The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel. - John 1:29-31
During the first week of Jesus’ ministry, we see John baptizing people as an outward sign reflecting their inward repentance of their sins in the Jordan River. When Jesus came toward him, he made the proclamation that Jesus is the Lamb of God. This imagery would’ve given his Jewish hearers a picture of the atonement he would provide for them as a substitute in their place to appease God’s wrath (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17).
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” John 1:32-34
It was significant that John the Baptist witnessed this sign of the Spirit descending on Jesus and especially remaining on him. In the Old Testament, we see the Spirit empowering people so that they could accomplish specific God-given tasks. Jesus was given a divine anointing as prophesied in Isaiah 11:2, that he would have the Spirit at all times.
John the Baptist explains that God said to him the one on whom the Spirit descends and remains is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. What does that mean- “baptizes with the Holy Spirit?” This is imagery of regeneration, as we will see again in John 3. It is a spiritual baptism of the heart. Jesus came to accomplish salvation with his atoning work on the cross. The Spirit comes to apply that salvation in the lives of believers with their initial regeneration. At salvation, the believer receives the Holy Spirit who indwells them. It is not an event that happens at a later time- it is immediate. For more on the order of salvation, see this blog post.
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. - Ephesians 1:13-14
If you are a believer, you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit! You’ve already received this spiritual baptism. Praise God for the gift of salvation through Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit who not only regenerated us, but now convicts (John 16:8), teaches (1 Corinthians 2:12-13), intercedes for us in prayer (Romans 8:26-27), and points us to Jesus (John 15:26).
If you are a believer, have you participated in believer’s baptism? This water baptism by immersion, different from the baptism of the Holy Spirit, symbolizes Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It also symbolizes your total trust and reliance on Jesus. It’s an act of obedience to him, as we were commanded in Matthew 28:19. This baptism does not save, as we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). If you are a believer, you are qualified to be baptized if you have not already done so. Sign up today for our next baptism Sunday! We would love to celebrate what Jesus has done in your life.
Post by Peggy Starling