BAPTISM and NEW BIRTH:
by Lien of Oz
"I assure you" declared Jesus, "Most solemnly I tell you. Except a man is born of water---even the spirit, he cannot see, or ever enter the Kingdom of God". (Joh 3:5. Amp. Bible)
Many consider that water here is typical of either natural waters of birth or to be linked closely with water baptism. # Notwithstanding, the other scriptural support remains consistent with the WATER of the Spirit and power of the Word of God by which NEW Birth is accomplished.
By washing of water with / by the Word. Giving us birth by His Word of Truth. Being cleansed because of the Word. (Eph 5:26, James 1:18, Joh 15:3)
By the washing of regeneration (even the) renewing of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5)
Born again by the ever living and lasting Word of God. (1Pe 1:23).
Which is shed (poured) on us abundantly (ie. richly), by or through Jesus Christ. (cf Acts 2:32,33) Note:- My word is Spirit and Life.( Joh 6:63)
These references can even be considered the fulfilment of Eze 36:25,26* where water and spirit denote cleansing and regeneration respectively.
# There may also be an allusion to Proselyte baptism from paganism to Judaism.
* Sprinkling clean water noted in Ezekiel 36:25 cannot however, be deemed, in any scriptural sense, as justification for a "sprinkling" baptism.
There is a gulf between flesh and spirit. The flesh or sense nature is continually at war with the spirit. Conflict rages between that which is basic to human nature, in the uncleanness of sin and that which is totally of divine nature--both flesh and spirit each bringing forth their respective fruit; the produce of death, or the harvest of life.( cf. Joh 6:52-55,62,63.) "Let us therefore draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from all evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water". (Heb 10:22) "Holding fast the profession (or confession) of your faith (as pledged in water baptism) without wavering, for He is faithful that promised." His promises are irrevocable.( cf. Heb 6:17; 11:11; 13:15)
Where these aspects of spiritual unity reflect baptism, our confession of faith and obedience in water baptism, it is to affirm that which was typical or a shadow, under the Law of Moses in the ordination of Priests; (cf. Lev 8:30; Exe 29:4, 30:20; 40:30.) It can thus be revealed that as each believer enters into Christ through obedience in baptism, he stands in place as a Priest, ordained by the anointing of the Spirit, in order to worship and serve God.
-"True worshippers will worship in spirit and in truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth". (Joh 4:23,24)
There are many who strongly adhere to the conviction that in water baptism a kind of "mystical" regenerative spiritual transformation occurs which corresponds to being "born-again." An even greater number of "Christians" consider that the "born-again" experience is simply synonymous with making a declaration to "accept Jesus" or "to give their heart to the Lord" or other similar such statements. Few if any of them finding scriptural foundation (ie without chapter and verse).
Submitting to water baptism is an act of surrender. It is an acknowledgment of repentance corresponding essentially with the baptisms introduced by John the Baptist and Jesus but with much greater significance to believers in Christ Jesus.
Believers baptism in this post -Pentecostal age still retains aspects of repentant obedience but it is more. It is identification and a sacramental ordinance in which the Gospel of salvation is preached symbolically. In very much the same as it is also proclaimed in Communion ( The Lords Table) This latter speaking of the sacrificial body and blood (His death) of the Lord Jesus (see 1Cor11:23-26) and the former, Baptism in Water, speaks of His burial and resurrection ( Rom 6). While Baptism in Holy Spirit highlights His Ascension.[ ...having received of the Father the promise of the Holy spirit He has poured forth this which you see and hear. Acts 2:33]
Water baptism becomes the visible boundary between sinful rebellion and identification with the Church (the assembly of Believers) of the Living God; with His House of representatives and place of dwelling.
John (the Baptist) when administering his baptism of repentance clearly distinguished between his baptism in water and a baptism in the Holy Spirit. " The coming one," declared john, " Will baptise with the Holy spirit and fire............(Joh 1:33)
These thoughts suggest that water baptism is but a preparation a willing act of faith looking forward to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In the one the repentant sinner identifies with Jesus as Saviour and with His Church, His believing Body. While in the other, Spirit baptism, God recognises and seals; stamps with His approving acceptance, the one baptised in water. Notwithstanding, in some instances (eg Cornelius and his household Acts 10 ) God accepts a repentant heart by giving the Holy Spirit (baptism) before opportunity is provided for water baptism to take place.
What is to be achieved if in all good conscience one takes a step of faith, expresses repentance and acts obediently to Christ Jesus' authority and is baptised in water but then rejects, or fails to accept God's acknowledging seal of the Holy Spirit baptism. " How much more then will your Heavenly Father give the Holy spirit to them that ask." (Luke 11:13)
Only by receiving The Spirit+, through spirit baptism, can anyone enter the Kingdom (Realm, Dominion, Family) of God, and thereafter, function with His authority.
+Holy Spirit; Spirit of God;
Spirit of Christ etc
To receive the Holy Spirit, as some would have it after you have been admitted to the Kingdom or Family of God, simply does not make sense. What more could anyone ever ask for than to be welcomed into God's Realm; into His Family to relate with brother Jesus as a son and co-heir (see Rom 8:9-17). God alone admits repentant sinners into His Dominion. He also grants, "repentance unto Life." (Acts 11:18)
"Marvel not! You must be born-again to enter the Kingdom of god," said Jesus. (Joh 3:5-7; cf. Rom 8:9)
John clearly appreciated that spiritual birth meant being born of the spirit from above not by way of the spirit already within. All a believer is to receive from the Heavenly Father, through the Son Jesus, he receives because he receives the Holy Spirit.
Justification. Righteousness. Adoption/Sonship. Full Salvation . Deliverance.
It is the guaranteed assurance of God's Salvation, the earnest of our inheritance. (Eph1:13)
· Peter reminds us that we were born again through the Living Word of God. (1Pe1:23) and in his second letter that we have received the Divine nature of God.
· Paul writing to Titus (3:5) speaks of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
· John in his letter (1Jo 3:1,2,9; 4:7; 5:1,4) addresses the children of God as possessing the nature of God.
This does not mean that individual men and women suddenly, in some mysterious way, become Divine beings but rather, that they have imparted to them the Spirit of God enlivening their own, otherwise dead human spirit. They are no longer destitute, orphaned or Fatherless Joh14:16-18.
To be born-again, from above, is to experience spiritual conception by the Spirit of God. Flesh is Flesh, and Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that you must be born-again. (Joh 3:5-9), to become subjects of the Kingdom of God; offspring and heirs of the Father.
It is often argued that the disciples were "born again" on resurrection evening, in the upper room, when Jesus breathed upon them with the accompanying exclamation, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit!"(Joh 20:20) Nevertheless, the resurrected Lord Jesus still had to instruct them at His Ascension, some 40 days later, that they were to stay in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:44--49 cf. also Acts 1:4,5 ). This was still 10 days before the celebration of Pentecost, where and when indeed the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them; falling upon the assembled disciples. Most probably the whole company of 120. Not just the Apostles (Acts 2:1-4)
When the risen Jesus first "breathed" on the disciples on resurrection evening Thomas was not then present (Joh 20:24). He did not then see Jesus. Indeed for a whole week he questioned the reality of the resurrection appearances. However, eight days after the resurrection (Joh 20:26) Thomas was the first to acknowledge the risen Jesus as both Lord and God. Moreover, there is no record of Jesus ever commanding that Thomas needed to receive the Holy Spirit until the day of Pentecost, together with the other assembled disciples.
If the disciples, the 10 present with Jesus on resurrection evening (and Thomas), did not actually "receive" the Holy Spirit until the Pentecost outpouring, then Jesus' "expressed" breathe upon the 10 with the words "receive ye the Holy Spirit" was very likely a directive command rather than an actual "birthing" of the Spirit in them (ie. the 10) on that resurrection evening in the upper room. A command fulfilled in all their lives on the day of Pentecost.
It is furthermore, hard to appreciate why Peter, if he was enlivened (or born-again) by the Holy Spirit, (when Jesus breathed upon him on resurrection evening), why ,[on a subsequent occasion, when they both communed together on the shores of Lake Tiberias (Joh 21:15,16)], he was unable to express true (agape) love toward the risen Lord when he was questioned by Jesus concerning Peter's personal love for the Lord Jesus Himself . Indeed Peter was preparing to return to his old fisherman's way of life.(Joh 21:3)
However, this same unlearned fisherman - Peter- "enlivened by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost", was able then to confidently proclaim Jesus as Saviour to over 3000 Jews and Proselytes gathered from over 15 nations. To Jews both near, and to as many as the Lord would call to Himself; even the far off Gentiles (the Goyim). Peter inspired (or in-spirited), and standing proud above the assembled crowd, declared to all men everywhere that they should repent, be baptised (in water) for forgiveness and receive the Holy Spirit. The Promise of the Father. ( The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.)
Until the Holy Spirit was received, none of the disciples possessed any capacity to exhibit either gift or fruit of the Spirit. But most assuredly they all did after the their Pentecost experience. The same clearly obtains for this post-Pentecosal era. Few can claim to manifest either gift or fruit of the spirit without first receiving the Holy Spirit.