Two Baptisims - Part I
Ezekiel 36:25-27 — “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.”
THESE TWO EXPERIENCES ARE FOR EVERY BELIEVER
In the lives of those who embrace Christianity, there are two major events that every believer should experience. These are the events designed by God to produce both the character of the individual believer, conforming them into the image of Christ, and then, the second, to empower the individual to carry out their personal function in the body of Christ.
Baptism into Christ is what I will refer to as the born-again experience under the terms and benefits of the new covenant. While many mistake this term to be associated with water baptism, it is not. I¬¬ Corinthians 12:13 declares that the Holy Spirit, at salvation, immerses the believing sinner into the body of Christ. This is the baptism that saves.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second subsequent work of the Spirit, made available after one has been baptized into Christ. It enables the believer to receive supernatural power by which they carry out their God-chosen function in the body of Christ. Without the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which always includes the initial physical evidence of speaking with other tongues, I personally don’t believe that Christians can carry out the work of God, as God intends for them to. It takes supernatural power to carry out or fulfill any ministry function, whether it’s raising the kids or preaching to thousands from an elevated platform. In this article, we will emphasize baptism into Christ. Next month, in Part II, we will emphasize the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST
When one is baptized into Christ, the Bible says that individual becomes a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17). This new creation work is carried out by the person of the Holy Spirit as declared in Titus 3:5.
Our text of Ezekiel 36: 25-27 is a prophecy that foretells what God will do for Israel when they finally accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah. This will happen at the end of the great tribulation period. However, these same benefits have been experienced by all who have chosen to believe in Jesus since the day of the Holy Spirit’s coming to superintend the new covenant. The Holy Spirit came with all the benefits that Christ died to provide us with on the day of Pentecost. Since then, He has been doing the same work in the hearts of all who would believe.
HOLY SPIRIT RECREATES THE BELIEVER
First of all, in Ezekiel 36:25, the Lord says that He will cleanse Israel. This cleansing occurs whenever a person places his faith in Christ as their Saviour. Then a description of the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration is given in Ezekiel 36:26. Here we see a detailed description of what a “new creation” experiences.
First, God recreates the heart of the believing sinner. The heart is made up of two components, the soul and the spirit. The soul is the part of man that feels; it is his emotional center, where desire, love, and the will abide. The spirit of man is the part of man that knows. The spirit is man’s communication center. At conversion, the Holy Spirit gives the newly created spirit the ability to continually communicate with God’s Spirit. This is where revelation transpires, where inspiration and understanding happens, where illumination occurs. Therefore, when one is baptized into Christ, the Holy Spirit gives him a new soul that longs for and desires the things of God. Through the newly created spirit, man begins to communicate with God through the agency of His Spirit. By this method the believer comes to know, understand, and comprehend things which are of God. Not only that, but the hardened heart—that heart that was hardened by sin—is made a soft and pliable heart, one that is more readily yielded to operate as God desires.
Last, and most important of all, God not only gives us a newly constructed soul and spirit but He also places His Spirit into that very same heart. At the moment of conversion, the believer becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. We receive both a new spirit and “another” Spirit—the Spirit of God.
SUPERNATURAL POWER FOR SANCTIFICATION
The Holy Spirit immediately begins to reveal the will of God to us. Furthermore, you should note that our text declares that it is not man’s will that provides the new believer with the power or ability to keep God’s judgments and walk in His statutes. Instead, the Bible states that it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that is to become the “new source” of life—the strength that enables the believer to perform. Even with new desires and new communication abilities, even with a soft heart—one that is willing to search out, find, and follow the will of God—the believer must receive the power to overcome sin from a source other than self. This power does not lie in the newly created Christian; it resides in the Holy Spirit of God who now lives in the Christian.
So, we must learn to rely upon and receive this power for the purpose of sanctification. Faith in God’s redemption plan—Christ and His finished work—is what releases the “law of the Spirit of life” into our very beings. When we learn to keep our faith in Christ crucified, then the Holy Spirit will continually sanctify us and enable us to live this Christian life. We have a new power source within us that is activated by properly placed faith. As Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
This article will be continued in the October issue of The Evangelist.