Full Water Baptism
Baptism is the second of three foundational steps in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. The first is conversion, sometimes referred to as regeneration, or being ‘born again’. The second is water baptism, as a step of obedience to Jesus, and a witness to men, to angels and to Satan that you are determined to follow Jesus, and the third is baptism or filling with the Holy Spirit, the necessary power from God needed to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ.
Baptism: Greek: Baptizo = to dip, sink, used at the time to describe the action required to dye cloth.
The Jews practised ceremonial washings at the time of Christ, but John’s baptism was an utterly different thing. John’s baptism in the desert showed a desire for righteousness, and for forgiveness of sin through repentance and baptism. In short you needed to repent and be baptised to be right with God.
Believing in Jesus is essential for salvation. (John 3:16). The words of Jesus to the thief on the cross support this. Baptism has a spiritual significance in the life of a Christian, witnessing his faith not only to the world, but also to principalities and powers in the heavenly realm.
John’s baptism was only a short-term practice. His baptism of repentance was but preparatory to a baptism of identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
John tells us that “the reason I came baptizing with water was that he (Jesus) might be revealed to Israel.”
2 Jesus was baptised by John, His cousin, known as John the Baptist. Many people are coming out of Jerusalem into the desert in response to John’s call to repent and be baptised for the forgiveness of sin. They are confessing their sins. A report of Jesus’s baptism is given in all four gospels. Each adds something to our understanding:
Matt 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Why was Jesus baptised? He had no sin of which to repent. Jesus simply says this is the right thing to do in God’s sight.
- He did it as an example for all who would believe in Him would follow.
- It gave opportunity for the Holy Spirit to come upon Him as prophesied in Isaiah 11:1, revealing that He is the Messiah
- Was is a repentance (in advance) for the sin of the whole world that was placed upon Him at the cross?
Mark tells of Jesus’s baptism, Mk 1:4-8, adding in verse 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Luke writes in 3:21-23 reporting again the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and that God spoke from heaven.
John adds more, John 1:29- 34 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John adds to the story of Jesus’s baptism.
- Jesus is the Lamb of God
- Jesus was before John!
- The Holy Spirit remained upon Jesus
- Jesus is the Messiah (the Chosen One)
3 Link between baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit
Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Jesus, in Isaiah 11:1,2 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—God revealedtoJohn the Baptist, John 1:33,34 ‘ the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
So God chose to fulfil the prophesy of Isaiah on the occasion of Jesus’s baptism in water.
Clearly, both baptisms were necessary and after Pentecost believers were expected to receive them both. The two baptisms are closely linked, and obviously expected to be applied and experienced as closely in time as possible.
3.1 Jesus received the Holy Spirit immediately after coming up from the water. Matt 3:16.
3.2 Peter preached after Pentecost “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. Acts 2:38
3.3 Ananias prays for Paul after Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road ‘Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.’ Acts 9:17, 18. Baptised in the Spirit before baptised in water.
3.4 When Peter preached in Cornelius ‘s house, the Holy Spirit came ‘While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ’. Acts 10:44-48. Baptised in the Spirit before being baptised in water.
3.5. When Philip went to Samaria signs and wonders accompanied his ministry, and he baptised believers ‘But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women…. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 8:10-16. Baptised in water before baptised in Spirit.
For the disciples, they themselves baptised followers of Jesus (John4:1,2), and presumably were baptised in water by Him, but they could not be baptised in the Spirit until Pentecost at which the Father poured out the Spirit as Jesus had promised, and Joel prophesied 700 years before. ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days’. Joel 2:28.
4 Jesus faces a baptism of death on a cross. The meaning and the desired result of baptism can only be understood in the light of the saving power in the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus referred to his death in the words, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” Luke 12:50 ESV. He asked James and John “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized”.
We identify ourselves fully with the life and death of Jesus when we are baptised. Jesus tells James and John that they can follow Him all the way in this life, even into a baptism of death. Did we take our baptism as seriously as that?
5 Significance of water baptism.
5.1 Firstly, water baptism is a requirement for all disciples, who Jesus expects will obey Him. Mark 16:15,16. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. It is not simply a symbolic act, there is a spiritual impact from God in the believer when he is baptised.
For salvation, belief in Jesus is required as a starting point, as was illustrated in Jesus’s words to the thief on the cross. (Luke 23:43). For the life as a true disciple, there is a spiritual benefit in being baptised.
5.2 Secondly, we are joined with Christ in baptism. Paul explains ‘Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life’. Rom 6:3,4. The Message translation puts it like this: ‘When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace––a new life in a new land!”.
Paul continues ‘For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his’. Rom 6:5.
5.3 Thirdly, baptism was the entry door to the Church. This was so in New Testament times, and is so in many churches and denominations today. For instance, the ministries we are related to in India, do not allow anyone to share communion who has not been baptised.
5.4. Fourthly, it relates to the old testament practice of circumcision. Paul puts it this way in Colossians:When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Col 2:11,12. NLT.
6 Who should be baptised?
It is a baptism for BELIEVERS. It is only for those who have personally chosen to believe that Jesus died in their place, taking from God the Father the punishment that they deserved for their sin. The word of Peter was ‘repent and be baptised for the forgiveness of sin’. So, water baptism is for ‘born again believers’ in the Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Is there an age limit for baptism? This is a matter for each individual Pastor/church to decide. Children can be committed believers from an early age, and be baptised in the Spirit, speaking in tongues even before they are 5 years old. There is obviously no upper age limit.
8 How should ‘baptism’ be done? The spiritual picture is of one dying with Christ. The whole body should be immersed, and then raised. This can be done with the subject bending their knees, or by being laid back in the water until their head is fully covered. Disabled people may be lowered into the water. If no adequate pool of water is available, then in extremity, the pouring of water over the head of the subject would suffice.
9When should the believer be baptised? At Pentecost, the new believers were baptised the same day. If it is clear that the new believer understands that this is a necessity for him, and that He is committing himself to be a life follower of Jesus, then at the first opportunity the believer should be baptised.
10 Baptism a supernatural event. Although we witness a practical, physical event at a baptism, there is clearly a supernatural event occurring between the believer and God. Many testify that their Christian walk was stronger after baptism, and sometimes the subject is simultaneously baptised with the Spirit, and speaks in tongues. For more information about baptism or being baptised, please contact us here