VOX POP // voice of the people
2 Questions from the March 1, 2015 sermon entitled Encounters in the Wilderness // Mark 1:4-13
QUESTION #1 // Should I get baptized if I've been a follower of Christ for many years
Matthew 28:19 says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is the direct command of Jesus that we as Christians need to make disciples and baptize them.
Why is this so important?
Romans 6:3-5 says: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Baptism is a picture of what was accomplished through the life/death/burial/resurrection of Jesus, and the outward sign of the believers union, identification, and expression of faith with Christ. It is something the Bible clearly calls all believers to do.
Baptism is the outward expression of an inward reality, just as a wedding ring is the outward sign of marriage. It is the symbol of your new life as a Christian. Therefore, we would urge all believers, regardless of how long you have believed and followed Christ, to follow the command of Christ to be baptized. To those who were baptized as infants, to those who were baptized in a catechism program, and to those who were baptized prior to understanding the significance of the work of Christ symbolized in the act of baptism, we would urge you to follow the command of Christ and be baptized as a public profession of your faith and union with him.
QUESTION #2 // When does baptism in the Holy Spirit happen? Is it connected to, or separate from, our water baptism?
I (Joshua) grew up in an extremely charismatic church, and I had always been taught that there were two types of Christians: Regular Christians and Spirit-Filled Christians. I took great pride in the fact that I belonged to the latter category, and prayed for those friends and family members who I assumed had not yet received the Holy Spirit.
Having now read and studied this topic more in depth, and having sat under some more theologically informed teaching, my understanding of this has changed significantly. To begin with, I assumed that if someone wasn’t baptized in the Holy Spirit that they did not have the Holy Spirit. However, if it is the action of baptism that imparts the Holy SPirit to us, then that would also mean that the person asking the question above, who has been a believer and follower of Jesus but hasn’t yet been Baptized, has yet to receive Jesus because they are not yet baptized. This clearly isn’t the case. Baptism is the outward visible sign of the already existing inward and invisible reality.
In fact, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit works in us and gives us a new heart that enables us to respond to the Gospel (Ezekial 36:26 & 26:27, John 1:12-13) and that our being born-again isn’t something we do, but something that is done for us on our behalf (1 John 5:1, John 3:3, Ephesians 2:8). We aren’t regenerated at the time of baptism, nor do we first receive Jesus at the time of Baptism. It is clear that our regeneration precedes even our choosing, and the action of baptism is the outward expression of what has happened inside our hearts. It is an identifying with the death and resurrection of Jesus, and an admittance that it was Jesus who cleansed and washed us from our sin (through the action of our immersion), and that apart form Jesus we deserve death. But because of the perfect life of Jesus and his substitutionary work on the cross, we now (through him) will resurrect to eternal life (symbolized in the coming out of the water).
So, I now understand that I had the Holy Spirit at work in me before I even believed, after all it was in fact the Holy Spirit that enabled me to believe, and I know I had encountered and received Jesus before I was baptized in my pastors backyard pool. But the act of baptism is the outward sign of an inward identifying with Jesus’ life/death/resurrection, and likewise, if we have the Holy Spirit there will be outward signs of this new inward reality.
Once upon a time I believed that the sole sign (or evidence, or fruit) of the Spirit at work in a believers life was that they spoke in tongues. The Bible is clear that there will be signs and evidences that the Spirit is at work in you, but I would argue that there is no biblical indication that speaking in tongues is the sole evidence. The evidences we should exhibit as a result of being born of the Spirit include:
- The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:16-25 which is not fruit we naturally produce, but the fruit that results from being indwell by the Holt Spirit.
- A confidence in the assurance of salvation as given to us through belief in Jesus as Lord, as the Bible is clear that a regenerate heart that believes in Jesus is the first gift the Holy Spirit gives believers
- An increasing distaste for sin and an increasing desire for and satisfaction in the commands of the Lord.
The meaning of the word ‘baptism’ is: to be immersed or to be washed. As born-again Christians we understand that at the moment of conversion the Holy Spirit had already given us a new heart and already indwelt us. We believe that we were baptized (immersed, cleansed, and washed), and that the outward signs and evidences of this inward activity will continue on throughout the course of our lives.
~ Reality gospel + culture collective