BAPTISM INTO CHIRST
II Corinthians 5:17 - “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away behold, all things are become new.”
As I study the New Testament, I see three baptisms that were encountered by the New Testament believer.
First and foremost, there is a baptism into the body of Christ. This is accomplished as the Holy Spirit unites and plants the believing sinner into Christ at salvation. I Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” This baptism is what is being referred to in Romans 6:3-5. After this truly “born again” experience, either one of the next two baptisms are legitimate.
There is a baptism with water that witnesses to all that the believer has accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and dedicated his or her heart and life to Him. This baptism is seen in Matthew 28:19.
Then there is the baptism with the Holy Spirit, where Jesus Himself baptizes the born-again believer into the person of the Holy Spirit. The initial physical evidence of this baptism is speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives the believer supernatural power. Its purpose is not to save, but to empower the believer for service and enhance the relationship that believer has already established with the indwelling Spirit of God.
Only the first baptism—a baptism into Christ—is necessary for salvation, but according to the record of the New Testament, all three baptisms are normal Christian experiences and should be pursued and experienced by all who are saved. In this article we want to begin looking at the miracle and benefits of the first baptism, being “baptized into Christ.”
DEFINING THE NEW CREATION
First, let’s establish that the supernatural construction that is carried out in the human heart at salvation is done solely by the Holy Spirit.
In Colossians 2:11 the Bible says, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands….” The surgery that is performed by the Holy Spirit at the moment of redemption is not done with human hands. The circumcision is one of the heart, the soul, and the spirit as described by Paul in Romans 2:28-29 which says “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
The heart is made up of two separate entities: the soul (the part of man that feels) and the spirit (the part of man that knows). The Holy Spirit reconstructs the soul causing the believer to have an inner love for God and the desire to get to know Him better. The reconstructed spirit becomes the receiving center of revelation and understanding.
The Holy Spirit brings the information from God, relaying it to and through the newly installed “receiver” of the born-again spirit. The Holy Spirit moves into this newly constructed heart and immediately begins the process of teaching, leading, revealing, rebuking, instructing, guiding, etc. The Holy Spirit is God dwelling in man. The Holy Spirit did not come to be a silent partner. Therefore, we must learn not to grieve or quench Him.
These miraculous changes were prophesied in Ezekiel 36:25-27. As another supernatural benefit, the moral code of God is written into the very heart of the believer at redemption. Hebrews 10:16 verifies this truth. If we then add a growing knowledge of the Word with the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside the new creation, true life can now begin. All of this is available only because of what Christ Jesus did for us on the Cross.
THE DEFEAT OF SIN
At the core of man’s “sin problem” lies the sin nature. This nature was received at the fall of man and passed on to all human beings born thereafter. The sin nature, also known as the sin principle or the Adamic nature, bends the heart of man toward ungodliness and sin until the conscience of man is so seared that sin becomes the norm and not the exception. This “source” of sin is continually corrupting the heart (soul and spirit) working and weaving evil desires, ungodly thoughts, and selfish designs into the framework of the heart. Romans 6:1-11 teaches us what every Christian must know—that our baptism into Christ breaks the power of the sin nature and separates the new believer from the impacting influence of the sin nature.
So our salvation experience frees us from both the penalty of sin and from the very source of sinful bents in us. Next the clean up work commences, being headed up by the Holy Spirit. He immediately goes to work to rid us of every evil desire and design that has been painted in our souls by the active sin nature.
Every parent will understand this illustration. A child finds a crayon and connects that crayon to the walls of their bedroom creating a masterpiece of disaster on the wall. If you don’t remove the crayon from the child’s hand there is no way to effectively clean that wall. But after the crayon has been eliminated and the child “taught” that that action is unacceptable, then and only then can the cleanup process begin. Even so, our salvation frees us from the “coloring” influences of the sin nature and the Holy Spirit instantly descends upon the mess inside us. With all of His power, He begins to eliminate the strongholds and sets out to establish the new man. Thus, progressive sanctification has begun (once again, all because of our simple faith in Christ and the Cross) and the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier.
Romans 8:2 has become a reality: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” All of this and more is ours because of simple faith in Christ. All of this and more is maintained as we come to understand what Christ did for us on Calvary and as we fight to maintain our faith in what it means to be “baptized into Christ.”