But as for me (John), I baptize you with water for repentance, but He (Messiah) who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Insertions added by the author.)

(Mat 3:11 NASB)

The doctrines on Baptisms, it seems, would become one of the greatest controversies in the Body of Messiah. There are today, two extreme doctrines on water baptism which marginalize Believers into two distinct groups. There are those who believe and teach that christening a baby seals a child’s salvation by including him into the covenant promises. Then, there are those who assert that a repentant Believer should act in obedience by being immersed into water as a testimony of their identification with the death and resurrection of Messiah, (Rom 6:3-7; Col 2:11-14). Many sincere Believers assert that it really does not matter which Baptism is administrated and that we have the privilege to choose our position on this elemental truth. The symbolism and meaning attached to these two doctrines are distinctly different though! We should, without doubt, strive to build on the foundation as it was laid down and practiced by Messiah and the Apostles. The doctrine on Water Baptism has brought heated disputes and chasms in many communities and households.

YET, an even deeper rift occurs in the Body of Messiah once the doctrine on Baptism in the Holy Spirit is brought to the plumb line. There are those, to the one extreme, who have abused the gift of the Holy Spirit. Having given in to every form of spirituality, they have lost discernment, and in many gatherings, the precious work of the Comforter and Spirit of Truth has been defiled. Then, there are those to the other extreme, who teaches that receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit through a baptism (immersion) was limited to the ministry of the 12 Apostles and that it was a much-needed gift set apart for the early Believing assemblies. Some who hold to this doctrine teaches that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not valid anymore, and in extreme groups, teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is forbidden and members are not allowed to administer their gifts in their assemblies.

The extreme doctrines of those who abuse, as well as those who negate this elemental doctrine, are indeed placing their congregations in great peril, and it is a matter of great concern for the latter-day generation. First and foremost, the latter-days are foreshadowed to be days of great deception, for false prophets and false teachers will show false signs and wonders of great magnitude, leading many astray (Mat 24:24-25; 2 Thes 2:7-12). The Body is warned beforehand to practice discernment of spirits! (1 Tim 4:1; 1 John 4:1).

YET, our Messiah, Jesus Christ, also sternly warned that His Body will render two distinct groups of Believers during these perilous times. There will be ten virgins (a type of the righteous), who will all have lamps (a type of God’s Word); yet, five of them will not have enough oil (a type of the Holy Spirit). The first five virgins will be ready and equipped to face the challenges of distress because they have enough oil, yet five virgins will not be ready and equipped to endure the hardships, for they did not have adequate oil for their lamps,(Mat 25:1-13). Neither of the aforementioned extreme doctrines on the Holy Spirit can thus establish, nor can they benefit the Believers who live in these perilous times.

The distinct Baptism (immersion) into the Holy Spirit was meticulously foreshadowed in the Feasts of the Lord. The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) has been celebrated by the nation of Israel for Millennia, and it was exactly on the 50th Day after Passover, on the day of celebrating this Jewish Feast of the Lord, that the Holy Spirit was poured out like fire to immerge those who faithfully waited on Him, (Acts 2:1-4). [“Pente” is the Greek word for 50, from which we derive the word Pentecost, but it was, in fact, the 50th Day of the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot.]

There was no dispute among the early apostles and Believers, for they made a clear distinction between the Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. We read in the Acts of the Apostles, ‘they sent them (the Samarians who were Gentile Believers) Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit,’ (Acts 8:14-17).  (Insertion added by the author.) [See also Acts 10:44-47; Acts 11:15-17; Acts 15:7-9.]

The gospel was thus presented by the apostles in the very order mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-2, namely ‘repent from dead works and show faith toward God,’ followed by the ‘instructions about Baptisms,’ as we read in Acts, ‘And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,”’ (Acts 2:38). [See also Acts 8:12-17.]

Baptism, we established, is an immersion. If water baptism immerges us into Messiah’s Body through His death and resurrection, then the baptism into the Holy Spirit immerges us into the fullness of His fire and power, (Acts 1:8). This immersion is for our equipment and empowerment to further the Kingdom of God. Clear instructions were given by Messiah as to the Person and office of the Holy Spirit, teaching that He will come alongside to “teach and remind us of the Word of Truth in order to lead and guide us accordingly,” and most important, the Spirit of Truth will “glorify Jesus Christ our Messiah,” (John 14:26; John 16:13-15). The apostle Paul gave clear instructions to the disciplined and orderly administration of the gifts in the assemblies for the sole purpose of edifying the members of the Body, (1 Cor 12; 1 Cor 14; Rom 12:6-8). There is no Scriptural evidence to justify “unruliness” in the presence of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 14:31-33; 1 Cor 14:40), neither can we find evidence that we can “seek spiritual experiences,” (1 Cor 12:7-11).

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is foundational and a wonderful gift of grace to equip the Body, let us thus ensure that we establish elemental doctrine on this crucial immersion!

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