Friday, June 06, 2008

The mode of baptism as defined by John the Baptist

John the Baptist prophesied that the disciples being baptised by fire by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit in the future.

Matthew 3:11: I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Mark 1:8: I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Luke 3:16: John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

John 1:32-33: And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

When we look at the fulfilment of this on the day of Pentecost, we read:

Acts 2:1-3: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

John Gill comments: "Through this baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, the apostles became more knowing, and had a greater understanding of the mysteries of the Gospel, and were more qualified to preach it to people of all nations and languages. The Holy Spirit, in his gifts and graces, is compared to fire, because of its purity, light, and heat, as well as consuming nature; the Spirit sanctifies, and makes men pure and holy, purges from the dross of sin, error and superstition; and enlightens the minds of men, and gives them knowledge of divine and spiritual things; and fills them with zeal and fervour for the glory of God and Christ, and the good of his church and interest, and for the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel; as well as fortifies them against their enemies, whom he consumes"

The company gathered was the 120 disciples which is significant, 12 the number of the church multiplied by 10 - the number of completion. This was symbolic of the baptism of the Church by the Holy Spirit.

But what do we read of this fire? Did they have to walk through it? Did it utterly engulf them? Rather it was merely cloven tongues of fire, individual tongues of fire divided and distributed "and it sat upon each of them". Appropriately it would have sat on their heads since it was symbolic of them receiving the Spirit to speak in other tongues. The next verse reads: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance".

This was a baptism but the element was administered to the head only. This demonstrates that "Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary: but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person" (Westminster Confession of Faith).