Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Baptism Summary Thoughts

I should post some summary thoughts on my series on baptism.

I hesitate to write a summary because I don't have many solid thoughts on what immersion (baptism) with the Holy Spirit is.  Part of me wants to think it is a process, but the way it is talked about in Scripture sounds like it can also be initiated by a one time event.  I suspect I have a lot more to learn in regards to the Holy Spirit. 

But here is what I have learned in this study so far:

What Did Baptism Mean? - I looked at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature and saw how the term meant submerged, immersed, dipped, plunged, dyed, and other meanings.  It did not always have a connection with water.  Objects that were dipped or submerged in a variety of liquids were said to have been 'baptized' in that substance.

Baptism without Water  - The term for baptism is also used in the New Testament to refer to dipping/submerging/immersing in substances other than water.  It sounds like Jesus was going to baptize with the Holy Spirit instead of with water.

Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time. Jesus and the early church did not invent a water dipping and cleansing ritual.  They likely adapted a common custom and gave it a new meaning.

The Heart of Baptism - We have been immersed/dipped/dyed into Christ. We have become one with Christ.  Paul continues describes baptism in Rom 6:3-13 as becoming one with Christ. Our selfish will died with Christ on the cross, so that we can truly live.

Who Can Baptize? - I believe  Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed to all believers, not just clergy.

When Should Believers Be Baptized? -  If we believe children can receive the Holy Spirit, It doesn't look like anyone should hinder children from taking the step of immersion by water as well.  As for adults, the example we see in Scripture is that baptism follows conversion as soon as possible.

Baptism With The Holy Spirit - John the baptist was said to have baptized with water, but Jesus was going to baptize with the Holy Spirit. Looking at passages in Acts we also see both types of baptisms in the early church.

Immersion by water is a great symbol of being baptized with the Holy Spirit.  The command for us in Matt 28:18 - 20 is likely referring to baptism or immersion with the Holy Spirit (and Father, Son).  I suspect God is most interested in the matters of the heart. The early church, and most Christians throughout history have made an outward expression of this with immersion in water.

So that summarizes what I have learned. I believe both immersion with water and immersion with the Holy Spirit are important steps in the lives of believers.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Steve Martin said...


We believe that water and the Word (accompanying that water) is baptism. I believe the Scriptures speak of water and the Spirit. That is baptism.

The Word is the most important part. So the amount of water does not matter. Immersion, sprinking, pouring...they will all do just fine.

I do agree with most of what you have said regarding Baptism.

One of the most imporatnt questions about Baptism is 'why?'. Since we know that Jesus was not into empty religious ritual...he must have had a good reason to command that we baptize and are baptized.

Thanks, Jon.

Jonathan said...

Thanks again Steve Martin for the comments.

Can you clarify for me what you mean by 'Word'? Are you talking about Jesus, a special message from God, or specifically about the Bible or reading portions of it as a person is immersed in water? Sorry, I may be missing what you are saying because that term gets used in different ways.

I agree that the why is essential to understand. What do you think about my summary "Heart of Baptism" - I believe that is the why.

Thanks again.

Steve Martin said...


The Word is Christ, Himself.

"In the beginning was the Word..."

So Christ, since He commanded Baptism and ordered us to Baptize in the name of the Triune God, is THE most important part of Baptism.

Baptism (as Luther said) is not water only, but God's Word, with the water. That is Baptism.

So, the water is there, but it is secondary. And if no water exists, whatever earthly media available will be alright, as long as the Word and His promises are present.

Those promises are good and valid all our lifetime. Even if we abandon them in our wanderings.

So, we can have assurance of our salvation in the promises that God makes to us in our Baptism. Thsi goes a long way towards keeping us off the religious rat-wheel of 'self', so that we do not become despairing of our inability to be obedient and faithful...or worse yet, prideful, because we actually think we are doing a pretty good job of it.

Thanks, friend.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Steve Martin. I think we are in agreement just using different terms.

I'm saying the most important part of baptism is immersion with the Holy Spirit. You are saying Jesus (the Word) being present is the important part.

I see a lot of common ground in these two points. Jesus left us His Spirit to be with us, we are talking about the same Holy presence being present.


Steve Martin said...

Yes, Jon.

Different language. I like promise and presence better than immersion, but I do see your point.

The most important part is that He does the immersion (and the resurrection), and that it is ALL His work. Then we can have confidence in it.

I don't want to rely on anything (where it deals with my salvation)that I decided, or did.