The gospel of John is incredibly powerful. It contains so much knowledge and teaching that it can only have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. One of the problems with this simplicity of the gospel of John is that it is easy to miss important teachings and concepts. As an example, this single paragraph, which is only five verses long, holds many of the keys to the mystery of Christianity.
The Witness of John
Here we see the fulfilment of the prophecies concerning John the Baptist as discussed in my last few posts. John came to prepare the way for the Lord, and to bear witness to the Lord as being the Son of God, the Christ and the Messiah.
As John said in verse 34, “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” At this point Jesus had just been baptised by John and received the Holy Spirit. Jesus was about to commence his works as John’s role was about to reduce. The baton had been passed in this statement as John testifies to the fact that Jesus was the one who was to come.
Baptism in Water
John came baptising the people in water for repentance and the forgiveness of their sin. Jesus too was baptised, even though he had not sinned. We see the conversation between Jesus and John in the Matthew Chapter 3:13-15 version of this event which says.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.
Jesus stated that it was essential to be baptised in water to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus was baptised even though he did not need to be, so that no one could say it was not necessary to be baptised by using Him as the example.
And yet today there are some who preach and believe it is not necessary to be baptised in water. Jesus didn’t think so and he said as much, so why do some believe otherwise? Take heed, it is easy to miss important teachings and go down the wrong path. Baptism is not about an initiation into a religion or into a church. Water baptism is one of the key foundation teachings of the New Covenant and as Jesus himself said, it is necessary to be baptised, “…to fulfill all righteousness.” There is much more to be said about baptism and this will be covered in due course.
Baptism in the Spirit
Next we see that Jesus was baptised in the Holy Spirit. As John said in verse 33, “I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”
When the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove and remained on him, John knew this was the one he had been waiting for. And John’s comment was that Jesus is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit.
You will note from the Matthew quote above that John believed he needed the baptism of Christ rather than the other way around. In truth we need both. We need the baptism of water and the baptism of the Spirit. They both perform very different purposes and both are necessary if we are to follow Jesus Christ according to His way. We need both.
And once again there are some who do not accept the receiving of the Holy Spirit today. Jesus made a point of saying later in John 3:5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Do you want to enter the kingdom of God? Then listen to what the Lord is telling us. Get baptised in water and receive the Holy Spirit. That is not the end, just the beginning.
And for those who believe that the purpose of receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues was only to spread the gospel in those early years of the church, look at what Peter said on Pentecost day in his oration. He made these statements in Acts 2:37-39, which again testify to the need to both be baptised in water and the Holy Spirit.
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
The promise was to those people, their children and all who are far off. We are those who are far off, not just in distance but in the distance of time. Also he says the gift of the Holy Spirit and tongues is for “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” That’s you and me, unless, you believe that the Lord has not called you to himself.
Do you need more proof that tongues are for today as much as they were for those days? Some preach that when perfection came, tongues would cease. They say that when the New Testament had been written and completed, this was the “perfection” that was spoken of. They use 1 Corinthians 13:10 to justify this position. But look what Paul says in that section including the two verse prior to it.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
Paul says prophecies will pass away, tongues will cease and knowledge will pass away when the perfect comes. I ask you, has knowledge passed away? Are we not spending time, energy and effort along with prayer, study, meditation and more to find knowledge about our walk with Christ? If knowledge has not passed away then the perfect has not yet come. And if that is true then neither prophecies nor tongues has yet ceased. So baptism of the Holy Spirit is still Very much a part of the truth of following Christ today.
Taking Away Sin
Finally we see John make a statement that has far reaching and highly controversial consequences for every Christian. Before I go into this let me ask you two questions.
1. Have you been saved?
2. Are you a sinner?
Now let us look at what John the Baptist testified about Jesus Christ. He said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Note these words well!
Jesus Christ came to TAKE AWAY the sins of the world. He wasn’t talking about forgiveness here, he was talking about removal. In Jesus Christ your sins have been removed and he has saved you from your sins.
This takes me back to the two questions above. Most Christians will answer “Yes” to both of these questions, but is that the right answer?
Consider this and check your own response. If you say that you are a sinner, from what have you been saved? If you say that you are still a sinner then you have not been saved from your sins. And if you say that you are a sinner then Jesus has not taken away your sins, which is not what the scripture says. Who should you believe, the scripture or what has been promoted as Christian doctrine, which states that you are still under sin?
There is so much more to say about this subject it cannot be contained in one post. There is a way that all of this holds together and it is all covered in the scriptures if you look for it. Jesus came that we could be set free from sin, so why do some still say they are sinners? It is because they have accepted human traditions and false doctrine rather than listening to the word of God.
These three aspects of the covenant mentioned by John in this one paragraph all work together. You must be set free from your sins to follow Christ. You must be baptised in water to receive the freedom from sin and to have your sins taken away. You must receive the Holy Spirit with the attending signs to understand the life in the Spirit and to worship in the spirit. And you must follow all of these points to enter the kingdom of God as Jesus shows in John 3.
I have no doubt that some will find this to be a controversial post, but it is all backed by and based in the scripture. Please feel free to comment below or send me a note if you wish to know more.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng taken by Vaclav Pastucha)
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