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What is Baptism?

There are at least two types of baptisms specifically mentioned in scripture that will be discussed here, water baptism and baptism in the Holy Spirit. These two baptisms differ from each other as one is performed by a man in the physical and the other is performed by God in the spiritual. Both, however, are essential to the salvation and growth of a believer and an upcoming Disciple of Jesus Christ.

The word “baptize” comes directly from the Greek word “baptizo” which literally means “to dip; to immerse; to cleanse or purify by washing;”. The word “baptize” is an untranslated word. The Greek term baptizo was simply brought into the English, without translation. The final “o” was dropped and the “e” was added instead to give us the English verb “baptize.”.

Let’s look in the book of John, Jesus speaking to a man of renown, said these words.

John 3:3

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

And again He said:

John 3:5

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

What does it mean to be born again? Nicodemus asked the same question and Jesus said the rebirth must be “of water and of the Spirit“. Both of these are baptisms. Here is how it works.

The Baptisms

Baptism In Water

The first real mention of baptism in scripture can be found at the beginning of the Gospels. This baptism was performed by John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus according to the flesh. Scripture points out that John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance and that it was to decrease once the Messiah came on to the scene.

Acts 19:4

Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Although this baptism would become obsolete in its current purpose, the act of baptism would take a huge role in the transforming of the Body of Christ in the days that followed John. As John baptized people who were hungry for truth, Jesus came on the scene and asked John to baptize him. John confused at this, said to Jesus that he needed to be baptized by him for he knew that Jesus had no sin in need of repentance ( I am paraphrasing ). Jesus said that this act was so they could fulfill all righteousness.

Matthew 3:15

And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

“Suffer it to be so now“. What do these words mean? What was it Jesus was fulfilling? Once we begin to learn what baptism means to us as believers, all this should begin to be more clear. Jesus said these words to Nicodemus one night, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5). These words are the foundation as to why baptism is a necessity in a person’s life in order to live according to God’s word.

Back to the statement made concerning John’s baptism being obsolete, we must be aware that what he was doing was preparing the way for the one that was to come after him (Matthew 3:3). Jesus’ baptism was done for our example that we too must be baptized in order to have any communion with him (1 Peter 2:21). This baptism is more than just an outward expression to the public, it is a literal partaking of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. That just as Christ came to give his life, so we should give ours. That in the likeness as he went down into the grave and came rose on the third day, so we should do in like manner except in the water. In the water, we are buried with Christ and our sins are blotted away never to be remembered (Hebrews 9:22, Acts 2:38).

Romans 6:3-5

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

4 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.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

How Should We Baptize?

Based on scriptural evidence like, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water:” and word definitions, we are to baptize by completely immersing the body in water. Actually, both baptisms require full immersion of the element, water and spirit. Scripture also teaches us that the name we should use for baptism in water is “Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38) or “Lord Jesus”(Acts 19:5). Some would even combine the two and use the name “Lord Jesus Christ”. This is important for it is through this act that we are called by his name.

Spirit Baptism

We find John once again, now with reference to baptism in the Holy Spirit. John knew about this coming baptism and preached to the crowd that he could only baptize with water but one would come after with more power.

Matthew 3:11

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

This baptism is performed by Jesus through the work of the Holy Ghost and happens within a person and is given to a person as a fulfillment of a promise made by the Father. Once the veil was ripped in two, the promise was that the Holy Spirit would come to dwell within us and we were given rights to worship God in spirit and in truth no matter where we would be (John 4:21-24, ). By receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, one is endued with power from on high and can be used fully for the betterment of the Kingdom of God.

Acts 1:8

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

All throughout the new testament, we find that the new believers were baptized by the Holy Spirit either before or after baptism. Nevertheless, both were done to each person on every occasion. For it is the formula that brings the new birth and salvation to anyone that believes that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Acts 2:38

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Closing Remarks

Both baptisms,  water baptism along with the baptism of the Holy Spirit are the essential ingredients to the new birth (John 3:5). It is through the baptism in water that the blood of Jesus is applied. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is evident through a clear manifestation of speaking in tongues and through the fruit of the Spirit. You are sealed to the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).  There is so much more that we can uncover when exploring these two baptisms but this will help you get started in your quest to grow deeper in God’s word.

Here is more information on the topic of baptism. I pray this material is a blessing to you,

Baptism, The Power Of The Water

Power In The Water – YouTube

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