Baptism by Fire Part 1

By John Thiel, mp3

Over the next studies we will apply ourselves to the understanding of the words of John the Baptist:

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: 

The meaning of baptism is what we want to spend some time seeking to understand. Baptism is poorly understood in this modern age of Christianity.

The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ (MS 148, 1897). {6BC 1075.7}

This is very much the reality especially now, if not already in the time of Sr White.

Men, women, and children are allowed to take part in the solemn rite of baptism without being fully instructed in regard to the meaning of this ordinance. {RH, October 6, 1904 par. 18}

John the Baptist declared something in the words of Matthew 3:11 that there needs to be a qualification of baptism. He baptised with water unto repentance, but there is something deeper to baptism, it’s the one that Jesus represented, who shall baptise with the Holy Ghost and with fire. 

In the experience of the Apostles, we see that there were some believers who had been baptised by John the Baptist but they had not understood the rest of this meaning of baptism.

Acts 19:1 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, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Here was an expansion of the baptism that John baptised with. He baptised with water unto repentance. It pointed to the one who should come after and baptise by the Holy Spirit and by fire. The apostles themselves were baptised by John and it was immediately after that time of the baptism that they met Christ and receiving Him they commenced an experience of deeper baptism. We wish to appreciate the meaning of the words being baptised by the Holy Spirit and by fire. 

John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The disciples received Jesus according to this and by receiving and following Him and being under His tuition, He gave them power to become the sons of God. They were becoming the sons of God by birth, new birth. They were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but they were born of God by following Jesus. In doing that it cost them something. This baptism at the hand of Christ was a baptism of fire indeed. It commenced with something very unexpected. It cost them their membership from the recognised church that was recognised as God’s church.

John 9:22 These [words] spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

If anybody confessed Christ they were put out of the church. The disciples did, and they were put out of the synagogue.

John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [him], lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

There is this sad story of following Jesus in that time; it cost them their membership of the church. Although that was the cost, and this is a kind of immersing into a new experience with Jesus, yet they were not fully baptised. Their expectations of the Messiah were deeply flawed. There was a deeper experience needed in their life.

Luke 24: 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

The disciples had a total misconception of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ. They believed that He was going to be king and redeem them from the captivity of the Roman Empire. They were totally devastated when Jesus was slain on the cross; it completely devastated them as these words reveal. They were lamenting over the fact that He had died and they hopelessly expressed a failure of their expectations. We see this flawed understanding of the Messiah in the following:

Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping [him], and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

Did you see what they were hoping for? They were hoping for an earthly kingdom, that they could be the right-hand men of the king sitting beside Him on a throne.

Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared of my Father.

Here Jesus uses the opportunity to introduce to them an ongoing and future baptism into the kingdom of God to be baptised with the baptism wherewith He is baptised. It was an ongoing thing in His own experience – baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with. That is an interesting expression. They felt that they were able, they didn’t know what they were saying; they did not understand as Jesus said “Ye know not what ye ask.”

Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this [child] is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Here Simeon identifies in Jesus Christ something that he understood but nobody else knew what was coming, even Mary herself to whom He was speaking here. This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be spoken against. It was an experience of baptism of fire, an experience that the disciples were to enter into because they had decided to follow Jesus. Not only were they dismissed from the church, but they were horribly disappointed and thrown into total chaos.

This was needful in order to remove from them their earthly and human interpretation of things; to be totally immersed in the baptism that Jesus was baptised with namely, coming down from heaven. He came down from heaven and came down deeper and deeper into the experience of human dying and rising into something better. In this experience a falling takes place before a rising again. This is precisely what baptism typifies.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into 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. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: 6 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.

The apostles had to go through this kind of experience and that is what Jesus was saying to them, that you indeed will be baptised and will drink of the cup that I must drink of. This is what was meant that He gave them power if they received Him to become the sons of God. The death of the old raised to a new life. The apostles demonstrated this very experience in their period of walking with Jesus. As they walked with Jesus, they had gone through puzzling disappointments. Not only were they disassociated from their church, but when the seventy left Jesus they were terribly disappointed because Jesus actually referred them to this baptism of the Holy Spirit.

John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

He was describing to them that they need to eat. That is, to be baptised, into the baptism of Jesus.

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

Still they were terribly puzzled.

John 6:62 [What] and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.

John 6:66 From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

There was something different here with these apostles than with the seventy, but they lacked understanding of what it meant. He was saying you need to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with of the Spirit that has sent me. That Spirit that is taking my life and showing it to you that it may be your experience; you must be born of that Spirit.

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.

The apostles were very keen to accept that Jesus was the Son of God but the experience of His baptism was different.

Matthew 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all [men] shall be offended because of thee, [yet] will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

He had no belief that he was going to die with Him because he believed that He was the King and was going to redeem them from the Roman control. There was something needed here, there was a plunging into a deeper appreciation.

Mark 14:50 And they all forsook him, and fled.

They had just said they will never forsake Him. Their selfism, their egocentric motivations were to be totally shattered. The sword would pierce their heart. They would crash down before they would rise again.

Matthew 26:69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before [them] all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another [maid] saw him, and said unto them that were there, This [fellow] was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73 And after a while came unto [him] they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art [one] of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, [saying], I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Did he go down? Did he go down hard? He fell out of all the heavens of his own anticipations and judgment of himself. He thought he would never forsake the Lord but he came crashing down. Having finally crashed right down from the heaven of his own making, of his own self-opinionated mentality, look what Jesus does.

John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

John 21:17 will be quoted later on, no publication ever mentions afore. No where in the SOP or the pioneer writings is that done a good guide.

Jesus seems to be rubbing salt into the wound that had been inflicted upon the heart of Peter.

John 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Peter had miserably failed Jesus but what does Jesus do now? He lifts Him up, He helps him to see his true condition and then says now that you see, feed my lambs, become a minister of mine.

John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Jesus was taking Peter back up out of the depth of his fall and reminding him. Here is the death and the resurrection. Here we see the baptism that Jesus had identified that the disciples should have to go through. The lift from the death of falling down is beautifully climaxed in

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

This is a very powerful demonstration of falling then rising again as what is meant by baptism. The disciples received Jesus, and by receiving Him they were given power of the Holy Spirit to take them through the entire spectrum of baptism and what it means. This experience with Christ is what is written in John 3.

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven.

The disciples came down from the heaven of their own imagination of their loyalty to the King of kings. They came crashing down to discover their human depravity. That is what Jesus did in coming down, joining them and dying the death of the cross. The coming down from heaven so that they might be raised again and ultimately go to be with Jesus in heaven when He comes.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

What was that? No man has gone to heaven but He who came down from heaven. Did not even the Son of man come down and down and down into the horror, into the lowest ebb of the suffering of human guilt and sinfulness? He Himself partook of our sins. At the cross He was in such a fashion as a man humbling Himself and became obedient unto death even the death of the cross. He came right down to the depravity of human guilt and the disciples needed to come down out of their experience of selfism into the discovery of their utter helplessness and Jesus came down to be with them, then they could rise together with Jesus. That is the meaning of baptism.

This is the understanding that we need to open our hearts to in this time of earth’s history where this understanding of baptism is not understood; where the meaning of dying with Jesus, the old man to die and the new man to rise again is obscured. Many people have been baptised but they were buried alive. Self did not die therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ. The experience of the disciples is a perfect demonstration of the process of baptism. We today need to understand and appreciate this. This is the purpose of this series that I want to share that we understand perfectly the ongoing baptism experience as we follow Jesus, so that we might be baptised with the baptism wherewith He is baptised.

May God help us to pursue this with understanding and draw our lessons clearly from the scriptures as we carefully explore this very important subject of baptism by fire and by the Spirit. Baptism that is of deeper dimensions than merely being placed under the water and coming out of it again; that is only a symbol of the real. May God tune our minds to understand these things, and ponder upon them so that we might be willing to go through the experience of Jesus.


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Posted on 27/04/2012, in Baptism, Baptism by Fire, Divine Service Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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