BAPTISM OF WATER AND SPIRIT

"Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one  of you  in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of  sins,  and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV).

The baptismal ceremony with its various steps is the process by which  a person makes and ratifies an eternal  agreement  between themselves,  God the Father, and Jesus Christ. Upon completion  of the  final ritual of the baptismal ceremony, a person  becomes  a son  of God the Father and a brother of Jesus Christ in the  holy and divine Family of God.

The  baptismal  ceremony is not for the purpose of becoming a member of a physical organization; it is for the  purpose  of becoming a son of God in the Family of God. No earthly  organization  of humans  can offer the immense privilege  of sonship  in  the Family of God; only God the Father  can bind  a person to himself and  place  them into his family.

The  allegiance  one makes at baptism is to God the Father  and Jesus  Christ, not to anything or anyone else.  Baptism  is a very serious  commitment  to make.  From the moment a person is baptized  and  receives the holy spirit, a total commitment is made  to  God the Father and Jesus Christ.  

The  baptized person has committed to an endeavor that will  lead to  eternal life as a member of the family and government of  God (Rev.3:5,21; 5:10; 20:4-6) or to eternal death if  this  commitment in not kept (Lk.9:62; Heb.6:4-6; 10:26-27; Rev.20:13-15; 21:8). God the Father and Jesus Christ have committed themselves to help the  newly  begotten son through the very power  that  sustains the universe  and  all  that exists.  See  Matt.6:25-34;  Heb.13:5-6; Jn.14:12-14.

BAPTISM BY WATER

The Water

The following are symbolic and literal meanings of the baptismal water into which a person is immersed:

The water is also a medium through which God the Father  performs the  purification  of the person's spirit and body prior  to  implanting his Spirit within them.

The Ceremony

The  water portion of the baptismal ceremony has several different symbolical and  literal  meanings:

Death, Burial, and Resurrection

Baptism  is  not  only a symbolic representation  of  our  death, burial, and resurrection to a new life in Christ but also it is a physical and spiritual reality. Notice how Paul reminds the elect at Rome of their baptism  and  their sinless condition before God when he exhorts them to live  a sinless life before God and man.

Romans 6:1-11 KJV

"What  shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin,  that  grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin,  live any longer therein? Know  you  not, that so many of us as were baptized  into  Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (vs.1-3).

As a person descends beneath the baptismal waters, their old life symbolically dies and is buried. The baptismal water symbolizes a grave and truly would become a grave if the person being baptized were held under the water for very long:

"Therefore  we are buried with him by baptism to  death:   that like  as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory  of  the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" (vs.4-5).

When  a person is raised out of the water, they are  symbolically and  literally raised to a new life. After baptism, the repentant person has become sinless and is no longer under the penalty of death for  violating  God's law. Moreover, their spirit and body have been purged of  all sin and defilement:

"Knowing  this, that our old man is crucified with him, that  the body  of  sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we  should  not serve  sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we  be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live  with  him: Knowing  that Christ being raised from the dead  dies  no  more; death has no more dominion over him" (vs.6-9).

Dead to Sin

"For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he  lives, he  lives to God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be  dead indeed  to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our  Lord" (vs.10-11). See also Rom.7:6; Heb.9:13-14.

As  Christ  is dead to sin, so are those who  have  God's  Spirit dwelling  within them; they are free from the penalty of sin  and can look forward to becoming an immortal spirit-being that can never die:

"For  in baptism you see how your old, evil nature died with  him and  was buried with him; and then you came up out of death  with him  into a new life because you trusted the Word of the  mighty God who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead in sins,  and your  sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave  you  a share  in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your  sins, and  blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of  his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of  sins and  destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's  cross"  (Col.2:12-14 LBP). See also Col.3:1-4.

Sins Washed Away

Although baptism is symbolic of a physical death and a  resurrection, it is also much more. During this ceremony, the person being baptized  is washed clean and purged of all sin by the  power  of God's spirit  through the sacrifice of  Christ and, at that moment, the  baptized person—devoid of sin—is righteous before God.

Prior to the advent of Jesus Christ, washing with water as an act of  purification was a part of the sacrificial system. During  the gospel  age of salvation, it is the water of the  baptismal  ceremony and the  blood  of Jesus Christ that picture  and  perform  this purification.  It  is, in fact, through the sacrificial  blood  of Jesus  that we are forgiven of our sins and washed clean  of  all defilement that would prevent us from coming before the Father to receive his Spirit. Paul, Titus, and John all spoke about the washing away of sin  by pure water, the blood of Jesus, and the cleansing power of  God's Spirit:

"Let  us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of  faith, having  our  hearts sprinkled from an evil  conscience,  and  our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb.10:22 KJV).

"Or  do  you not know that the unjust ones will not  inherit  the Kingdom  of God? Do not be led astray, neither  fornicators,  nor idolaters,  nor  adulterers,  nor  abusers,  nor  homosexuals,  nor thieves,  nor  covetous ones, nor drunkards,  nor  revilers,  nor plunderers shall inherit the Kingdom of God. And some of you were these  things, but you are washed; but you were  sanctified;  but you were justified in the nature of the Lord Jesus, and  in  the Spirit of our God" (1.Cor.6:9-11 KJV Para.).

"But  when  the kindness and love of God our  Savior  toward  man appeared,  not by works in righteousness which we had  done,  but according  to his mercy he has saved us, through the washing  of regeneration and the renewal of the holy spirit, which he  poured out  on  us richly through Jesus Christ, our  Savior"  (Tit.3:4-6 KJV Para.).

"And  from  Jesus Christ, who is the faithful  witness,  and  the first  begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings  of  the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Rev.1:5 KJV). See also Rom.5:9; Eph.2:13;  Heb.13:12; 1.Jn.1:1-7; 3:5-6; Rev.5:9; 7:13-14.

Purification of the Temple

Under  the first agreement with national Israel,  the  priesthood, the people, and all things that came into close contact with  God had  to  be purified and kept clean, because God will  not  dwell where there  is  sin or impurity. See Lev.19:2; 1.Pet.1:15-16; Ex.29:36-46; Deut.23:14; 1.Cor.3:17.

Many do not realize that God has not changed and that, under  the new agreement with the elect of God and national Israel, God  the Father requires all things that come into close contact with him  to be free from all sin and impurity. This is why  it  is vitally important to become sinless and pure through the blood of Christ:

"And  what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  for you are  the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will  dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they  shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them,  and be  you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and  I will receive you.  And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord  Almighty"  (2.Cor.6:16-18 KJV).

Because God will not allow his spirit to inhabit an impure place, a  physical as well as a spiritual change takes place during  the baptismal ceremony. In the baptismal water, God purifies the  body through the power of his spirit so that his holy spirit can dwell within  the person's physical body. See 1.Tim.5:22;  Tit.1:15-16; Heb.10:14-22; 1.Pet.1:22; 1.Jn.3:1-3; 4:4.

"Don't  you  know that you yourselves are God's temple  and  that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1.Cor.3:16 NIV).

"Haven't  you yet learned that your body is the home of the  holy spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you?  Your own body does  not  belong to you.  For God has bought you with  a great price. So  use every part of  your body to give glory  back  to God, because he owns it" (1.Cor.6:19-20 LPB).

Notice that the body of a child of God is a temple of God; it  is God's Holy Place where his spirit dwells.

Since  God will not allow his spirit to inhabit a sinful  person, the  first  thing one must do in order to receive his spirit is to repent in order to rid one's  mind  (God's Holy Place) of all sin.  The second step is to sincerely ask  God the  Father  to forgive our sins through the sacrifice  of  Jesus Christ. The third step is to be immersed in water for the washing away of sin through the blood of Christ and for the purifying of the  physical  body that is to become a temple  where  God  will place his spirit.

HOW SHOULD BAPTISM WITH WATER BE PERFORMED?

The  scriptures  are very clear as to how to perform  the  death, burial, and resurrection rituals of the baptismal ceremony.

The Word Baptize

The English word 'baptize' is from the Greek word 'baptizo', which means 'to  immerse',  to 'plunge into', 'to put into', to  dip'.  It  cannot mean 'sprinkle'  or 'pour' because the Greek  word  for 'sprinkle' is 'rantidzo', and 'to pour' is 'cheo' in Greek.                                           

Much Water Required

"And  John  also was baptizing in Aenon near  to  Salim,  because there  was  much water there: and they came, and  were  baptized" (Jn.3:23 KJV).

Here, it is shown that John required a place where there was a lot  of water  in order for  people to be completely submerged when  they were baptized.

The Example of Jesus

"Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be  baptized of him.  But John forbid him, saying,  I have need to be baptized of  you,  and come you to me?   And Jesus answering said to him,  Suffer  it  to be so now: for thus it becomes us to  fulfill  all righteousness.    Then he allowed him.  And Jesus, when  he  was baptized,  went  up straightway out of the water: and,  lo,  the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matt.3:13-16 KJV).

Here, Christ comes up out of the water of the Jordan River, which shows that he was immersed (baptizo), not sprinkled or poured  upon (rantidzo  or cheo). Jesus left us an example of how to  be baptized, and at the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus told his followers to immerse others who accepted his Father's offer to follow him.

Not only did Jesus leave us an example of how to be baptized but also gave clear instructions to his disciples to perform the  ceremony by total immersion in water:

"Go  you  therefore, and teach all nations,  baptizing  (baptizo) them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit:" (Matt.28:19). See also Mk.16:16.

The Early Church

The Book of Acts is full of accounts of baptisms. One interesting account  is when Philip baptized the treasurer of Queen  Candace.  (Acts  8:27-39). Notice, there was enough water so that both men could  get  into  the water and still have enough  room  for  the eunuch to be totally covered with water:

"And the  treasurer of Queen  Candace secured his chariot: and Philip and the eunuch went into the  water,   and Philip baptized (Greek: 'baptizo')  him. And as they came up out of the water,  the spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch did not see him anymore: and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:38-39 Para.).

The  scriptural and historical records show very clearly  how  to use water in the baptismal ceremony. The method taught by  Christ and  his  disciples  was total immersion.  Any  other method of baptism is a counterfeit and is not authorized or recognized  by God the Father or Jesus Christ.

BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT

The  final  step in becoming a son of God is the baptism  of  the holy  spirit.  After a person is made sinless  and  pure  through Christ's sacrifice, God the Father can ratify the New  Covenant with them by placing his spirit within them.

Upon receiving the holy spirit, the baptized person becomes a son of  God,  and an eternal agreement between the  person,  God  the Father,  and  Jesus  Christ has been  ratified  and  sealed. See Rom.8:16-19; Jer.31:31-33; Heb.8:8-11.

Notice  what John the Baptist says about being baptized with  the spirit:

"I indeed have baptized you with water:  but he shall baptize you with the holy spirit" (Mk.1:8 KJV).

"And  I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with  water, the same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the spirit  descending,  and  remaining  on him, the same  is  he   which baptizes with the  holy  spirit" (Jn.1:33 KJV). See  also  Lk.3:16;  Acts 11:15-16.

It is interesting that the Greek word baptizo was used in  translating  John's prophecy about spirit-baptism, because the  scriptures  clearly show that when a person is baptized they  are totally immersed in the purifying power of God's spirit, and when God's spirit merges with their spirit, it totally transforms the person into a new creation.  See our study concerning the sons of the new creation.

SENDING OF THE SPIRIT

"If  you love me, keep my commandments. And I will  petition  the Father, and he will give you another comforter that he may remain with  you  forever,  the spirit of truth, whom  the world cannot receive  because it does not see him, nor know him. But you  know him,  for he abides with you, and shall be in  you"  (Jn.14:15-17 KJV Para.). See Jn.16:13-14.

Paul Said:

"Now  if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none  of his"  (Rom.8:9 KJV). See also Jn.14:21-24.

"For  as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the  sons of God"  (Rom.8:14 KJV).

Paul  said  that only those who have the spirit of  God  are  his sons.  Having the holy spirit is so important that one cannot have salvation if they do not have it.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A GIFT FROM GOD THE FATHER

"If  you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to  your children:  how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy spirit to them that ask?" (Lk.11:13 KJV).

Remember that the apostle Peter said the following:

"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the  gift of the holy spirit"  (Acts 2:38 Para.).

"And  we  are his witnesses of these things, and  also  the  holy spirit,  whom  God  gives to those obeying him"  (Acts  5:32  KJV Para.). See also Acts 8:9-24; Gal.3:1-2.

The holy spirit is a gift and God the Father wants to give it  to  those he calls to salvation. Moreover, the  apostle  Paul clearly  records that one cannot have salvation without the spirit of  God; therefore, it is important to understand exactly what God's spirit is, what it does, and how to receive it.

What is God's Spirit?

One of the most confusing teachings today concerns the definition of  who  or what the holy spirit is and  is  not.  This  confusion surrounds  the false teaching that the Father, the Son,  and  the holy spirit are somehow a composite of two or three personalities that are one  being, which has no individual personality. Because  of  this  and other  similar teachings, the world's concept of the Father,  the Son, and the holy spirit is very confusing.

Below  is a list of some of the attributes and functions  of  the holy spirit. See also our study paper concerning what the holy spirit is and how it functions.

The holy spirit is the following:

It is unfortunate that many English translations of the Bible use the  pronoun 'he' when referring to God's spirit.  In  reality, because God's spirit is a thing and not a personage, it should  be referred  to as 'it'. The spirit of God and the holy spirit  are the same thing, and both God the Father and Jesus Christ have  this spirit.

God the Father and Jesus Christ are spirit-beings who inhabit  a spirit  dimension  of time and space. It is through God  the  Father's spirit-power, energy, and force that he animates, creates, controls, and sustains all that exists. It is this  spirit  that God the Father gives to those whom he has called to salvation.

The Spirit of Adoption

One  important  function  of the holy spirit is  to  transform  a person  into a  son of God. When this function of the  spirit  of God  is applied to a person, they are transformed into a  son  of God  and made a member of the Family of God. This  transformation places  a person at the starting point of eternal life.  This  is the  time of spiritual conception from which one can  grow  toward spiritual maturity and perfection into an immortal spirit-being.

In his letter to the Church at Rome, Paul draws upon the  example of the Roman adoption system to illustrate how a person becomes a son of God:

"For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the  sons of  God.  For you did not receive a spirit of  slavery  again  to fear,  but  you received a spirit of adoption by  which  we cry, Abba! Father! The spirit itself witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Rom.8:14-16 KJV Para.).

Roman adoption was extremely difficult to accomplish, because the Roman father was the absolute controlling power over the  family. No matter how old a son became, he was still in absolute possession  and  under absolute control of his father.  This  made adoption  into another family a very serious and difficult  thing to accomplish.

Under Roman law, there were a number of symbolic ceremonies and rituals with  many witnesses, that had to take place before any adoption was  considered legal and binding. Moreover, once  a son was legally adopted into his new family, he lost  all rights  to his old family and gained the rights of a  legitimate son in his new family. By law, his old life was completely  wiped away  (e.g., all debts were canceled). He was regarded as a  completely  new and different person who was entering a new life upon  which  the old life had no meaning  or  importance.  Under Roman law, he was, in fact, the son of his new father.

Paul  said the holy spirit is the witness  of the  adoption  into the  Family of God, whereby the past life is wiped away—it  is gone. After this adoption, all debts are canceled and the new son of God begins a new life in the Family of God, with all the rights of sonship.

HOW TO RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT

Receiving  the holy spirit is the most important event  that  can ever  happen  to any human because it is at this point  in  time that  a person is transformed into a son of God and  their  body literally becomes a temple of the living God.

The Laying on of Hands

After  being immersed in water, having one's sins washed  away and one's body purified, the next ritual in the conversion process is the laying on of hands for the  receiving of the  holy spirit, which is promised by Jesus Christ.

The Converts at Samaria

Shortly  after  the holy spirit had been given on  the Feast  of Pentecost, the gospel began to be preached with great zeal. Moreover, after hearing  the preaching of Philip, many in Samaria  were baptized but they did  not  receive the holy spirit:

"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that  Samaria  had  received  the word of God, they sent to them  Peter  and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might  receive  the holy spirit: (For as yet he [it]  was  fallen upon  none of them: only they were baptized in  the name  of  the Lord  Jesus).    Then  laid they their hands on  them,  and  they received the holy spirit" (Acts 8:14-17). See also Acts  9:10-18; 19:1-6.

These people  were baptized correctly  yet they  had  not received God's spirit. They had repented and been baptized yet they had not  been  transformed  into sons of God. However, when  the apostles laid their hands upon them, they received the holy spirit.

The Converts at Ephesus

"And  it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at  Corinth,  Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding  certain  disciples, he said to them, Have you received  the holy spirit since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any holy spirit. And he said to them,  to what then were you baptized? And they said,  to  John's baptism. Then Paul said, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Jesus Christ. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And  when Paul  had  laid  his hands upon them, the  holy  spirit  came  on them" (Acts 19:1-6 Para.). See also Acts 9:10-18; 2.Tim.1:6-7.

Again, we find people who were sincere in their  desire  to follow  God and had followed the admonition of John the  Baptist to repent and be baptized. Although they had the right  attitude, they lacked the knowledge of how to obtain salvation through  the sacrifice of Christ. After Paul explained salvation through Jesus Christ, these people accepted the call to salvation and were baptized in  the name of Jesus Christ so that  each  could become a son of God. Notice that it is through the laying on of hands that the holy spirit is received.

Is the Laying on of hands necessary?

Some  might  feel that the laying on of hands  is  not  necessary because of the examples where some people received God's spirit  without this ritual (See Matt.3:13-16; Acts 2:1-3). However, while it is true that on special occasions God gave the holy spirit prior  to baptism,  there  is no promise from God that he  will  ever  make these exceptions again.

It  is clear that the apostles felt that it was necessary to lay hands on a  baptized  person so that this person could receive  the   holy  spirit. Therefore, it is  obvious  that  the laying  on  of  hands is a necessary and important  part  of  the baptismal ceremony.

Transformation into a Son of God

Upon  receiving the spirit of God, a person is  literally  transformed from the original human creation into a new and  different being.  The  old  person with only the spirit of  man  ceases  to exist, and a new person who has the spirit of God dwelling within them is born. See Matt.3:1-7; 2.Cor.5:17.

Although a child of God still  appears to be human, a transformation that makes a  person who has received the holy spirit different  from  other humans  has taken place. They have been converted into a  son of God with the genetic imprint of the God family, and although they are not yet an immortal spirit-being, they are certainly a child of  God and  a member of the Father's spiritual family. Moreover, at some  time in the future they will shed their bodies of flesh and receive an immortal spirit-body.  See   1.Cor.15:51-54;  1.Thes.4;13-17; Rev.20:6.

Those  who respond to God's call to salvation, repent,  are  baptized,  and  receive his spirit can look forward  to  tremendous rewards and happiness forever as an immortal being in the  Family of God.

QUESTIONS ABOUT BAPTISM ANSWERED

"Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in  the name  of  the  Father, and the Son, and of  the holy  spirit" (Matt.28:19 Para.).

Although  the apostles baptized, there are scriptural  references that  show others who were not ministers were also authorized  to baptize.  Philip baptized and Paul was baptized  by Ananias. See Acts 8:27-38; 9:10-18.

The  responsibility of anyone who wants to be baptized is to  diligently seek  out a man who is truly a follower of Jesus Christ. Moreover, this man must baptize using the  method set forth by Jesus Christ.

Because it is impossible for someone to know the spiritual condition of the person who is performing the baptism, salvation does not depend on the man performing the ceremony. However, it does depend on an individual's  personal relationship  with God the Father and Jesus Christ.   The importance of baptism lies within the reason it is being performed and not within the person performing the ceremony. Although these physical acts are required, spiritual baptism is the responsibility of God the Father.

The agreement made at the time of baptism is not between the  man performing  the ceremony and the person being baptized; it is between God  the  Father, Jesus Christ, and the person being baptized.

Once a person has been baptized in the way that is set forth  in  scripture and has received God's spirit, that person has fulfilled  the requirement of baptism for all time.

If after a person's baptism, the person who performed  the ceremony  departs from the faith, or the baptized person loses confidence in him, the baptism is still valid.

Infant Baptism and Childhood Conversion

The age you must be prior to baptism is very difficult to  establish  because  it is predicated on  belief, understanding,  and repentance.

All  three of these  mental conditions are prerequisites to  baptism  and conversion. Moreover, all three are interdependent.  For a person to have belief, there must  be some understanding of what is to be believed.

Jesus says repent and believe the Gospel:

"After John was put in prison, Jesus came into  Galilee, preaching  the  gospel of the Kingdom of God, saying,   The time  is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at  hand:   repent, and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:14-15 Para.).

In order to repent and believe in the gospel, a person  must have an understanding of what to repent and what the gospel of the kingdom  is.  In all of the acts of baptism recorded in  the  New Testament, those who were baptized understood the  circumstances surrounding Jesus and what he preached. Moreover, they were able to make their decisions based on the facts presented.

A prerequisite for baptism is repentance:

"Then  Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every  one  of you  in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of  sins,  and you shall receive the gift of  the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 Para.).

But  repent of what? Be sorry for what?  Desire to  change  what?  In  order  to  repent, a person must first  have  an  elementary understanding of God's plan for mankind.

It is quite evident that a person cannot have the kind of belief, understanding,  and  repentance necessary for  baptism  unless  a person  is mature  enough to have  developed the mental  capacity to be able to make intelligent decisions.

It is also evident that infants and very young children have  not developed  the  mental  maturity, had the  life  experience,  nor acquired  the emotional stability that is required to  make and stand behind decisions of  the magnitude that are required before and after baptism.

All  of the scriptural examples of baptism show only young or  older  adults being  baptized.   There are no scriptural examples  or  evidence that support the belief that very young children should be baptized.

Setting  a  minimum  age requirement for  baptism  is  impossible because of the differences in the speed with which each individual  grows  into mental and emotional maturity.  The  decision  of whether or not a person is old enough for baptism depends entirely  upon a person's maturity level, understanding of God's  word, and  desire  to  follow God. See Lk.3:8.

Speaking in Tongues

God  has a reason for everything he does, and so it is  with  the gift of languages. There are a number of reasons why this gift is given  to  God's elect. Contrary to popular belief,  speaking  in tongues does not mean to babble in unintelligible gibberish  upon receiving of the holy spirit or at any other time during  one's spiritual life.

The ability  to speak in foreign languages was given on the Feast of  Pentecost  and thereafter as  a witness that the holy spirit  had  been given  as prophesied to both the Covenant People and to the Gentiles,  and  that it was given for the purpose of  preaching  the gospel  to  people who spoke foreign languages. For  a  detailed analysis  of  the gift of speaking in foreign languages,  see  our study paper concerning speaking in tongues.

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

Why is a person baptized in the name of the Father, the Son,  and the  holy  spirit, and what does it mean to be baptized  in  the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit?

Jesus Christ commanded that it  be done  this way (Matt.28:19).  And  because he is the author and finisher of  our faith, he has the right to set the rules.

Although Jesus  said to baptize in the name of the Father and of  the  Son and of the holy spirit, he does not refer to names  in particular,  rather he uses an idiomatic expression  to  show the  authority by which baptisms are to be performed.  Those  who perform this ceremony for the God family are authorized to do  so by  God the Father and Jesus Christ through the power of  their spirit.

How Long Should You Wait Before Baptism?

How soon should a person be baptized after they come to an understanding of the  gospel and truly desire to follow God?  Is there a  given period of time a person must wait between the time  they decide   to  repent  and the time of baptism?  If  so,  how  long should a person wait?  

Some  might  think  there should be a probation  period  for  the repentant  believer to reflect on their decision to follow  God's direction and somehow show others they are worthy of baptism.

As in all spiritual matters, we must let God's word be our guide. After Peter's inspired sermon on the festival of Pentecost,  there were   almost  3,000  people baptized:

"Then  they that gladly received his word were baptized: and  the same day there were added to them about three thousand  souls" (Acts 2:41 KJV).

These  people  heard the gospel of Christ, made a decision to change  their  lives  by following  Jesus Christ, and were baptized all in the  same  day.

During this particular Festival of Pentecost, the  vast majority of the people in Jerusalem at that  time were observing  a  commanded festival. Just 50 days before,  they  had observed the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

These people were very aware of Jesus' crucifixion and  resurrection. Additionally, most of them had a good understanding of the holy   scriptures  and  were  practicing  the laws of God; otherwise, they would  not have been there observing the Festival of Pentecost.

Upon hearing the explanation of the events that  had transpired concerning Jesus, they were given a new dimension in  understanding by God the Father—they were called to repentance:

"For  the promise is to you, and to your children, and  to all that  are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall  call" (Acts 2:39 KJV).

The  situation between Philip and the eunuch is very  similar  to the  event recorded in Acts, chapter two.  Philip explained  God's word  to  the eunuch, the eunuch believed, accepted the  call  of God, and was baptized immediately.  (Acts 8:27-38).

In explaining the circumstances surrounding his own  baptism, Paul  says that Ananias urged him to be  baptized  quickly.  (Acts  22:12-16).  On one occasion a man and his entire household were baptized at night after hearing and believing  the  gospel. (Acts 16:16-33).

It is apparent that God did not intend for a person he has called to go through some probation period. In  every instance in the New Testament where repentant believers requested baptism, the ordinance was administered immediately  or as  soon as possible.  Therefore, a truly repentant person should be  baptized  as  soon as possible in order to  fulfill  the  scriptural example and receive the gift of the holy spirit.

Baptism by Someone Other than a Believer

What  if  a person has repented of their sins and wants to  be baptized,  but for some reason beyond their control  they  cannot find a man of like faith to baptize them?

If a man of the same faith cannot be found to perform the rite of baptism and the laying on of hands for the receiving of the  holy spirit,  it is permissible to use a man who is a friend or a  man whom one respects as an honest and ethical person to perform  the rites of baptism.

Remember  that baptism is the sealing of a contract  between  you and  the God family,  not between you, the man performing  the baptism, and the God family.

If it becomes necessary to utilize the services of someone  other than a believer for the purpose of baptism, it is important  that the man doing the baptizing is instructed to say the proper words in respect to the rite of baptism. God will know your heart in this matter and that you are performing this act in faith and obedience to his word to the  best  of your ability.

Just before you are completely submerged under the water, the  following should be said by the man performing the  baptism:

"Great  God  of all things I, [the name of the  person  baptizing you],  come  before  you to baptize [your name]  at [your  name] request, and as a sign of [your name] desire to give [your  name] life to  you and to follow the way of life you have  written  in your  Holy Word. I do now at [your name] request  baptize [your name]  into the name, and authority, of the Father and  the Son through the power of the holy spirit. Be it so according to your will, Sovereign Father of all things."

As  far as the laying on of hands for the receiving of  the  holy spirit,  we  cannot give much direction other than saying that God  the Father will know your heart. If you ask God, he will make  a way for you to receive his spirit of power, comfort, and sonship.

Baptism is a very serious step to take because it is the way  we sign and seal a contract with God the Father  and Jesus Christ. Once this agreement is made between a human being and the God family, the baptized individual will have embarked  on  a journey that will lead to eternal life or eternal death, depending  upon the individual's faithfulness to the agreement. This is why we  are admonished  by Jesus Christ to count the costs before we make  an agreement to follow his and the Father's way of life.    

By B.L. Cocherell, file b6w2