Are there other types of baptism? And if so, then why do so many Churches today focus only on water baptism, and not on any other types of baptism?
But the question I would like to ask is, are there other types of baptism? Why do so many Churches today focus mainly on water baptism and not on any other baptismal dimensions which are also biblical? What is the meaning for example of verses like Luke 3:3 that says, "And he (John the Baptist), came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sin."
In this paper we are going to look into five different biblical meanings, foundations and dimensions of the practice of baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ. Within the pages of the Holy Scriptures you will find that there are a number of different baptisms. These different forms of Baptism are listed below.
Types of baptism
1) Baptism of repentance
2) Baptism into the body of Christ
3) Baptism in water
4) Baptism into the Holy Spirit
5) Baptism with fire
1) Baptism of repentance
Shortly before Jesus Christ was revealed to the people as the awaited Messiah, John the Baptist was baptizing people with the baptism of repentance, telling them to believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus (Acts 19:4). Luke records it this way, " And he (John the Baptist), came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sin." (Luke: 3:3)
Baptism of repentance takes place in the heart of a person, and it has to do with a positive change; from an ungodly life, to a life that is going to be lead by the righteousness of God. In the baptism of repentance, one is required to confess their sins and make a complete turn around - away from an evil life style to a lifestyle that is acceptable to God. This is what John the Baptist was preaching about and it is the same doctrine being preached in our times. The repentance baptism message targets those people whose actions are not in accord with the scriptures. True messengers of God today are like John the Baptist, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, to prepare the people through the baptism of repentance, for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This baptism of repentance comes before baptism into the body of Christ, and it comes before water baptism.
2) Baptism into the body of Christ
As I just pointed out, the baptism of repentance precedes the baptism into Christ's body. This baptism into Christ's body, allows the repenting person to be spiritually converted into the faith of Jesus Christ, and the beleiver now looks to Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. The saved believer also recognizes that the wages of their sinful life was death but that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. (Romans 6: 23)
The believer has come to terms with the scripture as its recorded in Romans 10: 9-13 which says, "That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation, for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
Having fulfilled the baptism of repentance, the believer is now ready to become baptized into the body of Christ and thus – they are born again. The new believer in the body of Christ is now a totally new creature irrespective of their past sinful life. The former sinful life has passed away, and the sins purged off by the cleansing power of the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:17). The believer is now ready to be transferred from the Kingdom of satan into the Kingdom of God by faith through Jesus Christ.
Baptism into Christ's body is what the Holy Bible terms, "one baptism". This baptism brings together all people on the same footing in the eyes of God – whether rich or poor, literate or illiterate, men or women, white or black, different races, tribes, ethnicity, and languages. It's recorded, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into One body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)
What they all have now is, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." (Ephesians 4:5). Being born again means that new converts have been born of the Spirit of God and are now given the power to be called children of the most high God. The person is thus expected to grow in the new faith; grow into a mature and effective disciple of Jesus Christ; and to be ready to be released into the divine ministry work of the great commission. 2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us.
The believer upholds his faith to the very end and this qualifies the believer to enter heaven in order to spend eternity in glory with God. It is not only vital for one to be born again, but it is just as important to remain in the faith and finish in it – that is, to physically die firmly and completely believing in the Lord while still in the faith. The crucified thief on the right hand of Jesus Christ at Calvary repented his sins, and was baptized into Christ's body. Upon his death his spirit entered heaven, for he died holding unto the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Death bed conversions like this one, where circumstances do not permit it, allow the saved believer to be saved even though they have not experienced water baptism. But for most believers, the next step is water baptism.
3) Baptism in water
Water baptism is biblically meant for all those who have repented and have consequently been baptized into the body of Christ. Water baptism is genuinely for those who are saved – having washed their sins by the precious blood of Jesus Christ . It is worthy to note that this type of baptism does not save a person from sin (does not cleanse sins), but it is a recognition rite, confirming a person's coming into the Church of Christ. The believer after the initial cleansing of their sins by the blood of Jesus, then goes through water baptism following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Baptism by water started in the new testament and it continues up to this very day. Just like in our times, John the Baptist was baptizing using the medium of water. He baptized many people, as they turned away from evil, and turned to the living God. They came from Jerusalem, Judaea, and regions around Jordan and were baptized in the river Jordan confessing their sins. This type of baptism follows only after the sinful person asks for forgiveness and repents of their sins. Sincere repentance is the only qualification for this type of baptism.
Jesus Christ, the son of the living and most high God, underwent a unique water baptism while here on earth in the form of a human being. Unlike mankind, who must repent first before going through a sincere and biblically founded water baptism, Jesus Christ instead was baptized without repentance. This is because he had no sin to repent for. He was with out sin, for this lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world, was sinless. The Lord was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist, and with his own baptism, the Lord Jesus Christ was telling us that such a baptism was meant for all believers.
As Jesus was being baptized in water, God spoke from heaven saying He was well pleased with his beloved son Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:17). This happened to fulfill the prophetic scriptures which said, " I will declare that thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." (Psalms 2:7, Isaiah 42:1). The Holy Spirit also descended down on the Lord in a bodily form of a dove after he was baptized in the water. (Matthew 3:16)
Thereafter, as the Lord Jesus Christ began his active ministry on earth, He and his disciples traveled all over the area baptizing. John 3:22 "After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea, and there he tarried with them while they baptized". However, during his ministry Jesus did no baptizing on his own, and he did this to show all believers, that any other believing Christian could perform the act of baptizing another believing Christian. John 4:2 "Although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized."
So water baptism is one of the ordinances that Jesus Christ left for those believing in him. Speaking to his disciples (and to believers today) he said, " Go ye therefore, and teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). Water baptism is thus a sacred rite with a specific purpose for all the believers.
4) Baptism into the Holy Spirit
John the Baptist prophesied that the one who will come after him – Jesus Christ, will baptize with the Holy Spirit. The baptized believer receives the Holy Spirit who now lives in their hearts; guiding, teaching, and helping them. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers them on the road to spiritual purity, spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and spiritual strength. Sinful men and women who have not repented of their sins can not receive the Holy Spirit.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was a privilege from God upon just a few categories of people. These categories were mainly the Kings who were anointed to rule over Israel, the true Prophets of the living God and the Levitical Priests. The Lord God also slightly extended this privilege of the Holy Spirit to a few other special people – for instance, the seventy elders who were to help Moses in leading the Israelites on their way towards Canaan (Exodus 11:16-26).
A look at the scriptures also reveals a few other people receiving this special privilege of the Holy Spirit. A few of these examples include Mary who was espoused to Joseph (Luke 1:35), and Elizabeth and her unborn child John the Baptist (Luke 1:41). However, the Holy Spirit did not indwell in them constantly, but instead came upon them to give special divine directions and revelations for one specific situation.
So, in the Old Testament days, the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out from heaven upon all those who believed in the living God. But we do find in many places in the Old Testament where prophets like Joel, announce a big change is coming – that the Holy Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh. "And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind". (Joel. 2:28)
During his ministry, Jesus Christ taught that the Father would give to his believers, His gift – the comforter, the counsellor, the spirit of truth – the Holy Spirit. The Lord also taught that unless he goes back to the Father, the Gift of the Father will not be released. He had to go up to heaven so that the Holy Spirit would come down to the believers (John 16:7). In Acts 1:4-5, the Lord Jesus Christ commands his disciples not to preach the gospel until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. A few days later during Pentecost, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred upon the 120 disciples who had obeyed the Lord's command to await this special Baptism at Jerusalem (John 24:49, Acts 2:1-4).
And so in the New Testament, the scenario changes. Here we find true believers receiving the Holy Spirit who now indwells in them constantly. This was the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers in the New Testament era. From that time up to this present time, the Holy Spirit's baptism is open to all believers who desire him, and who walk in holiness before God - whether Jews or gentiles. Unlike in the Old Testament, in the New Testament we find the Holy Spirit indwelling in the lives of the believers - He lives in them, on them, and around them.
Being baptized in the Holy Spirit is the filling of a believer's life with the Holy Spirit who is sent from God the Father. This baptism into the Holy Spirit is mandatory to any believer who desires a victorious spiritual life. Why is this? – Because God first calls the believer, then cleanses the believer, then moulds the believer into a new person, then fills the believer with the Holy Spirit. This in turn not only empowers the believer to lead a Godly life, but it also so enables the believer to witness Jesus Christ to the world.
The Holy Spirit does a great many other things to the believers that he dwells within.
The Holy Spirit teaches the believers about the truth of the word of God.
The Holy Spirit enhances understanding, revelation and remembering the word of God.
He comforts and counsels the believers through out their Christian walk.
He gives Godly guidance and advice to the believer.
He helps the believer in their prayer life.
The Holy Spirit intercedes for the believer.
The Holy Spirit also comes to reveal and manifest the character of God in the lives of the believers. This happens as the believers continue to walk in the Spirit. The evidence of this is the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in the believers life.
The giving of spiritual gifts to believers is another vital purpose of the Holy Spirit.
He testifies of our relationship with God – that we are God's children.
He opens our spiritual eyes so we can see and perceive the purposes that God has for us.
The Holy spirit plays an extremely large role in the Church of Christ. A church without the Holy Spirit is like the world before creation – shapeless and empty and such a church would be no different from a social club – or a cemetery – many crosses but no life. As we read the Word of God we find that the Holy Spirit formed the church into a complete structure (Acts 2:1-4), that he makes the body of Christ to be a new living church of God and the individual believers to be living stones (2 Corinthians 3:6). He also brings direction and guidance to the church as well as spiritual gifts and grace to the believers ( 2 Corinthians 8:7).
5) Baptism with fire
Baptism with fire is only meant for the saints of God. It involves The Lord allowing his saints to pass through serious sufferings that when bravely handled, glorifies and gives honor to the name of the most high living God. This baptism of fire is only for true believers. Salvation does not mean that all is smooth. There are serious storms in the lives of the saints of God. The baptism of fire ushers the saints of God into tests, trials, temptations and other various forms of afflictions, to test their faith and their total dependency upon God. Baptism by fire brings about grace for a positive change in the life of believers towards God and enhances spiritual maturity.
This is a type of baptism that most people, even those confessing great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, do not like passing through. It is also referred to as the baptism into sufferings. The Apostle Paul tells us that even though the sufferings in this life may be severe, they are nothing when compared to the joys that we will experience when we arrive in heaven and are with the Father. "The sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18)
This is the type of Baptism that Jesus himself underwent before and during his painful crucifixion on the cross at Calvary. For Jesus said in Luke 12:50, "There is a terrible baptism ahead for me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished." Here the Lord is talking about his great sufferings; sufferings that reached their peak when he was led to, and crucified, at Golgotha - thereby shedding his precious blood for the remission of sins for all those repenting.
A believer going through fire baptism is sanctified from the ungodliness in their life after passing through the hard times victoriously. Fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and the purifying judgement of God. Believers need to walk in the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit will lead the saint in the ways of God. All ungodliness in the lives of the saints will have to be burned up by the fire of the Lord. The Bible says every man's work shall be manifested, tried and revealed by fire.
1 Corinthians 3:13 "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work."
As long as the believer is founded in the unshakeable word of God – by faith and obedience – they will always come out of the fire stronger. They will not fall apart. These hard times of fire baptism wll also make the believer come out of the trials purified, just like gold is when it is passed through the hot furnace fire to be purified. The sufferings should not be seen as a punishment from God, rather it brings about grace for a positive change towards God in the life of the saint.
The Bible is full of men and women of God who went through this type of baptism – Job the man of God, the prophets of God in the old testament especially during the reign of King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel, David the King, Jesus Christ, Apostles Peter and Paul, and the persecutions of the saints of God in the early Church during the reign of a great many Roman kings. Jesus Christ talks frequently of this type of baptism upon all those believing in him. You must also keep in mind that our heavenly Father is faithful, because as we under go these sufferings he will not allow unto us such a strong suffering that we can not bear it. Instead he gives us the spiritual strength to endure what ever he allows to come into our lifes so that we are victorious to the glory of his name. It is written, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it," (1 Corinthians 10:13).