§ 1. The New Testament speaks of two distinct baptisms; John's baptism, and Christ's baptism. John baptized with water, but he said, "There cometh one after me, who shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Matt.3:11). This we regard as the essential baptism. Hence, Paul says, "One faith, one Lord, one baptism" (Eph 4:5). The true baptism, therefore, is that of Christ's, and not of John's. Accordingly, Christ never baptized with water (see John 4:2). A plain distinction is kept up between Christ's and John's baptism. This is evident from the following passage: "For John baptized with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1:5). From this we learn that baptism by water availeth nothing unless we have experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Hence, Paul says, "He thanked God he baptized none save two persons, Crispus and Gaius, and the household of Stephanas" (1 Cor. 1:14,16). From this it appears Paul did not regard baptism by water as essential to the Christian name.
§ 2. To show still farther that the baptism of Christ is more essential than that of John's, look at the following passage: Paul asked some of the early converts to Christianity this question, "Unto what were ye baptized?" "And they said, unto JOHN's baptism." They had not heard of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. "And when they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:3-5). Here, then, is an instance where persons had submitted to John's baptism, and yet it was not sufficient, it availed them but little until they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit.
§ 3. But it may be asked, "if we are opposed to water baptism?" We answer, "No." While we do not regard it as a test of one's piety, nor the essential baptism, we are by no means opposed to baptism by water. We believe with Peter, that baptism "is NOT the putting away of the filth of the flesh," it can be no criterion of inward purity, nor of one's conversion, but it is "the answering of a good conscience" (1 Peter 3:21). If a person thinks it his or her duty to be baptized by water, whether by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring, we would be the last to prevent the candidate from submitting to the ordinance. It should be left entirely with the conscience. If a person has experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, if his heart is immersed in the river of God's love, and is right in his sight, it is all that can be required. The baptism of Christ is the true and ESSENTIAL baptism; and in reference to administering water baptism, let "every man be persuaded in his own mind" (Rom. 14:5).
§ 4. Does the reader ask for a criterion by which we may know that we have experienced CHRIST'S baptism? Here it is, "For as many of you as have BEEN BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST, have PUT on Christ" (Gal. 3:27). But can we say, "As many as have been baptized with WATER have PUT ON Christ?" HEREBY we know those who have experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they have put on Christ, they walk in his footsteps, copy his example, exhibit his virtues, and thus exemplify in their daily life and conversion the precepts of the gospel. Such are the fruits of Christ's baptism.
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