Greetings and many blessings in Jesus Christ! I was recently asked a question about what the "true" baptism is, and what it means. There is confusion to this day on the topic of baptism and what it means. There is confusion on the topic of Spirit baptism and how it works. Hopefully, the following will bring some clarity to this beautiful topic and give you renewed joy in Jesus Christ.
Jesus said in John 3:5, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Let's explore being born of "water and Spirit."
1. BEING BORN OF WATER (human commitment toward Jesus Christ)
Being born of water is the human commitment to follow Jesus Christ and serve Him, to die with Christ, and to live with Christ. When we make a decision to follow Jesus Christ, we are choosing to make Jesus the Lord of our lives. After we make this choice, we show evidence of our decision in water baptism. Water baptism is, for humans, an outward expression of a personal commitment to follow Jesus Christ. We are choosing to die with him (emersion in water), and we are choosing to live our lives with Him (rising from the water). If we do not open our hearts to Jesus Christ and invite Him in, then we have no part with Him. This is the meaning of being born of water, that we choose to die and live with Him.
Paul states in Romans 6:3, "don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" This is the commitment to the death of our old selves, our old ways, our sinful beings. This is why Peter states in 1 Peter 3:21, "And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." "Born of water" and "water symbolized baptism that now saves you" are phrases of much confusion for many. Indeed some have even interpreted these verses to meant that baptism is the necessary component for salvation to occur, which cannot be further from the truth. The decision to open our heart to Christ, allow Him in, the forgiveness of sins, dying to ourselves, and choosing to walk with Him in this life are all symbolized in water baptism. Remember that Jesus saves, not water baptism. However, baptism expresses our inward commitment and is, therefore, the reason Jesus says "unless someone is born of water." Jesus is placing the emphasis on our belief in faith, that unless we make this commitment of faith and belief, we are separated. If we commit ourselves to Christ in faith with all belief and demonstrate the outward expression of commitment through water baptism, then we have gone through the process of being "born of water." “Born of water” is expressed in faith in Jesus Christ, and symbolized in water baptism.
2. BEING BORN OF SPIRIT (Divine commitment towards humans)
Being born of Spirit is the Divine commitment to adopt you as a "son," heir of Jesus Christ, and child of God. Jesus baptizes you with His Spirit, makes you completely new, and you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in the family of God, never to lose your salvation. Being born of Spirit is the work of Jesus Christ and nothing that a human can do on their own. The Bible states in Matthew 3:11, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." The Bible states in Ephesians 1:13-14, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” John 1:12 also states clearly that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Born of Spirit is that blessed hope that Jesus Christ will pour out His own Spirit into our beings, and thereby intertwine and enmesh us with the Spirit of life! This is now we are brought back from spiritual death, because “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom 8:10-11). This is the true baptism that descends from Heaven, the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Jesus Christ.
“Born of water,” our commitment to Jesus Christ. “Born of Spirit,” Jesus Christ’s commitment toward us. When one is born of water and Spirit, that person now belongs to God and will be His forever. Their name is added to the registry of Heaven, and Jesus will bring them to their new eternal home where they will dwell with Him without end. This should spur us all to holy action in bringing this message of good news to our family, friends, and neighbors; not only through speech, but also through practical acts of God’s precious love for all people.
Pastor SJ Kulzer