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Fire Baptism


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The WAY OF JESUS is the way of fire baptism which is baptism by the Holy Spirit. The Luke text is the source for this. John the Baptist states that Jesus will baptize in this way.

Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1: 9-11; Luke 3: 15-22

Therefore any water baptism is merely a beginning point and is not strictly even necessary for the follower of the way of Jesus.

The baptism of Jesus by John is a water baptism. But it is also a Holy Spirit baptism because the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove and Abba speaks the words “my beloved” and “I am well pleased”.

Since we backslide, there perhaps ought to be many ways to show repentance including something like the baptism in the Jordan. But the fact remains that the baptism we are now to seek is that of the Holy Spirit and of fire.

Two things accompany Spirit baptism. Note that fire baptism is really a powerful statement of Spirit baptism because in Acts at Pentecost the Spirit does descend as tongues of fire!

The two things are deliverance and purification.

Jesus does not, as far as we know, baptize with water, though he does wash the feet of his disciples, implying servanthood and love. Nor does he make any ceremony about baptizing with the Holy Spirit.

What then is the fulfillment of John’s prophecy about Spirit and fire baptism?

If we take from Luke the ideas of purification and deliverance, Jesus fulfills these for us by initiating the cleansing, inrushing, powerful actions of the Spirit as the gift he gives to his congregation or church.

The church is literally created where this gift is received!

This makes Pentecost the essential completion of John’s statement about how Jesus will baptize in the future.

What then is the WAY OF JESUS for us in the here and now?

It is most probably to include the water baptism as one of numerous water rituals that could be performed to signify human repentance and turning from sin and the desire for deliverance, purification and rebirth.

It is most assuredly to initiate times when the baptism of fire and the Holy Spirit is actively sought and received.

The role of the Spirit in Jesus’s ministry is not tangental but foundational. The Spirit comes down upon him at baptism and literally drives him to his own journey of encounter with the principalities and powers, Satan in the desert.

So when we consider the place of baptism today, move quickly to the prophecy of the Baptist — which was indeed fulfilled before all eyes at Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan.

It would not be out of place for continuing rites of baptism to seek the Spirit baptism, but the texts give us a strong argument AGAINST infant baptism and against the sacramentalization of baptism in a world that has been fully sacramentalized by the healing power of Abba in Jesus Christ and the Spirit.

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