World of Faith

What is Charismatic? – Part One: Baptized into Christ | December 18, 2006

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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9 Comments »

  1. Jonathan,
    You write longer posts than I do! 🙂

    I appreciate your interaction on my blog. I thought I would reciprocate.

    I believe your reference to “baptisms” in Hebrews 6:1-3 is an error in interpretation. The simple fact that the word “baptisms” is in the plural does not indicate multiple, differing baptisms for the individual. The writer was referring to ritual baptisms in general. The writer used in this particular case the Greek word for washing (baptismos) rather than the special wors for Christian baptism (baptisma). He was, most likely referring to some ritual washings that these people had received and were arguing about.

    In every other instance where you refer to the laying on of hands and the Holy Spirit coming, the apostles (including Paul – whom Jesus made an apostle) were involved. This was a very unique time in history … the transition from the old covenant to the new.

    The reference to Acts 19:1-6 is not a story of Christians being baptized with the Holy Spirit. These men had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. I submit they had never even heard of Jesus, otherwise why would Paul have told them of Jesus in verse 4? He shared the gospel. They were saved. Yes, they were disciples, but they were disciples of John … not Jesus. There remains a “John cult” in the Middle East to this very day … people who remain the disciples of John the baptist. This was an instance where unbelievers became believers, and they recved the Holy Spirit … simultaneously … through a powerful demonstration of God through the Apostle Paul.

    Comment by Geoff — December 18, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

  2. BTW – Jonathan, what is your last name? I would like to add you to my blogroll.

    Blessings,
    Geoff

    Comment by Geoff — December 18, 2006 @ 3:09 pm

  3. Geoff,

    Yes, I compose each post on Microsoft Word, and then copy and paste it into my blog.

    To respond to your comments, I believe that the author of Hebrews was discussing foundational doctrines of the Christian faith, one of which is the subject of baptism(s), and I do NOT believe this was ritual baptism, given the context of Hebrews 6:1-3. The NAS uses the term “washings” instead of “baptisms,” and the Bible says Christians have been “washed by the water of the Word.” That occurs at salvation, and does not refer to a ritual.

    Also, I am not a Greek scholar, nor am I a pastor, so I have no training in Greek. I don’t know how to interpret your arguments from tense.

    As regards to the laying on of hands, again, that is mentioned as a foundational doctrine in Hebrews 6, which means its not just for a “transitional time,” but is a practice that should be normative for all believers. Not that it MUST occur, but it is normative.

    I am surprised that you do not believe the “disciples” in Acts 19 were not saved. I believe much of your argument here is based on conjecture, and not the Word of God. Luke specifically called them as “disciples,” and every other time this word is used in the NT, it means a Christ follower. You suggest they were disciples of John and part of a “John cult” is completely extra-biblical, so I don’t find that argument very sound.

    Lastly, my last name is Krems, and I will be adding you to my blogroll as well.

    Thanks for stopping by, and come back at any time.

    Comment by Jonathan — December 18, 2006 @ 3:32 pm

  4. Jonathan,
    The NAS “washings” reinforces my argument from language. THE NAS intentionally translated it differently from “baptism” because the meanings are, indeed, different.

    My understanding of Acts 19:1-7 is not something new. It is a very straightforward understanding of the text, and an understanding shared by many. The word “disciple” simply means “follower.” It’s use is not limited to a description of those who follow Jesus. BTW – the “John followers” or “Johannites” are known historically. I found a pretty interesting article about them at http://www.mystae.com/restricted/streams/scripts/johannite.html .

    Comment by Geoff — December 18, 2006 @ 4:25 pm

  5. Geoff,

    I would still bring in the concept of the washing of the Word, which occurs at salvation, and I would say that is part of being baptized into Christ. Water baptism, as I will discuss in Part Two, is merely symbolic of the washing of the water of the Word. I would hope as a Baptist you would agree with that.

    As for Acts 19, we see that as a key olace where Paul administered (if that is a good word) what charismatics call the baptism (or infilling) in the Holy Spirit. The reason why we see it that way is because in 19:6, when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophecied. This was the same result when the Holy Spirit first fell in Acts 2 at Pentecost, because those believers, too, spoke in tongues and prophecied as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. I hope you would at the very least draw the same parallells I just did.

    Thanks again for dropping by and your comments.

    Comment by Jonathan — December 18, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

  6. Yo, Jonathan!

    I think it’s completely cool that you and I can have a conversation, debate … even argue without attacking one another and calling names. I wish I could have such conversations with my Baptist brethren without being treated thusly. This week I have been called, “spooky,” “troubling,” “disconcerting,” and a “cause for concern” by fellow Baptists. It must be sad to not be able to disagree with someone without attacking them. I know that you and I will agree to that.

    I appreciate all of your comments at my blog. You have, indeed, caused me to dig deeper into the Word. Iron sharpening iron. For that I am thankful, my brother.

    Do something for me. Shoot me an e-mail at pastorgeoff@bellsouth.net with your phone #. I’d like to give you a call and just chat sometime. I have unlimited long distance … might as well use it. Blessings!

    Comment by Geoff — December 20, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  7. Interesting

    cb

    Comment by cb scott — December 23, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  8. CB,

    In case you’re wondering, the post about water baptism will be released either Sunday or Monday, if that is what you was looking for.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Jonathan — December 23, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

  9. Geoff, how do you determine when baptism is washing versus baptism, given its different uses? And, given the various forms of the use of immersion (immersed as in dipped into, immersed as in engrossed, etc.), what if we’ve missed the point altogether? I’m not necessarily agreeing with either of you on this, but I feel as though your explanation of Hebrews 6 as referring to washings as just guesswork and that doesn’t seem like good biblical exegesis.

    Comment by Bryan Riley — December 27, 2006 @ 3:55 pm


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