What could be said of the path of Christ?
After you have made the decision to follow Christ, after the prayer has been prayed, what is to be expected of the life you are now going to live? Many people have wrestled with this path forward but if we are to look at scripture and the early church, much of that questioning is answered.
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
This direction from the Apostle Peter comes directly after a crowd of about 3000 received Jesus as their Messiah and Lord.
Peter outlines two specific baptisms that when investigated, can be seen throughout the Old Testament, the othodox Christian church, and what we believe is just a portion of a believer's journey today. “Be baptized” refers to the practice of water baptism (Matt 3:5-6; 10-11) and while it is not a condition of salvation (Luke 23:39-43), it is more accurately described as a “reflection” of one’s salvation. Romans 6:3-4 gives a beautiful picture of the power, not just in the practical, but also the spiritual power of immersion in water baptism. Being that the correlation of submersion in water is to Christ’s journey through death and where we are then afforded Christ’s life when risen out of the water. We have often said that water baptism is a “public declaration of an inward work”. As we profess followership of Christ, water baptism just as in Christ’s own life example, is a clear and intentional step with Christ.
The second baptism often mentioned in scripture is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This baptism may be less public, but has significant meaning to our faith. 1 Cor. 12:3 clarifies that the Holy Spirit is necessary for salvation, but not in the way many would think. It says, “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” So although there is a ‘measure’ of the Holy Spirit within an individual at salvation, the example of the early church gives credence to a significant baptism. The second most significant story of Holy Spirit baptism is found in chapter 8:14-19. We see here that the Holy Spirit was received by the laying on of hands and by apostle prayer. The power was significant enough that a follower requested to purchase such power for personal gain. Reading more into the early church’s birth, this baptism is and remains the catalyst. A catalyst not just for church growth but also for individual growth(Eph1:13-14).
All to say, both baptisms are important.
Both baptisms are significant milestones in a Christian’s journey. And while there is much controversy on both sides of theological perspectives of the necessity and effectiveness of receiving such baptisms, our heart’s desire is for everyone to simply follow Christ with a faithfulness in likeness to a child (Matt 18:3).
Father, we thank you for the sacrifice and gift of your son Jesus Christ. We thank you for your example and we ask that you show us the supernatural ramifications of following you through the waters of baptism. We ask that you bless and empower people to continue to follow you. We desire your Holy Spirit to come and do your work in power and strength. Help us to be a people of childlike faith in your son Jesus Christ. By the simple act of laying of hands and prayer by another, we ask that your Holy Spirit would fall and fill us anew and with power. We love you Lord. Amen.
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