Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Baptism: water -vs- holy spirit

I wanted to clarify the difference between:
baptism by water and baptism by holy spirit ...

Baptism by submersion in water: is a *symbol* of repentance of sins. Baptism, (in and of itself) does not wash away sin, but rather, is a *public demonstration* symbolizing the person's heartfelt desire to bring their life in harmony with God's requirements, and of their repentance over sins against the Law. This leads them to Christ by acknowledging and exercising faith in Jesus' ransom sacrifice for atonement of sin. The one being baptized in water enters a special relationship as God's servant. The individual no longer lives for himself (pursuing a self-centered course in life) but is dedicated to doing God's will (placing that as the center and main focus from then on). Figuratively, when the baptismal candidate is temporarily “buried” under the water and then lifted out of it, he dies to his previous course and is raised to a new way of life, to do God's will.

Baptism by holy spirit: This applies to anointed Christians who have been 'called' to rule with Christ Jesus as 'kings and priests' in heaven. (Revelation 20:4-6) In the first century C.E. miraculous gifts attended the baptism with holy spirit. These served as signs that God was no longer using the Jewish congregation in his service but that his approval rested on the Christian congregation established by his Son. (Hebrews 2:2-4) At Pentecost 33 C.E., the greater High Priest, the resurrected Jesus Christ, poured out holy spirit upon the small group of 120 disciples gathered in Jerusalem. Those disciples became the first anointed sons of God and brothers of Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:15-17) The two loaves offered at Pentecost came from the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. Correspondingly, those spirit-begotten Christians are called “certain firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18) They are the first to have their sins forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood, and that makes it possible for them to be granted immortal life in the heavens, where they rule with Jesus in his Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 15:53; Philippians 3:20, 21; Revelation 20:6) The apostle John said: “These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”(Revelation 14:4) They became a new nation, “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16) From small beginnings, that nation would finally number 144,000. (Revelation 7:1-4). Not all 144,000 anointed Christians were selected in the first century. Their calling continued throughout the apostolic period and then apparently slowed down. However, it did continue throughout the succeeding centuries into modern times. (Matthew 28:20)

*the literal harvest corresponds with the symbolic harvest...

firstfruits were the earliest fruits of a season; the first results or products of anything. The Hebrew word re’·shith′ (from a root meaning “head”) is used in the sense of first part, point of departure, or “beginning” (Deuteronomy 11:12; Genesis 1:1; 10:10); the “best” (Exodus 23:19); and “firstfruits” (Leviticus 2:12). “First ripe fruits” is rendered from the Hebrew bik·ku·rim′, which is used especially with regard to grain and fruit. (Nahum 3:12) The Greek term for firstfruits (a·par·khe′) comes from a root having the basic meaning "primacy."

These three firstfruits (Jesus Christ, the 144,000, and the great crowd) have interesting correspondencies in the festivals celebrated according to the ancient Mosaic Law. On Nisan 16, during the Festival of Unfermented Cakes, a sheaf of the firstfruits of the barley harvest was offered to Jehovah. (Leviticus 23:6-14) Nisan 16 was the day Jesus was resurrected from the dead. On the 50th day from Nisan 16, in the third month, the Israelites celebrated the festival of the harvest of the first ripe fruits of the wheat harvest. (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:15, 16) This festival came to be called Pentecost (from a Greek word meaning “fiftieth”), and it was at Pentecost 33 C.E. that the first members of the 144,000 were anointed with holy spirit. Finally, in the seventh month when the whole harvest was gathered in, there was the Festival of Booths, a time of joyful thanksgiving when the Israelites dwelt for a week in booths made of, among other things, palm branches. (Leviticus 23:33-43) Correspondingly, the great crowd, who are part of the great ingathering, give thanks before the throne with “palm branches in their hands.”(Revelation 7:9) Additionally, since the resurrection of this small group of 144,000 precedes that of the large number who will be resurrected to life on earth, it is called “the earlier resurrection” and “the first resurrection.”(Philippians 3:11; Revelation 20:6)