It has been several weeks now since I last posted. I had to spend some alone time with God, and highly recommend it for everyone. The practice of solitude is not just a person being standoffish, but it really is a time for that person to let the Lord minister to him/her through the Holy Spirit without the distractions of everyday life.
My entry today is not about solitude, but about the Holy Spirit. Today I will be talking mainly on the topic of baptism. This is shaky ground for some people. It can be so confusing. First, there is water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism. Then, we hear phrases such as “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” and “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Is this just semantics, and aren’t these the same thing? I consider there to be four main baptisms listed in the Bible:
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit – this is the moment that a person believes in Christ and truly repents of their sins. At this moment, the Holy Spirit does become a part of that person’s life, and baptizes him/her into the body of Christ. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13 ESV)
- Water Baptism – this is the outward demonstration of the inward reality that you have accepted Christ as Lord of your life. Water baptism does not save you; it shows that you have been saved. “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.” (Acts 8:12-13 ESV)
- Baptism in the Holy Spirit – this is different than number 1 above by more than just changing the “of” to “in.” In number 1, the Spirit baptized the new believer into the body of Christ at the point of conversion. Here, Christ baptizes the believer into the Holy Spirit. “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5 ESV). The word “baptize” means “to immerse” in the original Greek. So, this scripture is telling us that Christ will immerse us in the Holy Spirit. Knowing that we, as humans, create confusion for ourselves, God chose to put it this way in Act 2:4: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Notice how it says that they were “filled”, rather than saying “baptized”? This should keep us from getting numbers 1 and 3 mixed up!
- Baptism of Fire – this is judgment. Thankfully, it is not for those who have received Christ. Sadly, there are a lot of people who will be baptized in fire. That is the reason for the Great Commission. Look at Luke 3:16: “John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Many people will disagree with me here, and say that this basically means “the Holy Spirit and Fire.” However, I believe that every word is important in scripture, and that little word “with” changes the entire meaning of the sentence. Basically, you get “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and He will baptize you with fire.” Then, you notice that this verse is sandwiched in between other verses that use fire as a means of judgment (Luke 3:9, Luke 3:17)
The believer has three baptisms to experience (Number 1, 2, and 3 above). The fourth is for the unbeliever. I included it here because I wanted to connect to the Great Commission. I also wanted to point out that although it is used beside the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it is not the same. Christ provides a baptism of power in the Holy Spirit to all believers who ask for it, but will also provide a baptism of fire for the unbelievers as well. This is why that power is given. So we can boldly go into all the world and preach the gospel.