Jesus Christ the Fiery Serpent

Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

Baptism pic

"The Washing Away of Our Sins"

Do we need to be Baptised to become save?

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  Way back in the days of Isaiah, God made a mysterious promise to the Israelites. He declared in Isaiah 44:3,"I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring."

   In Isaiah 32:14-18, He uses almost identical language:"Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgement shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

  In both of these passages, God promises that the time will come when the Holy Spirit would be poured out. The prophet Joel reiterated this promise when he declared in Joel 2:28:"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions."

These Old Testament promises appear to envision a time when God, the Holy Spirit, would have a relationship to believers decidedly different from that of Old Testament days.

  The Baptism with the Holy Spirit When Jesus appeared on the scene, John the Baptist announced Him and declared that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

  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." Is John’s statement here related to the Old Testament promises of pouring out of the Holy Spirit? We will learn that this is so. Jesus Himself also spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit. He did not use the phrase “pour out” as did the prophets, but He did say that the Holy Spirit would come from the Father.

  John 14:26:"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

  The Old Testament prophets had declared that God would pour out the Spirit. Thus, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and the sending of the Holy Spirit surely are speaking of one and the same event.

  When was this event that was to occur? Jesus spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and He declared that He was not to come until Jesus’ humiliation was ended. That is, the Holy Spirit was not to come until after the cross. He says that those who believed on Him were to receive the Holy Spirit.

   We read in John 7:39: "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

  Jesus further emphasized that the Holy Spirit would not come until He had gone from this earth.

  John 16:7:"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." The Counselor or Comforter is clearly identified as the Holy Spirit whom the Father would send in Jesus’ name. John 14:26: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” To make the question a bit more complicated, Jesus declares in John 14:17, as He speaks of the Spirit of Truth:

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. How are we to understand all of these references to the Holy Spirit? It would surely appear that the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies that God would pour out the Holy Spirit, the baptism with the Holy Spirit by Jesus, and the sending of the Comforter to the believers all focus on one event that was to take place after Christ had returned to heaven.

Therefore, when Jesus had finished His cleansing work on the cross, and He was ready to ascend into heaven, the time was almost ripe for the fulfillment of these promises. Jesus at that time declared to the disciples, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence”

(Acts 1:5). Pentecost Then the great event known as Pentecost occurred. Many of the believers and disciples were gathered together. Suddenly, there was a sound like the rush of a mighty wind, tongues as of fire rested upon each of them, and the disciples began to speak in foreign languages. Was this a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of Acts 1:5 that before many days they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit? This event occurred a few days after Jesus left the disciples. It occurred in Jerusalem where the disciples had been told to wait for the baptism. Peter clearly identified the events of Acts 2 with Jesus’ promise concerning the Holy Spirit. Peter said in Acts 2:33: “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Remember that Acts 1:4-5 indicates that the promise from the Father was the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We know, therefore, that Pentecost was the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit.

We know, therefore, that Pentecost was the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit. Peter also identified the tremendous event of Pentecost with the promise of Joel. We read in Acts 2:16-17:“But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” Thus, it can be seen that the Old Testament promises concerning the pouring out of the Holy Spirit were fulfilled at Pentecost. Likewise, the promises of John the Baptist and Jesus that believers would be baptized with the Holy Spirit were also fulfilled by the same event at Pentecost. Without question, this, too, was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that the Comforter would come after Jesus had returned to heaven. Therefore, we must conclude that the language that speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit is speaking of the identical event which is spoken of as the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The Experience of Cornelius in Acts 10 How do the events of Pentecost relate to believers who were saved after Pentecost? Since our study thus far has shown that the language which speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit has reference to the same event as the language which speaks of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, we would logically conclude that believers are baptized with the Holy Spirit when they are given the Spirit. Or, to Peter declared in Acts 2:38-39 that those who repent and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

This matches the language of John 7:39, where Jesus promises that those who believe in Him are to receive the Holy Spirit: “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” This would appear to suggest that all believers are given the Holy Spirit now that the Comforter has come. If this is true, then the baptism with the Holy Spirit must be synonymous with being saved. Otherwise, some believers would be saved without having the gift of the Holy Spirit. The experience of Cornelius recorded in Acts 10 and 11 surely places receiving the Holy Spirit as an event which is synonymous with salvation. The experience of Cornelius recorded in Acts 10 and 11 surely places receiving the Holy Spirit as an event which is synonymous with salvation. Peter spoke of his experiences with Cornelius in Acts 11:13-15: “And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for”

Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Notice how clearly the moment of salvation and the giving of the Holy Spirit are made identical in this passage. This truth is further emphasized by a description of salvation which is recorded in Titus 3:5-6: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Notice that in this description the reference to the Holy Spirit is “shed on us abundantly.” In the New Testament, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is identical to salvation; this is reinforced in other passages. Romans 8:9 declares: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” In other words, if we have not been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, we cannot have been saved. Baptism with the Holy Spirit Is Synonymous with Salvation We can readily see that baptism with the Holy Spirit and salvation must be synonymous. To be saved means to be cleansed of our sins. Note the following passages which speak of washing or cleansing in connection with salvation. Acts 22:16: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” I Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Revelation 1:5: “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.” Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” In all of these passages, God has focused on cleansing or washing. As we have seen, baptism is synonymous with washing or cleansing.

We can now see why Jesus was to baptize with the Holy Spirit. The cleansing made possible by Jesus’ shed blood is applied to our lives by God the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell within us. When He comes into our lives, we are made clean of all our sins because of Christ’s atonement on the cross where He took our sins and expiated them by shedding His blood. To be baptized with or by the Holy Spirit is to be cleansed from our sins. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “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” (Luke 3:16). The fire, that is, the burnt offering that Jesus was to become as He endured the wrath of God on our behalf, would provide the cleansing. The Holy Spirit would apply the cleansing to the lives of those who believe in Jesus. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The water refers to the cleansing accomplished by Jesus on the cross which is the Gospel. The Holy Spirit indicates the cleansing is to be applied to our lives by the Holy Spirit. Both of these actions are required in order for a man to be saved. Ezekiel prophetically used language similar to Jesus in John 3. We read in 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.”

Notice how beautifully God ties the gift of the Holy Spirit, the cleansing from sins, and the sprinkling with water together as one great promise. Jesus cleansed us. The Holy Spirit applied the cleansing by giving us a new heart, by making us born again. Thus, we are baptized into one body by the action of the Holy Spirit.

Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Therefore, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit is to have the cleansing provided by the atonement applied and made an integral part of our lives by the Holy Spirit at the moment we are regenerated, at the time we become born again or born from above.

Therefore, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit is to have the cleansing provided by the atonement applied and made an integral part of our lives by the Holy Spirit at the moment we are regenerated, at the time we become born again or born from above.

Were Believers Before Pentecost Baptized with the Holy Spirit? That leaves us with another big question. If baptism with the Holy Spirit is synonymous with salvation, what about the believers who became saved before the events that took place at Pentecost in A.D. 33? Was their salvation in some way defective? Is this not suggested by the assertion of Jesus, recorded in

John 14:16-17: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

Do not these verses imply that God is anticipating a substantial change in His salvation program beginning with Pentecost? In fact, there was a substantial change, but it was not in regard to the nature of salvation. It had to do with the extent of God’s salvation program. Before Pentecost, only a few people believed and only a few people were qualified to be prophets, to declare God’s Word. But beginning at Pentecost, it was God’s plan that there was to be an explosion of believers and each believer was to be mandated and qualified to bring the Gospel. That qualification is included in the phrase “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Because this change in God’s divine economy did not take place until Pentecost, it could be said that the apostles prior to Pentecost must still be baptized with the Holy Spirit as a future event. Actually, the great event of Pentecost which officially began God’s magnificent plan to save people all over the world was attended to by a change in the role of the believer so that he became a part of this plan. Not only was the believer the recipient of the mercy of God as God baptized (washed) him with the Holy Spirit, but he also became an integral part of the furtherance of that plan.

Not only was the believer the recipient of the mercy of God as God baptized (washed) him with the Holy Spirit, but he also became an integral part of the furtherance of that plan.

Remember we learned earlier that at Pentecost God poured out His Holy Spirit. That language reminds us of pouring out water from a bucket. And that is exactly the picture that God is giving us. God declares in Isaiah 35:1: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” God continues in verses 6-10: “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

The teaching is that before the Gospel came to the world, it was a spiritual wilderness. It was a spiritual desert. When water is poured on the desert sand, plants begin to grow. The water is the Gospel as it is applied by the Holy Spirit to the lives of those Christ came to save. The plants that spring forth are those who become saved as they hear the Gospel. How is the Gospel to be brought to a world that is a spiritual desert? God, of course, could have used angels or He could have saved all whom He wished to save without the help of anyone else.

Believers Become the Means by which the Gospel Goes into All the World In God’s divine economy, He chose to use believers as the means of bringing the Gospel to the world. The Holy Spirit was poured out like water into the lives of the believers so that they could be the little buckets, as it were, to carry the Gospel to the world. God spoke of this fact by using the language of being filled with the Spirit. The believers are filled with the Holy Spirit so that they are being used by God to carry out His task of evangelizing the world.

Before Pentecost, very few believers were called prophets. Abraham, Noah, David, and Jeremiah, etc., were called prophets. Prophets were mandated to prophecy, and the word they were to prophecy was the Word given to them by God. Because it was not God’s plan to evangelize the world until after the time of the cross, the average believer was not mandated or qualified to be a prophet. God spoke of the qualification to be a prophet as being filled with the Spirit. It is true, as we learned earlier in this study, that every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, he would not be a true believer, but we do not read of every Old Testament believer being a prophet or being filled with the Spirit. At Pentecost, every believer received the mandate to be a prophet. We read in

Acts 2:17-18: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”

Thus, beginning at Pentecost, every believer became filled with the Spirit, that is, he became qualified and mandated to be a prophet. This is in sharp contrast to the few who before Pentecost were filled with the Spirit so that they could declare a message from God. Examples are John the Baptist who was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15), because he was to announce the Messiah who would come. We read that his mother Elizabeth “was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out…”(Luke 1:41-42). Also, we read that his father, “Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel” (Luke 1:67-68). These together with a few others were the exceptions. Significantly we do not read of the apostles being filled with the Holy Spirit prior to the time of Pentecost. They were being trained to evangelize, as Jesus taught them, and they were sent out two by two, but they could not officially begin the task assigned to all believers until Pentecost. On that day, “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak . . . ” (Acts 2:4).

In John 20:22-23, Jesus commissioned ten of the disciples to be the beginning of the New Testament church: “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”

But God would not officially begin the New Testament church until Pentecost at which time the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus, we may conclude that the language of the Bible that declares that we are to be baptized in the Holy Spirit incorporates two aspects of God’s salvation plan. First, it means the believers’ sins are washed away. Second, it means that we are qualified and mandated to proclaim the Gospel to the world. The disciples had had their sins washed away prior to Pentecost but they were not mandated nor qualified to bring the Gospel until they were filled with the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost. Therefore, we can be assured that we are not to seek some kind of second blessing after we are saved. At the moment of salvation, our sins are washed away; we are born from above; we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit; we are given faith; we are given repentance; and we are filled with the Spirit. Because we are filled with the Spirit at the moment of salvation, we are also qualified and mandated by God to bring the Gospel to the world.

As we continue our study, other questions should be addressed. What does the Bible say about water baptism? Is it commanded of God? Who is to be baptized with water? What is the Biblical way to apply water baptism? Is there a spiritual blessing inherent in the act of water baptism?


"BE STILL MY SOUL"
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