The Berean Expositor Volume 50 - Page 67 of 185 Index | Zoom |
There is no doubt that great care is needed in interpreting the various phrases
employed in the N.T. containing the word `spirit', otherwise wrong doctrines can be built
up which lead to error and wrong understanding of other parts of holy Scripture.
pp. 101 - 106
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
With baptism, we come to a doctrine that has done more to shatter external unity in
Christendom than anything else. Many are the ideas that Christians have concerning
baptism, some of them leading to division and disunity. We should seek to study the
Scriptures on this point with an open, teachable mind, and if necessary, be willing to
unlearn and learn afresh. First of all, let us look at the words used. The verbs are bapto
and baptizo. The former is used only three times in the N.T., namely Luke 16: 24,
John 13: 26 and Rev. 19: 13. The word means to dip or stain. Baptizo, on the other
hand is of frequent occurrence, namely 79 times. Its primary meaning is to immerse or
submerge. The secondary meaning is described by Dr. J. W. Dale in his Classic Baptism,
"Whatever is capable of thoroughly changing the character, state, or condition of any
object, is capable of baptizing that object; and by such change of character, state or
condition does, in fact, baptize it."
It is in this secondary sense that the word is used in most of its occurrences in the N.T.
We do not intend here to deal with the doctrine of baptism in its various usages in the
Bible. We have touched upon this subject in The Unfolding Purpose of God, pp.92-96.
Our theme now is the Holy Spirit and His relationship to baptism; specially baptism as
presented by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 6:, Eph. 4: and Col. 2: Here we believe that
we are dealing, not with an external type but with a great spiritual reality, the work of
God and not the work of man. The baptism that the above Scriptures present is one that
has permanent effects. Believers were not just baptized with water but into Christ's
death (Rom. 6: 3). Neither man nor water could do this. It is solely the work of God the
Holy Spirit, and such became permanently united with Christ in His death, burial and
resurrection, so that all of their spiritual values are secured eternally. The saved in this
chapter of Romans are not taken back to a day when they were immersed by a human
being in water. Rather they are taken back to Joseph's tomb where Christ was buried and
there, by the work of God, they were crucified, they died, were buried, and rose again IN
HIM (Rom. 6: 3-6). No amount of water could do this. It could only touch the body not
the mind or spirit. In any case how can water baptism represent crucifixion?
Sunthapto, the word used by Paul, was only used of burial in a tomb, never in water,
either literally or figuratively. As Col. 2: 12 expresses it, this spiritual baptism is "the
work (operation) of God" and not the work of any man, Christian or otherwise. What
needs to sink into our minds is the fact that Biblical types are only shadows; they are not
the reality. They only imperfectly set forth the reality as an illustration.