Catchy title, don’t you think? Powerful baptism…
In “Light and Darkness” I tried to “reveal” that the light as in “Jesus is the light of the world” is a revelation of the heart of our Father in Heaven. And on top of that, Jesus “sheds light” on all the lies of the darkness and brings truth into our lives as a revelation of His goodness. God’s glory is His manifest goodness. He radiates glory and illuminates places with His glory. His goodness is really good and tangible like a trip to Disneyland that has no end or when you are a kid and get the greatest gift ever with no thought of paying someone back. This is why the faith of a child brings the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven into our understanding as our new reality. We are like little kids waiting for some goodness from our Abba. Yep, He is that good. Even something as “sacred” and “traditional” as baptism takes on a new light when we see it after consuming some 200 proof Grace. Remember religion (the bad stuff) is trying to convince us of something that shifts the focus to us. It is born of our fallen nature and Jesus dealt with all that junk on the cross. Still the religious “spirit” takes us captive by lies that shift us from the finished work of Jesus to self-effort and all the rest of the nonsense. Here are a couple of descriptions of religion I’ve used before but they really highlight what is trying to put us back into bondage:
Religion is trying to be something you already are
Religion is trying to establish a relationship outside yourself with something you consider important.
Jesus did it all. Yes He did. 2000 years ago Jesus made us all a new creation. He took us all to the cross. We all died with Him on the cross and rose again as a new kind of creation that was part human and part divine. We were in Jesus and Jesus was in us. Jesus became a man and mankind to do what a man and mankind couldn’t do. He walked us through the paces of what a God-man could do as mankind to reconcile all of mankind to God. We saw the Father. We took a ride with Jesus. We left the dysfunction of a fallen relationship and stepped into the family that we dreamed of. We left the slavery of the power of Sin and stepped into the freedom of life in the Spirit. We died to any sin-powered, death-dealing law-keeping to embrace Grace as a Savior named Jesus. We moved from independence to interdependence. We were no longer subjects of a fallen world but citizens and royalty of the Kingdom of Heaven. We left a distorted and deceived reality and stepped into the light of the world. We went from empty vessels wielding wrath and subject to wrath to become God-filled temples full of mercy and grace and glory. We now leak the goodness of God and drink from His intoxicating blood and eat His love-perfected flesh. Yep, we are really something new, don’t you think?
Baptism fits into the same shoebox. I’m going to stretch your brain and suggest that even Baptism was something that happened 2000 years ago on the cross. Yes, today we celebrate the finished work by getting in the pool or river or creek or splashed with water from a bowl. I don’t deny the beauty of that tradition or want to take away from the supernatural power of revelation that takes place when we are immersed into a new-existence-truth. But how about we take a quick look at the finished immersion that happened a while ago?
Jesus says this:
Mark 10:38 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?” (ESV)
In the account of Luke there are some pretty emotionally charged words included:
Luke 12:49 I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and how greatly and sorely I am urged on (impelled, constrained) until it is accomplished! (AMP)
Did you know that the word baptism in its many forms was a common expression during the time of Christ? The ceremonial flavor of the concept was isolated to John and what he was doing in the Jordan. That tradition traced back a few hundred years to the return from exile of the Jews. There were so many that weren’t “Jews” of the traditional sense because of the integration of so many people groups. When they came home to the promised land there were lots of people already living there. They instituted a ceremonial washing tradition that would allow someone to come into the Hebrew faith. It was a “mass conversion” opportunity. Later John took the concept of “baptism of repentance” as was the tradition and was baptizing in the wilderness as a bit of a rebellion against the Jewish religious that had really lost their way. He was also paving the way for Jesus. This baptism of repentance was an opportunity for “mass conversion” of a people bound by the fear of religion to agree with the goodness of God and His forgiveness of their sins. Notice no sacrifice needed.
OK, enough of the ceremony stuff. The word was also used in the Septuagint and other contemporary literature to describe various events or conditions or states. Isaiah used the word to describe the overwhelming stress of being oppressed. Josephus used it to describe drowning and jumping into water and getting drunk. Garment makers used it to describe the dying process. Some have said it could be applied to pickling. It definitely has a much deeper meaning that I used to understand. It is being totally immersed, absorbed, changed, altered, overwhelmed, consumed and even drowned. With that new perspective check out these verses:
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. (ESV)
What if Paul isn’t talking at all about some ceremony? What if he is using the “plain language” of the time to describe what happened to us in Jesus? What if Paul is saying that we were consumed, absorbed, altered, changed, immersed, made-one-with (at-one-with, atonement) in Jesus so much so that we died with Him? Isn’t that more consistent with the revelation of the finished work of Jesus? Paul even says we walk in “newness of life” which is not “new in time” but “new in kind.” He is saying that we should be walking in our new kind of life, the joined life, the mystically merged life, the born-again life, the at-one-ment life in Jesus. We are joined to the most Holy one. I can go on and on but I think you are getting it.
OK, now check out these verses:
1 Cor 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (ESV)
Now wait a second. What is going on? Well, on the cross we died in Jesus. We were raised again in the Spirit by the Spirit and through the Spirit. So even 2000 years ago we were baptized in the Spirit. Maybe that is what John is talking about here:
Matt 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (ESV)
The refiners fire of His love brought an end to our fallen sin-nature and brought us back to life in Him. The Holy Spirit did all the work of raising us from the dead. We were permanently joined to Jesus who sits in Heaven while we are in Him and He is in us and God is in Him and the universe is in God and Heaven is in God and all of His glory and Himself is in us. Whew! That should make your head spin.
But, Paul might also be talking about another baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is our “drinking Him in” to be “consumed” by Him and “immersed” in Him and as Josephus says…drunk in Him. Oh yeah, I said it. Intoxicated in the Spirit, the very person of Jesus, the truth of the finished work, His Holy Kiss…our today revelation in union with the Holy Spirit.
Eph 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. (AMP)
For sure we were baptized in the baptism of Jesus. Only He could do what He did. Only He could die the death He died. Only He could become mankind and do what mankind could never do. Only Jesus could take us all into death and bring us back into a new life. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! Come on! And He did it 2000 years ago without our permission. How does that grab you? Not only that but He did it for ALL. Now that should consume you and immerse you and pickle you in His love to the point of overwhelming intoxicating joy. Now we can really, really understand what a verse like this means:
Rom 7:6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (ESV)
So stop all the working to become something that Jesus died to make you. Stop trying to close the gap with a God who lives in you. Stop trying to get drowned in the pool when He killed you already. Just jump into that vat of intoxicating love wine, His poured out blood that pickles you through and through as you ponder the finished work of Jesus 2000 years ago. That is a pretty powerful baptism if you think about it.