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Query for the Month

October 1998

Next up-date: November 1st 1998 (God willing).

 


Query:

 

Response:

It is written that "the doctrine of baptisms [plural]" is a fundamental principle of Christianity, or the "doctrine of Christ", and that we should regard it as a stepping stone to greater things. Hebrews 6:1-2. "Let us go on [from this] to perfection" we are told! Shall we?

First, let's be clear what the three baptisms are?

#1. The first baptism is "with water unto repentance", and by this one shows in a physical demonstration that he or she is spiritually united with Christ through His death and resurrection.

Romans 6:3-4
"Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

#2. The second baptism "with the Holy Ghost", is a picture by which we show that we have given Him authority to use our lives as a witness of Jesus and His glory through our unity and harmony and purpose.

Acts2:1-4
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven
[or double] tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues [these were known languages, as we have seen in the past], as the Spirit gave them utterance."

#3. The third baptism, described as being "with fire", is how we grow more like the man Christ Jesus, and witness more fully to the power of His salvation.

Matthew 20:22-23
"But Jesus answered
[to John and James] and said, 'You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?' They say to him, 'We are able'. And He said to them, 'You shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with [James died by the sword, the first apostle to die in the persecutions; and John should have died in boiling oil but remained to be the last of the apostles to die, thus suffering the longest]: but to sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father'."

In this statement by John the Baptist we have the essence of Christianity. It is written in another place that there is "one LORD, one faith, one baptism, one God ..." Ephesians 4:5-6, yet as we have just seen in these verses there can be three "ones"! Thus:

Jesus the LORD was, is, and will be, Prophet, Priest and King.

There is a saving faith, a living faith, a translation faith.

We need baptism by water, by the Spirit and by fire.

God is:- The Father, the Son and the Spirit.

 

Put briefly, as we saw last month, their position is:-

The Father thinks the thought

The Son speaks the thought

The Spirit activates the thought

 

John's baptism was "unto repentance", therefore it came first as a picture of the death of the sinner and his or her 'rebirth' into a Christian. When Paul came to Ephesus he found there a group of men who had entered into the saving faith of Christianity through John's ministrations, but who had not yet attained the union with the Spirit. In fact, they did not even know about this greater experience of living faith. When Paul told them about this they were re-baptized "in the name of the LORD Jesus" which brought them face to face with their individual "Pentecosts". Acts 19:1-7.

This was the normal and required growth of the Christian in those days (it still is, for God is always looking for witnesses - Isaiah 43:10) and it happened more than once. See Acts 4:31 for another occasion. In the ceremonial law there was a period of 50 days set aside for the new believer to learn how to live with Christ (the honeymoon), and then he or she was expected to share that knowledge with others. Not necessarily by being able to speak foreign languages, but certainly by being able to relate that which they have lived through in a way that the listener can come to grips with. (Jesus used parables about farming and fishing!)

This "sharing" naturally leads to persecution because as Paul wrote to Timothy,

2 Timothy 3:8-13
"Now as Jannes and Jambres
[two of Pharaoh's magicians, Exodus 7:11-12] withstood [or persecuted] Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further [or have no better results]: for their folly shall be manifest to all men, as theirs [the Egyptians] also was." [Behaviour under persecution helps to show the difference between the two kingdoms].

"But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

"But evil men and seducers [imposters] shall wax worse and worse [as time goes by], deceiving, and being deceived."

The three baptisms are another way of describing the three faiths. We need normal faith (trust) in a living creator Christ to be justified, we need experimental (living) faith to be His witnesses (sanctified), and we will need translation faith to be able to meet Him at His second coming (glorified), for that will be no ordinary every-day experience.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-13
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together to Him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."

"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God [the heart of what appears to be Christianity], showing himself [and fooling others] that he is God."

"Remember you not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholds [or what's going on] that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only He who now lets [or restrains from a full takeover] will let [or continue to restrain], until He be taken out of the way. And then [when He can no longer prevent it] shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth [the full truth!], and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming [as light destroys darkness]. [Yes,] even Him, whose coming is [or will be] after the working of Satan [and his agents] with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved [their choice]."

"And for this cause God shall send them [or allow them to experience a] strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

"But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."

Conclusion:

BAPTISMS:

John's three baptisms (Matthew 3:11), all of them normal and natural, are expressions of what Christians can expect in their walk with Christ on this earth. After rebirth, as they progress in their understanding and experience so they will grow in grace and prosper in righteousness, eventually becoming those who have gone "on to perfection" and who will be ready and able to meet Jesus at the second advent (if they haven't died as a result of sin's wages!).


 

Spiritual Dictionary.

BAPTISMS:

John's three baptisms (Matthew 3:11), all of them normal and natural, are expressions of what Christians can expect in their walk with Christ on this earth. After rebirth, as they progress in their understanding and experience so they will grow in grace and prosper in righteousness, eventually becoming those who have gone "on to perfection" and who will be ready and able to meet Jesus at the second advent (if they haven't died as a result of sin's wages!).


Next thought. To be discussed from November 1st 1998.

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