World of Faith

What is Charismatic? – Part Two: Water Baptism – The Outward Symbol of Our Baptism into Christ

December 25, 2006
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Welcome to the second installment of World of Faith’s series on “What is Charismatic.” This week we transition our topic again to something that I hope is non-controversial, unifying, and foundational. We are going to discuss water baptism, the outward symbol of our baptism into Christ.

Again, some of you may wonder, if water baptism is NOT a charismatic distinctive, why is it being addressed here in this blog. There are three reasons why I am addressing this topic. First of all, it is an important and foundational extension of the previous topic, our baptism into Christ, because water baptism is the outward symbol of the baptism into Christ. Second, some see water baptism as an “initiatory rite” into the local church, and this position is not scriptural, so it should be addressed. Third, my own church is having water baptisms this Sunday, Christmas Eve, so there is personal significance to the topic. It is very timely topic, and it is being discussed on at least two other blogs, on which I have personally commented.

So, let’s delve into this. As a review of what I discussed last time, the New Testament in my belief teaches three different baptisms, the second of which is our focus in this post. Hebrews 6:1-3 (NKJV), “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” Once again, notice that baptisms is in the plural, and this does not mean multiple water baptisms, but different kinds of baptisms that are essential to the growth of the believer. These three baptisms are (1) baptism into Christ (or the body of Christ), which occurs at salvation, (2) water baptism, and (3) baptism in the Holy Spirit (or the infilling of the Holy Spirit, or simply Spirit baptism). In Part One, I discussed the first of these, our baptism into Christ, and in Part Three next weekend, I will begin to discuss baptism in the Holy Spirit. But today I will discuss water baptism, which is the outward symbol of our baptism into Christ.

Because water baptism is the outward symbol of what occurs at salvation, our baptism into Christ, the first key Scripture we need to examine is again found in Romans 6:3-7 (NKJV), which states, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” As baptism into Christ is the reality of what occurs at salvation, water baptism is the outward symbol of that precious union and identification. By being immersed into water, the candidate is identifying with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. In Part One, I discussed at length the reality of our salvation, and the reality of our baptism into Christ. Now, in Part Two, I am going to discuss the symbolic nature of water baptism, and why it is essential and normative for all Christian believers in their Christian experience.

Water baptism is also done in obedience to Christ. We all know that Jesus was baptized in water, after which “the heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God descended as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said (the Father), ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” (See Matt. 3:16-17, NAS). Likewise, we are all commanded to be water baptized in like manner. Truly, it has become normative for all new Christian believers to be baptized in water, for that is the pattern of New Testament life expressed in the Scriptures. The next water baptism recorded in the Scriptures is found in Acts 2:41 (NAS), “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about 3000 souls.”

The next water baptism documented in the Scripture is significant, because this particular water baptism shows us what water baptism is NOT. There is an argument that has been floated in some Southern Baptist circles, especially, that water baptism is an “initiatory rite” into a local church, because in addition to symbolizes our identification and union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (our baptism into Christ), it also symbolizes agreement with the local church in her theology, teaching, and accountability. This is NOT biblical at all. Water baptism is only symbolic of our baptism into Christ. Nothing more and nothing less. Look at Acts 8:35-39 (NAS), the story of Phillip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian eunuch: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.” This passage is significant because there is no “initiatory rite” here into a local church, in fact, there is no local church involvement here. Yes, Phillip was sent as an evangelist in the authority of the local church, but what is missing here is follow-up. Some might make the opposite argument from silence that Phillip must NOT left the Ethiopian with further instructions, but there is no account of that in the Scriptures. Rather, all we can say is that Phillip was caught away (transported) by the Holy Spirit, and the Ethiopian went his way rejoicing. I do hope in confidence that the Ethiopian eventually found a local church to fellowship with and in, but we have no account for sure in Scripture of that happening. Further, his baptismal experience would be no initiation into that local body, once he found it. This passage is prima facie evidence, then, that water baptism normatively should not be considered an “initiatory rite” into a local church, but is purely and only an outward symbol of our baptism into Christ.

However, water baptism is still normative for the Christian believer. There are subsequent accounts of water baptism. In Acts 9:18, after Paul was born again and converted, he was baptized as well. The same can be said for the Gentiles who were saved in the account of Peter at the house of Cornelius in Acts 10 (see especially Acts 10: 47-48), as well as Lydia’s conversion in Acts 16:14-15, as well as the jailer later on in Acts 16 as well, and the same with Crispus and the Corinthians in Acts 18. Lastly we come to Acts 19, the final water baptism recorded in the Bible. This is a key passage, so let’s examine it in some detail. Acts 19:1-5 (NAS), “It happened while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, Jesus.’ When they (the disciples) heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The first thing that should be noted about this passage was these were disciples. Some will argue that these were NOT disciples of Jesus, though. Unfortunately, many times those who argue this are unable to say who they were disciples of, perhaps John. However, according to verse 4, John told these people to believe in Jesus. It would then logically follow that these disciples were somehow indirect followers of Christ through John. At the very least, they were instructed to believe in Jesus. Although they had no knowledge or awareness of the Holy Spirit, these were disciples, they were saved, for they had believed on the Lord Jesus (see Romans 10:9-10 for the requirements of salvation). Thus, the only reason that Paul had these disciples re-baptized was so they could be baptized in the name of Jesus, the full outward expression and symbol of what had already occurred when these disciples believed, what had occurred at these disciples salvation, their baptism into Christ.

Once they were water baptized, these disciples in Acts 19 then became candidates for the third baptism, which will be discussed in Part Three, which is the baptism (or infilling) of the Holy Spirit, and is a distinct experience from one’s salvation. We’ll discuss that issue next time, as “World of Faith” will continue in the series, “What is Charismatic.”


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What is Charismatic? – Part One: Baptized into Christ

December 18, 2006
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Welcome to the first part in World of Faith’s series on “What is Charismatic?” Over the next several weeks, we’re going to discuss several issues, some of which are controversial to my readers and fellow bloggers I know. However, I hope this post is non-controversial, unifying, and foundational. We are going to discuss the fact that ALL Christians, whether they are charismatic or not, are baptized into Christ.

Now, you might wonder, if being baptized into Christ is NOT a charismatic distinctive, why is it being addressed in this blog. The reason why I am beginning with this topic, which is hopefully agreed to by all, is because many non-charismatics tend to conflate baptism into Christ (or baptism into Christ’s body), with Spirit baptism (or what I will call the baptism in or infilling of the Holy Spirit, which occurs subsequent to salvation (although, I would not call the baptism in the Holy Spirit a second work of grace or “second blessing”).

The fact is the New Testament teaches, in my view, three different baptisms. Hebrews 6:1-3 (NKJV), “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” Notice, in verse 2, the word “baptisms” is in the plural, and on a foundational level, this does not mean multiple water baptisms, but multiple kinds of baptisms that are essential to the growth of a new believer in Christ. These three baptisms are (1) baptism into Christ (or the body of Christ), which occurs at salvation, (2) water baptism, and (3) baptism in the Holy Spirit (or the infilling of the Holy Spirit, or simply Spirit baptism). Each of these baptisms are different from one another, and we’ll discuss each one in turn in this blog.

So, what does it mean to be baptized into Christ (or into His body)? The key Scripture passage concerning being baptized into Christ is found in Romans 6:3-7 (NKJV), which states, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” WOW, that’s a mouthful, let’s break this down. The first statement here is that if you are baptized into Christ Jesus, which means you are born again, having accepted Jesus Christ as Lord (and are regenerated), and then you are baptized into Christ’s death as well. One might ask is this water baptism? Water baptism is definitely a pictorial account of what is described here. However, it is only a public testimony of what has already occurred at salvation, the believer is positionally baptized into Christ.

Another relevant verse to note here is 1 Cor. 12:13 (NKJV), “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” This is a description of salvation, and what happens when you receive as a believer the indwelling Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many non-charismatics do not rightly divide the word of truth here, and conflate this with Spirit baptism, saying it is one and the same. However, the pattern evidenced in the Scriptures is significantly different. It is clear that the disciples received the indwelling Holy Spirit and were born again in John 20: 20-21, where Jesus breathed into the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. However, in Acts 1:8, Jesus later told the disciples to wait and tarry for the promise of the Father, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to empower the first believers for service, and this was fulfilled in Acts 2 for the very first time. Perhaps Acts 19: 1-6 (NKJV) sheds some light, “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would 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 hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” Clearly, these disciples were already believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, as they were identified as disciples. Yet, they had only been baptized in the baptism of John for repentance, and so Paul ordered them re-baptized in water in the name of Christ Jesus, and IN ADDITION laid hands on them so they could receive what I will later identify as the baptism in the Holy Spirit (or the infilling of the Holy Spirit), which first occurred in Acts 2, for THAT is the promise of the Father that John prophesied in Matt. 3:11. There IS a distinction between being baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 6:3-7, and 1 Cor. 12:13), and being baptized into the Holy Spirit (or filled with the Holy Spirit) by Jesus Christ Himself (see Matt. 3:11, Eph. 5:19, Acts 2 and 19, etc.)

Finally, what is the result of being baptized into Christ? What benefit does the believer attain from this? Romans 6 again gives us the answer, in verses 4-7, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” First, Romans 6:4 says we as Christian believers can walk in newness of life. This is because we have eternal life. In fact, Paul writes in Romans 5:17 that we have the ability to “reign in life.” Next, in verse 5, we learn that we also will be resurrected in the likeness of Jesus. Paul develops this much further in 1 Cor. 15, and really this is a whole other topic for another day, so I’ll leave it at that.

However, Romans 6:6-7 is really a key passage of this discussion. This is very liberating to the Christian believer. The fact is, the “old man” was crucified with Jesus on the cross, and even in verse 9, Paul reckons the “old man” as dead. So should we. Our old body of sin has been eradicated, so that we are no longer slaves to sin. In fact, Paul later exhorts us to be instruments of righteousness in verse 13. Lastly, Paul writes in Romans 6:7 that “he who has died is freed from sin.” That’s right. As Christian believers, we have been set free from our sins and the “old man.” Because we are now children of God, and also new creatures in Christ (all that is left is the “new man” according to 2 Cor. 5:17), we can have victory over the sin in our lives, and learn to let Christ’s righteousness work in us, and mature us as we grow in our Christian walk.

Next time, I’ll be discussing water baptism, and how that fits into the journey of the Christian believer. It is a picture and an outward declaration of what already has transpired, and what I have described here. Yet, it is a different experience, and does not effectuate our salvation.


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What is Charismatic? – Introduction

December 17, 2006
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Recently, in a few blogs in which I comment, the topic has come up that I am a charismatic, and believe in “charismatic theology,” or “Pentecostal theology,” which really are two different concepts, to be explored later in this series. This is the first part of several in which I am going to explore the topic “What is Charismatic,” i.e. what do charismatic Christians believe. The first installment of this series will be released later this evening as “Baptized into Christ,” which is what happens to us when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, and are saved, born-again, and regenrated, and the indwelling Holy Spirit comes to live in our spirits. This will be hopefully a foundational and unifying discussion that will continue over the next several weeks. Future installments will discuss at length other subjects, including water baptism, the baptism in (or infilling of) the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and the importance, and perhaps necessity, of having a prayer language (praying in tongues) in one’s life. All of this and more will be featured here, as the “World of Faith” blog hopes to define “What is Charismatic.”

Before I start this in earnest, I’d like to share some information about myself to my readers, and those who might comment here. I am a charismatic, non-denominational Christian. I am a member of a non-denominational, charismatic church based in Edmond, OK, which is a member of two different ministerial organizations, one based in La Salle, Ill., and the other in Tulsa. Thus, my theology, as I present here for all to see, is thoroughly charismatic and faith-oriented, thus the title of my blog, “World of Faith.” I share this so you will know my background, and understand the approach I will be taking in the next several weeks here.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions, and I’ll be glad to respond to them in turn. My hope here is to bridge the gap, and help all of us come to a greater knowledge of the truth and what the Word of God speaks to these issues.


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Welcome to “World of Faith”

December 12, 2006
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Another blogger in the Kingdom of God thinks I should start a blog. I already have a Xanga page, but “World of Faith” will be devoted to discuss spiritual issues of the day, and not so much personal issues, as I discuss at my Xanga website.

In the coming days, I’ll be revamping the website, and changing the design of the blog.

For now, that’s all.

Jonathan


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