John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Luke 3:16-17 (NIV)
John’s baptism was and still is symbolic of a spiritual cleansing, but it could never be anything more. We use water baptism as an outward symbol of an inner change. Our minds and our souls (mind, will, and emotions) must be engaged when we make the choice to be baptised in water. It is a sign of commitment to Christ.
It is only the baptism of the Holy Spirit that brings about true purification. All three parts of our being—body, soul, and spirit—must be engaged to receive this baptism. It is a sign of reliance on Christ.
Anyone can be baptised in water. Some experience great change and profess to feel something more than wet when they resurface. To some, it is merely a public declaration of their commitment to Jesus.
Anyone can be baptised in the Holy Spirit, but not everyone will display the evidence of it—tongues.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2:3-4 (NIV)
Holy Spirit baptism connects us to the Father in a way that nothing else can. The fire of the Spirit, the one John spoke of in the Gospel of Luke, cleanses us from within. If we allow it, it will burn away the impurities from our lives. But the key is submission and complete reliance. So long as we fight for control, we will never allow the Spirit to work in us.
There are those who would seek to tame and control the power of the Holy Spirit, but it is not ours to control. Rather, we must give ourselves over to His control. As contradictory as it may seem, there is no greater freedom to be found than when we give over control of our lives to the Spirit of God. It is only then that we have an even greater bond with the Father and an ability to pray His perfect will.
Neither water baptism nor baptism in the Holy Spirit are required of us to gain entrance into Heaven. But if God has provided for us a way to be even closer to Him, why would we not jump at the opportunity?
Read: Joshua 9-10, Luke 3
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