Almost every Christian when asked what New Testament baptism is would probably answer with a reference to some sort of a water based ritual. Whether it be a full immersion in a body of water or a sprinkling on the head from a bowl. It would seem that most believers hold to water baptism in some way or another and believe that this is what the Scripture is referring to when baptism is mentioned. And of course we have the recorded example of John the Baptist to support and justify our belief.
And not forgetting that even our Messiah was baptised (immersed) by John in the waters of the Jordan river.
But what is the ‘one baptism’ referenced in Ephesians chapter 4:5.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Ephesians Chapter 4: 4-6
We know that the New Testament refers to more than one type of baptism so which one is Ephesians referencing as ‘the one’. We surely cannot continue to suggest that two baptisms (water and spirit) are necessary when the Word states that there is only ‘one’ – implying only one is needed. So which is it then? The water baptism of John or the Spirit baptism introduced by our Messiah Y’Shua?
Lets consider the facts and find out:
Division in the Church
Even though water baptism is widely acknowledged and practised within the Christian church, it is clear that Christians/differing denominations cannot agree upon the issues related to water baptism.
They differ on many aspects of baptism such as:
– what age one must be to be baptised – infant or adult,
– who can facilitate the baptism,
– the type and extent of the baptism i.e. full immersion, dipping or sprinkling
– what preparation is required – recitals etc etc
The secular world must be quite amused at the differing church teachings and practices with regards to baptism. Why are we so divided on this subject? Can we not read the Bible and understand what is being communicated.
How can we possibly hope to attract outsiders with the ‘good news’ if we are so divided and uncertain ourselves. I mean is baptism required for salvation or not – and which baptism is required. This surely must be a critical question to be answered with due wisdom and consideration.
The unfortunate reality though is that the emphasis and disagreement largely pertains to water baptism which is not even required according to our Messiah Y’Shua. In the meantime the leaders within the churches are denying the new converts the blessing and True message associated with the required baptism – spirit baptism.
Even John stated in Luke 3:16 and Matthew 3:11:
‘I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire’:
These words of John should be enough to reveal to the reader that Y’Shua was not going to continue the ritual of water baptism. Somehow most fail to see this fact though. He said ‘I baptise with water but Y’Shua will baptise with the spirit’. Well which do you want? My choice is to follow Y’Shua.
Any argument should basically end now. John’s statement says it all. He followed the old way, Y’Shua would bring in the new. Not adding another, but rather replacing the one with the other.
I expect that many hold onto water baptism because it is a physical act and as such satisfies ones fleshly desire of self-accomplishment. The problem though is that water baptism is so entrenched in the church that I can only ever see few people accepting the truth and letting go of treasured tradition.
We must recall Cain’s offering in Genesis and learn from that story not to offer to the Father what He has not required – i.e. works of the flesh.
I was a believer in water baptism as well once but was ready to embrace the challenge when faced with the predicament that I was probably wrong.
Hopefully I will be able to convince you after reading this article that water baptism was never instituted through the Word of YHWH and is the result of generations of the distortion of Scripture, erroneous teachings and the traditions of men.
I for one was baptised in water years ago – a full immersion at that. I was not content with one baptism either and baptised myself at least twice thereafter. It is easy for one just to accept the popular understanding and interpretation within the church. After all there are few proclaiming anything different.
But what does Scripture and our Messiah Y’Shua teach us about this subject?
Truth or Traditions of men
Before I delve deeply into this subject I would like to bring to the fore the words of Scripture and Y’Shua regarding the ‘traditions of men’. The scriptures hold warnings against any traditions, customs, precepts, or laws that are in opposition to, contradictory to, or that nullify (or do away with) YHWH’s written Scripture. These customs, rituals, practices referred to are inventions and traditions of men alone – apart from YHWH. We must be cautious of the emptiness of the traditions of men passed down through time – even those from our own forefathers or church elders. The following are some warning passages from Scripture on this error:
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:13
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:9
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8
And so, considering the above, we should take the matter of tradition or Truth very seriously and refrain from following after popular, erroneous teachings i.e. the traditions of men. It is my belief that having some traditions are ok as long as they do not negate the Words of Scripture or interfere with the intended meaning. Let us therefore be like the Bereans and test all things to see if they line up with Scripture. Let us not defend our belief just because it seems correct to us or is popular.
The Jewish Roots Of Baptism
While doing my research for this article I came across the following writing which briefly outlines the Jewish history of baptism or rather the ‘Mikveh’. I am presenting this to you in order to reflect on the historical origins of baptism from a Jewish perspective – which surely would be the origin.
By ONE FOR ISRAEL (Messianic Jews In Israel)
A Jewish man called Yochanan was baptising people in the Jordan River in first century Israel, including his cousin who would later become world famous: Yeshua of Nazareth. Many Jewish people responded to the call of this Jewish man to immerse themselves in the river as a sign of repentance, and a desire to get right with God. Some of the Pharisees were also among them. Did Yochanan invent baptism at this time? Or was it part of Jewish tradition and practice before that?
No he didn’t, and yes it was.
And the Hebrew word for an immersion pool built for this purpose, “mikveh”, also points us in the right direction in understanding deeper meaning in the practice.
Immersion in Jewish Tradition
The Jewish laws which had been passed down orally from generation to generation had several things to say about the need for ritual washing, and the most desirable places to do it. There are six different options suggested that satisfy the requirements, starting with pits or cisterns of standing water as acceptable but least desirable, moving up to pits that are refreshed by rainwater as slightly more desirable, then the custom-built ritual bath, or “mikveh” with 40 se’ahs (300 liters) or more of water, then fountains, then flowing waters.
But ‘living waters’ (as found in natural lakes and rivers) which were considered to be the best possible situation.
The Mishnah specifies what makes the water clean or unclean, and expresses a preference for a larger, fresher body of water, “For in it persons may immerse themselves and immerse others”.
So Yochanan immersing people in the “Living waters” of the River Jordan was perfectly within Jewish law and practice at the time.
The Essenes, a strict Jewish sect, were doing it too out in the Judean Desert. But why were Jewish people immersing themselves in water? Is baptism in the Jewish Scriptures? Well, sort of, yes.
Ritual Bathing in the Bible
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them– to him and his descendants throughout their generations.” Exod 30:17-21
The priests had to be ritually clean (tahor) in order to serve at the tabernacle, and Israelites who had become ritually unclean (tamay) had to restore their situation with the passing of time and bathing their whole body in fresh, ritually clean (tahor) water, according to Leviticus 15.
Later, when the temple had been built, it was necessary for everyone to be immersed in a mikveh to become ritually clean before entering the temple. There are many ancient mikva’ot (plural of mikveh) to be seen in Jerusalem, and it is clear to see the two sets of steps for each one – a set of steps going down to the mikveh in an impure (tamay) state on one side, and on the other side, steps where the pilgrim will emerge fresh and ritually clean (tahor).
What did it look like in the time of Jesus?
Following the upheaval of the 1967 war, archaeologists were presented with the opportunity to excavate parts of the upper city of Jerusalem, giving a new window into daily life in ancient times. Many of the houses were grand and spacious, with their own water cisterns and ritual baths in the basements. Some houses were found to have had several of these mikva’ot, since it is thought that as well as providing for the household (which could even be up to fifty people) they would have been able to welcome and host pilgrims arriving for the Jewish feasts, catering for many more. Many of this upper city aristocracy were among the priestly class, who would have to stay in a state of ritual purity as much as possible, and so would have to immerse themselves in a mikveh frequently. Archaeologists also believe that the pools of Siloam and Bethsaida could have been used for ritual bathing in the Second Temple period for those visiting Jerusalem for the high holy days.
So immersion in a mikveh was quite common at the time of Yeshua, but the New Testament also describes baptisms taking place not only in rivers, but in any available body of water. In Acts 8, we read of a visiting pilgrim from Ethiopia, who came to believe in Yeshua as he read Isaiah on the way home:
“As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” (verse 36).
By this point baptism had come to signify a decision to accept Yeshua as Messiah and Lord.
The word “Mikveh”
The Hebrew noun for a ritual bath (mikveh) can help us understand a bit more about the Jewish notion of immersion. Often the Hebrew language reveals keys in the Hebrew thought behind the words. The word mikveh shares the same root as the word for hope (tikvah), for line (kav) and alignment, and the concept of hoping or waiting on God (kiviti l’Adonai).
Here is what Strong’s Lexicon has to say about the word:
מִקְוֶה miqveh, mik-veh’;
something waited for, i.e. confidence (objective or subjective);
also a collection, i.e. (of water) a pond, or (of men and horses) a caravan or drove:—
abiding, gathering together, hope, linen yarn, plenty (of water), pool.
and the same root word:
קָוָה qâvâh, kaw-vaw’;
to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect:—gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).
The ideas of binding together, or twisting together, of yarn, gives us a good mental picture of what it means to align ourselves with God, and wait for him. We gather ourselves and bind ourselves to his word and to him, we line ourselves up with him, and wait for him in confidence and hope. When you read that the Psalmist says he waits upon the Lord, this is usually the word he is using.
The linked concepts of mikvah (collected pool of water) and tikvah (hope, confidence) are played out beautifully in Jeremiah 17:5-6, where the prophet poetically expresses the ideas through the metaphor of trees either rooted and flourishing beside water when we trust in God, or drying up for the lack of water when we put our trust in man. A few verses later, Jeremiah summarises:
Lord, you are the hope (mikveh) of Israel; all who forsake you will be ashamed (or dried out).
Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.
This is a word play – the text actually says “The Lord is the MIKVEH of Israel, and all who forsake him will be ashamed or dried out!” So it makes more sense now that Jeremiah continues, to say that when we turn away from this mikveh of water and hope, we will be ashamed, which can also be translated “dried out”. Through this word play, Jeremiah deliberately points us back to the analogy of the man who trusts in God being like a tree beside plenty of water, and the one who leaves God ending up in dry, dusty shame.
A “Mikveh” of living water represents the bounty and resources of the new life that we can enjoy in God. Those who put their hope in God, choosing to align their lives with him, will never be dried out, but will always have fresh life in him.
Next time you see someone being immersed in water to signify their new life in Yeshua, the hope of Israel, the mikveh of Israel, call to mind all that he said about being the water of life, the well of living water that springs up to eternal life… because that’s exactly who He is!
 Tractate Mivaoth, Babylonian Talmud, Mishnah 1-8
There are six degrees of gatherings of water, each superior to the other.
The water of pits… The same rules apply to the water of pits, the water of cisterns, the water of ditches, the water of caverns, the water of rain drippings which have stopped, and mikwehs of less than forty se’ahs: they are all clean during the time of rain; when the rain has stopped those near to a city or to a road are unclean, and those distant remain clean until the majority of people pass [that way].
Superior to such [water] is the water of rain drippings which have not stopped.
Superior to such [water] is [the water of] the mikveh containing forty se’ahs, for in it persons may immerse themselves and immerse others.
Superior again is [the water of] a fountain whose own water is little but has been increased by a greater quantity of drawn water; it is equivalent to the mikveh inasmuch as it may render clean by standing water, and to an [ordinary] fountain in as much as one may immerse in it whatever the quantity of its contents.
Superior again are ‘smitten waters’ which can render clean even when flowing.
Superior again are ‘living waters’ which serve for the immersion of persons who have a running issue and for the sprinkling of lepers, and are valid for the preparation of the water of purification.
 Jerusalem Archeological Park / The Antiques Authority website: www.archpark.org.il
Levine Lee I., Jerusalem: Portrait of the City in the Second Temple Period (538 B.C.E. – 70 C.E.), Jewish Publication Society, 2002
My research into any possible mention of baptism in the Old Testament times revealed some very interesting facts.
The word ‘mikveh’ (Strongs H4723) is only used twelve times in the Old Testament. The meaning of the word basically means: something waited for/confidence, gathered together/collection i.e. of water. Hope is also a major meaning.
Only in three of the instances is the word used with a reference to water. One such example is in Genesis 1:10
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together (H4723) of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
Most of the word use is translated as ‘hope’ – five times.
There is just no mention of any relationship of this word to baptism or cleansing at all. This is strange because there is much to read in Jewish custom regarding the Mikveh. I assume that because the word Mikveh was used in Genesis to indicate a gathering together of water that somehow this word has been adopted and the meaning distorted into something unintended by YHWH.
Looking back at the Jewish ‘ONE FOR ISRAEL’ insert pertaining to the origins, you will detect some interesting statements such as:
‘Immersion in Jewish Tradition
The Jewish laws which had been passed down orally from generation to generation had several things to say about the need for ritual washing, and the most desirable places to do it’
‘The Mishnah specifies what makes the water clean or unclean’
‘So Yochanan immersing people in the “Living waters” of the River Jordan was perfectly within Jewish law and practice at the time.’
The author goes on to ask the question of whether baptism is mentioned in the Scriptures. Strangely he could only answer with a doubt filled response – ‘sort of’. Uh? And then goes on to discuss ritual bathing:
Is baptism in the Jewish Scriptures? Well, sort of, yes.
Ritual Bathing in the Bible
And a reference to the Babylonian Talmud:
‘Tractate Mivaoth, Babylonian Talmud, Mishnah 1-8
There are six degrees of gatherings of water, each superior to the other.’
I mean where does the author get this from? Certainly not Scripture. Where does he get the association from the Hebrew language for a mikveh being a ritual bath?
‘The Hebrew noun for a ritual bath (mikveh)’
You see, none of this has to do with anything Biblical. The origins are the ‘traditions of men’ based on oral teachings passed down. Yes the Old Testament has much to say about cleansing and bathing. Leviticus chapter 15 is full of commands in this regard. These requirements are still very much applicable for believers today as well. Personal hygiene and outward cleansing is a must. But the words used for bathing and washing in Leviticus are the Hebrew words ‘râchats’ (Strongs 7364) and ‘kâbas’ (Strongs H3526). Together they appear 122 times. Physical cleanliness was obviously of paramount importance and one was not (and should still not) approach either the temple or YHWH in an unclean physical or spiritual state. But this had nothing to do with what we know today as baptism/immersion at all. It had everything to do with bathing and washing of self and clothing etc.
In the Jewish Encyclopedia, we read:
“The real significance of the rite of Baptism cannot be derived from the Levitical law; but it appears to have had its origin in Babylonian or ancient Semitic practise. As it was the special service administered by Elisha, as prophetic disciple to Elijah his master, to “pour out water upon his hands” (2 Kgs. 3:11), so did Elisha tell Naaman to bathe seven times in the Jordan, in order to recover from his leprosy (2 Kgs. 5). … This idea underlies the prophetic hope of the fountain of purity, which is to cleanse Israel from the spirit of impurity. (See Zech. 13:1; Ezek. 36:25; compare Isa. 4:4.) Thus it is expressed in unmistakable terms in the Mandean writings and teachings … that the living water in which man bathes is to cause his regeneration. For this reason does the writer of the fourth Sibylline Oracles, lines 160–66, … [write,] ‘Ye miserable mortals, repent; wash in living streams your entire frame with its burden of sin; lift to heaven your hands in prayer for forgiveness and cure yourselves of impiety by fear of God!’ This is what John the Baptist preached to the sinners that gathered around him on the Jordan; and herein lies the significance of the bath of every proselyte.”
M. M. Noah, a noted nineteenth-century specialist on the ancient practices of the Jews, wrote: “Maimonides—great authority always among Jews and Christians, as a wise interpreter of the law—says, ‘Israel was admitted into the covenant by three things: by circumcision, by baptism, and by sacrifice. … Baptism was in the wilderness, before the giving of the law, as it is said, ‘Thou shalt sanctify to day and to morrow, and let them wash their garments.’ [Compare Ex. 19:10.”
Mr. Noah also wrote: “You will thus perceive that the rite of baptism dates from the time of Jacob, and by the wisest interpreters of the law, was pronounced a Jewish rite and followed circumcision.”
Even before John the Baptist’s ministry, gentile converts to Judaism were baptized. The Jewish Encyclopedia teaches that ‘according to rabbinical teachings, which dominated even during the existence of the Temple, Baptism, next to circumcision and sacrifice, was an absolutely necessary condition to be fulfilled by a proselyte to Judaism.’
The Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that baptism was practiced at that time. G. Vermes wrote: ‘Ritual bathing was practised in the Community. The Damascus Rule devotes a section to purification by water. … The Community Rule refers also to a purificatory rite in connexion with entry into the Covenant. This seems to have been a peculiar and solemn act similar to Christian baptism, and to have symbolized purification by the ‘spirit … and [sanctification] by cleansing water.’’
Thus, baptism was not a new ordinance among the Jews when John the Baptist came among them. As others have said, people who came to hear John did not ask him what was this new thing he was doing. They only asked who he was.
From ancient Catholic literature we read:
The first catechism of the Church, known as the Didache, or “The Teaching”, written not later than 120AD records: Regarding baptism. Baptize as follows: after first explaining all these points, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water. But if you have no running water, baptize in other water; and if you cannot in cold, then in warm. But if you have neither, pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, let the baptizer and the candidate for baptism fast, as well as any others that are able. Require the candidate to fast one or two days previously.” [ Didache, 7. 1-4 ].
Clearly anyone with eyes to see can accept that the Jewish Mikveh traditions as well as the Christian baptism ones are not Biblical. They have been compiled through tradition and teachings of men.
‘Why did Y’Shua participate in a water immersion then?’ – I hear some ask. Well Y’Shua came to set us free. He did not come to judge. He came and replaced the ‘traditions of men’ with the proper baptism – of the spirit. Y’Shua set the record straight on many aspects of life and tradition at the time.
He also came to fulfil the requirements of Torah with regards to ritual cleansing in preparation for his anointing as Priest. Y’Shua utilised John’s baptism ritual as his pre-priestly cleansing. He was not honouring John’s practice as some may believe.
Y’Shua openly criticised the leaders for their burdensome and non-biblical traditions. And so why is it that we continue with these erroneous practices?
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
John’s Jordan Baptisms
John came on the scene as a voice crying out in the wilderness to call the nation back to repentance and prepare the way for the Messiah.
‘John came baptising in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ Mark 1: 4
John’s call to repentance recorded in the gospels, was echoed through the ‘Days of Awe’ which preceded Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) when each year the nation sought repentance and cleansing from past sins to enable them to pass through the coming judgment day of Yom Kippur. The baptism in which he officiated was in the month before that yearly preparation for the most set-apart day of the religious year. His baptism was an immersion ‘unto repentance’ based upon the ordinances of ritual cleansing.
Ritual cleansing was an established practice in Israel and was understood to be a work of the Spirit of YHWH for inner cleansing. John’s immersion, was an outward symbol after a supposed inner change.
It was believed that the Messiah would come on one of the Sabbaths (weekly or Festival Sabbaths) and that he would be commissioned to immerse the nation in the Jordan, as Joshua had done, in preparation for the Messianic kingdom. This was the reason that the Pharisees sent priests and Levites to question John as to whether he was the Messiah, the Prophet, or Elijah (Deut.18:15; John 1:19-28). Hence, the statement of John coming in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way of Messiah.
John, officiating in the priestly office, referred to ‘One’ coming after him who was greater than he ‘whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose’ –
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Matthew 3:11
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Luke 3:16
During Y’Shua’s earthly ministry He never ‘water baptised’ one soul:
Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples, John 4:2
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:4
John was preparing the way for the coming kingdom and initiating its subjects to receive their King. He was heralding the dawn of the new day. He was the last prophet of the old order pointing the way to the birth of the kingdom on earth of which all the prophets had spoken. Now was the time!
‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ Matthew 3: 2 The first requirement to enter the kingdom was repentance!
Y’Shua said that no greater prophet than John had been born, but that those thereafter that were pressing into the kingdom, were greater than he. Matthew 11:11-12
It was a new concept that the birth of the kingdom upon earth was a spiritual kingdom in the hearts and minds of man. Most were looking for the Messiah to establish the kingdom in a literal way as an earthly dominion. The kingdom of heaven was a spiritual kingdom into which men were being born and the first step toward that was repentance and remission of sins. And so men came to John in the river Jordan confessing their sins and being baptised. Matthew 3: 6
The disciples of Y’Shua were some of those who had responded to John’s baptism and been cleansed. The religious leaders largely did not, they were too self-righteous and although John was of the true priestly lineage, he was outside their instituted order (John 1:21-25). They rejected the counsel of YHWH coming through His ordained prophet and priest. Luke 7:30
To John it did not seem necessary for Y’Shua to be baptised – He had no sins to confess that needed cleansing. As John said ‘I need to be baptised by you, and you are coming to me?’ Matthew 3:14
Y’Shua answering said unto him, ‘Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him’. ‘ Matthew 3:15.
Y’Shua submitted to his Father’s instituted order of priesthood as well as by undergoing the ordained method of preparation (bathing/cleansing), for his change of status into a commission for ministry. Y’Shua followed His heavenly Father’s established order in everything and fulfilled the conditions for His ordination. He fulfilled the ‘old order’ to usher in the new way – baptism of the spirit.
Fulfilling all righteousness involved obedience to the Levitical law. All priests were consecrated when they came to 30 years of age. It is recorded that Y’Shua ‘began to be about 30 years of age’ when he came to John. (Number 4: 3 & Luke 3:23)
The consecration was two-fold 1. Washing and 2. Anointing (Exodus 29: 4-7; Leviticus 8: 6-36)
Through His ceremonial cleansing in the Jordan, in the washing of the water and the anointing of the Ruach HaKodesh in the form of a dove (Matt.3:16), He was fulfilling the Father’s righteous requirements of ritual cleansing for consecration under the Levitical priesthood, and also for the new status of ordination to his eternal priesthood after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4 & Hebrews 7:21). He was thus legally justified and divinely consecrated for the work of redemption. (Ex.29:4 ; Acts 4:27; & 10:38)
Please note that Y’Shua was fulfilling the washing requirement as per Leviticus 8:6 not some sort of ‘baptism’ obligation as supposed. The word used in this Leviticus passage is ‘rachats’ (Strongs H7364) which means to bathe/wash. Believing the baptism by John to be Y’Shua requesting ‘baptism’ in the sense of John’s intent is a grave misunderstanding of what was taking place in the mind of Y’Shua i.e. the Leviticus ritual cleansing and priestly preparation.
Leviticus 8:6 And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed(H7364) them with water.(H4325)
His ministry in the Melchizedek priesthood was to supersede the Levitical and the legitimate transfer from one order to the other had to be effected by the ordained priest of the day, which was John, and the set-apart Spirit witness to this ordination.
This type of acknowledgment as a ‘son’ of the Father was a Hebraic concept of being called to a specific ministry in a prophetic role for the Most High. Luke 3:22; 24:19; Matthew 3:16-17
Being called His ‘Beloved Son’ was an acknowledgment of his calling to be the second ‘son’ (as Adam was the first), a son who would redeem mankind and be the forerunner of a new order of ‘man’. Luke 3:38; 1 Corinthians 15:45- 49
After his cleansing his first commission was to go out into the wilderness and confront temptation. The purpose of this journey was to succeed where Adam had failed in withstanding the temptations of the enemy. In submitting himself in obedience to the ordinances of his Father, and being the first and prototype of a new order as an example to all who would follow, he needed to undergo the formality of this new spirit baptism. He needed to be cleansed and anointed with the spirit into this new order.
John attempted to prevent him as he knew that Y’Shua was the Messiah, the Lamb of YHWH and the future baptiser in the set-apart Spirit (John 1:30, 33 & Matthew 3:11). But, as Y’Shua said, ‘allow it now’ (literal translation) i.e. for the purpose of fulfilling the principles of the Mosaic law.
As part of his call to the ministry prepared for him by the Father, he also fulfilled the type of the sacrificial lamb being taken to the Levitical priests to be ceremonially washed before being offered. See Leviticus 1:9,13; 2 Chronicles 4:6 & Hebrews 9:9,10. Zacharius, John’s father, was a Levite and being the first-born, John was in line to become a priest (by birth he was a priest – Luke 1:5, 8), and therefore he had the authority to officiate in the washing of the sacrifice to be offered.
The ceremonial washing in the old order looked forward toward that perfect sacrifice which would come which would complete for all time the offerings for sin. See Hebrews 9:24-28; John 1:29
It was through his Jordan cleansing that he was ordained and consecrated to his priestly role of making sacrifices to the Father for the sins of the people through John who officiated in the transfer of the priestly office from the Levitical, to the order of Melchizedek and conferred that priestly office upon Y’Shua. Hebrews 7:12, 14-17
Through his cleansing he was being inaugurated as both the priest and a sacrifice. Hebrews 10:12,14 & 1 Peter 3:18
Y’Shua was born to be a king (Matthew 2: 2; John 1:49) and he was anointed for his prophetic and priestly role through his ritual cleansing. And so, Y’Shua went out anointed as prophet, priest and king, to be tested by the enemy and secure his eternal inheritance, as the second Adam, which the first man ‘Adam’ had lost. (Luke 4:1)
John identified him as the ‘Lamb of God’ which takes away the sin of the world – the Messiah. The disciples followed him (John 1:29-37) to go on in their preparation and eventually receive the promised anointing of the Spirit. (John 20:22)
‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ Matthew 3: 2 The first requirement to enter the kingdom was repentance!
The Symbolism in Living Water
Let’s have a look at the symbolism of water and water baptism – what the spiritual meaning is and what it was pointing to.
Living Water symbolises Truth
Living Water in Scripture is a ‘symbolic’ reference to doctrinal Truth and enlightenment, which is the Word of YHWH.
The meaning of Doctrine:
a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group.
a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief – something that is taught
synonyms: creed, credo, dogma, belief, set of beliefs, code of belief, conviction, teaching;
One can either drink the ‘living water’ of Truth from the Word of YHWH or one can drink of the water of the secular, godless world.
Yet again one could also drink polluted water from the church pulpit.
Even drinking what one believes to be ‘living water’ can be suspect if it is not drawn direct from the ‘fountain of living waters’ i.e. YHWH. Most ‘living water’ which is routed through institutionalised religion often becomes polluted with the doctrines of men and is toxic to one’s spiritual wellbeing. The further downstream you draw your water the more polluted it will become. There are literally thousands of Christian denominations in the world today each having their own ‘doctrines’. They have polluted the ‘living water’ and offer it to their congregations to drink.
’Living water’ is also water on the move. Water that pools up often stagnates and becomes toxic. This is why one needs to challenge one’s doctrines/beliefs continually against the Word of YHWH and to refresh with the ‘living water’. Let your belief be on the move.
This is true in a literal sense with river water and city water as well. Mountain stream water at source is fresh and nutritious but as it proceeds downstream the pollutants enter and its life giving value diminishes.
My advice to you is to follow no man and his teaching. Let the Spirit of YHWH lead you to the ‘fountain of living water’ and draw your water direct from the source. The Spirit is faithful and True and will lead the seeker to the ‘fountain of living water’ – the ‘living water’ of Truth.
Of course there is always the opposite of ‘Truth and righteousness’ which is ‘lies and unrighteousness’. The Scripture expounds on light and dark – good and evil. Likewise there is living water and toxic water as we find with the water symbolism in Revelation:
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. Revelation 12:15
YHWH’s Word Is Truth
I have shown that Living Water is Truth and we can agree that the Scripture is full of testimony to the fact that YHWH’s Word is Truth:
Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
2 Samuel 7:28 Now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant.
John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
1 Kings 17:24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”
Psalm 119:43 And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I wait for Your ordinances.
Psalm 119:151 You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.
2 Corinthians 6:7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
Psalm 119:142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.
John 18:37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Galatians 2:5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
Ephesians 1:13 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 promise,
Colossians 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel
The Spirit of Truth
There are many who state that the water is a symbolic reference to the Spirit of YHWH. It seems rather to me that the Spirit is the ‘enabler’ – the power of YHWH as the ‘helper/comforter’ that leads one to the ‘living water’/Truth. Living water from the source – the Fountain of Living Water. The Spirit will lead one to the ‘living water’ and teach you the Truth:
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 1Peter 1:22
It is YHWH’s Spirit that is the instrument of both the cleansing and the birth of the divine nature in us.
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
The living water, the Word, and the Spirit must be considered together – as one element that precipitate the new birth – all being given from above.
Life giving water
The ‘living water’ of Truth from the Fountain of Living Waters (YHWH) brings life. Without it there would be no life on this planet.
The most prominent illustration of ‘life giving water’ was the account of Y’Shua and the woman of Samaria in John chapter 4. The woman was about to draw water from the well for herself when Y’Shua sked her to draw some for him. Y’Shua was using this request to open up an opportunity to invite her to drink of his life giving water. Her initial reluctance turned to interest as Y’Shua offered her water that would forever quench her thirst:
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Another invitation from Y’Shua to drink of his life giving water, which shall flow from his belly, was on the last day of the feast in John 7:37:
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:37-38
There does not appear to be a direct reference in the Scripture to Y’Shua’s statement ‘as the scripture hath said’ in verse 38 but many believe that it could be a reference to Isaiah 58:11:
‘And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not’.
In the book of Jeremiah the Almighty YHWH is described as the ‘fountain of living waters’:
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13
O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters. Jeremiah 17:13
In Revelation we read how Y’Shua will lead the redeemed to the living fountains of water:
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:17
The fountain is the source of the living water. This source is the Father. The Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is the one who provides the ‘life giving water’.
The alternative is referred to in the book of Job 15:
16 How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?
There are clearly different qualities of water in this world and many different sources too. From a physical health point of view and of course for one’s spiritual wellbeing it is advisable to gain a deeper understanding of water quality and source.
The illustration from Scripture with regards to living and life giving water is that the purest source is from YHWH Himself – the ‘fountain of living waters’. Y’Shua facilitates this process of drawing/guiding the believer to this source. If you want pure water then you need to climb the mountain (spiritual mount Zion) and draw running water from the source.
The further downstream you draw the more likely you are to find impurities and contamination. By the time water is pooled up in lakes and rivers downstream it could be full of impurities. It is could also become unfit for drinking at this stage – depending on what the water has come into contact with. A river running its natural course over rocks and gravel etc would remain clean and alive. Clearly though our bodies are designed to handle a certain level of impurity. Man’s pollution is another story.
Man has made every effort to cleanse this water to render it suitable for human consumption but all that this has achieved is to destroy the water integrity with its original nutritional value along with introducing chemical toxicity into the water. My personal choice is to find a stream far away from development and draw my own drinking water rather than drink tap or bottled water.
The science of water is a huge topic but very interesting for those who are seekers of Truth. I suggest reading articles authored by the Austrian Johann “John” Grander (‘Grander water’ ) to consider and understand his remarkable findings and insight. Please don’t become involved in the controversial arguments surrounding Grander though. His initial claims were honourable.
The purifying and transporting process of water has basically destroyed its molecular integrity and critical ‘life bringing’ properties.
A seed can remain in a dried out, seemingly dead state, for thousands of years and then almost immediately spring to new life when it comes in contact with life giving water. Of course fertile ground is necessary for ongoing growth. Likewise the spirit and soul of mankind can be outwardly dead and come to life again when he encounters the ‘fountain of living water’. Man’s fertile soil is the readiness and willingness of the heart.
Without water life does not exist. Think about that from a spiritual perspective. A world devoid of the ‘fountain of living waters’.
This world is full of physical illustrations which are there and used to serve as spiritual lessons. Without a thorough understanding of Biblical symbolism it is impossible to understand the spiritual matters.
Washing of Water
The imagery of YHWH’s Word includes the idea of cleansing power. It is likened to water because water cleanses, as Psalm 119:9 shows:
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
Y’Shua adds in John 15:3:
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
In the book of Ephesians we read that Y’Shua cleanses us by the word:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Ephesians 5:25 – 26
In I John 1:7, the apostle writes that we are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. But the cleansing found here in Ephesians 5:26 is of a different kind. Hebrews 9:22 says,’Almost all things are purged by blood.’
The Greek word used in Hebrews 9: 22 and I John 1:7 is katharizō wich means to cleanse (literally or figuratively): – (make) clean (-se), purge, purify.
This is not what Ephesians 5:26 is referring to though. The Greek word used here is ‘loutron’ From G3068; a bath, that is, (figuratively) baptism: – washing.
Ephesians 5:26 tells us that we are cleansed ‘with the washing of water by the word.’ There are things that will be cleansed—things in our minds, things that deal with conduct, things that have to do with character and attitude. Our traditional understanding and methods must be cleansed and refreshed. The word ‘water’ here is symbolic, referring to the Word of YHWH, as well as to the ‘helper’ – the Set-apart Spirit.
Hebrew 10 verse 22 tells us that we are cleansed with pure water – a reference to the Word of Truth.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
This declaration is further supported in John 17 where it is stated that the Word is Truth:
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
In Titus 3:5 we read that it is not through one‘s acts of righteousness that we are saved but through the washing of regeneration enabled by the spirit within us. It is not through our own righteous act of a water baptism in a body of water, ‘John the Baptist’ style, or the sprinkling of water. It is the cleansing from within by the Word of Truth.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Y’Shua gave a long discourse in John 6, which we often apply at Passover time, about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Towards the end, He says to his audience, ‘The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life’ (John 6:63).
We have in the Bible the Word of YHWH—and Y’Shua says it contains power. It has power to cleanse a person’s mind, because we can think only by what goes into the mind, concepts that are contained in words. Words are merely symbols of ideas that we use to reason. We turn those ideas into action, into conduct, which becomes part of our character and our attitude.
Therefore, we are washed by the water of the Word of YHWH in conjunction with a new nature that is given to us by YHWH and His Word – through His Spirit. This begins to help us to understand why studying the Word of YHWH is so important. We need those words in us so that we can think according to them, and if we believe those words, they will begin to purify and cleanse the way we think.
This cleansing by the Word is meant to renew our minds – Romans 12:2. Our words and thoughts should begin to align with those of YHWH:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2
The ‘promised land’ is a place where we drink of the pure water, the Truth – the water from Heaven:
Notice the double reference of the number ’11’ in this passage. This draws the readers attention to something of importance. Eleven in Scripture is the number of transition and prophetic.
The Father’s promise to Israel in Deuteronomy 11:11 was that when they finally made it to the Promised Land, they would transition into a season in which they were under His continual blessing from the beginning of the year to the end (verse 12).
Eleven is a very interesting number to study in Scripture. While we normally refer to it as a symbol of transition, 11 is also associated with revelation that will help transition us into something new e.g. Joseph was the 11th child of Jacob revealing a transition into something new.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Baptised in the Name
In the following two chapters of Acts we see the transition from the old order baptism of John, being conducted by Apollos, and the follow-up ‘spirit’ baptism by Paul into the name of Messiah Y’Shua:
Acts chapter 18:
24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
In the above verses we see that Apollos, although he taught diligently, knew only the baptism of John. Stating this fact would indicate to the reader that there was another type of baptism he should have been aware of. In the following chapter we witness Paul’s arrival in Ephesus:
Acts chapter 19
1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
From these passages we see clearly that Paul was baptising in a different manner. Paul also stated that John’s water baptism was a call to repentance and would soon be replaced by another type of baptism. John’s baptism of repentance was in preparation for the Messiah.
Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Paul on the other hand baptised into the name of the Messiah. The Greek word used in verse 5 of Acts Chapter 19 actually means ‘into’ (indicating the point reached or entered). This means that they were ‘immersed’ into all that the Messiah Y’Shua taught and stood for – His whole being, at one with His Father YHWH. This was not another water baptism. This was something new taking place here. The word ‘Baptism’ is a transliteration of the Greek word BAPTIZO which means to immerse. In other words all believers should be fully immersed into the nature and character of Y’Shua – who in turn is described as the Word of YHWH that became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
Does this new ‘spirit’ baptism then imply that repentance is no longer necessary? Is the requirement for repentance made obsolete along with John’s water baptism? Absolutely not. Peter states in Acts 2:38 that one must first repent and then be baptised into the name of Y’Shua.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Y’Shua himself stated that he came to call sinners to repentance:
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Again Peter emphasises repentance:
2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Paul preaches repentance:
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
The most common translation of ‘repent’ is ‘turn’ or ‘return’. Two requisites of repentance are to turn from evil, and to turn to the good. Most critical theologically is the idea of returning to YHWH, or turning away from evil. If one turns away from YHWH, apostasy is indicated. Three times Ezekiel included YHWH’s call to the people of Israel: ‘Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!’ ‘Repent! Turn away from all your offenses’, ‘Turn! Turn from your evil ways’. Such a call was characteristic of the prophets.
Confession of sins is both commanded and frequently illustrated. When one is guilty of various sins, ‘he must confess in what way he has sinned’ in order to receive atonement and forgiveness. Therefore, confession belongs to repentance, and is needed for divine forgiveness. A great prophecy/ promise is given in the Book of Isaiah: ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins’.
In the New Testament, the key term for repentance is metanoia – It has two usual senses: a ‘change of mind’ and ‘regret/remorse.’ In both books of Mark and Matthew Y’Shua began his public proclamation with the call ‘Repent.’ In addition, Paul is said to have preached to both Jews and Gentiles/Greeks to ‘turn to YHWH in repentance and have faith in the Messiah Y’Shua’
Repentance is a condition of salvation. True repentance leads a person to say, ‘I have sinned’ and prove it with a 180-degree change of their direction. Repentance requires a return to the beginning, to the point from where we departed from the ways of righteousness. A complete turnaround.
Repentance requires true brokenness.
Repentance is NOT asking YHWH for forgiveness with the intent to sin again.
Repentance is an honest, regretful acknowledgement of sin with commitment to change.
Repentance leads us to cultivate righteousness while eradicating habits that lead into sin.
The Biblical pattern for repentance is illustrated in the Passover. To partake of the Passover one must be circumcised i.e. have a renewed heart with the sinful ‘flesh’ (ways) removed and all leaven i.e. sin, removed from ones house (ones being/life). This sums up repentance. So one must first repent and then be baptised into the character of Y’Shua.
The message of repentance is not often heard in the New Testament church today but is a vital component of our transition into new life. We need to renew both our mind and our ways in our progression towards righteousness.
Born of Water and Spirit
In John chapter 3, Y’Shua states that we need to be born of both water and spirit:
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3:5 – 6
The ‘water’ and ‘spirit’ Y’Shua refers to are those mentioned in Ezekiel’s prophecy – Ezekiel 36:
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Ezekiel 36:24-27
In this prophecy, Ezekiel indicates a cleansing from spiritual filth and a change of heart, from which spring obedience to YHWH’s commands. As the prophecy clearly says, both the water and the Spirit are from YHWH above and precipitate the cleansing and birth that Y’Shua teaches in John 3.
The following is an excerpt from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on John 3.
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:4–8
Jesus’ shocking statement was far more than Nicodemus had expected. Incredulous, Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ Certainly, this highly educated Pharisee was not so obtuse as to have misinterpreted Jesus’ words in a simplistically literal sense. He knew our Lord was not talking about being physically reborn, but he replied in the context of the Lord’s analogy. How could he start all over, go back to the beginning? Jesus was telling him that entrance to God’s salvation was not a matter of adding something to all his efforts, not topping off his religious devotion, but rather cancelling everything and starting all over again. At the same time, he clearly could not grasp the full meaning of what that meant. His questions convey his confusion, as he openly wondered at the impossibility of Christ’s statement. Jesus was asking for something that was not humanly possible (to be born again); He was making entrance into the kingdom contingent on something that could not be obtained through human effort. But if that was true, what did it mean for Nicodemus’s works-based system? If spiritual rebirth, like physical rebirth, was impossible from a human standpoint, then where did that leave this self-righteous Pharisee?
Far from minimizing the demands of the gospel, Jesus confronted Nicodemus with the most difficult challenge He could make. No wonder Christ would later say to His disciples, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24). By calling him to be born again, Jesus challenged this most religious Jew to admit his spiritual bankruptcy and abandon everything he was trusting in for salvation. That is precisely what Paul did, as he declared in Philippians 3:8–9:
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.
Jesus answered Nicodemus’s confusion by elaborating on the truth He introduced in verse 3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” A number of interpretations have been offered to explain the phrase born of water. Some see two births here, one natural, and the other spiritual. Proponents of this view interpret the water as the amniotic fluid that flows from the womb just before childbirth. But it is not clear that the ancients described natural birth in that way. Further, the phrase born of water and the Spirit parallels the phrase “born again” in verse 3; thus, only one birth is in view. Others see in the phrase born of water a reference to baptism, either that of John the Baptist, or Christian baptism. But Nicodemus would not have understood Christian baptism (which did not yet exist) nor misunderstood John the Baptist’s baptism. Nor would Jesus have refrained from baptizing people (4:2) if baptism were necessary for salvation. Still others see the phrase as a reference to Jewish ceremonial washings, which being born of the Spirit transcends. However the two terms are not in contrast with each other, but combine to form a parallel with the phrase “born again” in verse 3.
Since Jesus expected Nicodemus to understand this truth (v. 10), it must have been something with which he was familiar. Water and Spirit often refer symbolically in the Old Testament to spiritual renewal and cleansing (cf. Num. 19:17–19; Isa. 4:4; 32:15; 44:3; 55:1; Joel 2:28–29; Zech. 13:1). In one of the most glorious passages in all of Scripture describing Israel’s restoration to the Lord by the new covenant, God said through Ezekiel,
For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:24–27)
It was surely this passage that Jesus had in mind, showing regeneration to be an Old Testament truth (cf. Deut. 30:6; Jer. 31:31–34; Ezek. 11:18–20) with which Nicodemus would have been acquainted. Against this Old Testament backdrop, Christ’s point was unmistakable: Without the spiritual washing of the soul, a cleansing accomplished only by the Set-apart Spirit (Titus 3:5) through the Word of God (Eph. 5:26), no one can enter God’s kingdom.
Jesus continued by further emphasizing that this spiritual cleansing is wholly a work of God, and not the result of human effort: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Just as only human nature can beget human nature, so also only the Set-apart Spirit can effect spiritual transformation. The term flesh (sarx) here refers merely to human nature (as it does in 1:13–14); in this context, it does not have the negative moral connotation that it frequently does in Paul’s writings (e.g., Rom. 8:1–8, 12–13). Even if a physical rebirth were possible, it would produce only flesh. Thus, only the Spirit can produce the spiritual birth required for entrance into God’s kingdom. Regeneration is entirely His work, unaided by any human effort (cf. Rom. 3:25).
Although Jesus’ words were based on Old Testament revelation, they ran completely contrary to everything Nicodemus had been taught. For his entire life he had believed that salvation came through his own external merit. Now he found it exceedingly difficult to think otherwise. Aware of his astonishment, Jesus continued, ‘Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ ‘The verb translated must is a strong term; John used it elsewhere in his gospel to refer to the necessity of the crucifixion (3:14; 12:34), of John the Baptist’s inferiority to Christ (3:30), of the proper method of worshiping God (4:24), of Jesus carrying out His ministry (4:4; 9:4; 10:16), and of the necessity of the resurrection (20:9). It was absolutely necessary for Nicodemus to get over his astonishment at being so wrong about how one is accepted into God’s kingdom and seek to be born again if he was to enter. And he could never do so based on his own righteous works.
Then the Lord illustrated His point with a familiar example from nature: The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ The wind cannot be controlled; it blows where it wishes. And though its general direction can be known, where it comes from and where it is going cannot be precisely determined. Nevertheless, the wind’s effects can be observed. The same is true of the work of the Spirit. His sovereign work of regeneration in the human heart can neither be controlled nor predicted. Yet its effects can be seen in the transformed lives of those who are born of the Spirit.
Does the Old Testament Teach Baptism?
There are many Bible scholars and commentators who desperately twist the Word in order to find some sort of baptism symbolism in the Old Testament. Some reference the following:
♦ Creation: when the Set-apart Sprit brought life and order to the waters of chaos ♦
♦Noah and his family were saved from the waters of the flood that cleansed the earth of sin ♦
♦ The children of Israel, fleeing from the Egyptians, passed through the waters of the Red Sea ♦
♦ The crossing of the Jordan River when God parted the waters as the children of Israel passed over the Jordan river bed, leaving their old lives behind to become citizens of the Promised Land ♦
Well let me tell you what I believe these stories reveal. Firstly let me say that the waters present in each one of the above illustrations are not the ‘living waters’ coming forth from the ‘fountain of living waters’.
In the creation account the Father separated light and dark – good and evil. He also gathered the waters together and separated the landmass. These waters will go on to reveal and symbolise the unregenerate, heathen masses and nations of the unsaved world. The dry land represents ‘YHWH’s’ people – some completely out of the waters/seas and others are land but submerged in the waters.
In Revelation21:1 we read that there will be no more sea in the new heavens and a new earth. This is a reference to no more heathen nations.
Please understand the spiritual message here. There are believers who are ‘land’ (adamah/adam) separated from the water/seas (heathen) and then there are others who are believers but are still submersed in the heathen world i.e. seas/waters. We are called to be set-apart – and so we must be. land completely separated from the waters/sea.
What saved Noah and his family was the Ark. He was lifted up out of the waters and raised above. He was deposited on dry land out of the troubled waters. The waters in this story did not represent a water cleansing ‘baptism’.
We witness in the story from Mark chapter 4 and Matthew 8:23-27 where the disciple went with Y’Shua in a boat across the lake when a storm caused the waves to thrash the boat. They wakened Y’Shua and asked him to save them because they thought they were about to perish. Y’Shua replied to them saying them ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith’. You see we are not to fear the raging waters of this wicked world. We are safe in the boat above the waters. So fear not what is happening in this world beneath us.
These are not stories of baptism or some sort of rebirthing. They are accounts of how we are saved from the wickedness of this world – represented in the waters/seas analogies.
There are some who believe and teach that the Israelites were baptised when they passed through the Red Sea on their passage out of Egypt into the wilderness. This can surely not be a correct interpretation. Some may quote Paul’s comment form 1Corintheans 10:2 to support their belief. To avoid venturing of on a tangent with this verse let me just say that the idea of being ‘baptised into Moses’ is unprecedented.
Clearly this phrase cannot be explained simply by reference to a physical drenching, since the whole point of the Red Sea story is that the Israelites did not get wet, either in the sea or in the cloud. Nor does it indicate that, as is the case for Christian baptism, the Israelites were somehow spiritually united with Moses or that they subsequently belonged to him.
Rather, my understanding and interpretation is that the Red Sea represented a body of water that symbolised their psychological barrier that required overcoming in order to cross over into the wilderness. The Israelites were fearful of the unknown and Egypt with its ways was all that they knew.
The Israelites had to pass through this mental barrier in order to embrace a new way. They had to renew their minds in order to move forward. YHWH made it possible for them by holding back this ‘psychological’ barrier, represented by the waters, enabling them to walk across on dry land in safety. Once across the waters closed again and the Israelites were safely and divinely redeemed from the wickedness of Egypt and its psychological restraint.
For a while it seemed as if they were trapped and closed in by the waters of Egypt. But the Almighty made a way out possible. This crossing was not in any way a type of water baptism as some claim. Not in my view anyway. It was rather a symbolic act of them coming up out of the evil ways of Egypt. A temporary liberation of their minds from the doctrines of Egypt and thereafter a renewing of their minds if you will into the new life with YHWH.
Spiritually speaking, ‘Egypt’ represents the intellectual and psychological captivity and slavery within one’s mind to the traditions, lies and deceitful ways of this ungodly world With Pharaoh representing the powerful adversary within each one of us (the rebellious ‘ha satan’ nature) holding us back in mental bondage. The New Testament Passover (Messiah Y’Shua) enables one to leave this bondage behind as we repent i.e. change our thinking and return to the ways of our heavenly Creator and Father – YHWH. The spirit’s presence in us assists in holding back the psychological barrier, ‘the waters’, in our minds.
The Nile River itself represented the doctrines, traditions and beliefs of Egypt. The people lived alongside the Nile and it was revered by them. By turning the Nile into blood Moses was revealing to them how their life/soul was in the Nile i.e. their beliefs/traditions and doctrines. Moses was drawing on the statement from Leviticus 17:14 that the life/soul is in the blood. Their very lives were directed by their doctrines and traditions – represented by the Nile. Through this act Moses was revealing to them how secular and carnal their existence was.
The crossing of the Jordan is the next stage of our journey towards the Promised Land. The Jordan river represents all that is ‘self’. It represents the ideals and beliefs pertaining to our personal aspirations – the inner desires and lusts of our flesh nature. Crossing the Jordan means to die to the self-life and leave our own personal goals, desires and lusts behind i.e. to die to self. This is why John baptised in the Jordan. Firstly it required repentance (turning) and further symbolised dying to the self. Again the river represents our psychological barrier with regards to moving forward into our promised land.
In both cases of crossing through the Red Sea and the Jordan the waters were held back. This was done supernaturally by the Almighty Father. They walked across on dry land. This reveals that we did not have to battle with the waters i.e. with the limitations of our inner thoughts/fears, beliefs etc. to cross over. YHWH supernaturally held them back to enable one to walk through on dry land. He is also the One who destroys the enemies in our land (our persona/mind). We must just have faith and follow the Good shepherd.
Shortly following Y’Shua’s immersion in the Jordan and his anointing with the Spirit, he went out into the wilderness where he had to face the devil and his temptations. For those readers who believe that the devil is an actual cosmic being of sorts then please read my page explaining who/what satan is. Y’Shua was faced with his inner flesh nature with these temptations. Clearly because he was filled with the Spirit of YHWH he was able to fully resist and reject these inner thoughts/temptations. This was made possible through the aid of the Spirit of his Father. The Jordan represented his death to self but he still had to physically face and overcome temptation – as we do and will. YHWH is faithful and True and will defeat our internal enemies and clear the way for us to pass through. Most don’t understand this reality because they believe what church tradition has taught them. That Y’Shua was a superhuman ‘god-man’. No he was fully flesh as we are. He is our example for us to follow in exactly the same way. Y’Shua is just the firstborn of many sons. As the firstborn he will enjoy the firstborn rights as the ‘head’.
Again I must emphasise that these stories have nothing to do with a baptism ritual of any sort. They are about our mental/spiritual progression from slavery, through self-denial, to the Promised Land. The first crossing being from ‘worldliness’ and the second from ‘self’.
The Baptism of Fire
I have been so focused on the water aspect of baptism that I almost neglected to mention the all important additional aspect of the baptism which is the ‘baptism with fire‘ mentioned in by John in Luke 3:16 and Matthew 3:11.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Matthew 3:11
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Luke 3:16
There appears to be many teachings/articles suggesting that the baptising of the Spirit and the baptising of fire are two separate baptism events. The baptising of the Spirit being for the born again believers and the baptising in fire being the judgement of the wicked – with a reference to the lake of fire. In my opinion this is totally incorrect. Here is a quote from one such teaching:
‘The baptism of fire, however, is a negative promise of judgment to the unbeliever. Jesus will baptize everyone with one or the other. You either receive the Spirit from Christ or else He will cast you into the fire. This was John’s point.’
Looking at Ephesians 4:5 again we are reminded that there is only one baptism for New Testament believers and that is a two-fold immersion in both the Spirit and Fire:
Ephesians chapter 4:5.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians
Chapter 4: 4-6
It is rather alarming that believers see the fire as a negative, judgemental ‘anger’, from YHWH to destroy the wicked. This is also not so – according to my understanding anyway.
In the ancient love poem called ‘The Song of Solomon,’ 8:6, we read:
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
We read in Exodus 34:14 that YHWH is a jealous Father who does not tolerate His children serving other ‘gods’:
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
When Solomon dedicated the first temple, and the people saw fire from YHWH descending over it, they instinctively recognised that it represented the Father’s love for them and His glory:
And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. 2 Chronicles 7:3
In the account in the book of Exodus 13 the presence of the Father was partly represented in the pillar of fire and was viewed as a blessing as well as being a guiding light:
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.Exodus 13:21
When we are baptised with the Spirit, it is a baptism into divine truth. When we are baptised with fire, it is a baptism with the spiritual and divine love of the Father.
Through the presence of the Comforter (the Spirit of YHWH) in our lives, we are directed to, and our eyes opened to divine Truth. But this process alone does not cleanse the unwanted ‘chaff’ from our lives. The only part of the wheat that is useful is the kernel or seed. It is only this part of the plant i.e. the fruit, that can reproduce after its kind. The chaff has no value in the harvest at all. All of the outer waste i.e. the chaff, must be removed and burnt up as John states in Luke 3:17.
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
Some teach that the chaff are the wicked, but this in incorrect. In the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-30 Y’Shua reveals to the reader that the field has both wheat and tares. The wheat is the desired crop and the tares are useless as they only imitate the wheat and bear no fruit. The tares are the crop of the enemy – the adversary. Please understand the spiritual meaning of this. The tares are the ‘believers’ who grow up with the wheat but when harvest time/ maturity comes they are clearly identified because they have not produced the useful wheat head or fruit. These ‘believers’ are viewed as imitators or fake. They claim to be children of YHWH but the Father knows their hearts – which is far from Him. Only the Father will recognise and identify these people. These tares are then burnt. The wicked/heathens on the other hand are represented as the grape harvest who, in the end, will be thrown into the winepress of YHWH’S wrath.
The chaff then is part of the wheat being the true believers. The chaff is the outer husk surrounding the seed, the part of the grain that has no use and is discarded.
You see the Father wants a crop of fruit bearing children. The unwanted outer chaff must however be removed and destroyed. The chaff represents all of ones earthly or ungodly deeds, thoughts etc. that would have no place in the Kingdom of YHWH. This chaff must be removed in order for the fruit/seed to be presented. This process of removing the chaff is the purifying/ purging process which takes place throughout our lives. All of our works will be tested in the fire and the ‘ungodly’ works will be destroyed:
Each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.1 Corinthians 3:13
Another example used in Scripture for this purifying process is described in the refining of gold and silver. Scripture talks about this as the refiner’s fire. Believers must be refined as silver and gold and our chaff/dross purged away through the intense heat of the fiery process as described in Malachi.
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Malachi 3: 1-3
Again we read:
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. Zechariah 13:9
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:7
This purifying process will take place as one endures affliction and testing in their lives. It will not be comfortable but one should recognise the work of the Refiner and take comfort in the knowledge that the end result be pleasing to the Father. We must be a as the wise mentioned in Daniel 12:
Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. Daniel 12:10
Other sample verses to illustrate refining through trials and testing:
Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.Isaiah 48:10
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.Job 23:10
The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. Proverbs 17:3
For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.Psalm 66:10
Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do, because of my people? Jeremiah 9:7
I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. Isaiah 1:25
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.1 Peter 4:12
Although we are ‘saved’ by the blood of the lamb (faith) this is only the start of our journey. We all need to grow in truth and be purified:
Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:14
Most believers it seems don’t want to hear about this refining/purification process. Most rest in the cheap message from the pulpits that all is done. We can sit back and just sing hallelujah. But all will be revealed and very soon to. The problem with playing this wait and see game though is that when the truth is revealed, from the mouths of the ‘Two Witnesses’, it will be too late to partake of the ‘first fruit’ offering. But that is another subject all together.
Hebrews 5:8 informs us that even Y’Shua had to learn obedience through the things that he suffered. No servant is greater than his master. Y’Shua suffered and so must we. If you have been told that Y’Shua has done everything for you then you have been deceived. Y’Shua our Messiah came to show us the way. We must follow him. Take up our cross daily and crucify our flesh – die to self. We must endure the purifying process and be found cleansed, worthy and acceptable. Y’Shua came to redeem us from our past sins and provide us with a gateway to the Father again. Not so that we can just sit back and do nothing. The church must wake up to this fact.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; Hebrews 5:8
We too must learn obedience through the things that we suffer.
For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. Isaiah 26:9
This purifying process is the act of a loving Father who wants us to be perfect as He is perfect. Yes, this refining process will surely bring discomfort and pain as we suffer the refining process but we must endure this with gratitude and not resistance. We must be wise in this regard. This cleansing of the heart in the fire of divine love does not happen without the burning off of all our selfish carnal thoughts, desires and deeds in the heated crucible of hard life experience.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,James 1:2
Our Father is a consuming fire:
For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29
The words of YHWH are pure. He answers by fire:
The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.Psalm 12:6
And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”1 Kings 18:24
Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD;
It is not my belief that the event described in the upper room on Shavuot/Pentecost with the tongues of fire is a reference to the baptism of fire as described by John in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16.
The event in Acts states that the cloven tongues were only ‘like as of fire’.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. Acts 2:3
Scripture makes reference to how powerful and destructive our tongue could be. In the book of James we read:
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. James 3:5-6
When we walk according to the flesh our tongue is an unrighteous fire:
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. James 3:6
David prayed earnestly that he did not sin with his tongue:
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.
My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: Psalm 39:1 and 3
Could the event in the upper room and the outpouring of the Father’s spirit at Shavuot/Pentecost in the form of ‘cloven tongues like as of fire’ be the Father anointing them with His words of warning and impending judgement to broadcast to the world at the time. Could it be that YHWH was providing His righteous words of fire to be spoken by these anointed disciples?
This event will take place again in a similar manner in the end-time event when the ‘Two witnesses’ are anointed and filled with the Spirit of YHWH. This event will take place at Shavuot again as per the pattern in Acts. He will put His Words in their mouths to speak. Fire will come from their mouths (the harsh words of YHWH’s truth) and destroy their enemies.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. Revelation 11 3 and 5.
Unlike the destructive fire that one’s carnal words present, could the Father’s righteous words be like a ‘refining fire’. A fire that corrects, restores and purifies and not one that destroys all – only the chaff.
Scripture has many references to the Father’s wrath and its association with fire. An example being the lake of fire. My belief is that we should view all of these accounts from a perspective of a loving Father who would refine/purify all of His created beings with an appropriate level of intensity i.e. fire, in a timeframe according to His great plan for mankind.
If you have ever seen a smelter plant and furnace in action with the molten metals being poured out and the dross being scraped off, or the lava flow of a volcano then perhaps this could reveal what the lake of fire actually could be like. An intense furnace of molten metals – like a lake of fire.
Is the lake of fire an analogy of the Almighty Father’ s ‘refiner’s fire‘ on an enormous, grand scale.
‘Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are dross of silver. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you. I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord; I have poured out my wrath upon you.’ Ezekiel 22:18-22
And so what then is the result of the Father’s wrath in this account from Ezekiel. A refined, purified useful metal I would presume.
If you are one who believes in the wicked suffering for all eternity in a literal place called ‘hell’, as taught in mainstream churches, then please read my resource literature on this subject in the ‘Holy Cow’ section. You may be surprised at what you discover.
And if you do believe in the eternal tormenting or termination of any individual then please think about this passage from 1 Corinthians:
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
1 Corinthians 15:22-23
We know that through Adam death has come to all. Do we then also believe what this verse states that through the Messiah all shall be made alive – or only some who are believers now?
All means all. Otherwise guess what. The first Adam triumphs through his sin and Y’Shua has ultimately failed through his righteousness to save all.
My understanding is that our loving Father will restore all things (Acts 3:21) as He desires according to His divine plan.
The verse in 2 Peter and 1 Timothy 2:4 tells the reader that YHWH is not willing for any to perish and that all men be saved and come into the knowledge of truth. Will the Father realise His will? Of course. He is the omnipotent architect of creation.
‘The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’
1 Timothy 2:4
Eventually, every knee will bow and every tongue confess Y’Shua is master – to the glory of YHWH the Father. (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:11)
if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Romans 10:9
And so if eventually all will submit and confess faith/belief in the saving blood of Y’Shua then surely YHWH will eventually save even those who initially rejected this truth – or those who may never have encountered the ‘good news’.
How many recall this verse:
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 1 Timothy 4:10
Does this verse not state that YHWH is the saviour of all men?
We must remember that we are all created by the Father. As such there is a core created being, just like a precious metal such as gold or silver, that has become filled with impurities – the carnal works of the flesh.
Does it not make sense then that once ‘all’ have endured the refiners fire (even some the extreme lake of fire), in due course, that there will emerge a most precious refined human being once again.
It is time that we all realise what it means that YHWH is love (1 John 4:8) and is compassionate:
It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
My apologies, I really ventured off into another topic here i.e. the salvation of all.
The Spirit in You
Many believers question how one knows that they have the Spirit of YHWH according to the New Testament baptism of Y’Shua.
I have come across many attempts of teachers/leaders and fellow believers providing answers which quite frankly are unacceptable and just Plain empty words. The Charismatics claim that when one ‘speaks in tongues’ (baloney teaching anyway) that it is proof of the anointing.
For what it is worth to you my understanding and offering to answer this question is as follows:
♥ When you fully understand what the life and sacrifice of our brother the Messiah Y’Shua (the anointed High Priest and King) and his love for us means ♥
♥ When you are prioritising and spending sufficient time, with real passion and interest, in the Scriptures because of the eternal importance that you see in so doing ♥
♥ When you begin to understand the symbolism and the deep prophetic meaning in Scripture ♥
♥ When your life and outlook begin to change with a desperate focus on your eternal destiny with YHWH ♥
♥ When you have no greater love than your relationship with the Father ♥
♥ When the things of this world start to mean less and less and heavenly matters begin to mean more and more ♥
♥ When you and the people around you recognise the changes taking place within you and your life – in terms of growing in righteousness ♥
Then I would suggest to you that the baptism in Truth, with the aid of the Spirit guide/helper, and the refiners fire, is doing a marvellous and divine work within you.
What measure of Spirit?
For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
At his baptism/immersion Yahushua was anointed with the ‘full measure’ of the Spirit and therefore spoke the words of YHWH and only did what the Father wanted:
‘Jesus therefore said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me,’ John 8:28.
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
The word ‘measure’ in John 3:34 is form the Greek word ‘met’-ron’ (Strongs -G3358) and means a limited portion:
An apparently primary word; a measure (“metre”), literally or figuratively; by implication a limited portion (degree): – measure
We should all be able to see from history that there has been no one who has displayed the level of anointing that Y’Shua has. We should also recognise the difference in the level of faith and the actions of those anointed in the book of Acts in the upper room on Shavuot. All of a sudden those believers ministered with strong conviction and words of wisdom even unto their death.
In 2 Corinthians 1 and 5 we read that we have received the ‘earnest’ of the Spirit. The word ‘earnest’ means a downpayment or pledge (from the Greek G728 – Strongs and Thayer):
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
Believers in Y’Shua have only been given the downpayment/portion of the spirit and not the full measure as was given to our Messiah Y’Shua.
This will not always be so though – read on.
The Former and Latter Rain
In the books of Joel and Hosea we read of the ‘former rain and the latter rain’:
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
In the land of the Israelites, in the land of Canaan, there were two prominent seasons of the year in which the rain fell abundantly. In the latter part of October and early November came the early rains.
The second downpour came in the spring in the latter part of March and the first part of April. The October-November rains were called the early rain, and the March-April rains were called the latter rain.
The ‘former rain’ falls during the seed sowing time of the year and is necessary for the newly planted seeds to germinate. The latter rain on the other hand falls near the end of the growing season. This rain serves to ripen the grain and prepare it for harvesting.
The message contained within this growing process is a ‘spiritual’ one. Again, our Father has used the physical elements in nature to reveal ‘spiritual’ mysteries to us.
As the former rains are required for the initial growth of the seed so is the initial pledge/outpouring of the spirit is necessary in the life of the new convert/believer. The latter rain will be sent at the maturing phase of the crop/believer in preparation for the harvest. This illustrates and provides for the growth of the individual. Of course, as is mentioned in Scripture, the rain would be withheld as a result of disobedience or rebellion (Amos 4:7, Jeremiah 3:3, 1 kings 8:35, 2Chronicles 7:13).
Canaan was the land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ (Exodus. 3:8). It was ‘a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and promegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey’ (Deuteronomy. 8:8). YHWH gave His people the land and blessed them in it, but it was on conditions of obedience:
‘Thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. . . . Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day’
Deuteronomy 8: verses 6, 11
With the passing of time, when the people drifted from the ways of righteousness, the rains were delayed or did not fall. The people came to recognise this as being due to their sin. As a result, when the rain did not fall they would declare periods of fasting.This fasting sometimes continued for several weeks until the rains came.
These two periods of seasonal rainfall were designed to be symbolism for the outpouring of the Spirit in the lives of believers. This can be understood on two different levels:
Firstly – in the life of the individual believer where the former rain is the initial ‘earnest’ of the spirit and the latter rain is the further anointing as one grows into spiritual maturity and faith.
Secondly – the rainfall pattern can be understood in reference to the corporate picture of the ‘wheat’ crop which is a reference to the collective body of New Testament believers. The former rain in this respect then is the outpouring which took place at Shavuot/Pentecost in the book of Acts. This was the season when the seed (wheat) was being sown. This seed represents the believers in Y’Shua. This crop has been multiplying for the past 2000 years and is nearing the end of the season now. the harvesting time is drawing very close. The latter rain will begin with the outpouring/anointing of the Two Witnesses prior to the harvest. They will have power to shut of the rain/outpouring during the days of their ministry (Revelation 11:6) just likeElijah (James 5:17-18). This latter rain will continue to ripen the balance of the wheat crop ready for the end time harvest. The ‘Two Witnesses’ are the ‘first-fruits’ of the wheat crop.
Just to conclude this section then the initial/former rain is the earnest/pledge of the spirit seen during the early days of the New Testament church and the latter rain is the greater outpouring at the end of the age/season.
And yes, we can observe that over the past 2000 years there have been intervals of intermittent rain falling i.e. some preachers/evangelists who displayed an extraordinary anointing – but this was not the latter rain.
Therefore we wait in anticipation for this soon coming outpouring of the Father’s Spirit in these end times.
Here are some encouraging verses:
Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.
Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:
For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
And some warnings
Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
The following article may add some more spiritual insight into the former and latter rains:
Rain is so important here in Israel that there are several different words for it in the Biblical Hebrew, the four main ones being: yoreh, matar, geshem and melkosh. What do these Hebrew words mean?
Yoreh and Malkosh
Even though it is fairly late in the year in terms of the Western calendar, the rains that begin in the Fall are known as the yoreh, or the early rains, since it is the start of the rainy season. These early rains are reason to be glad after a hot, dry summer, and the ground can be broken up ready to work the fields. Towards the springtime, around the time of Passover, Israel will have the latter rains, known as the malkosh, necessary for the ripening of the barley and grain.
The word for the former rains, yoreh, comes from the same root as to shoot or cast, or teach! Like an arrow being shot to its target, or information being directly delivered from teacher to pupil, the yoreh rains are sent down to soften up the ground, ready for the first round of planting. In fact, God’s teaching is also compared to the sending of rain in Deuteronomy 32:2, “May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass,and like showers upon the herb”.
The latter rains, malkosh, are much harder rains that would have just caused flooding and devastation if they had come earlier on the dusty, dry ground. But these latter Spring rains are essential for the agricultural cycle too; the “Gezer Calendar” (an archeological relic with inscriptions from the time of Solomon ) tells us that in January / February time, there was a second round of later planting in ancient Israel’s agricultural year, called the lekesh. The word for these harder, later rains, malkosh, is related to the lekesh: the latter downpours can more easily penetrate the softer ground and bring forth the second harvest in the Spring.
The Spirit of God is often connected with water in the Bible, and God’s provision of water, and some would see the “former rain” and the “latter rain” as outpourings of the Holy Spirit, as vindication of the message of the gospel. Joel 2:23 says,
“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.”
The remarkable signs and wonders that followed the first apostles validated their message so that it was widely believed, causing the gospel spread far and wide in a relatively short time. Perhaps as the days get darker and message carried by the true followers of Yeshua seems more and more preposterous, God will send another “latter day downpour” of his Spirit to accompany his servants, vindicating their message. Time will tell. One thing is for certain, rain is repeatedly equated with God’s blessing throughout the Bible:
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” (Isaiah 44:3)
Matar and Geshem
Matar is the main generic word for rain used in the Bible. As we use the word rain as both a noun and a verb, the root מתר (MTR) is both the noun for rain and can be made into the verb to rain as well.
As a rabbi I knew once said, God didn’t choose Egypt with its Nile or Assyria with the Euphrates for his chosen land – no, he chose Israel without a sufficient natural water source, so that the Israelites would have to look up to the heavens to God for their life-giving water. Just as verses just before Deuteronomy 11:14 say,
“For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain [matar] from heaven, a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year”. (11:10-12)
God himself would see to the irrigation of Israel, unlike the surrounding countries who could count on huge rivers on the ground, Israel had to look up to heaven, and relate to God for the blessing of rain.
The word we use today in Israel more often though is geshem. One of my favourite passages is in Hosea 6:
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
He has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers [geshem], as the spring rains [malkosh] that water the earth.”
Geshem and lehitgashem – calling forth that which is not (yet) into being
The three letter root for the word geshem (גשם) is also the root for the word lehitgashem(להתגשם), which means to fulfill or realise something. Making something come into being that was not, the way that rain causes things to sprout up into life from shrivelled, buried and invisible seeds. This always make me think of Abraham, so sure that God’s promises to him would be realised, as the author of Romans tells us, God calls into existence things that do not currently appear to exist:
“As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told… No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:17-21)
God will fulfill all his promises to his people – to Israel and to you – as surely as the going out of the dawn.
“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers [geshem], as the spring rains [malkosh] that water the earth.”
Our faith so pleases God, and is more valuable to him than gold, so it is important that we really do press in to know the Lord and believe his promises, just as Abraham did. God can call into existence things that only exist in seed form – the seeds of his word and his promises. And we can see them as if they already are, with eyes of faith.
James 5:7-8 also relates this to the idea of rain in this way:
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Peter’s Baptism Referral
‘ Although I have made every effort to be thorough in this article in terms of clarifying the meaning of New Testament Baptism, I recognise that there will be some who will still not be convinced and who will endeavour to uncover additional tracts from Scripture to counter my claims.
It was while considering this that my attention was drawn to the book of Acts and more specifically chapter 10.
From verse 43 we read:
Some may say that verse 47 above is a reference to water baptism and verse 48 follows as an instruction for water baptism. This would, in my opinion, be an incorrect understanding of what Peter is actually stating. You see Peter had just recently, in verses 9-16, had a vision which was understood by him to mean that he was no longer to consider men unclean and unworthy to receive the ‘good news’ gospel of Messiah.
Peter’s words in verse 47 must be considered and understood in the correct context. Peter would have recalled the words of his Messiah in John 4:14 where Y’Shua spoke of the ‘living waters’ that he would provide. These ‘living waters’ are the divine ‘Truth’.
What Peter was therefore declaring in verse 47 was the resulting revelation from his vision that no man should forbid the impartation of ‘living water’/’Truth’ to anyone whom he would have previously considered unworthy. The gospel and the outpouring of the spirit of Truth would be for all believers.
In verse 48 Peter is requiring that these new converts who had just received the spirit should be ‘immersed’ in the character and ways of the Messiah and the Kingdom of Heaven through instruction and training. It was for the purpose of Peter imparting his knowledge that these new converts requested his presence for a few days – verse 48.
Thayers Greek Lexicon offers the following comment on the use of the word ‘water’ from John 4:14:
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon – STRONGS NT 5204
Allegorically, that which refreshes and keeps alive the soul is likened to water, viz. the Spirit and truth of God, John 4:14
Peter clarifies the baptism of Acts chapter 10 in the following chapter 11. They were baptised with the spirit. The one and only baptism. Verse 16 does not state:
‘John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost as well‘.
There is one baptism and that is with the spirit.
Peter is using the term ‘water’ to describe the outpouring of the ‘spirit of Truth’ on the new converts.
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy
17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand
18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
The physical act of water baptism could only ever hope to cleanse the exterior parts of the human body. Then again if one were to immerse someone into a body of stagnant or unclean water the ritual would be in vain.
I have witnessed an invitation from a Hebrew Roots teacher inviting people to go along with him for baptism in the sea. This sounds like a great adventure but the problem is two-fold. Firstly water baptism is not a Biblical requirement as per the teachings of Y’Shua and secondly the sea in Scripture is a symbol of the unregenerate masses/nations of the world i.e. the heathen. The sea is full of Biblically unclean animals such as shellfish, lobster type creatures and fish without scales such as shark. The sea is a dangerous entity and the symbolism to the ‘heathen’ is extraordinary. Why would a ‘leader’ with a supposed Hebrew Roots understanding conduct such an abomination and invite others to participate.
The baptism of John of ‘repentance’ was a temporary shadow of the ‘greater baptism’ to come. A baptism introduced by the Messiah after His resurrection. A spiritual baptism. A full immersion into the Words of Truth which were to transform the mind and actions of the believer. This was an internal and life changing cleansing. This was not a baptism directed by man or man’s effort. This is a Spiritual Baptism. A full body immersion into the Word/Truth of the almighty YHWH. A spiritual cleansing and renewal. This is a baptism into a new way of thinking – the way of Truth – free from the ‘Egypt slave’ character and the life of self-indulgence/gratification.
To ‘immerse’ means to involve oneself deeply. To become completely involved in something. To be immersed into the Word of YHWH is to be encouraged, inspired and delighted – and of course transformed. I must make an important point that one has to approach the fountain of living waters to be able to drink. Some may just assume that somehow we are automatically filled with all Truth (living water). This is unfortunately not the case. We first need to become thirsty, recognise our thirst, and then we need to drink – from the Fountain.
When I was water baptised I was disappointed to say the least – and now I know why.
Water baptism if futile. It is not required and produces nothing but a wet and cold body. It was replaced by our Messiah as John understood and clearly stated. Some may claim that there are passages that mention some New Testament baptising in water such as the case with Apollos in the book of Acts chapter 18. Well those requesting it were possibly still zealous for the law, ignorant to the change, or struggled with the concept of change. There is a vast amount of evidence that the teachings of Y’Shua were misunderstood and corrupted – look at the church today. Either way I choose to follow the Messiah Y’Shua and His lead as the ‘Good Shepherd’.
So the ‘living water’ in Scripture represents the Spiritual Baptism and the ongoing internal cleansing of the sinner through the Word of YHWH with the help of the Comforter – the Spirit of YHWH.
We should now be able to understand what Y’Shua was stating in His response to Nicodemus in John 3:
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:5-6
Being born of water in this verse was not a reference to a physical womb birth neither was it a reference to two baptisms – one of water and one of spirit. It is a spiritual baptism into the Truth (the living waters) and the spirit of YHWH who is the helper and facilitator of Truth. It is the one and only baptism. The kingdom of YHWH is within man and only this baptism can manifest that kingdom within us.
Another point that I would like to make is that unlike a water baptism conducted by a pastor/church elder etc, which is a one time (single) event, spirit baptism is a continual act of commitment. For one to be ‘immersed in the ‘living waters’ one would need to be fully committed to spending time, on a regular basis, in the Scriptures. This should entail a continual and concentrated preoccupation. In order to grasp what I am saying please consider the following words related to ‘immersion’:
absorption, attention, concentration, engrossment, enthrallment, fixation, obsession, preoccupation. alertness, application, awareness, consciousness, consideration, heedfulness, intentness, raptness, regard.
Considering the above then, can we consider ourselves as having been ‘immersed’?
‘Baptism’ is an act of the Spirit and not some religious act conducted by man in a body of water:
‘For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body’
1 Corinthians 12:13
Our Father is ‘Spirit’ and has used physical matter in our world that we can see, touch, identify with and understand, to teach us spiritual matters. Let us learn the lesson and not remain immovable on the physical types and shadows. Let us worship Him in spirit.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24
After reading this do you still desire a physical water baptism and still believe it to be necessary?
As we read in the first section of the article, there is ‘one’ baptism (Ephesians chapter 4:5). You must then choose which one you believe this ‘one’ to be.
A final thought:
It does seem to me that all the confusion surrounding baptism can be attributed to the word itself. The word ‘Baptism’ is a transliteration of the Greek word BAPTIZO which means to immerse. Why did we ever embrace the word baptism as a translation into the English language? If we had just used the meaning i.e. immersion, then we possibly would not have had to deal with 2000 years of confusion and error.