Baptism & the Work Beneath the Waters

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament book of Acts—the account of the spiritual body of Christ—as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first twenty-two verses of this 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 yet 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 speak 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 persuade the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputation 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 of 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, exorcist, 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 Achaea, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he went into Macedonia 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 the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul and the time which he would spend in the city of Ephesus. In order to truly understand that which we find in this particular chapter, however, I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to turn our attention back to the eighteenth chapter. It is in the final verses of the eighteenth chapter we find the beginning of the time which the apostle Paul would spend in the city of Ephesus—a major city which was located in what is modern day Turkey. If you begin reading with and from the eighteenth verse of this passage of Scripture you will find that after the apostle Paul departed from the city of Corinth he would set out on a journey which would eventually and ultimately lead him unto the city of Ephesus. Beginning with the eighteenth verse we read that after Paul tarried in Corinth for a good while he took his leave of the breathers and sailed back into Syria together with Priscilla and Aquila having shorn his head in Cenchrea due to a vow which he had made. Upon setting out on this journey he would come to Ephesus and leave Aquila and Priscilla there in Ephesus while he himself entered into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. It would be there in Ephesus and in the midst of the synagogue where they desired him to tarry a longer time with them—something the apostle Paul was not willing to do because of a feast which he needed to keep in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul would bid those who were in Ephesus farewell and would sail from Ephesus and arrive in Caesarea where he would disembark and go down unto Antioch. It would be there in Antioch the apostle Paul would encourage and exhort the brethren before departing and going all over the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order strengthening the disciples.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that there was a certain Jew by the name of Apollos who was born at Alexandria and was an eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures. This Apollos would come unto Ephesus and was one who was instructed in the way of the Lord and was fervent in the spirit as he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord. What we learn and recognize when reading this passage of Scripture, however, is that his knowledge and understanding was incomplete. As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that although he was mighty in the scriptures, although he was fervent in the spirit and although he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord he knew only the baptism of John. The baptism of John was of course a baptism of water unto repentance for the remission of sins which was something that would be known and manifested throughout Judaea and Galilee during the days in which he walked upon the earth. John the Baptist would indeed be sent from God as the apostle John declared that he might prepare the way and bear witness unto the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be through John the Baptist we find the prophetic forerunner and messenger coming forth into the midst of the land of Judaea and Galilee preaching and baptizing men in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. That which we read of Apollos must be carefully understood for his knowledge of the baptism of John would be something that would bear similar meaning and significance when we come to the nineteenth chapter of this same New Testament book.

 

            With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in each of the four New Testament gospels concerning the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist. In order to truly understand that which is found here in the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts there is a great need to consider the accounts which were written of the life and prophetic ministry of John the Baptist as it was recorded in the four New Testament gospels. Each of the four gospel authors were very careful to provide a great amount of detail concerning John the Baptist and the prophetic ministry he had been called and ordained of the living God to engage during those days. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the ministry of Apollos which was present during the days of Aquila and Priscilla when they came unto Ephesus. Luke goes on to write how Aquila and Priscilla heard the words which Apollos had preached unto the people and took him unto them and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. Luke goes on to write how when he was disposed to pass into Achaea, the brethren wrote exhorting the disciples to receive him who upon coming helped them much which had believed through grace. Luke writes how Apollos mightily convinced the Jews publicly as he would show them by the scriptures that Jesus was indeed the Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the fascinating truth of the ministry of John the Baptism which was a ministry of baptism in water. What we must needs recognize and understand, however, is that although John the Baptist would indeed baptize with water he knew, recognized and understood that he would only baptize in part. John the baptist recognized that there was coming another after him who was mightier than he was who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

 

            The more you read the four gospels which were written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ the more you can and will encounter the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the ministry of John the Baptist and how he would indeed baptize in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. John the baptist would indeed baptize in water unto repentance for the remissions of sins, however, he recognized and understood there was indeed another baptism that would take place in the coming days—a baptism not of water but of the Spirit. In fact if you read the words which are found in the third chapter you will find Jesus Himself speaking unto Nicodemus and not only speaking of him being born again but you will also read of how He spoke unto Nicodemus of being born and baptized of both water and the Spirit. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for at the very heart of the final verses of the eighteenth chapter as well as the beginning and opening verses of the nineteenth chapter we find the baptism of John taking center stage. The baptism of John was in all reality only part of the revelation for the baptism of John was one of water unto repentance for the remission of sins to prepare and make ready a man for the coming of the Messiah and the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. The baptism of John was such that would would prepare the hearts and souls of men through repentance for the remissions of sins that men might indeed receive the coming of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even when the Jews and certain of the religious leaders desired whether or not he was the Messiah he would emphatically declare that he was not the Messiah nor the Christ.

 

            It is with all of this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the four New Testament gospel narratives of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ beginning to read with and from the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke. I am convinced that we must needs begin at the angelic appearance and utterance of Gabriel unto Zacharias in the midst of the Temple for it is there where we first learn of the prophetic ministry of this John the Baptist who would indeed turn the hearts of men back to the living and true God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the four New Testament gospels beginning to read with and from the first chapter of this gospel written by Luke:

 

            “And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:10-17).

 

            These words present us with the incredible truth surrounding the birth and coming of John the Baptist who would indeed be great in the sight of the Lord and would not drink wine nor strong drunk but would instead be filled with the Holy Ghost—even from his mother’s womb. This John the Baptist would turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God and would go before the Messiah and Christ in the spirit and power of Elias to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. What’s more is the sole intent and purpose for John the Baptist would be to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. In fact this is precisely what was prophesied centuries earlier by the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah. It would be Isaiah who would see the days of this prophetic messenger and forerunner of the Messiah and would see how he would be the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Not only this but the prophet Isaiah would also see this prophetic messenger and forerunning preparing and making ready a people for the Lord who would suddenly appear as a refiner’s fire and as a fuller’s soap. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the prophetic book of Isaiah as well as the prophetic book of Malachi who would be the final prophetic voice before four hundred years of silence would come upon the earth—four hundred years of silence without any prophetic revelation nor word from the Lord:

 

            “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortable to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD< make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: For the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever” (Isaiah 40:1-8).

 

            “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: Behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:1-6).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they help us to understand the tremendous significance of the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist. Within these passages of Scripture we find the Old Testament prophetic word concerning the forerunner and messenger of the Messiah who would suddenly appear and would prepare and make ready the people for the coming and appearing of the Messiah. This prophetic messenger and forerunner would not be the Messiah nor would he be the Christ but would indeed be a witness unto that One who was indeed the Messiah and the Christ. This is something which we must needs recognize and understand for the first and opening chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John as well as the third chapter of this same gospel paints a clear and powerful picture of this witness which would come from John the Baptist. John the Baptist would indeed come as the voice of one crying in the wilderness and recognized that he had not been called nor had he been sent to be greater than the Messiah or the Christ. John the Baptist recognized and understood that he had been called and sent by the living and eternal God to bear witness unto the Messiah who would indeed come and be manifested within the earth. John the Baptist would come as the prophetic forerunner and messenger of the Messiah who would indeed prepare and make ready a people for the Lord as he was not the Messiah nor would he ever claim or profess to be the Messiah. John the Baptist would indeed come as that one who would prepare and make ready a people for the coming of the Messiah that they might indeed be those who would recognize and receive him when he did arrive. It is with this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first and third chapters of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John:

 

            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:1-5).

 

            “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:6-18).

 

            “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? That we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing” (John 1:19-28).

 

            Here are the following words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning to read with and from the twenty-second verse concerning John the Baptist and his response when there were those who came unto him over Jesus baptizing and all men coming unto Him:

 

            “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison. Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me with ness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:22-36).

 

            There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found here for although John the Baptist came baptizing with water unto repentance for the remission of sins he recognized and understood that He was neither the Messiah nor the Christ. John the Baptist understood that he was sent as a witness to bear witness unto the Light—to call and draw men and women unto the person of that One who would indeed be the Messiah and the Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the understanding of John the Baptist and how he was indeed a messenger and forerunner who was sent by the living and eternal God to bear witness unto the Messiah and the Christ. John the Baptist recognized that it was not up to him to make a name for himself nor to make himself to be something which he was never designed, created nor intended to be. John the Baptist recognized and understood that his sole purpose, mission and function was to be one who would indeed come forth as a witness unto the Messiah and the Christ. We must needs understand that when John the Baptist came forth as the voice of one crying in the wilderness his sole mission, his sole ambition, his sole purpose and function was not to make a name for himself but rather to promote the Messiah and the Christ whom he recognized was indeed greater than himself. The more you read and consider the words which are found concerning John the Baptist the more you will come to acknowledge the fact that he was indeed one who would be sent forth by the living God—one who came from God—not to bear witness unto himself but one who would indeed be sent that he might call and draw men unto the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the four New Testament gospels beginning with the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “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 Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; 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, 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 wire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-18).

 

            “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 girdle 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 Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch or Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea, and of the region of Trachonities, 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 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 with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly 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 k new him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I com 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 bear record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

            It is within these passages of Scripture we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist and how he was indeed sent by the eternal and living God to prepare the way and make ready a people for the coming of the Messiah and the Christ. John the Baptist would indeed baptize in water unto repentance for the remission of sins, however, even John the Baptist recognized that he only baptized in water. John the Baptist knew that he baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins, however, he knew and understood there was one coming after him who was mightier than he who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John knew and bore record unto those who would come unto him that his baptism was one of water, however there was a second baptism which would indeed be one of fire. Even while John the Baptist was present upon the earth he understood that there would come a secondary work and a secondary baptism that would be entirely different than that which he had come bringing and offering. John knew that there was an initial work of being baptized with water but there was a second work which would involve and include the baptism of fire and of the Holy Spirit. By declaring these words John the Baptist was intrinsically linking and connecting the Messiah to this baptism of fire and the Holy Spirit as well as directly linking this baptism—both to fire and to the Holy Spirit. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of—particularly and especially when considering the words which Jesus would speak unto Nicodemus. Jesus would indeed speak unto Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews and came unto Him by night asking Him questions and inquiring of Him the truth concerning the word and message He preached.

 

            If you turn and direct your attention to the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you can and will encounter the absolutely tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the words Jesus spoke unto this Pharisee and ruler of the Jews. It would be when and while speaking unto this Pharisee by night Jesus would not only speak of being born again but He would also speak of being born of water and of the spirit. Thus Jesus would emphatically declare that unless one was born of both water and of of the spirit they would and could not enter into the kingdom of heaven. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the truth of this two-fold work that must needs take place within the hearts and lives of those who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus. Those who believed the word which John the Baptist preached would indeed be baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins, however, those who believed on the word and name of Jesus would indeed be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Scripture makes it very clear that there was indeed the baptism of John the Baptist which would be a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. With this being said we must also recognize and understand that Scripture also speaks of another baptism—a baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. There was indeed a baptism in water and there would indeed be a baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus as many would be baptized in His name and believed on Him. It would be the apostle John who would declare that those who believed on the name of Jesus—as many as did indeed believe on Him—it would be unto those who were given the power to become sons of God. This is something we must needs understand for it calls and draws our attention to the words which Jesus spoke and declared unto Nicodemus. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning with the first verse of the chapter:

 

            “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down form heaven, even the SOn of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men. Loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought of God” (John 3:1-21).

 

            I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find Jesus speaking unto this Pharisee and ruler of the Jews concerning two distinct baptisms—and not only concerning two distinct baptisms but also concerning two distinct experiences within the heart and life of an individual. Jesus would speak unto this ruler of the Jews concerning being born again, however, He wouldn’t merely speak of being born again but of being born of water and being born of the spirit. What’s more is Jesus would also declare that it wasn’t merely enough for one to be born of water alone for such an individual would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. When speaking unto Nicodemus Jesus would indeed declare unto him that it was necessary for a man to be born of water and born of the spirit for such a man would indeed be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. We must needs recognize and understand this for when speaking unto this religious ruler Jesus did indeed declare unto him that it was necessary to be born of water which speaks of the baptism of John as well as being born of the spirit which speaks to the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire. It would be John the Baptist who would indeed declare unto the people during those days that he did in fact baptize with water, however, there was one who was coming after him who was mightier than he who would baptize with fire and with the Holy Spirit. That which John the Baptist came forth declaring was how there was One coming who would not only be a refiner’s fire Himself but would also baptize with fire and with the Holy Spirit. The baptism in water which was what John the Baptist came bringing would be an initial work and grace, however, there would be one that would be yet to come which would include fire and the Holy Spirit. That which Jesus declared unto Nicodemus was incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it for it brings us face to face with the two fold work and grace of the Father—namely, being born and baptized of water and being born and baptized of fire.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering this I can’t help but think about the distinct work which takes place in the baptism of water—namely how there is a work which is done beneath the surface of the water. If you look at the Old Testament book of Genesis as well as the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find two distinct floods or torrents which would be used of the living God—each with and for a unique purpose. In the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the account of the flood which would cover the face of the earth—and not only of the flood which would cover the face of the earth but also how the purpose of the flood was to destroy the wickedness that had become so pervasive over the face of the earth. When the living and eternal God caused the flood waters to come upon the earth—not only would he destroy all the wickedness that was present upon the earth but He would also destroy the nephilim or the giants which were produced by an unholy union between the sons of God and the daughters of men. When the living and eternal God destroyed the inhabitants of the earth and everything that moved and breathed upon it save Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives He would decimate every living thing that was present upon the earth. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely tremendous work which took place beneath the waters—namely the destruction of all that was wicked and evil upon the earth. The purpose of this flood was not to destroy the earth but to cleanse the earth by destroying all the wickedness, all the evil and all the iniquity that was present upon it.

 

            If you continue reading in the Old Testament book of Exodus you will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding another work which would take place beneath the waters. The waters which were mentioned in the Old Testament book of Exodus were not the waters of a flood like what we saw in the book of Genesis but rather the waters of the Red Sea. This is something we must needs understand and acknowledge for there would be a different work that would take place beneath the waters of the Red Sea. Moses records how Pharaoh, his horses and his chariots would pursue the children of Israel through the waters of the Red Sea which had been parted before the children of Israel. The parting of the waters of the Red Sea would indeed be salvation for the children of Israel in that they would be permitted to pass through on dry land unto the other side. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that this work and process of salvation would not be limited to simply walking and passing through the waters. The work of salvation which would take place there at the Red Sea would indeed and would in fact be the decimation and destruction of Pharaoh, his horses, his chariots and all those who would pursue the children of Israel through the waters of the Red Sea. Moses instructed the children of Israel to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord and the salvation of the Lord would indeed include the work of passing through the waters on dry ground while also at the same time experiencing the destruction of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots that would pursue them into the waters of the Red Sea. What we find and read is how the LORD God would thrust the chariots and horses into confusion and would cause the wheels to come off the chariots before He would ultimately cause the waters of the Red Sea to come crashing down upon the horses and chariots which were present in the midst of the sea. This is something we must needs recognize and pay close attention to for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful work which would take place on this particular day—namely the destruction of the enemies and adversaries of the children of Israel.

 

            The reason this is so incredibly important when you think about it is when you consider baptism and the work which takes place beneath the waters as you make the decision to be baptized. When you make the decision to surrender and submit your life to Christ and also decide to be baptized in water there is indeed a work which takes place beneath the waters. The work which takes place beneath the waters is the destruction and decimation of your enemies and adversaries as well as the destruction and decimation of the evil and sinful nature which is present within your own life. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when considering the work and grace of being baptized in water. The work of being baptized in water is indeed a work that involves the destruction of our flesh and sinful nature beneath the waters as men and women become new creatures and new creations in Christ. The purpose of baptism is to in fact allow oneself to become “in Christ” that within that process they might indeed be able to experience old things passing away as all things are becoming new. The work and grace of baptism is something we must needs recognize and understand as it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of the work which needs to take place within our lives. The work of being baptized in water is indeed a work that prepares us for the work of being baptized with fire and with the Holy Spirit. The work of being baptized in water is indeed a physical and natural manifestation within our lives as it is an outward declaration and profession of an inward reality. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, however, is something that is entirely different and is a work that takes place in the secret and private place of our spirit within our lives.

 

            When you come to the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you can and will encounter a man by the name of Apollos who would indeed preach the Scriptures as was one who was mighty in the scriptures and taught diligently the things of the Lord. What we recognize and understand concerning this man, however was that he only knew the baptism of John and did not know or yet understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit and with fire. It was indeed true that Apollos knew the Scriptures, however, there would be an incredible and tremendous need for him to come to understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What we find in the final verses of the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts is Apollos mightily convincing the Jews as he shewed them by scripture that Jesus was the Christ. That which we find in this passage of Scripture is indeed powerful when you take the time to think about it for it brings us face to face with this eloquent man who would teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ more perfectly after he was instructed in the ways of the Lord by Aquila and Priscilla. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful reality of just how important the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of fire truly was. In fact it is when you come to the nineteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find that while Apollos was at Corinth the apostle Paul would pass through the upper coasts and coming unto Ephesus—a city he had previously visited and now returned to. It would be upon his return to Ephesus the apostle Paul would encounter a certain group of disciples and would ask them whether or not they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed. That which we find here is incredibly astonishing when you take the time to think about it for it reveals how these disciples—although they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus—had not even heard that was such a person as the Holy Spirit. These disciples which were present at Ephesus had indeed heard of Jesus of Nazareth and were indeed baptized in the name of Jesus, however, what we find is that they hadn’t yet even heard that there was a Holy Ghost.

 

            The more the apostle Paul spoke with these disciples the more he would come to understand their experience of salvation and grace for they would declare how they were baptized unto John’s baptism. What we find next is something which warrants strong consideration for the apostle Paul would go on to declare unto them how John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance saying unto the people that they should believe on him which should come after him—that is on Jesus Christ. It would be upon their hearing this they would be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Thus within this passage we not only find a baptism of John which was a baptism of water unto repentance for the remission of sins but we also find a baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. It would be when the apostle Paul spoke and declared unto them how John came baptizing with water but also spoke of that One who came after John—namely Jesus the Christ—that they would be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. This baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus would indeed be something which would be manifested among the Samaritans in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book as well as in the tenth chapter. It is in the eighth chapter of this book we find Philip preaching Jesus of Nazareth unto the Samaritans and thus baptizing them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostles and brethren which were in Jerusalem would send the apostles Peter and John unto them who when they arrived would lay their hands on them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. It would be through the laying on of their hands and through their praying for them they would indeed be baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is something we dare not and must not ignore for it calls and draws our attention to the truth surrounding the baptism of John which was a baptism in water as well as a baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. We must needs understand and acknowledge this for it brings us face to face with the truth surrounding the baptism of fire and of the Holy Spirit which would be a work of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the Samaritans and even Cornelius and his household and how they were all baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus before the Holy Ghost would fall upon them. The same experience which the Samaritans and Cornelius and his entire household experienced would indeed be the same experience these disciples would experience in Ephesus. The apostle Paul would indeed come unto Ephesus a second time and would ask the disciples he met whether or not they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to this as it brings us face to face with the incredible truth surrounding this baptism of the the Holy Ghost and with fire. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that baptism in water isn’t enough—despite the fact that baptism in water would indeed be unto repentance for the remission of sins. There was a great and tremendous need within our hearts and lives for this second grace and this second work of the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit would indeed bring about a deeper work of cleansing and a deeper work of being refined by the eternal and living God. It would be the Holy Spirit who would be like a consuming fire within and upon us and would indeed bring about a wonderful work of cleansing and purification. What’s more is that it would be Jesus Himself who would speak of this work of the Spirit—not only enabling them to be witnesses for Him but also to receive power. If there is one thing we must needs recognize it’s that we have indeed been called to experience this grace of the living God which involves our being baptized with fire and our being baptized with the Holy Spirit as this two-fold work is of utmost importance for us as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke as well as the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concerning this work of the Holy Spirit:

 

            “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:44-49).

 

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8).

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to draw your attention to the reality that Jesus Himself realized this two-fold work of baptism of water and baptism of fire. Jesus Himself declared unto those who were with Him prior to His ascension unto the right hand of the Father and how John indeed baptized with water but how they would be baptized with the Holy Ghost. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the work that is desperately needed within our hearts and lives. There is indeed a great need for us as the disciples of Jesus Christ and the saints of God to be men and women who are not only baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins but are also those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. There does in fact need to be this incredible transformation that would take place—a transformation of fire—which needs to take place within our lives. To give you an idea of what this baptism of fire truly does look like we must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in this chapter as within it we find a great revival taking place in the city of Ephesus and how they would bring all their books of sorcery and witchcraft and burn them in one fantastic and one giant heap in the midst of the city. The process and work of burning these books is a powerful picture of what the baptism of fire and what the baptism of the Holy Spirit does in fact look like within our lives. We as the saints of God must needs allow this work of being baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost be present within our lives as the power of cleansing, as the power of refining and as the power of transformation does indeed take place. There is indeed a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins yet there is also a wonderful and powerful work of being baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire which must needs take place within our hearts and lives as it not only enables us to enter into the kingdom of heaven but also brings about the transformation that is needed to live our lives as true disciples and followers of Jesus Christ—those whose character is radically changed and those who are conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus as it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us.

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