The Three Baptisms in Scripture
Essentially, there are three baptisms in Scripture: (1) the baptism into the body of Christ by the Spirit, which is conversion; (2) water baptism; and, (3) the baptism in the Spirit, which is the Pentecost experience. When we are converted, the agent of the conversion is the Spirit, who places us into the body of Christ. This is conversion. In water baptism, the agent of the baptism is the minister. This act follows conversion. In the Pentecostal experience of Acts 2, the agent of baptism is not the minister or the Spirit, but Christ, who is the Baptizer. The element into which we are placed is the Spirit and this occurs either alongside conversion or after conversion. In conversion, the Spirit acts as the agent ushering us into the life of Christ. In the baptism in the Spirit, Jesus is the agent who ushers us into the dimension of the fullness of the Spirit.
Jesus’ earthly experience with the Spirit is a model for our own. Jesus was conceived by the Spirit. Yet, at His baptism, the Spirit came upon Him like a dove. That He was conceived of the Spirit meant that all through His existence the Spirit resided in Him. Yet, as He began His earthly ministry, the Spirit came upon Him. This does not mean that until that time the Spirit was absent from Him. It meant Jesus’ public ministry had begun and He needed the Spirit’s empowerment. That’s why after the temptation in the wilderness He could say, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” The Spirit had always been in Him, but at His baptism there was a necessary experience of the Spirit coming upon Him.
￼THE THREE BAPTISMS in the NEW TESTAMENT
|BAPTISM INTO CHRIST (1 Cor. 12:13)||BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT (Acts 2:4)||BAPTISM IN WATER (Acts 2:38-41)|
|AGENT of the BAPTISM (the Baptizer)||The Holy Spirit||Christ||The Minister|
|CANDIDATE||The Believer||The Believer||The Believer|
|ELEMENT INTO WHICH the CANDIDATE IS PLACED||Christ||The Holy Spirit||Water|
The Church models that same experience of the Spirit. We are conceived by the Spirit. The life of Jesus is born into us; we are born of the Spirit. Everyone who has Jesus has the Spirit living in him or her. But there is a subsequent work we find in Acts 2, when believers assumed their spiritual responsibilities. For this, we need the Spirit to come upon us. We need to be placed into the Spirit even as the Spirit has placed us into Christ.