Salvation Through the Waters, Sanctification Through the Fire

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament scriptural account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus—the Church—as it was written and recorded by Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first twenty-two verses of the nineteenth chapter. “And it came to pass that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 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. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s Baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departure from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:1-12).

 

            “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:13-20).

 

            “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Maceonida two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season” (Acts 19:21-22).

 

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Ephesus for the second time. If you turn and direct your attention to the previous chapter you will find the apostle Paul had come unto the city of Ephesus, however, he could not remain or abide within the city due to a vow he had made which required him to go unto the city of Jerusalem. If you begin reading with and from the eighteenth verse of the eighteenth chapter you will find that after the apostle Paul had tarried and abode within the city of Ephesus he took his leave of the brethren and sailed unto Syria together with Priscilla and Aquila. Luke goes on to write how the apostle Paul had shaved his head in Cenchrea because of a vow he had made before and unto the Lord. As the apostle Paul journeyed unto Syria he would come unto the city of Ephesus and would leave Aquila and Priscilla there while he himself entered into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. Scripture reveals how those in the city of Ephesus desired the apostle Paul to tarry longer time with them yet he would not but bid them farewell. The purpose and reason for the apostle Paul’s quick departure from the city of Ephesus was due to his needing to keep the feast which took place in the city of Jerusalem. Despite the fact the apostle Paul would not dwell and tarry with those in Ephesus he promised them he would return unto them if the living God ordained and purposed him to do so. Having departed from the city of Ephesus he would come unto Caesarea and saluted the church before going down unto Antioch. The apostle Paul would spend some time in Antioch before he would journey unto Galatia and Phrygia in order as he strengthened the disciples.

 

            In the final verses of the eighteenth chapter we find Aquila and Priscilla being present in the city of Ephesus and that a certain Jew named Apollos who was born in Alexandria—an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures coming unto Ephesus. Luke writes and records how this man was instructed in the way of the Lord and being fervent in the spirit would speak and teach diligently the things of the Lord. What we find in this passage, however, is something that would set the stage for the apostle Paul’s return unto the city of Ephesus. As you continue reading the words which are found in the final portion of the eighteenth chapter you will find how although Apollos was instructed in the way of the Lord, despite the fact he was mighty in the scriptures and fervent in the spirit he knew only the baptism of John. According to scripture the baptism of John is a baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins. The baptism of John was baptism in water as men and women would make a public profession and confession of their faith before and the sight of the living God. Scripture makes it perfectly clear in this particular passage that Apollos would come unto the city of Ephesus and would teach those in the city the things of the Lord, however the revelation which he taught them was incomplete and only partial in nature. Apollos would indeed come unto the city of Ephesus and teach those present in the city the things of the Lord and would preach the baptism of John, however, that revelation of the baptism of John was but an initial work of the Lord within the lives of those who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus. The baptism of John was merely the entry way and beginning of the revelation of the Lord Jesus and that work which would take place within the hearts and lives of those who would continue to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            As you continue reading in the final verses of the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book we find that when Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos in the synagogue of the Jews they would take him unto themselves and expound unto him the way of God more perfectly. Scripture goes on to reveal how when Apollos was purposed to pass into Achaia the brethren wrote exhorting the disciples to receive him. Upon Apollos coming unto the churches and brethren in Achaia he helped those which believed through grace for he mightily convinced the Jews and publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. It is important for us to recognize and understand this particular truth for in the absence of the apostle Paul from the city of Ephesus we find Aquila and Priscilla whom he had met in the city of Corinth being left behind in the city—undoubtedly to labor among them in the work of the Lord Jesus. Scripture reveals how upon the departure of the apostle Paul from the city of Ephesus he would leave Aquila and Priscilla behind in the midst of the city that they might work an effectual and fervent work in the midst of these people. This work would experience a secondary voice and ministry as Apollos would come unto the city and would teach them publicly the ways of the Lord. Apollos would come unto the city of Ephesus and would speak boldly in their synagogues the things of the Lord, however, he was only aware of and knew the baptism of John. Luke reveals how Apollos was not verses in the baptism of the Lord Jesus nor was he versed in the baptism and work of the Holy Ghost and how men and women who believed would and could receive the Holy Ghost. Essentially the words which Apollos had spoken unto those in Ephesus were words concerning the baptism of John which bid men unto repentance for the remission of their sins in the sight of the living God.

 

            Upon coming to the nineteenth chapter you will find that Apollos had gone unto Corinth and how the apostle Paul had passed through the upper coasts coming unto Ephesus. When Paul arrived at Ephesus he found certain disciples who were present in the midst of the city and asked them one very important, personal and powerful question. The question the apostle Paul asked the disciples whom he had found in the city of Ephesus was simply whether or not they had received the Holy Ghost since they first believed. It is actually necessary we pause for a moment and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for this question is perhaps one of the most pertinent and powerful questions we must needs ask ourselves as the disciples of the Lord Jesus. Up until that point in time those in Ephesus had heard the teaching of Apollos and had heard words concerning the things of the Lord, however, they had only heard of the baptism of John. Oh this is important to realize and recognize for it helps us to understand the tremendous truth of two different and two distinct baptisms which are present in the midst of the life of the believer. If you read the New Testament—particularly and especially beginning with the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find John the Baptist being the messenger and forerunner of the Messiah and preparing the way for His arrival and His coming. You cannot read the opening chapters of each of the four New Testament gospels and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that John did indeed come baptizing in water. It is absolutely unmistakable when reading the four New Testament gospels that John the Baptist came unto Judaea and into the surrounding region teaching and preaching the things of the Lord while baptizing men and women unto repentance.

 

            When we think about and consider the baptism of John, however, we must needs recognize that the baptism of John would indeed be an initial work of grace within the lives of those who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus. Scripture makes it very clear that not only would John the Baptist prepare and make ready the way and path for the Lord Jesus but the baptism with which he came baptizing men and women would be an initial work of grace which was present in the midst of the hearts and lives of those who believed. John the Baptist would indeed come preaching repentance unto those who believed and would proclaim unto them the kingdom of heaven was at hand. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for John’s voice and ministry was one that would prepare and make ready men and women for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Scripture makes it very clear that John the Baptist was the voice of one crying in the wilderness calling for the way to be prepared and for the manifestation of the Lord to come into the earth. The ministry of John the Baptist would be the first public proclamation from heaven by and through a man in four-hundred years. The voice of John the Baptist would be the first prophetic voice that would speak in the midst of the earth since Malachi who would preach unto those who had not only returned from exile but those who were dwelling securely in the land of Judaea. It would be Malachi’s voice which would be the final voice present in the midst of the earth before four-hundred years of silence would come upon the earth—essentially that which the Lord had spoken through His servant Amos who would powerfully prophesy a day coming when there would be a famine of the word of the living God in the midst of the earth. It would be the prophet Amos who would proclaim a time coming upon the earth when men and women would go to and fro throughout and upon it seeking for the word of the Lord only to find nothing but silence.

 

            John the Baptist would come forth from the wilderness without announcement and without and type fanfare and warning and preach the word of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth. John the Baptist would indeed be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, saying, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” and would come unto those in Judaea and the region round about teaching and preaching the kingdom of heaven. It would be John the Baptist who would powerfully proclaim the wonderful and powerful truth concerning the kingdom of heaven and calling men and women to repentance. This messenger sent directly from the living God would not only speak of the kingdom of heaven coming unto and upon the earth but would also call on them to repent before the Lord of their sins. In fact it would be Luke who would record how the publicans, the soldiers and the people would come unto John asking them what they ought to do in light of the words which he had spoken unto them. I am absolutely convinced that in order to understand the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it is absolutely necessary we pay close attention to what took place within the four gospels—and not only that which John the Baptist would teach and preach unto those in Judaea, those in Jerusalem, those in Galilee and those in the surrounding regions of Judaea. There is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which John the Baptist spoke and preached during those days yet even with that being said it is absolutely necessary we recognize that although John the Baptist came preaching repentance and a baptism in water as men and women would make a public profession and confession in the sight of the living God he recognized two very important truths. The more you read the opening chapters of the four New Testament gospels the more you will find that although John the Baptist would indeed baptize with water, although he would preach the coming and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven and although he would call upon men and women to repent before the living God he not only publicly proclaimed that he was not the Messiah and the Christ but also emphatically declared that there was one among them who coming after him was preferred before him. It is the words which John the Baptist spoke that serve as the background and foundation for what is found here in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts and I invite you to consider the following passages found within the gospels and how John recognized that his was an initial work of grace which would take place in the midst of the earth:

 

            “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Elias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And this same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his l ions; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire, whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-12).

 

            “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a gridle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1;1-8).

 

            “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberias Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:1-9).

 

            “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also the publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:10-14).

 

            “And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all. I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. But Herod the Tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison” (Luke 3:15-20).

 

            “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 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 baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

            Please do not miss the incredible significance of what is found within these passages of Scripture for all of these passages point to one specific reality concerning John the Baptist—namely, that although he came preaching a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins there would come one after him who was mightier than him and who was preferred before him. What makes the words and ministry of John the Baptist so incredibly unique and power when you think about it is that although he baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins he recognized that there was coming one after him who was mightier than he. What’s more is that not only did John the Baptist recognize and understand that there was one coming after him who was mightier than he but he also knew and understood that his baptism in water was but the first and initial work of grace. There would be one coming after him who wouldn’t baptize in water but would instead baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Oh although John the Baptist would indeed baptize in water unto repentance for the remission of sins he recognized and understood there was one coming after him who would introduce a new baptism—a baptism that was not one of water but one that was of fire. John’s baptism would be an initial work which would take place in the midst of the waters while there would be another work which would take place in the midst of the fire.

 

            The more I sit here and think about these two baptisms—the baptism of water and the baptism of fire—the more I am brought face to face with how this initial work which would take place in the midst of the waters would be a powerful reminder of two distinct works which would take place in the waters during the days of the fathers. If you turn and direct your attention back to the Old Testament books of Genesis and Exodus you will find the living and eternal God accomplishing two distinct works taking place in the midst of the waters. There would be an initial work of the waters which would cover the face of the whole earth while there would be a second work taking place in the midst of the waters which would take place in the sea which separates the land of Egypt from the wilderness of Sinai. If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Genesis—specifically the sixth and seventh chapters—you will find the earth was filled with tremendous wickedness and that the intentions and devices of man’s heart were continually evil before the Lord. It would be during the days of Noah the sons of God would go in unto the daughters of men and would bear children through them. It would be these children who would be the initial giants and Nephilim we read of in the Old Testament Scriptures. It would be during the days of Noah when not only did violence and wickedness cover the face of the whole earth but there were also abominations which were present in the midst of the earth as the Nephilim would move about freely throughout the earth. It would be during this time the Lord would not only look upon the tremendous evil which would take place upon the earth but also repented in His heart for making man upon the earth. As a direct result of this the Lord would not only shorten man’s days to seventy years but the Lord would also purpose to destroy every thing that had breath which moved upon the earth save Noah and his wife, their three sons together with their wives, and two of every living creature which moved upon the face of the earth both male and female.

 

            In the sixth, seventh and eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find that when the work of building the Ark was complete and after Noah and his family together with two of every living creature was present upon the ark with Noah the Lord sealed and shut them up in the midst of the ark. Immediately after this the fountains of the deep were broken up and sprang up upon the earth. Moreover the Lord would send rain upon the earth such as has not been seen since them. As a direct result of the deluge from above and the deluge from beneath the whole earth was covered with and consumed by water—so much so that the peaks of the mountains were covered. For forty days and forty nights it would rain upon the face of the earth before the Lord would finally cause the waters to recede from the face of the whole earth. What we must needs recognize concerning this work which took place upon the earth is that it was a work that took place in the midst of and beneath the waters. While it was indeed true the waters of the deluge and flood were salvation for Noah and his family as they would move upon the waters which covered the face of the whole earth those same waters would be death and destruction for those who did not believe and those who conducted themselves wickedly in the midst of the earth. The waters which were present upon the earth were such that offered salvation and life for Noah and his family together with all the living creatures which were upon the ark, however, those same waters would spell destruction, devastation, death and judgment for all those who lived and moved upon the face of the earth.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this Old Testament passage of Scripture for it is within this passage of Scripture we read of a great work which took place beneath the waters—namely the destruction of all that was wicked upon the face of the earth and the cleansing of the earth of all the lewdness and filth which was present upon it. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the events which took place during this time for the waters which covered the face of the earth would be salvation for those in the ark but judgment for those who would be consumed by the waters of the flood. This is something we must needs understand and acknowledge for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the baptism in water which we find in the New Testament during the days of John the Baptist. In all reality we must needs recognize and understand that the baptism of John—a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins—was indeed a powerful symbol of that which took place during the days of the flood taking place within the lives of those who believed, those who repented and those who were baptized. There is not a doubt in my mind that John’s baptism which was one of water would symbolize the tremendous death, destruction and judgment upon our old nature of sin as it is buried beneath the waters and completely and utterly consumed. Just as the living God destroyed all wickedness and all evil beneath the waters of the great deluge and flood so also would the living God destroy all wickedness, all iniquity, all rebellion, all sin, and everything that displeased Him beneath the waters of baptism.

 

            There is not a doubt in my mind that the baptism of John—a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins—is a baptism that is centered upon the work which took place beneath the waters. Those who came unto the baptism of John came repenting and confessing their sins and as a direct result of their confession of sins they would be baptized in water. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for there beneath the waters a work would take place within the hearts and lives of those who gave themselves unto the waters. What we must needs recognize and understand is that baptism is symbolic of the days of Noah and the great work which took place during those days for at that time the Lord not only accomplished salvation upon the earth but also accomplished judgment and wrath. Everything that did not please the Lord would be buried beneath the waters which moved upon and covered the face of the whole earth. Oh there would indeed be a work which would take place beneath the waters of the great flood as the Lord would pronounce judgment against and upon all wickedness, iniquity and rebellion upon the earth. Moreover it would be through the waters of the flood the Lord would cover the face of the whole earth with that which would bring cleansing to and upon it. The waters which covered the face of the earth would accomplish and complete a work purposed in the heart of the living God as He would destroy all rebellion, all iniquity, all wickedness, and everything that displeased Him. Dear reader it is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the days of Noah for it would be during the days of Noah we find a work of God taking place upon the earth—a work which would take place beneath the waters.

 

            I sit here this morning thinking about and considering this awesome and incredible truth and I am brought face to face with the baptism of John and how while it looked forward and ahead to a baptism of fire it looked back to the days of Noah. It is indeed true the baptism of John was one of repentance unto the remission of sins and prepared men for a baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost but it also looked back to a different baptism—one which covered the face of the whole earth. It would be during the days of Noah the living God would baptize the earth with water and with a great flood that He might cleanse the earth of its wickedness, its iniquity, its transgression, its sin and its rebellion before and in the sight of the living God. Those who gave themselves to John’s baptism in water gave themselves to the same work which took place during the days of Noah—namely and primarily making that work personal within their own hearts and lives. Oh we dare not and must not underestimate and miss out on the tremendous significance of this particular truth for when we think and speak about baptism we must needs recognize that it is a work of judgment and destruction which takes place within our hearts and lives. Baptism is indeed an outward profession and confession of faith before the living God and quite possibly in the sight and presence of others, however, it is so much more than this. The baptism of John—the baptism in water—is one in which we surrender ourselves to the work which takes place beneath the waters. It is in the midst of the baptism of John beneath the waters that a mighty and powerful work takes place within our lives for when we come forth and emerge from the waters a mighty and powerful cleansing has taken place. It is through baptism that our old man is buried with Christ in death as our old nature is crucified with Christ and is in all reality put to death.

 

            With this being said it is absolutely necessary we understand that in the Old Testament there was a second work which would take place beneath the waters. If you come to the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find the children of Israel coming unto the Red Sea. Upon coming to the Red Sea the children of Israel would be in an impossible position as before them was the waters of the sea thus preventing them from moving forward and behind them was Pharaoh and his Egyptian army. There before the waters of the Red Sea the children of Israel would cry out in anguish and sorrow for they saw their situation and position as being entirely and altogether impossible. It would be at this particular time Moses would declare unto the children of Israel that they need not fear but only stand still and see the salvation of the Lord their God. Moses would stretch forth his rod before the waters of the Red Sea and the Lord would cause a strong wind to part the waters hither and thither thus creating and revealing a path which was present beneath and in the midst of the waters. Once the path had been revealed and made known unto the children of Israel all the people together with their livestock and possessions would pass through the waters on dry ground. What’s more is you will find Moses emphatically declaring unto the children of Israel that the enemies which they saw before them on that day they would see no more. Moses didn’t reveal unto the children of Israel how this would come to pass and the children of Israel had one assignment among them—namely, moving forward and passing through the waters of the Red Sea. The children of Israel had seen a path which was revealed and made known to them beneath the waters and their only assignment and objective was to follow that path and pass through the waters.

 

            Oh what we find here in the Old Testament book of Genesis is absolutely necessary to recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the waters of the Red Sea and what would take place at that time. The waters of the Red Sea would initially conceal the path which lay beneath it and the waters of the Red Sea would initially conceal the tremendous tool and instrument which would be used in the hand of the Lord to destroy their enemies. We have great need to pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the waters of the Red Sea for just as the waters of the great deluge and flood meant salvation for those upon the ark yet destruction and judgment for those outside the ark so also would the waters of the Red Sea mean salvation for the children of Israel yet judgment and destruction for Pharaoh and his Egyptian army with its horses, its chariots and its soldiers. When the children of Israel came to the Red Sea they did not think nor could they have imagined that the waters before them would and even could be used as an instrument of salvation in the hand of the living God. Moreover when the children of Israel came unto the waters of the Red Sea they could not have imagined the waters of the Red Sea would and could be used to destroy the enemy which pursued them through the desert after leaving from the capital city of Egypt. The children of Israel came to the Red Sea and were neither aware of the path which lay beneath the waters nor the salvation that was and would be found in the midst of the waters. Stop for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for the waters which were present in the midst of the earth would be a powerful instrument which would be used in the hand of the Lord.

 

            I have to admit the more I consider the narrative found in the Old Testament book of Exodus the more I am brought face to face with the salvation of the Lord found in the midst of the waters of the Red Sea. The children of Israel did not come to those waters thinking and/or even believing that salvation could be found in the midst of the waters and yet they would quickly learn that the Lord had purposed those waters to bring forth their salvation in the midst of the earth. The Lord would use the waters of the Red Sea as a powerful instrument in His hands which would not only bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt but would also drown and destroy their enemies and adversaries. Oh it is truly interesting to read the words which are found in this Old Testament book for the path which was revealed in the midst of the waters would not immediately begin closing the minute the last of the children of Israel had entered into and stepped upon the path. It would and could have been very easy for the Lord to allow the children of Israel to pass through the waters of the Red Sea and upon bringing them all to the edge of the sea on the other side He could have closed the waters and covered the path. We know that while the children of Israel were there at the Red Sea with the waters before them and the enemy behind them the Lord stood behind them between themselves and the Egyptian army as a rampart and wall separating them. The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire would be between the children of Israel and the Egyptians throughout the night and so much so that neither of them would go nigh unto the other. If you think about the Lord could have kept that rampart and wall of separation to remain between the children of Israel and the Egyptians as they passed through the waters and once the children of Israel had passed through the waters and come to the other side the Lord could have caused the waters to return to its original place and then allowed the Egyptians to move forward only to find the children of Israel safely on the other side of the Red Sea while they themselves were unable to follow.

 

            I find it absolutely incredible to read the words which are found in this Old Testament book for the Lord could have caused the children of Israel to pass through the waters of the Red Sea which had become a wall unto them on the right hand to the left before closing the waters of the Red Sea behind them. The Lord could have closed the waters behind them without allowing the Egyptians to step on to the path and pursue them in the midst of the waters. Just as the Lord stood between the children of Israel and the Egyptians thus separating them from each other there at the Red Sea so also could the Lord have caused the Red Sea to itself be a means of separation between the children of Israel and the Egyptians. The Lord could have very easily closed the waters of the Red Sea behind the children of Israel as they passed through the waters and came through on the other side. What we find, however, is the Lord not closing the path which existed between the waters nor causing them to immediately return to their place. Oh dear reader it is important for us to recognize and understand this for there was a work which needed to take place beneath and in the midst of the waters. There was the initial work which took place in the midst of the waters which would be the path revealed unto the children of Israel as they would proceed along that path and come to the other side. That same path which was present in the midst of the waters would be entered by the chariots and horses of Pharaoh’s Egyptian army as they thought they could pursue the children of Israel unto the other side. Pharaoh and his entire Egyptian army together with horses and chariots would pursue the children of Israel through and in the midst of the waters thinking they could come to the other side just as they did. What they would find, however, is something they did not expect and most certainly did not anticipate.

 

            The words present in this passage of Scripture is truly astonishing when you take the time to consider it for the same waters which would serve as a means of the children of Israel to pass through on dry ground to the other side would also be means of judgment and destruction upon their enemies. The Lord deliberately and intentionally chose to keep the path beneath and between the waters open and allowed the Egyptian army with its horses and chariots to step on to the path in the midst of the waters that He might perform and complete His salvation in the midst of the lives of His people. The Lord would deliberately and intentionally keep the path beneath and between the waters open before and unto the Egyptians thus inviting them into the midst of the waters. Oh I’m sure the Egyptians thought and believed they could pursue the children of Israel along the same path between the walls of water and overtake them on the other side. What they did not anticipate and what they could not have imagined, however, is that while they were there in the midst of the walls of water which were on their right and left they would be positioned for the judgment and destruction of the Lord. It would be there on the path revealed beneath the waters and there between the walls of water of the sea the Lord would thrust Pharaoh’s army into derision as He would cause the wheels of their chariots to come off. It would be there in the midst of the waters the Lord would initially thrust Pharaoh’s army into derision and confusion before He would ultimately bring judgment and destruction upon and against them. Those same waters which had been a wall unto the children of Israel allowing them to pass safely to the other side would now be the instrument of judgment in the hand of the living God against His enemies and adversaries.

 

            What we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is the words which Moses spoke concerning the salvation of the Lord. The salvation of the Lord which Moses spoke about wasn’t merely their passing through the waters of the Red Sea safely and coming to the other side before the waters would return to their rightful and proper place. The salvation of the Lord which. Moses spoke about wouldn’t merely be about the children of Israel passing through those waters and coming unto the other side having already been delivered out of the land of Egypt and out of their bondage and oppression. The salvation of the Lord would not only take place beneath the waters but the salvation of the Lord would also take place in the midst of the waters as the Lord would move upon and against Pharaoh and his Egyptians army. The salvation of the Lord wouldn’t fully be realized and manifested until Pharaoh’s horses and chariots were in the midst of the waters of the sea and properly positioned right where the Lord had them. If you think about it the Lord could have smitten them while they were still on dry ground and the Lord could have even prevented them from pursuing and coming after the children of Israel in the desert. The Lord could have struck the horses and chariots of Pharaoh as they pursued the children of Israel through the desert and yet the Lord deliberately and intentionally allowed the Egyptians to enter into the same path the children of Israel themselves had stepped on and passed through. It would be there in the midst of the waters where the horses and chariots of Pharaoh would encounter something they did not expect—namely, their contending and striving with the living God. It would be there in the midst of the waters the salvation of the Lord would be fully realized and actualized before and in the sight of the children of Israel.

 

            This reality of the salvation of the Lord being manifested and evident there in the midst of the Red Sea must be fully realized for when we speak of baptism we must needs understand the salvation of the Lord which takes place within our lives. It is about so much more than simply our old nature and our old man being buried with Christ in baptism and our being crucified with Him for it is also about the destruction of our enemies. The enemies which mighty very well be before us prior to our entering into the waters of baptism will be enemies we see no more. The waters of baptism must be understood as a mighty and powerful tool and instrument in the hand of the living God to destroy those enemies which had kept us in bondage and oppressed us. The waters of baptism must be recognized as a tool and instrument in the hand of the living God to completely and utterly destroy our enemies and adversaries who would even think to pursue us as we enter into the waters. As we surrender ourselves to the waters and as we come up from those waters our enemies and adversaries are indeed judged, drowned, destroyed and eradicated beneath the waters of the flood. With this being said it is important for us to recognize that this does not mean that there won’t be enemies and adversaries we will face on the other side of the waters. It is indeed true enemies and adversaries can and will be destroyed in the midst of the waters and it is indeed true that we can and will see the salvation of the Lord there in the midst of the waters, however, we must needs recognize and understand that this is just the beginning of the work of the Lord within our lives. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something absolutely wonderful and powerful about baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins and the work which takes place beneath and in the midst of the waters. There is something incredibly powerful about the waters of baptism and the tremendous work which the living God brings about within our hearts and lives as we surrender ourselves unto it.

 

            What we must needs realize when we come to the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is the disciples whom the apostle Paul found in Ephesus did indeed believe and were indeed baptized, however their knowledge was only of the baptism of John. Prior to the return of the apostle Paul unto the city of Ephesus they had heard Apollos teach them the things of the Lord and perhaps even heard the words which Aquila and Priscilla had spoken unto them. Upon the return of the apostle Paul we find him asking them if they had received the Holy Spirit since they had believed—a question which they responded to by declaring they had not so much even heard of nor even that there was a Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul asked them what they had been baptized and they answered by speaking of the baptism of John which was a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. Paul would speak and reveal unto these disciples that John did indeed baptize with the baptism unto repentance instructing them that they should believe on the One who was to come—namely, the Lord Jesus. It would be upon hearing these words these twelve disciples which were found at Ephesus would be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. At this point these disciples would not only be baptized with and unto John’s baptism but now they would be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. This would position them in a place where they could receive the second work of the Lord which was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Scripture reveals how the apostle Paul would lay his hands upon these disciples and how the Holy Ghost came upon them enabling them to speak with tongues and prophesy. Having been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus they would now receive the gift of the Holy Spirit thus continuing the manifestation of the gift of the Holy Ghost unto the Gentiles which would begin in Caesarea among Cornelius and his entire household.

 

            The four New Testament gospels clearly paint a picture of one who would come after John who wouldn’t merely baptize with water but would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Scripture would reveal this to be the Lord Jesus Himself who would even instruct His disciples and followers to tarry and abide in the city of Jerusalem until they be endowed with power from on High. Jesus knew that the time of His ascension was nigh and that He would return unto His Father from whom He had come and been sent. It would be there at the right hand of the Father Jesus would send forth the gift of the Holy Spirit unto His disciples and followers and upon the earth. On the day of Pentecost just ten days after Jesus had ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven the Holy Ghost would be manifested among one-hundred and twenty who were present in that upper room in the city of Jerusalem. From that time on the Holy Spirit would not only come unto Jews but would also come unto Samaritans in Samaria as well as Gentiles in Europe and Asia. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand this for what we find here in the nineteenth chapter of the new Testament book of Acts is an incredibly powerful picture of this second work of grace—namely, one of the Holy Spirit and with fire. What’s more is that just as the baptism of John points to a work in the midst of the waters mentioned in the Old Testament book of Genesis while the baptism which Jesus would bring about points to a different work also mentioned in the Old Testament book of Genesis. In the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find the Lord destroying sin and everything that had breath upon the earth through the great deluge and flood waters, however, you will recall the Lord destroying the cities of the plain which included Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone.

 

            As you read the Old Testament book of Genesis it is absolutely necessary to focus on the twin judgments which the Lord would mete out upon the earth as one would be a judgment of fire while the other would be a judgment of water. The initial judgment of water would cover the face of the whole earth and would destroy every living that had the breath of God animating it. The great deluge which would come upon the earth would destroy the wickedness, the iniquity, the transgression and the rebellion which was present in the midst of the earth as the fountains of the deep were broken up and the heavens would pour out rain for forty days and forty nights. When, however, we come to the nineteenth chapter of this New Testament book we find the cities of the plain being judged by the Lord because of their wickedness. The Lord had already purposed and promised He would never again destroy the earth with a great flood, however, the judgment He would bring upon the cities of the plain—specifically Sodom and Gomorrah—would be a judgment of fire. The Lord would send two of his angels down unto Sodom and Gomorrah to deliver Lot, his wife and their two daughters from the destruction that would come upon the city because of His covenant with Abraham. This deliverance, however, would come with very specific instruction and warning as they were told to flee from the cities and not look back lest they be overcome with the judgment which was meted out upon the cities. After Lot, his wife and their two daughters were safely removed from the cities the Lord would rain His judgment upon those cities in the form of fire and brimstone. Each of the cities of the plain were destroyed—not with waters of a flood but with fire rained down upon them—because of the iniquity, transgression and wickedness which was present in their midst. The living God would exercise His judgment against and upon the cities of the plain through fire which would come down upon and consume the cities of the plain and all those who lived in the midst of them.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and understand this receiving of the Holy Ghost—this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost—is a secondary work and measure of grace which is received by those who believed. What’s more is we must needs remember that when Jesus spoke unto Nicodemus by night He declared unto him that unless one is born of water and of the Spirit they cannot see the kingdom of heaven. Essentially that which the Lord Jesus spoke and declared unto Nicodemus was that it was necessary for those who believed to not only be baptized in and born of water but also baptized and born of the Spirit. We must needs recognize and understand that this being born of water does not refer to our natural birth but rather that birth that takes place within our lives when we surrender ourselves to the work which takes place in the waters of baptism. Moreover being born of the Spirit most assuredly and certainly refers to receiving the Holy Ghost and being baptized with His person. Essentially that which the Lord Jesus spoke and declared unto Nicodemus was that there was a work of being baptized in and born of water while there was also a work of being baptized and born of the Spirit. It would be this secondary work of being born of the Spirit that would continue the transformative work of the living God and of His only begotten Son within the lives of those who believe. Perhaps the question that must be asked of men and women in this generation is simply whether or not they have received the Holy Spirit.

 

            HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT SINCE YOU FIRST BELIEVED?  As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the question the apostle Paul asked these twelve disciples which were present in the city of Ephesus. The question the apostle Paul asked them was not whether or not they had been baptized with John’s baptism nor whether or not they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but rather if they had received the Holy Ghost. This is something we must needs recognize and pay close attention to for it brings us face to face with the tremendous truth of just how important and vital the role and person of the Holy Ghost is within our lives. The more we continue to believe on the Lord Jesus the more we must needs be consciously aware of the great need within our hearts and lives for the person and presence of the Holy Ghost. We must needs recognize there was a reason the apostle Paul asked the disciples in Ephesus if they had received the Holy Ghost for there is something about receiving, being baptized and being filled with the Holy Spirit that has the ability to entirely and altogether transform and continue to transform us. There is a great and present need within this generation to be those who have in fact received the Holy Spirit and allow ourselves to be completely and entirely transformed by His person and presence within our lives. Please note that this isn’t merely about speaking with other tongues or prophesying for our bodies are indeed the temple of the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Holy Spirit is about so much more than simply that which we do with our mouths but our entire person being transformed and sanctified by the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. What we must needs realize is that one of the greatest evidences of the Holy Ghost within our lives is indeed the purifying and sanctifying of our tongue which is what is so incredible about speaking with other tongues and prophesying. I am convinced that speaking with other tongues and prophesying is not necessarily about what we proclaim and speak with our mouths but rather with the Holy Ghost taking control of our tongue which is and can be a world of fire. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle written by James unto the saints which were scattered:

 

            “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every king of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, andf of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:1-12).

 

I am absolutely convinced there is a great need within our hearts and minds to understand and acknowledge the great need of the person and presence of the Holy Ghost within our lives. There is a tremendous need within our lives for full and complete surrender to the Holy Ghost as He is allowed to transform and sanctify us. What’s more is James made us aware of the fact that the tongue is a small member of our body yet it is full of deadly poison and is/can be set on fire of hell itself. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is what is setting our tongue on fire? Is our tongue being set on fire by hell itself and thus revealing a heart that is in need of transformation or is our tongue being set on fire by the Holy Ghost. I would dare say that our tongues are either set on fire by hell itself or our tongues are set on fire by the Holy Ghost. What’s more is that there is a great need for our receiving of the Holy Spirit and even our being baptized with the Holy Spirit as one of the greatest evidences of the Holy Spirit’s work and presence within our lives is the taming of our tongue. It was James who said that no man can tame the tongue which leaves only one who is fully able and capable of taming it—namely, the person of the Holy Spirit. I am absolutely and completely convinced there is a great need for us to fully and completely yield ourselves to the work and presence of the Holy Spirit—not only to tame and control our tongues but also to destroy anything in our hearts, anything in our minds, anything in our lives that is not pleasing in the sight of the living God. It is my prayer that we would be a people who are not only full of the Holy Ghost but also a people who are indeed baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire that our tongues—yea, that our entire being would be set on fire and consumed with the Holy Ghost.

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