews 2:10 when He is called, “the Captain of their salvation.”

Hebrews 12:2 also says He is the “Finisher,” from the Greek teleiotes (G5051), which means, a completer, perfecter, one who brings something through to the goal so as to win and receive the prize. He is the one who begins our faith – and He is with us all the way to its completion. He is God’s “one sent,” the shepherd and guardian of our souls. Not a human being that is just baptizing another convert for a human church corporation. When this shepherd, and baptist  says, “I am with you always…” He means it. All the way to the end.

Another fundamental concept that we always need to keep in mind is that everything Christ did was an example for us to follow (1 Pet. 2:21), and that both Christ and the Father were doing some role-playing throughout the human life of Christ. He was the Lamb of God, and looked to His Father as the Shepherd and Guardian of His soul – just as we are Christ’s sheep, and should look to Him as our Shepherd and Guardian.

Christ’s Water Baptism

Going back to Matthew 3, notice that immersing Jesus in water is the end of John’s involvement in this process. John, the (physical) baptizer becomes a mere spectator at this point. The Father took it from there and completed the baptismal ceremony.

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:13-17)

lambWe have long taught, and rightly so I believe, that Christ had the Holy Spirit from birth (John 3:34-35). If that is the case, why did the Father baptize Christ with the Holy Spirit in a very visible, audible way in Matthew 3? One reason was to show John via an undeniable miracle Who was going to “baptize with the holy spirit” in the New Testament church.

 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”

And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34)

Heavens Opened

Let’s return to Matthew 3:16, where “the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.” When we enter into this covenant relationship with Christ, wondrous things open up to us spiritually as well. We are given access to God and Jesus Christ, and have the opportunity to become “one flesh” mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, by a betrothal in baptism (Heb. 12:22-29).

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

In Ephesians 1:6, it says that we are accepted in the Beloved, becoming part of Christ’s body when we experience the baptism of the spirit. For us, this is performed by the One who John said would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Several times while on the earth, Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to His followers (Luke 24:49, John 7:39, John 14:26).

In Peter’s sermon recorded in Acts 2, he says that Jesus, who is now “exalted to the right hand of God,” “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” so that He could pour it out on His people, baptizing them with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). It is by this baptism of the spirit that we become a part of His body (Eph 1:22-23).

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:12-13)

Right after the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove, the Father announced Christ as “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ” (Matt. 3:17). This prefigures the time when God will reveal more sons and daughters (Rom. 8:19-21).

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom. 8:14-17).

Christ’s Life-long Baptism

Once the Father gave Christ the Holy Spirit from heaven and presented Him to the world as “My beloved Son, ” was that the end of Christ’s baptism? If we were right in assuming that baptism is a one-time process, the answer would be yes. However, that is not what the scriptures say.

In Luke 12:49-50, Christ says, “ “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” He speaks here of His baptism as something yet to be fully accomplished. It was still in process, and unfinished at this time, even though Luke records His baptism in water back in chapter 3. The word “distressed” is from the Greek word sunecho (G4912). It means, according to Zodhiates, “to be in constraint, distressed, perplexed … to be seized, affected, afflicted.” He was tormented mentally and emotionally by the thought of going through what remained of His baptism.

Based on this statement, it seems to me that Christ’s baptism of fire began just after His baptism with the Spirit in Matthew 4:1, when “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.) This also appears to be a part of His spiritual baptism, and not only with fire, but with the help of the Holy Spirit in the midst of fire. It lasted throughout His life, included His death on the cross (Luke 22:42-44), and was completed at the moment he uttered his final words in John 19:30, “It is finished!” At that point, His baptism was fully accomplished (John 19:28).

Let’s not forget one 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, then His baptist was right there the entire time doing His job as well. John 16:32 is just one of many scriptures where Christ said “I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” God was fully involved in Christ’s life as an example to show us how Christ will be involved in our lives and ongoing baptisms.

In Matthew 20:23, Jesus tells James and John, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.” Since we are all to follow in His footsteps, it makes sense that we will all be baptized in a similar way.

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. (Rom. 6:3-4)

There will be more posts about this life-long process of baptism, but I hope in this three-part series we’ve laid a foundation for this concept. Baptism is a life-long experience – one that is based on the daily, interactive, hands-on presence of the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. And there is a very delicate balance that this skilled baptist achieves through the use of the baptism of fire to bring about a greater baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism For Life series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Baptism For Life, part 2

This second post continues the discussion of baptism as a life long process (read part one here). As we consider the type of baptism that Christ performs in our lives, let’s contrast it with the baptism of John. In Acts, when Paul first arrives in Ephesus, the phrase “John’s baptism” is used.

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”

So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:1-6)

Christ also spoke of “the baptism of john” in Matt. 21:25, Mark 11:30, and Luke 20:4, asking the chief priests, scribes, and elders whether it was from heaven or of men.

Giving of the Holy Spirit

When we think of the Holy Spirit in relation to baptism, our thinking default is, “you have to be baptized before you can receive the Holy Spirit.” In most cases, that is correct, but not in every case. In Acts 10, we have one of the exceptions I spoke of in part 1. God does things at times His own way, for His own reasons.

 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10:45-48)

Peter had to defend this action to some of “the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea” after they “heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God” (Acts 11:1). He said in Acts 11:16-17:

 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

The Lord Looks On The Heart

It might be worthwhile to look at 1 Samuel 16, and read a very familiar story just to remind us that God does God’s will. He does not bow to man’s will. Here we see Samuel – a man that we could safely assume was one of God’s greatest servants on earth at the time, but Samuel had a little problem in the way he looked upon men. When the first of Jesse’s sons came before him, Samuel “looked at Eliab and said, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!’” (16:6). If Samuel were a minister in the church today, the impressive, good looking Eliab would have been on the fast-track to baptism just based on his impressive physical appearance .

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7).

This idea is related to another assumption we make about baptism. We often think that Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit immediately after water baptism, but that is not always the case either. Though human beings can make a mistake and baptize someone in water whose heart is not right before God, Jesus Christ makes no such mistakes with His baptism.

In Acts 8, “a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery” is baptized along with several other people (8:9, 13). A little later, it becomes apparent that none of them received the Holy Spirit at baptism – and the greater baptist chose not to give the gift to Simon at all (8:16-19). It was merciful to withold the gift of the Holy Spirit from Simon at that time. But the rest, the apostles were moved to lay hands upon “and they received the Holy Spirit.”

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works. baptismforlife.wordpress.comThis has been a great comfort to me over the past 18 years, because so many of our brethren who fell away back in ’95 may have never been given the gift in the first place. The greater baptist may have seen something in the heart, and said … “not yet.” If the great God chooses to withhold the indwelling presence of “the gift” from any of us until He is sure the heart is right, whether it be a week, a month, a year, ten years, or 20, or 30 – we would do well to keep Psalm 145:9 in mind: “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.”

And I’ll just make a personal admission here. I really do believe God’s Holy Spirit was with me from before the day of my baptism – but I’m not sure that I was actually “converted” and “indwelled” by “the gift” until after I had been through a few church splits, and some betrayals from ministers and brethren – close friends – that should have made any sane man just walk away from “church.” I just came to a point where the only thing that could have kept me “in church” was the two members of the Godhead – and that’s when the word of God began to really make sense, and a deeper level of understanding began to come. The only Ones who can see into the heart and really know why we are here are those two.

Baptism is a life-long process that, for most of us, begins when we are baptized in water and then Jesus Christ gives us the Holy Spirit. Because that is the pattern we are supposed to follow, that is what Jesus did when He was living on the earth as a human being. In part 3, we will follow the Hebrews 3:1 instruction to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,” by examining His baptism.

Baptism For Life series:

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6