The early apostles taught their third doctrine–the “doctrine of baptisms–with an “s.” For there are several baptisms in the Christian walk–not just the one with water.
The first baptism mentioned was John the Baptist’s “baptism unto repentance.” He encouraged the people to repent of their sins, be baptized in water, thus pointing them to the Lamb of God, who would soon become the Sacrifice for all men’s sins. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I…he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Mt. 3:11). Here we have three baptisms in one verse.
The baptism in water is symbolic of the death of our old sinful heart (see post on this at https://immortalityroad.wordpress.com/2008/04/17/baptismempty-ritual-or-symbol-of-death-of-self/ ). Paul taught that it was symbolic of being immersed into Christ’s death. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6: 3).
Just How Are We Immersed into Christ’s Death?
Just before Christ died, this perfectly sinless man took upon Himself the sins of the whole world, past, present, and future. Sin was transferred onto this sin offering, and He died with all our sins upon Him. Consequently, when He died, my old self died. When He died that day, our old selfish egos died.
When He was literally buried in the tomb, our old lives were buried. Gone. Over with. And when He rose from the dead, we rose from the deadness of our sinful existence, into a brand new wonderful life, energized with God’s Spirit now within (for more on this, see “Introduction” of my book The Unveiling of the Sons of God found at the top of this page). All this has already been done for us by God. We have to only believe it when we read it in Romans 6: 3-7 :
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”
We are now free from sin–if we really believe it. Free! We are no longer slaves to the pulls, urges, and demands of that old spiritual nature that held us in bondage to do sinful acts! I’m talking about revolutionary freedom here! We were dead to sin, but now we live unto God by faith in the Spirit that He has given us.
Water baptism is just the symbol of this immersion into Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Believing and walking in this truth is the reality. But God has promised his sons and daughters more and greater baptisms–the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of fire, which takes us into the very presence of God’s transformative power. Kenneth Wayne Hancock