Acts Devotionals

Divine Baptism

In KwaZulu-Natal, the ruling party have their provincial conference this weekend. This included electing their top leadership. This election might have turned out as a shock to the present party president who is the president of the country. It seems as though those elected are supporters of the previous party and country president. So when it comes to electing the president of the party it is possible that the present incumbent might not get the support of the party’s membership in KwaZulu-Natal. There are factions with one supporting the present president and the other, seemingly the larger group, supporting the previous president. The news reports real friction with some wanting to hang onto the past, others the present with a very few wanting real change for the future. In the Kingdom of God there is nothing like this. There is no tension and no friction and no divided support. Jesus is King and will always be King and those who follow Him know this and will always hold Him high, worshipping, loving, supporting and following Him. Yet there is a problem … it is a misunderstanding, not about who the Leader is, but the shape and place of this Kingdom. Let’s read the text again:

Ac 1:4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Yesterday we spent time in verse 4 where Jesus instructed his apostles to remain in the capital city because the Gift He promised them, the Holy Spirit would arrive there.

1) The difference between John’s baptism and Divine baptism.

Ac 1:5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

The various derivatives from the Greek noun “baptisma” would include John’s baptism, Jesus’ baptism, Christian baptism and Divine Baptism as well as ritual baptisms of cleansing of both body parts and that of eating and cooking utensils. Let’s consider two of these.

1) John’s baptism. The people knew that one would come to usher in Messiah because they had the writings of the prophet Malachi

Mal 4:5 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Naturally it would not be the real prophet Elijah but one like him, fearless and courageous in ministry and totally dedicated to God. The important issue is his ministry … He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers … and if this is not done … or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. He fulfilled his calling perfectly for we read in:

Mt 3:5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

He never played to the tithes and offerings people could give. He never played to the number of people who could come. He remained steadfast to his calling.

(1) People came confessing their sins after which they were baptized.

(2) These people were proving their faith by producing fruits of repentance. That is, they possessed their profession. They practiced what they committed themselves too. They were eager and intentional about their response to John’s preaching. They were unlike the religious leaders (Pharisees and Sadducees) who came for the outward experience yet lacked the internal transformation. They were hypocrites and John showed them that! So John baptized those who were serious about their relationship with God and the condition of their soul. They demonstrated their desire to prepare themselves for the arrival of the Messiah that John was preaching about and ushering in. This is why he says:

Mt 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance.”

This was external symbolizing an internal, meaningful change.

2) Divine Baptism. Please do not misunderstand or construe Divine baptism with Christian baptism. John went on to teach:

Mt 3:11  But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork in in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Luke simply says:

Ac 1:5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus will baptize with …

(a) The Holy Spirit. This is an internal experience. For all people ready to surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus through faith, understanding what true fruits of repentance are … Jesus by the Holy Spirit takes their dead soul and makes it alive. It is known as being born again or the new birth. The dead soul is regenerated, becoming alive to God to and the things of God. Following through the process would be redemption, justification, adoption and sanctification. John’s baptism and Christian baptism is and external public declaration of what has happened in the soul being transformed from living in darkness (sin) to living in light (holiness and obedience).

(b) Fire. Baptism by fire does not represent spiritual power or spiritual renewal. It refers to judgment. Verse 12 tells us Jesus is ready to pronounce judgment upon all who are outside of His love … outside of His grace and salvation. Because of the unquenchable fire … the Gospel must be preached so that sensitive souls will believe and experience Divine baptism.

Thank You Lord Jesus that You look at the heart change not the outside appearance. Amen.

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