When we first enter into relationship with Jesus we are given an awesome inheritance in Him. To lead us into the depths of our inheritance, God reveals what He is doing and creates faith in our hearts, so that through faith we will enter the reality of what He has prepared for us. As He leads us into different aspects of our inheritance in Christ we will come to a place of being offered the gift of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus came to baptise us with the Holy Spirit. But what is the baptism in the Spirit? To understand the nature of baptism we need to look into the meaning of the Greek word baptizo.
To baptise: baptizo
1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe
3) to overwhelm
The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon clearly describes the difference between dipping and immersion in baptism:
The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo (as opposed to bapto) is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 BC. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change.
This difference is also used of dying garments. A garment can be dipped in dye, but it is only baptised when the dye has saturated the garment and the dye is no longer separable from the material. All that remains is the united product: a dyed garment.
In this way, baptism means saturation, a total immersion such that every part of the object is overwhelmed with the medium. The same principle applies to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Through baptism in the Spirit we become immersed in God. It is not just a one-off event, but a continual, ongoing soaking in His presence and life to the point where we become saturated and overwhelmed in Him. This is when every part of who we are is infused with Him and we become inseparable from God’s Spirit.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…
In this passage, Paul uses the present continual tense to call us to ‘be [continually] filled with the Spirit’. This is a call to stay immersed in the Spirit. A pickle is not dipped in vinegar every Sunday and then taken out. Likewise, when we are dipped in the Spirit, we need to stay immersed in the Spirit. Baptism does not end with receiving a single filling of the Spirit, but rather it is a continual way of life. Only by constantly saturating ourselves in Him do we really begin to live and walk in the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:17
But the one who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
The ultimate goal of being baptised in the Spirit is to become one spirit with Jesus. In Scripture, the word heart is used as a metaphor for the spirit. The spirit within us is our inner life, the heart and character of who we are. Thus to be one spirit with Jesus is to share His heart. It is to be united with Him in nature and life. It is to be so immersed in the Spirit of God that we become one with Him.
It is important to note that being immersed in God does not mean that we become God. As with the garment and the dye, the garment simply soaks in the dye. It does not become dye. In itself, the garment cannot claim to be vibrant and colourful for these qualities come solely from the dye. Yet by being immersed in the dye, the garment is changed. It now radiates the colour of the dye. Through baptism the garment is transformed.
The same is true of our baptism in the Spirit. Being immersed in God does not make us God; it simply means that we have begun to soak in His presence and life. And like the garment, by soaking in God we will be transformed. His presence and life will soak into every part of us. Then we will begin to radiate His nature: His love, life, joy, character, and power. In this way, we will find that the more we soak in Him, the more we are conformed to His image.