The Advent Part 72
First repentance, then baptism, then the receiving of the Holy Spirit, this is the order that Peter laid out to those who were hearing him preach. Are there exceptions to this order? Yes, and Lord willing we will go into a couple of those Biblical exceptions, but as a general rule, this is how a soul comes to the knowledge of truth, is born again, and endued with power from on high.
Repentance and baptism are things to which man contributes, things that man must initiate, but the baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit is a work of God, something He initiates, and something He gives us as a gift.
Yes, we can pray to receive the Holy Spirit, we can likewise fast to receive the Holy Spirit, but the timing thereof is reserved exclusively for God, and it is He who chooses when to pour out, when to fill us, as well as what gifting we are to receive.
Although we ought to, as Paul admonishes us ‘earnestly desire the best gifts’, the final decision as to what gifts we receive is up to God and God alone. When we understand the nature of the body of Christ, and acknowledge the fact that the body is not one member but many, we come to realize the importance of every gift within the household of faith, and that in order for the body to be healthy and vibrant all the gifts must be operating within the congregation.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”
Both repentance and baptism as well as the infilling of the Holy Spirit are individual works, and not collective. God searches every heart individually, and pours into every heart individually.
Since we covered repentance if ever so briefly, I want to discuss baptism for a while seeing as it is one of two things that Peter told the assembled crowd they must do in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
First, seeing as repentance is first required before one can be baptized, the notion of infant baptism is a nonstarter. One cannot repent as an infant since they do not possess the mental faculty to do so. As such, the act of baptism ought to take place when an individual is old enough to know the difference between good and evil, and is able to repent before God.
Second, faith and baptism are two very different things. Faith cannot replace baptism, except in certain exceptional circumstances such as the thief on the cross, nor can baptism replace faith.
Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
The first to highlight the importance of the practice of baptism, was none other than Christ Jesus, who taught His apostles the doctrine of baptism, and in turn the apostles taught those who came to the faith after Christ’s ascension.
Christ’s teaching on baptism is simple and clear for any soul that desires salvation.
Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 16:15-16, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’”
From the words that Christ spoke both in Matthew and Mark there are certain truths that we can readily deduce.
First, baptism is a confession of an individual’s faith in Christ Jesus, an outward testimony of an inner truth.
Second, an individual that has not come to the faith, or that has not come to believe in Jesus cannot be baptized. Jesus clearly said, that he who believes and is baptized will be saved, not merely he who is baptized. Baptism is a delineation marker, a clear and visible border between the sinful past, and the new life in Christ.
There are countless doctrines that have been bantered about concerning baptism, sadly most of them based on presuppositions rather than the infallible and unshakable truth of God’s word. It is because certain men presupposed certain things that there is the confusion concerning infant baptism, and it is likewise because men took it upon themselves to add to the gospel of Christ that there is still the ongoing confusion as to whether men should be baptized in the name of Jesus, or in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus made it clear, He told us how we must proceed, and how men ought to be baptized, but thinking ourselves wiser than our Master, we attempt to insert a little of ourselves in what is the work of God.
Just as a side note, the reason the apostles said that men ought to now be baptized in the name of Jesus is to reaffirm to those of their time that the baptism of John had ended with his death, and that within the congregation of God there is one baptism, the baptism of faith in the name of Jesus, but also that Jesus is one with the Father as well as with the Holy Spirit.
I bring this up only because I’ve known individuals who have been water baptized upwards of six or seven times, because with each new influx of aberrant doctrine they are swayed into going back into the water just to make sure they got it right.
Jesus showed us the way, He drew the map, He gave us specific and explicit instructions; all we have to do is follow.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.