Chapter VI. — Three Baptisms of the New Testament

Distinctive in Time; Mode; Experience.

We have proved by experience that the assertion of at least three different baptisms for believers in the New Testament comes to some Bible students with much surprise. Yet by rightly dividing the Word of truth, the fact of these distinct baptisms is clearly demonstrated. Let us look at the Scripture for each separate baptism.

Baptism in the likeness of His death.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into His death? 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Romans 6:3-5.

Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God who hath raised Him from the dead. Colossians 3:12.

Baptism in Water.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water: what doth hinder me to be baptised? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou may est. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptised him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Ford caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8::35-39.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. … And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptise with water, the same said unto me, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is He which baptiseth with the Holy Ghost. John 1:29-33.

A careful examination of these Scriptures and their contexts will reveal the distinctive characteristics of each.

Baptism in the Likeness of His Death.

This baptism must necessarily precede the believer's baptism by immersion in water or else the ordinance would be void of any spiritual significance. It is a deep spiritual experience of identification with Christ in death, and here in Romans 6, it is held forth as an incentive to holy living.

We now proceed to show that this baptism in the likeness of the death of Christ is the immediate normal experience of a person when justified — that it is identical with justification. The question under consideration by the Apostle is that of holiness of life —

"Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid." Romans 6:1.

He is showing that the habitual life of sin is not consistent with salvation by grace. Evidently there were some believers who held the view, that as their standing before God was made secure through grace, practical holiness did not matter. Such an attitude of mind towards the Kingdom of God received severe condemnation from the Apostle. These people must understand, once and for all, that identification with Christ in death means identification with Him in newness of life. Therefore he takes them back to the place where that new life started, and reminds them of the profession they had made. Had they not been delivered from the old life when they were openly identified with Christ in death at the Cross? Why then should they seek to continue in that life? Had they not professed to have been immediately raised in newness of life? Why then should they walk in the ways of the old? The Apostle was determined that they should clearly understand that the moment of their justification through the death and resurrection of Christ was the moment of death to the old, and that henceforth they should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Romans 6:5.

It is evident from the connection between the fifth and sixth chapters of Romans that the baptism in the likeness of the death of Christ, which means deliverance from the old life, is identical with justification. The inspired logician, dealing with the subject of justification in the previous chapters, carries his argument to its logical conclusion in chapter six. Let us see the trend of this argument on Justification.

Justification in Romans 5.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1.

Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:9, 10.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as By one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Ford. Romans 5:18-21.

What Shall We Say Then?

Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Romans 6:1.

The Apostle's exclamation in this interrogative form clearly identifies and connects the functioning of justification in chapter five with that of the baptism in the likeness of the death of Christ at the commencement of Romans 6.

Baptism by Immersion in Water.

In the Divine order this second baptism should follow on immediately after the baptism in the likeness of the death of Christ. Baptism by immersion gives a clear and distinct testimony to the death and resurrection of Christ, and also to the believer's identification with Him. Alas! this great ordinance has been corrupted in the apostasy of the professing Church, until the fallacy of infant sprinkling has obscured its glorious significance. Others have disregarded the Divine order, and made water baptism the door into Church or Kingdom, and so silenced its powerful message.

Christ outlines the Divine order — Teach, make disciples, then baptize.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:18-20.

Peter at Pentecost emphasises the order.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38.

Baptism immediately followed.

Then they that gladly received his word were baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41.

Baptism immediately followed at Samaria.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women. Acts 8:12.

Baptism immediately followed the Ethiopian's faith.

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptised: And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. … And they went down both into the water. … and he baptised him. Acts 8:36-38.

The Mode of Water Baptism.

There was "much water'' where John baptised.

And John also was baptising in Ænon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptised. John 3:23.

Christ baptised in the River Jordan.

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptised of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him. Mark 1:9, 10.

The Ethiopian went down and came up.

And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptised him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Ford caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:38, 39.

Baptism symbolises death, burial, and resurrection, and when applied to the sprinkling of unconscious infants has no meaning at all. But when applied to the immersion of believers who have, through the exercise of faith, been identified with their Lord in spiritual death and resurrection, it is full of meaning and significance. In the light of these clear statements of Scripture it is amazing to find some Christians who consider this ordinance as unimportant and unessential, and view the matter with indifference whether the sprinkling of infants or the immersion of believers is practised. The same good people would be greatly shocked if they came into contact with those who treated the Lord's Supper in the same way. Yet He who said,

"Do this in remembrance of Me," also said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall he saved.” The spiritual grace pictured in the ordinance of Baptism, like that in the Lord's Supper, cannot possibly function upon unconscious babes, but only upon persons who have intelligently accepted eternal life through the death which is symbolised by the ordinance. Neither ordinance is essential to salvation, but both are positive commands to those who are saved. It is most daring and presumptuous of men to set aside the ordinance of Baptism by immersion — which, like the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, Christ Himself instituted — and to substitute another which entirely obscures its original meaning both as to subjects and mode. In this connection Professor Lange, the author of a history of Protestantism, gives a most consistent view.

"If the Protestant Church would fulfil and attain to its final destiny, the baptism of new-born children must be abolished. It has sunk down to a mere formality, without any religious meaning for the child, and stands in contradiction to the fundamental doctrine of the Reformers on the advantage and use of the Sacraments. It cannot on any point of view be justified by Scripture."

Some of the most profound spiritual analogies in the New Testament are closely related to the truth of baptism by immersion. This ordinance, as practised by the Apostles, stands out through the centuries as an impregnable rock amidst the ever-changing seas of modernistic theory. It solidly withstands the raging billows of twentieth-century Higher Criticism, for it openly testifies to the atoning death and bodily resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ for our justification. Our Lord was not sprinkled with death as symbolised by traditional infant-sprinkling, but He was immersed in death as symbolised in the Scriptural mode of baptism by immersion. The love of Christ towards the sinner is manifested in His atoning death, which breaks the fetters of sin.

The love of the believer towards his Saviour is manifested in his obedience to the Word of God, which breaks the fetters of tradition. The unmistakable evidence of love is its translation into action.

The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit.

This baptism generally came third in the Divine order, and follows on after the baptism by immersion. Believers throughout the present dispensation have testified to the experience after waiting upon God in prayer. Inspired history testifies to the frequent supernatural gift of speaking in tongues that accompanied the baptism in the days of the Apostles. In our day there are tens of thousands all over the world who have the same testimony, and the number is increasing with amazing rapidity. It would be difficult to find one country in the whole world where the Holy Spirit has not fallen in this manner. From north, south, east and west comes the news of Pentecostal outpourings and its miraculous gifts and signs.

We have had thirty-three nationalities represented in one meeting at our Foursquare Gospel demonstrations at the Royal Albert Hall, London, all bound together by the bond of spiritual fellowship. If sometimes we have not been able to converse freely owing to the language difficulty, we have been able to converse at the throne of the heavenly grace. There the language difficulty disappears, for the Spirit divides severally as He will the miraculous gifts whereby we are linked together in communion with God.

The following Scriptures will show that the baptism of the Holy Spirit generally comes third in the Divine order.

Seen in Peter's message at Pentecost.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised 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. Acts 2:38.

The order in this scripture is clear: —

(a)            "Repent": Baptism in the likeness of His death.

(b)           "Be baptised": Baptism by immersion in water.

(c)            "Ye shall receive": Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Seen again at Samaria.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women. Acts 8:12.

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Hoy Ghost. Acts 8:17.

(a)            They believed: Baptism in the likeness of His death.

(b)           They were baptised: Baptism by immersion in water.

(c)            They received: Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Seen again at Ephesus.

He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said, unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. Acts 19:2.

When they heard this, they were baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:5.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:6.

(a)      They had believed: Baptism in the likeness of His death.

(b)  They were baptised: Baptism by immersion in water.

(c)      They received: Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

An Exception To The Divine Order. At Caesarea.

When charged by those that were of the circumcision with going to the Gentiles Peter declared that the Spirit of God had definitely led him to do so, and that Cornelius, to whom he was sent, had also received news, through a vision, that Peter was coming to convey the message of salvation.

Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. Acts 11:14.

Peter did preach the words whereby Cornelius and his household were saved, for it is evident that they exercised saving Faith in Christ, and received remission of sins while Peter was preaching. Then, while still listening to Peter, they received the Holy Spirit, for He fell on all of them.

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word. Acts 10:44.

This remarkable event has been repeated several times in our own ministry, for the Holy Spirit has fallen exactly as He did in Cornelius' house, and with the same signs, while words like the following were going forth —

"To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins" Acts 10:43.

The Gentiles at the house of Cornelius received the gift of the Holy Spirit before they were baptised in water.

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptised, which have received the Hoy Ghost as well as we? Acts 10:47.

And he commanded them to be baptised in the Name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. Acts 10:48.

(a)            They believed on Christ: Baptism in the likeness of His death.

(b)           The Holy Ghost fell on them: Baptism in the Holy Ghost.

(c)            Baptism afterwards commanded: Baptism by immersion in water.

But God, in His sovereign right, on this occasion, changed the usual order by baptising the household of Cornelius in the Holy Spirit before they were baptised in water, as the quoted scriptures show. Different Agents At Each Separate Baptism.

The following analysis of these baptisms proves conclusively that they are three distinct acts.

The Divine Agent who operates at the new birth is — The Holy Spirit.

He convicts of sin.

And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. John 16:8.

He regenerates.

Jesus answered, 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.

Regeneration is identical with justification, and justification as we have shown, is identical with the baptism in the likeness of the death of Christ.

The agent who officiates at the baptism by immersion in water is —

The Minister.

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptised him. Acts 8:38.

The Divine Agent who baptises with the Holy Spirit is —

The Lord Jesus Christ.

And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him, And

I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptise with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptiseth with the Hoy Ghost. John 1:32, 33.

A Difference in The Subjects.

The subject at the baptism in the likeness of the death of Christ is —

The sinner.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Romans 6:3.

The subject at the baptism by immersion in water is —

The believer.

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptised, and her household, she besought us, saying If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. Acts 16:14, 15.

The subject at the baptism of the Holy Spirit is also —

The believer.

For John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Acts 1:5.

He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed: And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. Acts 19:2.

Different Elements At Each Separate Baptism. The element in the first baptism is — The death of Christ.

The sinner must be willing for his old life to go down into death in the person of his Saviour, if he is to experience newness of life in Christ. It is only on this ground that God can justify him, and this is the reason why we point sinners to the Cross. We have already shown that justification is identical with this baptism.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptised into His death? Romans 6:3.

Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God. Colossians 2:12.

The element in the second baptism is — Water: in which the officiating minister immerses the believer.

Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptised. Acts 10:47.

The element in the third baptism is —

The Holy Spirit: in whom the Lord Jesus baptises the believer:

I indeed have baptised you with water: but He [Christ] shall baptise you with the Hoy Ghost. Mark 1:8.

Baptism In The Likeness Of His Death.

Agent

The Holy Spirit.

Subject

The Sinner.

Element

Death

Baptism By Immersion In Water.

Agent

The Minister.

Subject

The Believer.

Element

Water.

Baptism With The Holy Spirit.

Agent

The Lord Jesus.

Subject

The Believer.

Element

The Holy Spirit.

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