We're Going to be Baptized With What?


Acts 1:4-5 (ESV)

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

I understand the idea of receiving the Holy Spirit, but that’s not what this passage says. It says “baptized.” Why? Why is receiving the Holy Spirit called the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Luke gives us two more key references.

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. – Luke 3:16 (ESV)

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. – Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

So now we have water baptism, Holy Spirit baptism and fire baptism. There’s one more.

Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized,” – Mark 10:38-39 (ESV)

It’s understood that “the cup that I drink” in Mark 10:38 refers to Jesus’ suffering. The baptism here can’t refer to resurrection since that didn’t happen to His audience. Thus, this baptism seems to refer to death.

So, what do all these different baptisms have in common? Change.

Death is change. The Holy Spirit brings change. The tongues of fire brought change – the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a change of kingdom. Even John’s baptism of repentance was change – change of heart.

Jesus is telling his disciples, “Change is coming.” They can’t know what. It’s both exciting and scary.

Change is scary. We resist change. We like the way things are – or at least don’t want to chance losing what little we have.

But Christianity is all about change. What changes might God have in store for you? Have you made plans, or at least set some goals, for your own growth? Walking in Christ means growing.

But plan on plans changing. God always seems to have other plans.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.