The following request came from Salpy:
Could you please explain or direct me to a post on this websie on the following:
1)baptism for repentance (like what John gave),
2)baptism by fire and spirit (like what Jesus gives).
3)What kind of baptism does the orthodox church give?
4)How do we get baptized by fire and spirit?
Let’s take all of the four points one by one and study them in the Word of God:
1. Baptism for repentance (like what John gave)?
First, I guess that by this baptism you mean that baptism which John the Baptist proclaimed or presented, as his baptism was not something that he gave (as if it came from him), but this baptism was given to him:
“The baptism of John, was it of heaven, or of men? answer me.” (Mark 11:30)
The answer to this question of Jesus is obviously “of Heaven”. The baptism of John was from Heaven, and not from men. John received this baptism and proclaimed it to the people of Israel.
What was the purpose of this baptism? It was to declare the sinfulness of the person who was baptized and the fact that this person turned from his/her sins (which means repentance) and became a disciple of John the Baptist in anticipation to the appearance of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, whose way John the Baptist prepared. In other terms, the person baptized by John declared his sinfulness and turned from his sins (that’s why this baptism was called a baptism of repentance) and became a disciple of John the Baptist. By this repentance that John proclaimed, a person was preparing the way before the Lord Jesus by preparing his heart to receive Him, just as John the Baptist was doing. Indeed, this is what the angel told Zacharias, the father of John:
“And many of the sons of Israel shall he turn to [the] Lord their God. And he shall go before him in [the] spirit and power of Elias, to turn hearts of fathers to children, and disobedient ones to [the] thoughts of just [men], to make ready for [the] Lord a prepared people.” (Luke 1:16-17)
So by this baptism, John the Baptist was preparing a people prepared to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, as those who came to be baptized by him were supposed to have repented.
Now, does this mean that all those who were immersed in water by John and thus became his disciples had really repented? Not at all! Never in the whole Bible was the sign a guarantee that all those who received that sign really had the essence of what that sign represented. The sign is the guarantee that the essence is given according to the promise, but it is never a guarantee that the person who receives that sign really received the essence. In other terms, the sign is given by God and not by man, and it guarantees an act done by God, and not an act done by man. For instance, under the Old Covenant, not all those who received the sign of circumcision had their hearts circumcised as was the meaning of the sign (cf. Romans 2:28-29). In the same way, many of John’s disciples only received the sign of repentance (which is the water of John’s baptism), but they didn’t really repent. A simple evidence of this fact is when we find disciples of John who had not repented yet and who refused to be disciples of Jesus Christ (read for example Matthew 9:14 and John 3:25-26). You remember of course that the purpose of John’s baptism was to prepare people to be disciples of Jesus; so whoever went against this purpose had not really repented. For a more detailed study about the condition of John’s disciples, you can read the article Did John the Baptist doubt Christ?
So the real purpose of John’s baptism was to prepare the way for Jesus. This is what the Apostle Paul said to some disciples who had only received the baptism of John: “John indeed baptised [with] the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on him that was coming after him, that is, on Jesus.” (Acts 19:4) As soon as Jesus began His public ministry, John the Baptist had to decrease, while Jesus had to increase. This is indeed what John told his disciples when they complained to him that all were going to Jesus and were being baptized as His disciples instead of becoming the disciples of John; he said: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) So when this baptism of John served its purpose and the Baptist was dead and Jesus had fulfilled His work of Redemption, then there was no more need for John’s baptism. In other terms, John’s baptism is not the Christian baptism that we receive today. What Christians have received is the baptism of Christ, i.e. the Christian baptism. We will see in the second section what this Christian baptism is.
2. Baptism by fire and spirit (like what Jesus gives)?
Note: It’s not “spirit” but “Spirit” (the Holy Spirit).
When John the Baptist compared his baptism with the baptism of Jesus, he said:
“I indeed baptise you with water to repentance, but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not fit to bear; he shall baptise you with [the] Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11)
In the same way, when Jesus talked about His baptism, He said:
“For John indeed baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit after now not many days.” (Acts 1:5)
As you can see, the baptism of Jesus is NOT the baptism with water at all. The baptism with water is the baptism of John, and not of Jesus. It is a very wrong teaching that we hear these days that there is something in Christianity called “water baptism” and another baptism called “baptism of the Holy Spirit”… “Water baptism” (biblically called “baptism with water”) is the baptism of John, and as Christians we do NOT receive that baptism today. Those who believe in Christ receive the baptism of Jesus (and not the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as it is wrongly called, as it is not the Holy Spirit who baptizes us, but it is Jesus who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit as the above mentioned verses show). As the above verses show, this baptism of Jesus is not with water, as was the baptism of John, but it’s the baptism with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist was a mere human, and whatever was his authority, he did not have the authority to baptize with the Holy Spirit; he only baptized with the sign of the Holy Spirit and of purity, which is water. Jesus is the One who is greater than John; He’s the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit who is the truth that was represented by the sign of water used by John. Although Jesus also uses the same sign that John used (i.e. water – cf. John 3:22-23 and John 4:1-2; see also Acts 8:36-39 and Acts 10:47), and although His baptism also is a baptism of repentance, i.e. death to sin and life to righteousness (compare Luke 24:46-47 with Acts 2:38 where baptism and repentance are linked together concerning the forgiveness of sins; see also Romans 6:2-4 where Christian repentance is described as a death with Christ and a spiritual resurrection to walk in newness of life, and it is clearly linked to baptism), and yet that sign of water in itself is NOT the baptism of Jesus. In other terms, one could have received the sign of the baptism of Jesus (i.e. water), and yet never receive the baptism of Jesus. As Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27 make it clear, it is not enough to get baptized, but one needs to get baptized into Christ Jesus, or else he’s not dead with Christ, he’s not alive in Christ, he’s not clothed with Christ and with His Righteousness. Those who only have the sign of this baptism of Jesus (i.e. water) are Christians by name, and yet they don’t have the essence in them which is the life of Christ; they are branches that do not give fruits and therefore they are cut and thrown in fire (cf. John 15:1-11). Only those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit are true Christians who have the life of Christ in them. In other terms, one could have received the sign of the baptism of Jesus (i.e. water) and thus have become a disciple of Jesus, and yet never be a true disciple of Jesus (cf. John 8:30-32), and thus be lost forever in Hell! This clearly appears in John 6:60-66 where many of the disciples of Jesus who were baptized as His disciples (cf. John 3:22-23 and John 4:1-2) left Him; in that passage of John 6:60-66, Jesus said that those disciples were not really believers (cf. John 6:64). So those false disciples had only the sign of Christ’s baptism, but were not born of God and would never receive the baptism of Christ unless they were born of God by faith. We will see the details about how to get baptized with the Holy Spirit in the fourth section of this study.
Let me just make a summarized comment about the fire in the expression “with the Holy Spirit and fire”, as I will not go into the details of Christ’s baptism in the limit of this article. It is not unusual in the Word of God to find words used about the Holy Spirit describing His power and the kind of work He does. This is very clearly seen in the following passage:
“In the last, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this he said concerning the Spirit, which they that believed on him were about to receive; for [the] Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:37-39)
As you can see, the Lord described the Holy Spirit with the word “water”, and that describes the purifying and life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. That’s one reason why the sign of Christ’s baptism is the water. It is in this way also that Jesus told Nicodemus:
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except any one be born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Here again, the Lord describes the purifying and life-giving power of the Holy Spirit with the word “water”, thus implying that the Holy Spirit makes us be born again by the Word of God, as He continues to explain to Nicodemus in John 3. Indeed, the Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to make us born again is described as this “water” and “seed” by which God makes us be born again:
“in order that he might sanctify it, purifying [it] by the washing of water by [the] word“ (Ephesians 5:26)
“being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by [the] living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)
So the water is the sign of purification for the people of God. But the same sign of purification is a sign of judgment for those who refuse Christ, just as it was the case with the waters of the Flood. Those waters of the Flood came as judgment upon the unrepentant sinners, but were the means by which the Ark was carried with the believers who were in it:
“heretofore disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in [the] days of Noah while the ark was preparing, into which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: which figure also now saves you, [even] baptism, not a putting away of [the] filth of flesh, but [the] demand as before God of a good conscience, by [the] resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:20-21)
“through which [waters] the then world, deluged with water, perished.” (2 Peter 3:6)
So for those who really receive the baptism of Christ, the sign of water is a sign of life, while for those who refuse Him the sign of water is a sign of judgment. The Ark of Noah represents Christ. The waters of baptism come as a sign of judgment on you if you’re not in the Ark, Jesus Christ.
Now, in the same way, the fire is used in the Bible as the sign of purification and judgment. Indeed, when it is linked with baptism it describes judgment as the context makes it clear:
“I indeed baptise you with water to repentance, but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not fit to bear; he shall baptise you with [the] Holy Spirit and fire; whose winnowing fan [is] in his hand, and he shall thoroughly purge his threshing-floor, and shall gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.” (Matthew 3:11-12)
Yes, indeed: if we concentrate on the context, we usually get the answers to the most difficult questions that we ask ourselves… I am sure many of our readers will now say: “How have we not noticed that this “fire” is explained in the same context?!” The context explains that this fire is a fire of judgment that will fall upon those who refuse Christ and who are described as “the chaff”.
And this same meaning is explained in the passage from which I already quoted above:
“through which [waters] the then world, deluged with water, perished. But the present heavens and the earth by his word are laid up in store, kept for fire unto a day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:6-7)
Just as the water is a sign of life for those who believe and a sign of judgment for those who refuse Christ, in the same way, the fire is a sign of judgment for the ungodly men.
Of course, there is a positive side for this fire that is only for those who receive Christ, and it is described in the passages where we read about the purifying power of God’s Salvation and the discipline of God and about the judgment of God that fell on Christ in our place as if it fell on us. All this can be summarized in the meaning of the new birth and of Salvation, so I will not go into the details of this aspect in the limit of this article.
As I said before, we will see the details about how to get baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire in the fourth section of this article.
3. What kind of baptism does the orthodox church give?
The English word “orthodox” comes from the Greek “orthodoxos” which means “having the right opinion or doctrine”. In other terms, the orthodox Church is the Church of Christ that is built by Jesus on the truth that Peter declared about Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of the living God (cf. Matthew 16:15-18). This Church is the assembly of all true disciples of Christ who have the mind of Christ and thus are orthodox or “having the right opinion or doctrine” (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:16) and who keep the Faith which was once for all handed down to the saints in the days of the Apostles (Jude 3) and never add or subtract anything to or from it. In simple words, the Church of Christ is the one body of Christ which is the assembly of all true believers who have the one Faith which is found in the Bible alone and not in the teachings of humans. This is what the Apostle Paul describes in the passage from which I quoted the title of this article:
“[There is] one body and one Spirit, as ye have been also called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
So this Church of Christ presents or declares to the world this one baptism of Jesus Christ as it is described in God’s Word, the Bible, and as we explained in the second section of this article. It is the Lord of the Church Himself who commanded the Apostles, and through them the Church, to present this baptism to the whole world (cf. Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:16). Since the times of the Apostles and of the Apostolic Fathers, we always read about baptism being linked with the new birth and with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. And this is what we have seen in the second section: that the sign of water presents the truth of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. And we have seen that not all those who have this sign of water are really baptized into Christ, as not all of them are true believers who are baptized with the Holy Spirit. The sign does not make the essence.
Now, as no human can see the hearts of men as God does, so no one can know for sure who is part of this Church of Christ and who is not, except God Himself and the person who has the Life in him. So the Church of Christ is invisible now, until the Lord comes and takes His bride, the true Church. For now, the Church of Christ is invisible, but it appears in the world through the local visible churches. All local churches that have and present this one baptism and this one Faith that was once for all handed down to the saints are the visible Church of Christ. This one Faith is summarized in the Creed. All local churches that believe this Creed, even outwardly, are the visible local churches of Christ and are part of the one visible Church of Christ. This visible Church is the visible body of Christ who is the Vine (cf. John 15:1). On this Vine, there are branches that are not in true relation with the Vine, they do not abide in Christ, because they do not have the Holy Spirit although they have the sign of baptism (i.e. water), and so they are cut and thrown in fire (cf. John 15:6). The true branches are the true believers who abide in Christ as they have the Spirit of Christ, and not only the sign, and they grow in Grace more and more each day as they receive the discipline and the care of their Father described by the figure of “pruning” (cf. John 15:2). The mere branches that do not abide in Christ are false believers. Among these false believers we can even find elders or teachers of local churches (cf. Acts 20:30). But does this mean that if I received the sign of Christ’s baptism (i.e. water) at the hand of one of these false teachers then my baptism is not true? Not at all! Because as we have seen Christian baptism is NOT the baptism of any human elder or teacher, but it is the baptism of Christ! Only Christ can baptize us with the Holy Spirit, and we receive that in the new birth, as we will see. As for the sign of water, it is truly the sign of Christ’s baptism as long as I received it in the Name of Christ, i.e. according to the true teaching about the Nature of Christ (God incarnate, our Savior from sin), even if I received it at the hand of a false teacher and yet in a Christian local church that believes in the Name of Christ, i.e. has the right teaching about His Person. So if you were baptized in a local church that has the one Faith summarized in the Creed, then you were baptized in the Name of Christ, even if teachers in that local church teach things contrary to the Faith that they outwardly confess. Why is this so? Because you are not baptized to become a follower of the teachings of those false teachers, but you are baptized to become a follower of Christ. That’s the meaning of the sign of baptism. Otherwise, no one would receive the sign of Christ’s baptism (water), as there is no perfect local church on earth. But thank God that we are not baptized in the name of any human or in the name of any false teacher, and not even in the name of any true teacher, but in the Name of Christ:
“Is the Christ divided? has Paul been crucified for you? or have ye been baptised unto the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13)
No, we were not baptized in the name of any human, not even of Paul.
So if you are a Christian, even just by name, and you have been baptized in a church that has the true Faith, even with heretical additions, then don’t believe those who tell you that you need to get re-baptized, who try to convince you that your first baptism was not a true baptism because it was received in a local church that has many heretical teachings (ex. Roman Catholicism which is a false teaching). You were not baptized in the name of those false teachers or in the name of those false teachings; you were baptized in the Name of Christ. What you need is not to receive the sign again and again; otherwise all Christians would need to receive the sign again and again as no one is perfect in himself. What you need is to receive what that sign presents to you: the new birth by faith in Christ. Otherwise, even if they immerse you in waters thousands of times, you remain a child of the devil and your part is with your father the devil! The sign of water is NOT the new birth! It is the sign of the new birth. So don’t confuse the sign with the essence.
But beware of the cults: their baptism is not the one baptism of Christ. So if you were baptized in a cult, your baptism was not the true baptism of Christ, and you were baptized as the follower of that cult, in the name of a false christ, and not in the Name of Jesus Christ, the biblical Jesus whom we know.
This was in brief the explanation of the baptism that the orthodox Church of Christ presents.
4. How do we get baptized by fire and spirit?
Once again, it is not “spirit” but “Spirit” (the Holy Spirit). And the Bible never says that we would get baptized by fire and the Spirit. Wherever this is mentioned, it is said that Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire. The fire is always mentioned AFTER the Holy Spirit…
Now, if this baptism of Christ is with the Holy Spirit, then how do we get that baptism? What shall we do to receive that baptism? Well, contrary to what heretics teach today, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is NOT a second experience that you need to have after conversion and new birth. I guess you will be even more shocked when you know that this baptism of Christ is a once-for-all event that took place almost 2000 years ago, and it’s not a second experience that we should look for today after Salvation! We only join that same experience that happened almost 2000 years ago, but it’s NOT something individual, separate from what happened then. Let’s see how the Word of God explains to us these things.
First, how did the Lord tell us about the promise of the Father concerning the Holy Spirit? Let’s read it together:
“For John indeed baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit after now not many days.” (Acts 1:5)
So the baptism with the Holy Spirit happened not many days after the ascension of the Lord. Indeed, that happened in chapter 2 of Acts. But was this a surprise that the Lord had prepared for His disciples after His resurrection? No. Just read with me the verse that comes immediately before Acts 1:5 quoted above:
“and, being assembled with [them], commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father, which [said he] ye have heard of me.“ (Acts 1:4)
Here it is! So it was not a surprise, but the Lord had already told His disciples about this promise of the Father concerning the Holy Spirit. In order to understand the true meaning of this baptism with the Holy Spirit, let’s see together where the Lord had promised His disciples concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit:
“And I will beg the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see him nor know him; but ye know him, for he abides with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you. Yet a little and the world sees me no longer; but ye see me; because I live ye also shall live. In that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me; but he that loves me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. Judas, not the Iscariote, says to him, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us and not to the world? Jesus answered and said to him, If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him.” (John 14:16-23)
Many people just pass besides the underlined parts of this passage, and they never think deeply about what they mean. We will now see how they are related to the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
First of all, the Lord said that He would beg the Father, and He would give us the Comforter (the Holy Spirit). Did you ever ask yourself WHERE Jesus begged the Father for that?? I guess many didn’t ask themselves this question. Well, the answer is that He did that two chapters later, in John 17… We will see this together below.
Note also that this Comforter would come once for all to stay with us forever! So what is that false teaching that makes the baptism with the Holy Spirit a continuous experience separate from what happened almost 2000 years ago at Pentecost?? The Lord clearly told us that the Holy Spirit, when He comes, He will stay with us forever. He wouldn’t leave us anymore. So it’s a wrong teaching that the Holy Spirit goes, and He only comes when a person believes and asks to get baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Church has been baptized with the Holy Spirit and is one body ONCE FOR ALL (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13). Or else, we would not have one body, i.e. one Church.
Note also that this is the Spirit of truth whom the world CANNOT receive! So those who are baptized and yet are still worldly by nature have not received the Holy Spirit. Don’t let anyone deceive you in this matter. The Holy Spirit is not a feeling or an emotion that a person may have and that he may confuse with a gift from God! No one can see and know the Holy Spirit unless he is born of that Spirit.
The Lord said that the Holy Spirit was with His disciples! The Holy Spirit didn’t begin to exist at Pentecost, for He is God! And the once-for-all event of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not itself the new birth, or else no one of Christ’s disciples would have been born again before that event. And we know that all true believers were born again, whether before the baptism with the Holy Spirit or after it.
The Lord further says that when the Church will become one body by the baptism with the Holy Spirit, then the disciples will know that He is in His Father, and they in Him, and He in them. I am sure that many people read these words and do not understand what are those “in me, in them, in Him” (they don’t even use the exact words of Jesus)… They think it’s just poetry… They think Jesus is just throwing words here to make His sentence look more mysterious… While the fact is that these expressions have a deep meaning! They are the whole truth of the New Covenant in which the Church is the body of Christ, unlike the Old Covenant in which the believers were not yet in Christ! They were waiting for that promise of Salvation! The Lord had to make the eternal Atonement and be glorified BEFORE the Spirit could come and abide in us (cf. John 16:7). First, the verb “know” is about an experimental real knowledge. The true disciples would know for sure that they are one with Christ… Now, where are those who teach against the assurance of Salvation?… I wonder what they will do before this clear teaching of Jesus about assurance of eternal life… The Lord says that those who are in Him will have the assurance of eternal life when they will have the Spirit abiding in them, as they will know for sure that they are in Him who is the eternal life Himself (cf. 1 John 1:2, 1 John 5:11, 1 John 5:20)! If you read the passages that I just referred to in the previous parenthesis, you will see how the Apostle John makes it clear that the eternal life is a Person, Jesus Christ! So whoever has Jesus Christ has the eternal life: read 1 John 5:12-13. In the Old Covenant, this assurance was not so clear, and they who lived during that old time had to wait and hope for this assurance in Christ. The Lord said in this passage that the true believers would now have that assurance of eternal life, as they would know for sure that they are IN that eternal life through the Holy Spirit who abides in them! Those who deny this assurance either deny the reality of the New Covenant, or they deny that Jesus Christ Himself is the eternal life (they think the eternal life is something future, and not the Person of Jesus Christ!) When the Holy Spirit comes and abides in those who truly believed, they will know for sure that Jesus is in His Father (that He is God incarnate, He is One with God the Father), and that they are in Him and He in them (they are one with Christ… I wonder if those who deny the assurance of Salvation think that Christ could lose Salvation and go to Hell… If I am sure I am in Christ, then I am sure that I will be wherever He is — read John 17:24). True believers are one with Christ directly, but NOT one with the Father directly! Jesus didn’t say that we are one with the Father! He made it clear that HE is in the Father, and that we are united to the Father BECAUSE we are one with Christ. Now, do you still wonder what Peter meant when he said by the Spirit that we are partakers of the divine Nature (cf. 2 Peter 1:4)?… It doesn’t mean that we are gods, as false teachers teach today… It doesn’t mean that we are in the Father. It means that we are in Christ who is in the Father! Read again the explanation above to understand what I am saying. So Jesus said that in that day, i.e. when the Holy Spirit comes and abides in us, we will experience how we are one with Christ! What does this mean? This means that in the day of Pentecost, when the Church got baptized with the Holy Spirit, it became one body, the body of Christ. And this is clearly explained by the Apostle Paul when he wrote by the Spirit: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) So the Lord Jesus baptized the Church with the Holy Spirit and made us one body, His body.
This is indeed the truth about the baptism with the Holy Spirit: by this baptism we become one body with Christ, and each of us His members: “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12) The Apostle further explains this truth of unity with Christ in His baptism in the following passage: “Are you ignorant that we, as many as have been baptised unto Christ Jesus, have been baptised unto his death? We have been buried therefore with him by baptism unto death, in order that, even as Christ has been raised up from among [the] dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4) In Christian baptism (not just the sign, but the essence too) we became one with Christ. So when you truly believe in Christ and are born again, the sign of water (in baptism) declares to you that you are united with Christ, and thus you are a member of His body, you are one body with all true believers, the one spiritual body of Christ. We will see below why I say that the new birth makes us today partakers of this once-for-all baptism with the Holy Spirit.
But did Jesus say that the baptism with the Holy Spirit means that we become one with Him? Of course He did! We have read it together above. And as He had already explained to His disciples that this baptism means that they become one with Him, so He didn’t need to re-explain it when He began to pray and beg the Father to send to them the Holy Spirit. Yes, indeed, just as I said above, the Lord begged the Father to send to us the Holy Spirit, and His prayer about this matter is before our eyes in John 17; look where Jesus begged the Father to send to us the Holy Spirit and thus to make us one:
“And I am no longer in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one as we.” (John 17:11)
Did you see how the Lord begged the Father to send to us the Holy Spirit? By asking Him to keep us in His Name and make us ONE! This is the one body of Christ, the Church.
And in John 17:15, the Lord explained that this unity means a separation from evil! Please, read our article Jesus asks the Father to keep us from the evil one in order to understand how this is related to the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire and to our unity in Christ. A servant of Christ, J. N. Darby, explains this truth in Separation from evil — God’s principle of unity. Please, read those articles and see how wrong is that teaching that says that we should pray for the unity of the Church (as if it were not one…) and that we should accept all the different heretical teachings of the different heretical local churches for the sake of this unity… By the way, this is the baptism with fire! This is the positive side applied to those who believe, as I said above. The baptism of Christ is always a baptism that brings judgment of fire upon the evil that is in us, applies the blood of Christ on us, as He bore the judgment of fire in our place on the cross, and thus separates us from evil. This is what we get in the new birth: separation from evil. Repentance should never be separated from true faith. This is the baptism with fire when applied to the believer. So don’t expect other “baptisms with fire” as the heretics teach. Those heretics change the meaning of this baptism in order to make evil enter the Church, while they make the Church busy with the false teaching about this fire and thus it forgets the true teaching of separation from evil. Have discernment, oh people of God!
The Lord continues His prayer, and now He explains how all those who would believe in all the coming centuries, until He comes, would get baptized with the Holy Spirit:
“And I do not demand for these only, but also for those who believe on me through their word; that they may be all one, as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me I have given them, that they may be one, as we are one; I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one [and] that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and [that] thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20-23)
The Lord prays here for us who have believed in Him through the word of the Apostles (the New Testament Book). Note how He asks the Father for our baptism with the Holy Spirit: that we may be all one, as the Father is in Christ, and Christ in Him, that we may be (BE, and not become!) one in Them! Do you now remember what Jesus said about the believers experiencing, when the Spirit comes, that Christ is in the Father, and they in Him and He in them? Well, this is the meaning of the baptism with the Holy Spirit: That we are one in Christ, the members of His one body. The Lord repeats that here, when He begs the Father to make us also, we the believers who live after the times of the Apostles, partake of this one baptism with the Holy Spirit. You notice that this means that we will partake of the SAME experience of the baptism with the Spirit that happened once for all almost 2000 years ago! Or else, the Church would not be one body, and each time a person believes, he could open a new Church separate from Christ’s Church! The invisible Church of Christ is one, and we become its members visibly when we receive the sign of baptism (water), and we become its true members in essence when we receive the baptism of Christ, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, when we are born of God.
So let me now explain how we participate in this once-for-all baptism with the Holy Spirit through the new birth.
In the Old Testament times, those who were born of God by faith would not become united to Christ, as Christ had not come yet and had not finished the work of Redemption yet and the Holy Spirit could not yet come and abide in us and make us one body in Christ. We have seen these truths above. But now that the Lord has been glorified and sits at the right hand of God the Father, the Church has already become one body in Christ by the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Before the first Pentecost after the Resurrection, the true believers didn’t have this baptism with the Holy Spirit:
“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39)
This passage makes it clear that the Holy Spirit would not be given before the Lord was glorified. It further makes it clear that ALL those who believe in Christ will have the Holy Spirit in them! It’s not a second experience that believers should wait for in their thirst! Jesus said that all those who believe in Him, from their innermost being will flow rivers of living water! This is not just for “mature believers” as heretics teach! This is not a second experience. The believers were just waiting until the Lord gets glorified. After that, it is finished: the Holy Spirit now came and abides in the Church. Now all those who believe have the Holy Spirit within them, and from their innermost being flow rivers of living water (the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of life!) We are not waiting for another Pentecost! The Spirit is already here, in the Church. So all those who believe receive the Holy Spirit and are united to the Church, and thus they are one body, the body of Christ, as we have seen above. And those who do not have the Spirit of Christ within them do not belong to Him (cf. Romans 8:9)!! Do you realize what this means? Indeed, the teaching of the second-experience teachers is very dangerous! It teaches that a person may belong to Christ although he doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in Him! Beware of those false teachings!
Let’s see how all of this is clearly explained by the Apostles. We have already seen above what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:9 (that only those who have the Spirit of Christ within them belong to Him), so I will not repeat that here. Now, let’s see what else the Apostles said about this baptism with the Holy Spirit:
“in whom ye also [have trusted], having heard the word of the truth, the glad tidings of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, ye have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise“ (Ephesians 1:13)
Did you read this carefully? HAVING BELIEVED, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit OF PROMISE! Which promise is this? This is the promise of the Father about which we have read in Acts 1:4-5:
“and, being assembled with [them], commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father, which [said he] ye have heard of me. For John indeed baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit after now not many days.” (Acts 1:4-5)
So in Ephesians 1:13, the Apostle is talking about the baptism with the Holy Spirit! And what does he say? He says that you receive that baptism when you believe the Gospel! It’s not a second experience that you should expect after Salvation! The Apostle makes this even clearer when he says that ALL those who have believed are now one body as they were baptized with the Holy Spirit:
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
ALL true believers became one body in Christ! There are not true believers who are still waiting for a second experience in which they become one body in Christ! They all participated in the once-for-all baptism with the Holy Spirit when they believed, and now they are one body in Him, and they have the Holy Spirit within them.
And do we see this practically in the Bible? Do we see that all those who believed in Christ after Pentecost immediately received the baptism with the Holy Spirit? Of course we do. We won’t mention all the examples here. Let’s just take one example where this fact is so clear: The example of Cornelius and of all those who were with him and believed the Gospel. That’s found in Acts 10:24-48. There we see how Cornelius and the others, as soon as they believed, were baptized with the Holy Spirit (read Acts 10:44-45). And in Acts 10:47, Peter said that these should receive the sign of baptism (water), as they already received the essence, the baptism with the Holy Spirit. So you see that all believers in all times receive this baptism with the Holy Spirit as soon as they hear and believe the Gospel of Salvation! But was this another Pentecost? No! What Cornelius and his relatives received was the SAME truth that the believers received at Pentecost. This is explained by Peter when he said:
“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them even as upon us also at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with [the] Holy Spirit. If then God has given them the same gift as also to us when we had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who indeed was I to be able to forbid God?” (Acts 11:15-17)
When they had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ?! Did the Apostles receive the Holy Spirit when they believed in the Lord?? NO! The Apostle doesn’t mean the time of the baptism with the Holy Spirit! He means WHO receives that baptism: those who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. In the original, it is not “when we had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ”, but it is “having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ”. So the translator used this “when” as meaning “as” or “we who” or “given the fact that” or “considering the fact that”. The Apostles had believed in Christ BEFORE Pentecost, and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Cornelius (and believers today) believed AFTER Pentecost, but they also receive the SAME gift that the believers received at Pentecost. So it’s not another gift or another baptism! It’s the same gift received by the Church on the day of Pentecost! And Peter makes this clear when in this occasion he quotes Jesus concerning the baptism with the Holy Spirit. All those who believe in the Lord, whether before Pentecost or after Pentecost, receive this same gift of the Holy Spirit. The only thing that made the Apostles and believers wait for this baptism was that Jesus was not yet glorified. Once He was glorified, there is no more need to wait. As soon as you are born of God by faith (see John 1:12-13), then you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise!
Now, before I close this article, let me say this very important point for all those who want to have discernment. (If you don’t want to have discernment, then it’s your own problem, but please don’t stand with those who want to deceive the Church with those lies, because we will expose your lies). But people of God, you who want to have discernment in these matters, please notice why those heretics talk about a second experience called “baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire”: They have changed the meaning of the new birth so much, that they now need another experience, some strong emotions and feelings AFTER that experience of the new birth! For them, the new birth is nothing more than a head-knowledge about the truths of the Bible, so their lives and the lives of their followers do not show any change or any fruit of the Holy Spirit after that “new birth”… So they begin to theorize about a second experience, although they don’t have any biblical basis for those false teachings. After all, they don’t care whether it is the truth or not; they only want to know if that feels good… That’s easy-believism, the lie of this age! Let us know what the new birth really means in the Bible (in new birth, a man becomes a totally new creature! Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17), and let us not be deceived.
We have seen the biblical truth about the Christian baptism in this article. We could not go into more details in the limits of this article, but we studied the essentials. Let’s be careful, and never get deceived. Let’s believe what God says.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ