We've been covering what scripture tells us is the foundation of our faith from Hebrews 6:1-2:Repentance from dead works, faith towards God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
The first rule of Biblical interpretation is that a passage must make sense to the original readers or those who heard the message when it was read to them. So what did the author of Hebrews mean when he wrote to them of the 'doctrine of baptisms'? Back then hearing of the foundational teaching of 'baptisms', meant water baptism and being baptized with the Holy Spirit.
When we read of 'baptisms' some 2,000 years after the verse was written we might be tempted to include many of the man-made 'baptisms' or our own experiences we label as a 'baptism' of some kind. Back in the 1970's there were some seeking a 'baptism with fire' which they concluded was a separate experience because in Matthew 3:11/Luke 3:16, John said of Jesus: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire..."
But that 1 statement by John the Baptist (recorded 2x) is not a doctrinal statement, for in context his messages were about the fire of God burning away the chaff of sin of our lives. That's why there is no teaching by Jesus on a separate 'baptism' with fire, and no teaching in Acts or the letters of the New Testament.
If someone has an experience of a 'baptism with fire', good for them, it is something the Lord did for them as they sought Him, and He obliged them by giving them that experience. But if we read that passage as if we were first century Christians needing the foundations of the teachings of Christ, 'baptisms' meant water and Holy Spirit.
What water baptism does
In I Peter 3:21 he writes that water baptism is a type of Noah being in the Ark and lifted through and above the waters. The Ark is Jesus. Genesis 7:16 says God Himself closed the Ark, a symbol of Jesus being the Ark, the Holy Spirit sealing us in Him, safe from the flood of judgement. The waters of baptism represent sin/judgement washed away as we rise above it in sealed in the Ark. (One could make the case that we being in the Ark and Sealed by the Holy Spirit rising above the water of judgment is a type of the pre-tribulation rapture.)
v21:"This is a figure of how baptism saves us, but not the washing of the flesh by water, but it is the answer of a good conscience towards God." Water baptism is 'the answer of a good conscience towards God. It is a response to His grace of salvation. We are raised out of the water as Christ was raised from the dead 'sin' of the world which He had carried.
Some don't have the opportunity to respond to salvation before they die; On their death bed or like the thief on the cross not having the opportunity. Because water is not salvation, but faith in Christ is, that person not water baptized still goes to heaven. But if possible, when a person comes to the Lord and would like to answer His grace by being water baptized, it is very good to do so.
Paul put it this way in Romans 6:3-4: "Don't you know what when we are baptized we are baptized into Christ's death? And as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should rise to walk in newness of life."
The practical side of water baptism.
In Acts 19:1-6 Paul comes to Ephesus and finds about 12 men he thinks are believers in Jesus:"Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?" This shows that here, over 25 years after Pentecost, Paul recognized there is often a time gap between being born again in their spirit man, and receiving the Holy Spirit.
When Paul was told they had only heard of John the Baptist he told them about Jesus. When Paul water baptized them it says they came out of the water and Paul laid hands on them: "The Holy Spirit came on them; they spoke in tongues and prophesied."
When I water baptize people I teach them this passage and ask them to expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit first time or a fresh infilling when they come out of the water. I do what Paul did - lay hands on them as they rise from the water. And like Paul, I have seen some amazing baptisms with the Holy Spirit at those times.
My friend Dave
He and his wife had won a woman who was a witch to the Lord, and because she was living with her boyfriend who was a warlock and leader of a coven, she asked if she could stay with Dave and his wife while she sorted things out. There was a knock at their door; it was the warlock asking if his girlfriend was there, and Dave admitted she was. The man said this:"I won't bother her, but I just need to know; Has she been baptized yet?" Dave said he would check, and shut the door on the man, leaving him outside.
Dave quickly told his wife to fill the bathtub they were going to have a quick water baptism of the woman. They did, she did, and Dave went back to the front door: "Yes, she has been baptized." The warlock shook his head, "Then there's nothing I can do" as he walked away. The warlock realized something happened when she was baptized.
Water baptism is when we of our own free will answer His grace with the response of being baptized, and demons who have previously influenced them will flee. Most 'deliverances' happen when a person turns from sin, for the demons realize they've lost influence and will leave them to find other more willing hosts.
This brings up the baptism with the Holy Spirit
At their water baptism Paul laid hands on the men and they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus used the term in Acts 1:5; Baptized WITH the Holy Spirit. Of the 8 times in Acts this experience is mentioned, all 8 use 'with the Holy Spirit'. Not baptism 'of' the Holy Spirit, not baptism 'in' the Holy Spirit, but "with". Why?
When we say we are baptized WITH water it means the water is the agent, the material, used in baptism. When Jesus said WITH the Holy Spirit it indicates He is the agent used, the material used in the baptism. In water baptism the whole body becomes wet, but the water is displaced by the person. When you get into a bathtub the water level rises because your body pushes aside the water. Not so when baptized with the Holy Spirit.
The difference is He saturates the whole person, spirit, soul, and body. We don't displace Him like He is water, the 'water' of the Spirit saturates our very being, like we are a sponge. The Revelation 22:1 indicates there is a single river of Living Water coming from the Father's throne, but Jesus said in John 7:37-39 a believer will have 'rivers of Living Waters' flowing from his 'innermost being'. Verse 39 confirming He was talking about the Holy Spirit, ie tongues. He flows through us, like we are a sponge absorbing Him as He flows, spirit to soul to body.
Tongues involves that flow from the throne to our spirit, out our soul (mind/emotions/will) who controls the flow, and using our body to speak in a language we have never learned. Why tongues? Because the Father wants His will done on earth but needs a legal way to gain access.
So He by-passes our ignorance of what to pray for by giving us a language He fills with content and purpose, allows us to pray it back to Him, completing a legal transaction. When we pray in tongues we are as Paul said, speaking mysteries to God, His perfect will.
When a person comes up out of water baptism they are wet. Acts 10:44-46 indicates when a person is baptized with the Holy Spirit they speak in tongues. There are other fillings of course, in Acts they involve things like boldness, speaking more eloquently or with wisdom beyond one's education and ability, singing from the spirit man, and so on. But the first indication seen throughout the 30 years of Acts, is that a person speaks in a language they never learned:
"When Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit fell upon those who heard his words...and the Jews with Peter were astonished that they had received the Holy Spirit, for they heard them speak in tongues and magnify God..."
This is the briefest of overviews of baptisms and it is clear this will be a 5 part series, lol. Next week the laying on of hands and week 5 will cover the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
I hope this is a blessing to you, thought provoking perhaps...until next week, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at email@example.com