For most Christians when baptism is mentioned in the Bible, we assume it’s a baptism of water. Since this isn’t always the case (as we talked about in Part 1 of this series), then when the word “baptism” is mentioned it might not always mean water baptism.
In Acts 1:4-5 Jesus spoke to His disciples telling them they would receive a baptism, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
On the Day of Pentecost this baptism happens. Acts 2:1-4 “…And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Note: There is no water involved in this baptism, and Peter does later, in Acts 11:15-17, identify this moment as a baptism.
What if the baptism that Jesus brings isn’t about an earthly water baptism but rather about a far greater remission (the canceling of a debt) from sin?
1Peter 3:21 “There is also an antitype [to the days of Noah] which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”
Jesus says of Himself, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28
John 1:29 “…John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” A few verses earlier John also comments that though he (John) was sent by God to baptize with water, God told him that Jesus would “baptize with the Holy Spirit.” John 1:33
Proof of another waterless Holy Spirit baptism like the disciples experienced takes place later in Acts and is identified by Peter as baptism.
In Acts 10:43-48 Peter is preaching to Cornelius, a centurion who feared God with all his household, and Peter says. “‘To [Jesus] all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.’ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word….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…”
While Peter is recounting this story later in Judea, he says in Acts 11:15-17 “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 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?”
Note: There was no water involved in them receiving the Holy Spirit, which Peter identifies as a baptism of the Holy Spirit, the same as happened to them. It’s only after this Holy Spirit baptism that Peter then speaks of allowing them to be water baptized.
Challenge: Are we seeking John the Baptist’s baptism or Jesus Christ’s baptism?
(All Scripture, unless otherwise indicated, is taken from the NKJV. Emphasis added.)
Check back next week for Part 4 to this series on baptism! Or subscribe to receive an email of next week’s post.