Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Gospel of Baptism

The Evidence of Spiritual Baptism

This question is sure to arise: how do we know that we have been baptized by Jesus with the Spirit? We know when a person has been baptized with water. We see them go down into the water, and we see them come up, and they are all wet. There is no question whether or not they have been physically baptized. It may not be so obvious whether the act of their baptism represents the true spiritual condition of their heart. That must be discerned not only by themselves but also by others who assist in the baptism. For their physical baptism to have meaning, the spiritual reality of repentance and believing in Jesus must be genuine.

But how do we know that we have been baptized by Jesus in the Spirit? I believe these two passages of scripture are particularly applicable: "‘But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'" (Acts 1:8). "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:37-38).

These two scriptures are clearly in reference to the Spirit baptism that only Jesus can perform. Both are statements from Jesus Himself. He said that the result of this baptism would be power to be a true witness unto Him (that is, that we are alive with the life of God) and that "rivers of living water" would flow from the inner man. In my words, there should be a power in the inner man that we clearly recognize as divine, and that divine presence of the living God within will result in an overflow that is unmistakably God Himself.

Many of the accounts we have already quoted from the book of Acts record the presence of divine spiritual manifestations when believers were baptized with the Spirit. Peter said that is how he knew that the believers in the household of Cornelius received the Spirit. Many say that these manifestations have passed away, but I cannot find any evidence in the scriptures to support that statement. If we are looking for a way to justify our present condition without such manifestations, we will probably find it, but I personally do not want to find myself in that position. Instead, I want all that God has provided, and I trust that is the attitude of all of us. Paul exhorts us to "Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy" (1 Corinthians 14:1).

As a further amplification of this "living water," I believe that the whole book of 1 John is a good place to go. John tells us very clearly why he wrote this letter. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:13). John says that we can know that we have life from the Son of God. I believe an honest heart that is hungry for God will receive the answer from God that will stand the test. If we make excuses or try to defend ourselves, we are on shaky ground. If we are not honest before God, allowing the Spirit to bring a solid witness, we are the ones who will suffer loss, and the loss may be eternal.

Using the example of physical baptism, should not a person be "wet all over" with the Spirit of God if they have been baptized in the Spirit? Can God's presence within be hidden? Do we even want it hidden? How can a union between God and man be hidden? A person who has been baptized by Jesus is a new creation. Old things have passed away; all things are new. The reality of this union will manifest in unmistakable evidence: the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. To settle for less than this is to settle for less than God. Who wants that? Let us not listen to man but to God. He wants to bless us with the fullness of His presence. His presence will be obvious, bringing joy unspeakable and full of glory. Do not be denied!

Next: One Baptism