WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 18, 2021
TOPIC: THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS
BY T. O. BANSO
“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2 New King James Version).
Baptism is from the Greek root word, “baptizo”, which means immersion. Baptism is a very important word in the Bible. In fact, one prophet in the Bible goes by the name John the Baptist. He was the forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ and actually a relation. He was older than Jesus by six months (Luke 1:36, 26-27)
John lived in the wilderness (Luke 1:80; 3:2; Mark 1:4), was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6). John’s ministry was significant because, unlike the prophets before him in the Old Testament, he came calling people unto repentance and baptizing them in water (Matthew 3:1-17; John 1:28; 31;).
He baptized many Jews who went to Him to be baptized in water. Jesus also did and he baptized Him in water after he had first rejected Jesus’ request to baptize Him. Although Jesus was not a sinner, He went for baptism probably as part of Heaven’s plan for John to use the opportunity to reveal Him to the Jews as the Messiah.
John 1:29-31 says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Soon a man is coming who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before I did.’ I didn’t know he was the one, but I have been baptizing with water in order to point him out to Israel” (New Living Translation).
The passage continues: “Then John said, ‘I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘When you see the Holy Spirit descending and resting upon someone, he is the one you are looking for. He is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Son of God’” (verses 32-34 New Living Translation).
Jesus was baptized in water but how many baptisms do we have? The writer of the book of Hebrews talks about the doctrines (not doctrine) of baptism. That’s the way the New King James Version puts it. “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2 New King James Version).
Please take note of the phrase “the doctrine of baptisms.” The New Living translation presents it as “further instruction about baptisms.” Baptism is used in the plural sense. This means we have more than one baptism. Doesn’t this contradict Ephesians 4:5, which talks about “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”? No. Ephesians 4:5 is talking about baptism into one Saviour, Jesus Christ, whether one is a Jew or Gentile.
Since the Bible talks about baptism in the plural, let’s see the different baptisms in the Bible.
1.The baptism of John. John’s baptism in water was a baptism of repentance unto remission of sin for the people of Israel or the Jews (Acts 13:24). In Acts 19:1-5, twelve disciples at Ephesus answered Paul that they had not heard whether there was a Holy Spirit. They said that they were baptized into John’s baptism. Consequently, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Hands were laid on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
The baptism of John was just a shadow of what was to come (Matthew 21:25; Mark 11:30; Luke 20:4; Luke 7:29; John 1:28-31; 3:23; Acts 13:24; 18:25, 19:3-5, Acts 1:22). Acts 18:25 says, at Ephesus, Apollos spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, although he knew only the baptism of John (Acts 18:25). When Aquila and Priscilla, husband and wife, heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
2. Believers’ baptism in water. This is different from the baptism of John although it is also water baptism. However, it is for all who believe in Jesus Christ, not only the Jews (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12-13, 36-38; 9:17-18; 10:47-48; 16:13-15, 29-33; 18:8, 19:1-5). In addition, the believer is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit or in the name of the Lord Jesus (Mathew 28:19; Acts 8:16;19:5).
Jesus commanded this baptism and it was done by the early church for new believers. Water baptism for someone who believes in Christ is the same as being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27). It is a mark of the believer’s identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-4).
3. Baptism into the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us that by one Spirit believers in Christ were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
The body of Christ (the church) is one with many parts but under the control of one Spirit. There could be different denominations but the body of Christ is one (Romans 12:4-5). “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4).
4. Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The prophet Joel prophesied about the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Joel 2:28-29. John the Baptist spoke about it and Jesus prepared the mind of His disciples for this baptism (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5, 2:4; 10:44; 11:16; 19:6).
As Jesus had promised, the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost. The disciples experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues (Acts 2. 1-13). This baptism is still available today. If you haven’t received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, you can receive it today by someone ministering to you or by asking God to give you.
5. Baptism of Fire. John spoke about two baptisms in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16, baptism of Holy Spirit and baptism of fire, which the One mightier than he was, who was coming would baptize with. He was referring to Jesus. I have already discussed the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which believers began to enjoy from the Day of Pentecost.
Bible scholars have interpreted John’s statement on the baptism of fire in two ways. It is considered as the tongues of fire that accompanied the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:2-4 says, “Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (New King James Version).
In other words, the baptism of fire could be said to be inseparable from the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is believed to be the fire effect of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, some consider fire baptism as the judgment of hellfire. In other words, it is the wrath of God that would come in the future. Jesus said, “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49 New King James Version). The Bible talks about hellfire which is the final destination of sinners (Matthew 5:22, 29; 10:28; 23:33; Luke 12:5; Mark 9:43-47; Revelation 21:8).
6. Baptism into Moses. This phrase is found in 1Corinthians 10:2: “All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (New King James Version). This scripture refers to all the followers of Moses – the Israelites. “And all [of them] were baptized into Moses [into his safekeeping hands as their leader] in the cloud and in the sea” (1Corinthians 10:2 Amplified Bible).
The Israelites were the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38 King James Version). Just as they were united with Moses their leader, as God led them through the pillar of cloud and the red sea on dry ground (Exodus 13:21-20; 14:15-22), the Christians are united with Christ our Saviour in baptism. “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him” (Galatians 3:27 New Living Translation).
7. Baptism of suffering. This is another kind of baptism the Bible talks about. Referring to His imminent suffering on the cross, Jesus said, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50 New King James Version).
In Mark 10, the two sons of Zebedee came to Jesus to ask for a favour that in His glorious Kingdom, they wanted to sit in places of honor next to Him – one at His right and the other at His left (verses 35-37).
Jesus answered them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?” (Verse 38 New Living Translation). They said they were able. Please take note of the phrase “baptism of suffering.”
Jesus experienced the baptism of fire, dying eventually on the cross. James was killed with the sword (Acts12:2.); John was exiled to the Island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). There are different versions of how John eventually died. Every child of God will receive the baptism of suffering in varying measures. Paul said he wanted to learn what it meant to suffer with Jesus, sharing in his death (Philippians 3:10).
To the angel of the persecuted church, the church in Smyrna, the Lord wrote, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 New King James Version).
The disciples of Jesus must endure persecution and trials. Whoever endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13) “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13 New King James Version).
8. Baptism for the dead. The apostle Paul talks about the baptism for the dead. “If the dead will not be raised, then what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again?” (1Corinthians 15:29 New Living Translation).
Bible scholars are not agreed on the identity of those who practised baptism for the dead which Paul referred to. Whereas some scholars have said that some Corinthian Christians were baptized on behalf of other Christians who had died without being baptized, others said it was a pagan practice. Paul didn’t support or condemn this strange practice. He only made reference to it to emphasize that resurrection was real. Obviously, baptism for the dead is inconsistent with the scriptures.
Conclusion: You have seen the different baptisms the Bible talks about. Are you born again? Have you been baptized in water? There is no mention of the sprinkling of water for baptism in the Bible – baptism means you must be dipped into water or immersed in water. Finally, have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, let the minds of those the god of this world has blinded be opened so that they will believe the gospel, be saved, and be baptized. Let the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, shine unto them. Father, touch all those who believe in Jesus Christ but are not yet baptized in water or have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit; cause them to take the step of obedience and be baptized in Jesus’ name.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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