The words baptize and baptism are sometimes used in a very general sense in the Bible.  Consider the words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 20:22, “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.”  Here, the Lord is asking His disciples if they are willing and able to join with Him in the sufferings He had to endure.

In Hebrews 6:2 we read, “Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”  This is baptism in the plural and really refers to ‘washings.’  It is in reference to the ceremonial washings that were necessary in the Old Testament under the law.

In the New Testament, we have two distinct baptisms.  First, there is the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  We read in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”  While water baptism is an act that the Lord desires of every believer, the baptism of the Spirit happens immediately upon our salvation.  When we take Christ as our savior, the Holy Spirit indwells us and puts us into one body…the body of Christ.  Notice that small word in verse 12 “ALL.”  Every single believer on the Lord is indwelt with the Spirit.  Romans 8:9 is emphatic, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now IF ANY MAN HAVE NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE IS NONE OF HIS.”  In this verse, we have the Holy Spirit describes in three terms: the Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ!  We know these all reference the same Holy Spirit because we are told in Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body, and ONE SPIRIT, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.”

The second distinct baptism is water baptism.  After the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, and before His ascension to Heaven, He instructed His disciples concerning baptism.  We read in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  The word ‘baptize’ means to immerse, so we believe that to be the proper mode to baptize believers.  Romans 6:3-4 speaks of the purpose of water baptism.  That says, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  Water baptism is that which outwardly shows our identification with the Lord Jesus Christ in His birth, death, burial, resurrection.  The instruction for the believer to be baptized is followed by the instruction to “walk in newness of life.”  This means that after we are saved and baptized, we should now evidence that new life we have in Christ by living a life that pleases and honors Him.

Let us who are saved keep in mind that all believers, having been baptized into the body of Christ and having identified with the Lord Jesus through water baptism should strive to “…walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:12)  (218.6)