When Jesus Spoke of Baptism What Did He Mean? (Part 4)

What if the baptisms we think of in the Bible as being of water actually are’t water baptisms? I know, it’s kind of a crazy thought, but bear with me.

We have the Holy Spirit baptism of the disciples (Acts 2:1-4), we have Cornelius and all his household who are baptized by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:1-48, Acts 11:15-17), and then we have an account  of baptism with Saul who becomes Paul.

Acts 9:17 “…laying his hands on him [Ananias] 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.”

Note the two things promised: Receive your sight and the Holy Spirit. 
What happens next? He receives his sight and is “baptized.” 

We also have a very interesting passage later in Acts where Saul now Paul is talking to disciples and asks about baptism.

Acts 19:1-5  “And finding some disciples…[Paul] 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.

Note: The question that Paul asks these fellow believers, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit?”
When they answer, “No,” Paul’s response is “into what then were you baptized.”
Paul’s immediate assumption of them as baptized believers is that they were baptized into the Holy Spirit (not that they were water baptized in the manner of John). When they state it was John’s baptism, Paul’s response is to tell them to go to Christ Jesus of whom John was teaching. They are then baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

I’ve always assumed these passages were talking of baptism in the sense of a John the Baptist type “water baptism,” but perhaps they aren’t (at least not in the sense of any earthly water baptism).

Christ’s Holy Spirit baptism is a baptism of living water.

John 7:37-41 “‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” 

With Christ there was a switch from earthly, water baptism to a spiritual, living water baptism (the symbol versus the reality). Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Why list all three? What is significant about there being all three parts that when baptizing someone it must be in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?

Perhaps because…

Without the Father we would not exist nor would we have anyone who cared to redeem us. Psalm 95:6 “…Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Isaiah 54:5 “For your Maker…The LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” We would not have Jesus, the Son of God. Luke 1:31-32 “…you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest…” We would also not have confirmation that the Jesus of the New Testament was in fact that Son. Matthew 3:17 “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’

Without the Son we have no remission from sin, 1Peter 3:21 “…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…” Romans 6:3-10 “…as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death…Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”

Without the Holy Spirit we would lack a Helper and have no spiritual power from Him. John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (NIV)

Act 13:23-34, 38-39 “…God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus—after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. …Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

We can be baptized in part but miss the whole, and when we lack the whole we lack a part of what Jesus commanded us to be baptized into.

Act 8:14-17 “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

Challenge: Are you baptized in part or in the whole? By earthly water or by living water?

(All Scripture, unless otherwise indicated, is taken from the NKJV. Emphasis added.)

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About Given Hoffman

Given believes in the One True God, His Truths, and bringing Words of Life into everyday life. She is a weekly blogger and suspense novelist. You can learn more about her and her books at GivenHoffman.com
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