There are 3 baptisms mentioned, practiced, and taught in the New Testament. They are: water baptism, baptism into the Body of Christ, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
So what is baptism? The basic meaning is to cause something – or someone – to be dipped or immersed into something else.
This baptism is TOTAL. It involves the entire object or person. A complete and absolute covering. With regards to a person, therefore, it includes ALL. All of the personality, all of the mind, all of the spirit, soul and body. It is BEYOND the outer shell, or skin. Baptism is meant, by definition, to cover and surround the entire object or being.
Baptism is also TRANSITIONAL. The person or object baptized PASSES from its original state or realm of experience into a new state, a new “life.” There is NO RETURN to the prior condition or existence.
Lastly, baptism is TRANSFORMATIONAL. This new state of being or existence results in a NEW CREATION. Nothing of the old way of thinking, acting or being remains.
Now a look at the 3 baptisms.
Water baptism — Almost all Christians worldwide have little problem with this. The mode of baptism may differ in practice among various groups, but largely Christians proclaim this as one of the sacraments of the Church and its validity is not an issue.
Baptism into the Body of Christ. —-This baptism is done by the Holy Spirit. This is clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 12.13. At the moment of salvation, every believer is joined to the worldwide, historical Body of believers.
Then there is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. And it is here that many Christians seem to have a controversy. It is my position that either the Scripture is inspired by Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is true and reliable. Either Scripture is God’s word, or it isn’t. If I am going to base my life on it, then I must choose to base my life on all of it. It is said that Thomas Jefferson once took a Bible and cut out all the verses he did not like or agree with. When finished, there were only 3 or 4 pages left.
I cannot allow man’s interpretation, church traditions, or my experiences (or lack thereof) to judge Scripture. Scripture judges me!
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is clearly taught and practiced in the New Testament. It is simple to understand. And, just as I am born again by faith in Jesus Christ, I can receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit by faith.
And now for a stroll through the Scriptures.
Matthew 3.11 John the Baptist says, “As for me, I baptize you in water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, … HE Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This verse, in slightly different forms, is found in all four gospels. Remember, baptism is the immersion of something or someone into something, and Jesus is clearly identified as the One who immerses a person into the Holy Spirit.
John 7.37-39 “…If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’ This He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were yet to receive, for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Jesus quotes here from Isaiah 44.3. At this point Jesus has not been crucified, and thus not yet glorified.
After His resurrection and glorification, in Luke 24.49, Jesus refers to His statement in John when He says “Behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
The disciples obey, and we find them gathered in Jerusalem, and in Acts 1.4-5 we read that Jesus commands them to “wait for what the Father had promised, “Which you have heard of from Me, for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
And again in Acts 1.8, Jesus reinforces this when He says “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses ..”
Before the Day of Pentecost, the apostles had walked with Jesus for about 3 years. They had seen, experienced, learned, and done many great things. They had left their previous lives behind for the Master. They were a devoted group, a loyal group, a special group. Yet as Jesus hung on the cross, they seem to have vanished. Where was Peter? He denied that he even knew Jesus.
But after the outpouring of the Spirit – the Baptism of the Spirit that Jesus had promised and predicted on numerous occasions – suddenly Peter has a command of Scripture and an authority like no other man. He tells the crowd in Acts 2 that what they are seeing and hearing is an exact fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel chapter 2, made hundreds of years earlier. To see Peter in the book of Acts is to see what being filled with the Spirit is really like- the pattern for us all.
Acts 8.12 “when they (the Samaritans) believed Phillip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.”
Notice that these folks were believers. They had been baptized in water. Then days later Peter and John arrive and in verses 15-18 we see that Peter and John “prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money ..”
What did Simon see that convinced him that Holy Spirit was indeed filling these people? An immediate change of lifestyle? Not likely. Simon saw something. I believe that when Peter and John laid their hands on the Samaritans, the same thing happened to them that had happened to Peter and John. They (the Samaritans) were filled with the Spirit and began to speak in tongues just like Peter and John. They were filled with an irresistible urge to praise the living God. That is what Simon saw.
In Acts 9.17-18, Ananias locates Saul – Saul whom Jesus knocked off his horse on the road to Damascus. I ask you, at what point was Saul converted? At the moment Jesus appeared to him? I have to believe it was. But here Ananias arrives to lay his hands on Saul, and as soon as he does, Saul’s sight is restored and he too is filled with the Holy Spirit. Soon afterward, Saul is water baptized. SAME RESULT – DIFFERENT ORDER.
Acts 10 reveals Peter’s visit to Cornelius, the Roman soldier. While Peter is speaking, “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to his message, and all the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speak with tongues and exalting God.”
Then there is the most amazing verse – really a knockout “punch”. Peter says this (Acts 10.47) SURELY NO ONE CAN REFUSE THE WATER FOR THESE TO BE BAPTIZED WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT JUST AS WE DID …”
Just as we did. And Peter reinforces this in Acts 11.15 in his report to the other apostles. He says “the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
And finally, Acts 19.1-6. “..while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus and found some disciples and said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what baptism then were you baptized?” And they replied, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance. telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” And when they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.”
No one is born again outside of the presence, influence, and activity of the Holy Spirit. No man comes to the Father except through the blood of Jesus Christ and the working of the Spirit. Holy Spirit is there at the instant of salvation. I might not be aware of that fact, but it is nevertheless true. Here (in Acts 19) Paul clarifies this, baptizes them in water, and then Jesus baptizes them in the Holy Spirit.
I believe the Scripture is clear. In every case presented in the book of Acts, we see salvation (believing on Jesus) connected with the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is joined with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The order differs at times, but the result is the same. It is the common, anticipated, and accepted experience of all the apostles, and all the converts.
Do all speak with tongues? Of course not. Paul plainly explains this to us in his letter to the Corinthians. But he also says that he “wished” that all did. The apostles spoke in tongues, and it is the only outward sign that they seem to look for and accept.
Just as one is baptized into the Body of believers at the moment of salvation, and just as one is water baptized, it is the normal expectation, and, I believe, teaching of the New Testament that every believer be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit immerses us into the power of God. Like Peter, we are transformed into bold, victorious Christians who are no longer slaves to sin. We now are filled with power for living the holy, righteous, godly life in the kingdom of God that our Father has destined for us to experience. In fact, apart from the presence of Holy Spirit in our lives, the Lordship of Christ will remain distant. I cannot walk in victory without Holy Spirit’s power in my life. Sin will master me. But thanks be to God, who has provided His Spirit to us.
HOW MUCH MORE WILL YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER GIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT TO THOSE WHO ASK HIM?
Well, enough for now.