Remember, we are reviewing the first principles of the doctrine of Christ beginning with laying a foundation from dead works and faith in God. Today, we review the next principle, immersing ourselves in the discipleship process or as the writer of Hebrews 6 shares, instruction in baptisms. Some translations, like the NIV, use the words cleansing rites but I want to stick with the word, baptisms. There are four baptisms I want to share very briefly about. The first is water baptism, then we will look at the baptism in the Holy Spirit, being baptized with fire, and the baptism into the sufferings of Christ. In this short blog, I will not do the subject justice but want you to be built up in your faith, nevertheless. I do not mean to define all of these as separate events or necessarily separate experiences but ways in which we distinguish the overall work of the Spirit in our lives.
Water baptism is the means of grace through which we are initiated into Christ’s body, the Church. Oft times, baptism is looked upon as an outward sign of our repentance. That would be in line with water baptism meant to follow the ministry of John the Baptist. But, Jesus, when He calls us to water baptism is calling us to join Him “in fulfilling all righteousness”. In water baptism, we are aligning ourselves with the death of Christ that the life of Christ might be quickened within us. It is a means of grace to build up our faith.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is where we are filled with the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. It enables us to receive power from on high and to become witnesses of the Lord. Witnesses are those who have received power to become martyrs for the faith, those who lay down their own ways for the way of the Lord. It is a means of grace that makes us signs of the resurrection!
The baptism of fire is the work of the Holy Spirit that gives us grace to separate ourselves from our old connections and purify our hearts towards a single-minded alignment between our heart and the heart of God. This baptism is necessary not only for spiritual discernment and judgment but for making progress towards perfection in love.
The baptism into Christ’s sufferings is a baptism of God’s comfort at work in us. “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1: 5-9)
Yes, we ask the Lord for the baptism into His suffering so we can say as the Apostle Paul says, “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.” (2 Corinthians 1: 12)