There are seven baptisms in the Bible of which only four apply to the believers in the New Testament. Out of the four, three apply generally to all believers and one specifically to those called to the ministry.
The seven baptisms as recorded in the Bible are as follows:
1. John’s baptism in water in the Name of God (Matt. 3; Lk. 3; Acts 1:5; Jn. 1:31, 34).
2. Baptism in water by Christ’s disciples in the Name of the Father (Jn. 3:22, 23; 4:1-2; 5:43; 10:25).
3. Moses’ baptism in the cloud and in the sea (1Cor. 10:2).
4. The baptism of suffering (Lk. 12:50; Matt. 20:22, 23).
5. Baptism into Christ and into His body, the church (Rom. 6:4; 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:12).
6. Christian water baptism (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38).
7. The baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8; 2:4).
The Baptism of Suffering
Jesus, in speaking to the disciples James and John, asked them whether they could be baptized with the same baptism He was baptized with and to drink the same cup from which He drank? (Matt. 20:22, 23). Jesus was definitely referring here to the baptism of suffering. To the answer that they were able, Jesus even agreed with them that they shall indeed be baptized with the baptism of suffering.
The call to the Christian ministry is also a call to suffer for Him. Of course, some people suffer for their own sins and mistakes and call it persecution but true bona fide Christian suffering is suffering for being like Christ. Peter speaks of Christian suffering as being persecuted for righteousness and not for unrighteousness (1 Pet. 4:15, 16). The apostle Paul made an astounding statement when he said, in reference to his ministry, that his sufferings in the ministry were to fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of the body, which is His church (Col. 1:23-25). How could anything be lacking of the sufferings of Christ? Surely, Christ’s suffering is complete and no one can claim that it was incomplete.
What Paul is referring to is not in regard to the atonement work of Christ which is complete and totally finished by His one act at Calvary. But rather, Paul is referring to the sacrifices and sufferings in seeking to be a perfect servant and representation of Christ to the church and to the world.
Jesus Christ lived and died in the flesh about two thousand years ago in the nation of Israel. He was the manifestation of the love of God to the people he met and ministered to. Today Christ is raised and seated at the right hand of God. Jesus needs human vessels today to be channels and manifestations of the love of God to the present people of the world who cannot see Him. When He calls and chooses a person for His ministry, He expects the vessel to be an instrument and visible manifestation of Him to the world.
In doing so, the chosen vessel will have to be prepared to go through the same hardship and rejection that He went through. The vessel would have to be baptized with the same baptism He was baptized with and drink the same cup of suffering which He drank. John and James were later persecuted and suffered for their ministry in Christ.
It would be wonderful if people respond to the love of Jesus and to demonstrations of spirituality positively. But Jesus has proven the fact that the people in the world many times walk in darkness and cannot tolerate the light. As such they would sometimes prefer to mock, ridicule and kill those who identify with Christ.
The Persecutions of Paul
Paul who wrote the major part of the New Testament had many glorious and wonderful results in the ministry - signs, wonders and miracles. Many souls were won to Christ through his ministry and many churches were founded. However, the sufferings and persecutions he received were also directly proportional to the massiveness of his results.
He tells us that he was in labours more abundant; in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, and in deaths often. Five times he received forty stripes minus one. Three times he was beaten with rods. Once he was stoned and three times shipwrecked. A night and a day he has been in the deep. He has been in perils from all kinds of people and in all types of situations. In weariness, in toil, in sleeplessness, in hunger and thirst, in fasting, in cold and in nakedness, he has remained faithful to the call of God on his life (2 Cor. 11:23-28).
Why did Paul go through all that? What did he gain from it all? He could have had a comfortable life, being highly educated and skilful in making tents. The only reason we can find is the call of God in his life and his understanding that the ministry was a call to suffer for Jesus that others may reap the results of his sacrifice. Yet Paul continue to say in all these things that he will gladly spend and be spent for souls for he loves abundantly (2 Cor. 12:15).
Paul understood that in the ministry, you don’t get something for nothing. Somebody has to suffer the difficulty and pay the price that others may receive it easier. In the ministry, it is none other than the minister who should pay this price. Paul said that he was always carrying about in his own body the dying of the Lord Jesus (the baptism of suffering), that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in his own body (2 Cor. 4:10). His analogy of the baptism of suffering is that death works in him that life may work in others (2 Cor. 4:12).
The Call to Ministers
If only ministers today would understand that God did not call them to a life of ease, comfort and professionalism, there would be more done than what has been done thus far. Imagine if all ministers would live sacrificially as an example of Jesus and pay the price for the sheep they minister to, to be blessed, the world would be shaken by the impact of the church today. The sad story is that there are too many who want the results without paying the price for the results.
The baptism of suffering imparts the grace of God, the anointing of God and the ability of God to rejoice in the sufferings of rejoice. The sacrifices and the burdens of the ministry become no longer a burden but a joy and a privilege. Being in the ministry is like living in a glass house - your life is watched constantly as an example. Living in this manner can be uncomfortable for those new in the ministry but a good dose of the baptism of suffering will impart the grace to live the exemplary life.
We need to be able to say like Paul, ‘I rejoice in my sufferings for you.’ Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the suffering of the cross (Heb. 12:2). Some ministers, while paying the price for the ministry, looked like they have been baptized with vinegar when what they need is a baptism of suffering and of joy. Ministers need to learn the art of dying that others may live (2 Cor. 4:12). The call to the ministry is a call to sacrifice, to inconvenience ourselves, to immolate, to yield, to dedicate, to consecrate, to donate and to give of ourselves to the body of Christ that others may receive the blessings of our sacrifice.
Our ministry is like John the Baptist; preparing the way, smoothing out the rough ways, levelling the hills and mountains that others may find it easier to come to Christ. We pour our blood, sweat and tears, picking up the stones and rocks along the way that others will not be blocked or hindered in any way from coming to Him. The drinking of the cup of suffering would also be applicable to anyone who in some way, whether fulltime or not, be involved in Christian ministry. All of Christian ministry must be viewed as a choice to give of our best to the Master - our spirits, souls and bodies. The eternal rewards are immeasurable when we all reached the shores of eternity and receive from Him crowns for all our sacrifices and service to others.
BAPTISM INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST
Baptism into the body of Christ is known as being ‘born again’. When we are born again, God places us into the body of Christ. We become a part of God’s family with God as our Eternal Father. This baptism takes place spiritually when we ask Jesus to come into our lives as our Lord and Saviour. Note the difference in the following three baptisms:
In body baptism, the Holy Spirit (the baptizer) takes us (the subjects) and places us into the body of Christ (the medium) (1 Cor. 12:13). In water baptism, the minister (the baptizer) takes us (the subject) and places us into water (the medium).
In the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Jesus (the baptizer) takes us (the subject) and places us into the Holy Spirit (the medium). The term ‘body baptism’ is not too familiar with the average Christian because today the terms ‘born again’ and ‘converted’ are more commonly used. However, the terms ‘baptized into the body’ are common terms used by the people in the New Testament. The apostle Paul used this term very often in his writings in the epistles (Rom. 6:3-6). In this study, please note that the terms ‘baptized in the body’ are synonymous with the terms ‘born again’ and ‘converted.’ The Experience of Being ‘Born Again’ The experience of being ‘born again’ is a spiritual experience and not a mental experience. For some people the emotional feelings that accompany the experience may not be visible. A spiritual experience may be tangible or intangible to the senses of the body depending on the side effects of the work of the Holy Spirit on different individuals. Some cry when they are born again. Others remain quiet in worship. Some bubble with hilarious joy. All these emotional experiences vary as much as our finger prints. However there are some common denominators in all experiences which all must have as evidence of the born again experience. 1. There is an experience of being loved by God. The gospel is the love of God extended to mankind through Jesus. To receive the gospel is to receive the love of God and experience His unconditional love (Jn. 3:16). The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom.5:5).
There is an experience of being forgiven of all our sins (Eph. 1:7). The conscience which has convicted us of sins in our lives is cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:14). A cleansed conscience experiences peace with God (Rom. 5:1). 3. There is an experience of the assurance of eternal life (Rom. 6:23). The fear of death and the next life is completely eradicated (Heb. 2:14). 4. There is an impartation of a measure of the faith of God into our lives (Rom. 12:3). This measure of faith needs to be nurtured and increased through meditation on the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). 5. There is a new nature imparted. The seed (nature) of God has been implanted within us when Jesus came into our lives as Lord and Saviour (1 Jn. 4:9). We are now a new creation (Greek - new species) (2 Cor. 5:17). 6. There is the experience of a new purpose and meaning to life (Eph. 1:9, 10; 2:10). Life does not consist in merely working, eating, sleeping and pleasure anymore (Rom. 14:17). There is an eternal purpose to all of creation. 7. There is an experience of the anointing within (1 Jn.2:27). The Holy Spirit now lives within you (1 Jn. 3:24). The Holy Spirit in you bears witness with your spirit that you are now a child of God (Rom. 8:16).
Continuing the Spiritual Growth
After reading the above list, some Christians would probably wonder whether they have really been born again. Don’t worry. You have, if you have made a decision to accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour. What you lack is teaching to help you understand what has happened in that ‘born again’ experience. We need to continue in our spiritual growth after this experience. In order to grow spiritually, we need to understand the areas of ourselves that pertain to the spiritual world. Our physical bodies consist of our organs, tissues and cells which altogether help us experience the physical world around us through the five senses of smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing.
Our souls consist of our mind, emotions and will. All these three areas of the soul need to be subjugated to the spirit man. Our spirit consists of our conscience, intuition and communion. These are the three areas that need to
be highly developed in order to function in the spirit realm and in order to take control and train our souls in spiritual things.
Paul speaks of the importance of the conscience in his spiritual life and ministry. His conscience was highly trained to bear witness with the Holy Spirit (Rom. 9:1).He served God with a pure conscience (2 Tim. 1:3). A good conscience prevents spiritual shipwreck (1 Tim.1:19).
The intuition is the inner sense of knowing that is beyond and above the mind. As Christians, we can know some things without understanding them. We can ‘sense’ the rightness or wrongness of some things before our minds picked up the understanding of why it is wrong. Our spirit can ‘perceive.’ Paul could sensed that the journey was in danger of being aborted but the centurion was not persuaded (Acts 27:10). The centurion and the helmsman went by the natural sense knowledge and to their minds it was the best time to travel (Acts 27:11, 12). The intuition can be trained (Heb. 5:14). Communion is the ability to be conscious of the presence of God and to worship Him. The consciousness of the presence of God needs to grow and develop in our lives through worship, prayer and meditation. Some Christians are so fearful and demon conscious that communion is not developed properly in their lives. Others are so involved in the affairs of this life that communion is weak in their lives. In the midst of the arguments and gnashing of the Pharisees, Stephen had developed such a strong communion that he was only conscious of God and of Jesus Christ (Acts 7:54, 55). Communion is developed through fellowship with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). The baptism into the body is only the beginning of a new walk and a new life (Rom. 6:4). We should understand all that it involves and press on into deeper spiritual growth.
BAPTISM IN WATER
Baptism in water is purely a symbol and it does not save us. However, as we will see, obedience in this ordinance brings many blessings. In the early days of Christianity, altar calls were not made by the raising of hands or the calling forward to the front. These are methods which have been adopted by the modern church to help a person act out his decision. They are good and should be encouraged. In New Testament days, the indication that people have made a decision to follow Christ is through water baptism. It was the method by which people could act out their faith that they have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Because of the adoption of methods today, like raising of hands and coming to the altar area, as an indication of accepting Christ, modern Christians tend to think that they have demonstrated their decision already and consequently, do not continue in water baptism thus missing the blessings involved.
Water Baptism as an Ordinance
Some misguided Christians think that water baptism is necessary for salvation. If that is so, the thief on the cross would not have entered paradise for he had no opportunity to be baptized in water (Lk. 23:43). Nor would the Scriptures be consistent, for Cornelius and his household received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (a reception possible only after salvation) before they were baptized in water (Acts 10:44-47). Such Christians quote Mark sixteen saying that Jesus said that only those who believed and were baptized shall be saved (Mk. 16:16). They forget to quote the other half which says that those who do not believe shall be damned. Damnation or judgment to eternal death only takes place when we do not believe and not when we are not baptized. Jesus did not say that those who are not baptized shall be damned but He only said that those who do not believe shall be damned.
If a person is not born again and gets baptized in water, he will still be a sinner - just a wet sinner.
Peter writes in his epistle saying that water baptism does not remove the filth of the flesh but is the answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Pet. 3:20, 21). We are not saved by outward ordinances but rather by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Mode of Baptism
The word ‘baptize’ literally means ‘immerse’ in the Greek New
Testament. There are four main reasons why the New Testament points to
immersion as its mode of baptism. The first as we have seen is the meaning
of the root word for ‘baptize’ - ‘baptizo.’ ‘Baptizo’ literally means to dip, to
sink, plunge, immerse, submerge and cover wholly with the element used in
The second reason is that when water baptism was performed in the New
Testament, there was always the necessity for much water. John the Baptist
chose a place with much water for baptizing (Jn. 3:23). If water baptism had
been by any other mode but immersion there would not have been the
necessity for much water.
Thirdly, the phraseology in describing water baptism points to immersion.
Jesus after His water baptism came up out of the water (Mk. 1:10). The
Greek New Testament actually uses the two phrases ‘up’ and ‘out of’
together indicating that Jesus had been immersed. The Ethiopian eunuch had
to go ‘down into’ the water and ‘up out of’ the water (Acts 8:38, 39).
Finally, water baptism is to show forth our death, burial and resurrection
in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:4, 5). What better way is there than immersion to
show forth all three aspects of the work of Christ in our lives? When a
person dies, we don’t just sprinkle them with sand. We bury them.
The Formula for Water Baptism
In the New Testament, we see that Jesus gave the command for water
baptism as ‘baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit’ (Matt. 28:19). In the book of Acts, we see the disciples
baptizing in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48;
19:5). Some Christians insist that only baptism in the Name of the Lord
Jesus is the correct formula claiming that the Name of Jesus Christ is the
only Name for all the Trinity.
If you ever encounter this group, understand that the basis for their
insistence is not just because of their desire to be biblical but rather this
same group who teach thus do not believe in the Trinity at all. (We will
teach on the Trinity under Volume 13 of this series).
Actually both formulas should be acceptable because both have its basis
on the Scriptures. However to tie both portions of Scriptures together, I personally baptize using the formula ‘in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ
into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’
The Importance of an Ordinance
The Lord’s Supper and baptism in water are known as Christian
ordinances. Some Christians think that they are not important just because
they are symbols. That would be falling on the other extreme. Apparently,
keeping the Lord’s Supper unworthily can bring death (1 Cor. 11:27-30).
In the Old Testament, God told the Israelites that if they obey His voice,
His commandments and His statutes they will never be sick (Ex. 15:26).
Obeying His voice means obeying the leadings of His Spirit. Obeying His
commandments means keeping to all His moral and absolute commands in
His Word. Obeying His statutes means obeying all the religious symbolism
that God had ordained. For the Israelites keeping the symbol of the Passover
was one of the statutes (Ex. 13:10). There is a blessing in keeping God’s
For New Testament saints, the statutes of God involved keeping the
Lord’s Supper and water baptism. Water baptism does not determine
salvation but it sure does determine the blessings. You may be a good
Christian obeying His moral laws and doing your best to obey His Spirit.
But if you have not been baptized in water, you are not obeying His statutes.
Let us be complete in our obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.