Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Spirit of Grace: The Baptism of the Holy Ghost

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV

We've been engaged in a study as of late on the Holy Spirit. We've been focused on building a deeper intimacy with the Spirit in our personal lives and devotion to our good and Gracious Father. We've seen that the Spirit is our comfort and help in times of need. We've seen the proper understanding of what it means to hunger for God and His presence. 

 Today, I sense the leading to examine the ministry and operation of the Spirit in the life of the believer in Christ Jesus. This will be enlightening to some and to others it may step on their denominational toes so to speak. I trust, though if you lay aside the weight and yoke of tradition and just be open you will be blessed.

 As we begin, we must first solve a dilemma Scripture seems to present us. What dilemma? Two passages that appear at face value to contradict each other. If passages in the New Covenant contradict one another, then this whole system may be fraudulent and we can't be expected to place all of our hope and trust in it. Thank God, though, this New Covenant isn't fraudulent and the Word will interpret itself. Here are the two passages:
of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:2 NKJV
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; Ephesians 4:4-5 NKJV

 You see the apparent contradiction? Hebrews references baptisms plural, whereas Ephesians specifically state baptism singular. Which is right? The truth? They both are! How can this be so? 

 The Epistle to Hebrews is teaching us of the three specific baptisms taught in the New Covenant. Paul in Ephesians is teaching about the specific baptism that all believers share in. Wait, brother, three baptisms? One baptism? What are you saying? Allow me to elaborate.

 There are three baptisms that have three different elements in them. Let's look at the first.
1. Baptism in water.
 This is the one that is most familiar to believers. Yet, this baptism isn't without much controversy. Christians have fought and argued about the methods utilized in this baptism for centuries. In Jesus name only? Or is it in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost? You won't find a satisfactory answer to some steeped in their traditions. 

 What I will say is this, water baptism isn't what saves us. If you haven't been born again and decide to get dunked in a baptismal, you will come up out of water, wet, clothes soaked and still not saved. That said let's examine this baptism briefly.

Water baptism is merely an outward act symbolizing what actually occurred inwardly when we received Christ. It is also a public identification of your faith in Christ. Romans gives us an illustration of this symbolic act.

Water Baptism: What is the object of baptism? New believers in Christ. What is the element of baptism? Water. Who is the baptizer? A minister of the Gospel, the physical church.

2. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
 This is where the confusion happens. This is where the controversy is seen. The Pentecostal/Charismatic circles wrongly assign this baptism as the one that empowers believers. Mainline denominational Christians wrongly point to this baptism as proof that there exists no baptism apart from initial salvation. 

 What is the Baptism of the Holy Ghost? Allow the Word of God to define it for us.
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 NJKV

 Paul is quite clear as to what the Baptism of the Spirit is. This is the one baptism he was referencing in Ephesians 4. Take note at the unity the Spirit of God is emphasizing. Our Father doesn't see class, or status, or ethnicity, national origin or gender. He sees those who are His and those who've yet to receive His free gift. It would do us all a great service to see all humanity this way. Those who've received new life and righteousness and those who've not yet received.

Baptism of the Holy Ghost: What is the object of baptism? The lost, instantly upon receiving Christ's free gift of righteousness. What is the element of baptism? The Body of Christ. Who is the Baptizer? The Holy Ghost.

 This is such a beautiful work and operation of the Holy Spirit. Instantly upon receiving Christ Jesus, He immerses us into the Body of Christ. In other words, God makes us accepted in the Beloved. He gives us a forever home. We belong!  
God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell; He leads the prisoners out to prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. Psalm 68:6 AMPC
 This has always been the heart of the Father. With the Baptism of the Spirit, this passage is fulfilled in the life of all God's children, those who've received His new life. 

 Hallelujah! God is so good! When you receive Christ, you're never alone. You're not forgotten or forsaken. He has placed His hand upon you. He will never abandon you or let you down. His healing hand will uphold you. His hand of love and mercy will guide you throughout this life. In Christ, you are never alone, or without hope or help. 

3. The Baptism in the Holy Ghost.
 This Baptism supersedes controversy and just stirs up a religious war of words amongst the Church. Some just flat out deny this Baptism even exists. Others dare teach if you don't partake of this Baptism you're not even saved. This inflammatory rhetoric is contrary to unity in the Family of God. Do the Scriptures acknowledge this Baptism?
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “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.” Acts 1:4-5 NKJV
 These are Jesus' words, not any man's or denomination. Let's examine the object and elements of this third Baptism Scripture records.
Baptism in/with the Holy Ghost: What is the object of Baptism? The born again believer in Christ Jesus. What is the element of Baptism? The Holy Spirit. Who is the Baptizer? The Lord Jesus Christ.

In summation, these are the three baptisms recorded in Scripture. As we've seen Ephesians and Hebrews aren't contradictory. Paul, in Ephesians 4, was teaching about the one baptism that unites us all. the Baptism of the Spirit, the baptism which places us into the Body of Christ. One faith, one Baptism, one Father in Heaven. 

 In our next study, we will examine more closely the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. Yes, we will address all the controversies, and even look at speaking in tongues. You will be blessed as we explore this Baptism, answering is it for all? Is it for today? It will be an in-depth study sure to challenge some and enlighten others.
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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