The mentioning of the word “Baptism” within the plethora of Christian denominations, has for countless years sparked outbreaks of discussions, questioning its’ necessity as well as what it should actually entail.
Visions in the minds of many range from those of individuals being totally immersed in rivers or baptismal pools, to others where they are simply sprinkled with water on their heads at church altars. The dictionary defines baptism as a religious ceremony that results in the washing away of sins. Bible scripture depicts it as being significant in that it represents an individual’s public testimony to the world that they symbolically identify on a very personal level with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was crucified, and died on the Cross of Calvary for their sins. Their baptismal act should also communicate to others, that they have prior to being baptized accepted Jesus Christ as their sin bearer and personal Lord and Savior, having consciously made the decision to repent and turn from sin. They see themselves as being raised from the water, with a newly regenerated spirit to live a life of holiness and righteousness based on the Word of God.
In John 1:33 scripture reveals that God sent John, who later became known as John the Baptist, “to bear witness” that Jesus Christ His Son was being sent to earth to be “The Light” of the world that was filled with the darkness of sin. As the prophet Isaiah had prophesied, John was the voice crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” God commanded John to baptize (submerge) in water all who accepted this message that he been instructed to preach. At that point it only represented a “baptism of repentance” for their sins. Their willingness to relinquish their sinful lives filled with darkness, to accept by faith “The Light” (Jesus Christ the Messiah) that God was sending would result in their sins being forgiven. The symbolism of the three stages of this baptism (death, burial, resurrection) was a foreshadow of what Jesus Christ would experience, to free the entire world of sin.
Today many pastors and ministers tell members of church congregations that “water baptism” is not something that they neccesarily need to be overly concerned about, because it has nothing to do with their salvation. Although Salvation is totally prevalent only upon an individual sincerely accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (sin bearer), there is a price that one pays further down the road in terms of their “state of completeness” as a born again, redeemed child of Almighty God.
All throughout the Bible, we are provided with scriptural explications that definitively point to Jesus Christ as the example who we all need to emulate. In Romans 8:29, it reads, For whom He (God) foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Jesus Christ is “the prototype” that God provided for all to model ourselves after so that they will be transformed, and ultimately conform to His image. The key to achieving that conformation, is knowing that Jesus Christ actually underwent three separate baptisms from the time of His incarnation/birth, to the time that He began His public ministry preaching the “Message of the Kingdom of heaven.”
THE FIRST BAPTISM
In the Book of Luke 1:26-35, Almighty GOD sent His angel Gabriel to the city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin named Mary. He told her that the power of Holy Spirit would overshadow her, resulting in her conception which would result in the birth of “The Holy One”, who would be named Jesus, the Son of The Most High God. Being born of the seed of Holy Spirit, Jesus had been “sealed” by Holy Spirit and became Gods’ very own as the “Son of Man.”
In John 6:26-27, Jesus fed a multitude of over five thousand with five barley loaves and two small fish after ministering to them. The day after, many from the multitude went searching for Him. He knew that they were seeking Him only to provide food for their bellies. He told them not to seek Him for food that perishes, but for the food that he could provide them with, that would give them everlasting life, because God the Father had set His seal on Him. When a sinner makes the decision to repent, and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10), according to Ephesians 1:13-14 they are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit of promise as the guarantee of their inheritance until the day of redemption when Jesus Christ returns. This is God’s claim that they have been “set aside” as His very own. It represents the “First Baptism” that newly born believers receive, as a result of submitting themselves to “the death of their sinful ways.” They are baptized by Holy Spirit, into the Body of Christ (The Church) under Jesus Christ who is the Head of the Church.
THE SECOND BAPTISM
John the Baptist knew that his pre-ordained mission from God was to pave the way for the coming Jesus Christ, The Messiah. When he saw Jesus making His way towards him through the large crowd that had come to be baptized, He said in John 1:9, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” According to Matthew 3:14, John initially tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized, feeling that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus responded in Matthew 3:16 saying, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." John in obedience baptized Jesus, totally submerging Him under the water. This represented Christ’s second baptism. It signified a foreshadow of what would later be, His death, burial and resurrection after His crucifixion on the cross. When a newly saved believer is baptized, they signify in a very personal way that they have symbolically died with Christ, been buried with Christ, and have been raised with Christ, a new creation born anew in spirit only.
THE THIRD BAPTISM
After John baptized Jesus, Matthew 3:16-17 says, “the heavens were open to Him and He saw the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) descending in the form of a dove, remaining on Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” John the Baptist informed us in John 1:33, that God had spoken to him prior to Jesus being baptized saying, “UPON WHOM YOU SEE THE SPIRIT DESCENDING AND REMAINING ON HIM, THIS IS HE WHO BAPTIZES WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.” After John baptized Jesus, he bore witness in John 1:32, 34 saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” This represented the third baptism of Jesus Christ. After this baptism, Jesus was endowed with the dunamis power of Holy Spirit to begin His public ministry. It was only after this baptism, that we see in the scriptures His performance of miracle healings, raisings of the dead, and other signs and wonders that took place in Christ’s ministry. This baptism has been, and continues to be the target of an unparalleled amount of controversy among the many denominations of the Christian faith. In John 1:33 Almighty God Himself specifically told John the Baptist that Jesus Christ His Son was the one who would “baptize others with the Holy Spirit.” After His resurrection, Jesus made it very clear to the disciples in the newly formed church (of which we today are a part of) that there existed a great need for them to receive the Baptism of Holy Spirit, so that they would be endowed with power. In the Book of Acts 1: 4-8, Jesus told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise (the gift of Holy Spirit) from His Father, by whom they would receive power to minister His word with boldness. In John 14:16-17, as “Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure, he told them that His Father would send them another Helper to take His place. This helper would be the Spirit of Truth who would dwell with them and in them. In John 20: 21-22 Jesus breathed upon them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In Acts 4:31 it says, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. In Acts 10:44 it says, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.” In Acts 2:4 it says, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Jesus Christ, The Author of Eternal Salvation was subjected to three separate baptisms as the Son of Man by His Sovereign Father, Almighty God. The completion of all three baptisms by our Lord, Savior and Redeemer represent foreshadows of what is required by those who desire to reap the rewards of 1 Corinthian 2:9 that says, “ "EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." According to the word of God, those who love Him, abide in Him by obeying His word, “The Overcomers.” The Word of God tells us that Jesus Christ is the example that we should follow. If Jesus Christ the Son of Almighty God, as a man was required for the “sake of righteousness being fulfilled to experience three baptisms, how much more are we the sons and daughters of God required to do the very same.
“HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR”