“"I immerse you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be immersed by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be immersed by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was immersed, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased,” [Matthew 3:11-17]
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of his glory,” [Ephesians 1:13-14]
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person -- such a man is an idolater -- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord,” [Ephesians 4:29-5:10]
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit,” [Jude 20]
When Jesus came to John at the Jordan River, John was surprised that Jesus wanted to be immersed. Jesus is the Son of God… the Holy Lamb of God! If Jesus is without blemish or defect, why in the world would He need to be immersed? Immersion was an expression of repentance, a need for cleansing, a commitment to die to the old life and seek holiness. So why would Jesus be asking for this? John was confused and probably wondered if this could be the right Messiah. After all, how could his cousin take away the sins of the world if Jesus thinks he needs to be immersed also? But Jesus convinced John to do this when He said that it was proper, “to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus is also the Son of Man, and as the forerunner of all Christians, Jesus was immersed. The Holy Spirit was given to Jesus when He was immersed. Jesus’ ministry began at this moment. And God’s approval came, for the first time, to Jesus when He did this. We could argue that Jesus didn’t need to be immersed in water, so why bother? But Jesus was not concerned with what “wasn’t necessary” by human understanding. His primary mission as the Son of Man was, and continues to be, to please His Father. By doing this, Jesus set the example for all of His disciples. Are we really arrogant enough to say that we don’t need to be immersed, when Jesus Himself has done it to show us how we should act as His disciples?
Jesus was also declared God’s Son by God the Father when He received immersion. He was sealed with the Holy Spirit and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was declared righteous by the Father. Jesus submitted Himself to this moment for all of His disciples to observe and follow throughout all future generations. Jesus was already Holy and without sin. But God had still not commissioned Jesus and proclaimed Him to be His Son to inaugurate Him as Messiah to begin His ministry. In order for Jesus to make us holy, He also had to be set apart to God and be declared Holy. If Jesus had not done this, He could not have saved any of us! And now Jesus calls us to follow His example and do as He does (Philippians 2:1-13).
Our ministry for God begins when we accept Jesus by faith and receive immersion. It is at that moment that God seals us for the Day of Redemption. We are given the Holy Spirit as a “deposit” of our full redemption at the resurrection. We are commissioned from that moment to serve God and to draw new disciples into the Kingdom of God. We are empowered to pray in the Holy Spirit of God. We are set apart from the world as holy and given the ability to “work out our salvation.” We seek good and commit ourselves to purge ourselves of all ungodliness and all things that are unholy to the praise and honor of God. We surrender our hearts, souls and minds to our Holy God that we might shine as His children, reflecting His Image. If we love God, as we claim to do, then we cannot love evil at the same time –we must grow to hate all evil, yet loving sinners as God loved us.
However, Christian can fall into the trap of believing the lie that it is perfectly normal to embrace some things of God and some things of the world. The argument goes, “nobody’s perfect” (so why even try?); “being a Christian sounds great, but we live in a ‘real world’.” God knows that this world is evil, but don’t think that God can be mocked. He is Holy. And everything will soon be holy. There is only God and His Holy Nature, or there is the alternative –THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND. As unpopular and politically incorrect as this may sound, it is still the truth. John told us who the Messiah is and what the result of His Good Work will be: One of two immersions.
The Bible speaks of two “global immersions.” The first one is the flood of Noah. This flood completely submerged the entire world and destroyed everything, except for those who were in the Ark. As ridiculous as it sounded, Noah built an ark in a time when the world had probably never experienced a drop of rain. But Noah believed God and was saved by His faith when he built the Ark that God instructed him to build. The flood waters that destroyed the world symbolize Christian immersion! [1 Peter 3:21]. Water is always used as a symbol of life, death and cleansing throughout the Bible. We often think that God saved Noah and his family from the flood. But this isn’t what God is trying to teach us. Noah wasn’t saved from the flood, he was saved from the ancient world that was completely IMMERSED in sin. God preserved Noah and his family from eternal death by destroying a world that approved of a lifestyle that resulted in eternal death. The world was buried in water, but the new world that arose after the flood was given new life, a new chance to thrive in God’s Nature and holiness: The world was reborn. And that whole event is also symbolic of what happens when a sinner, by faith, is immersed in water: The old life of death that was killing us and made us enemies of God has been washed away, and a new birth that brings new life by means of the Ark (Jesus’ Body) has emerged. But there is another global immersion that is yet to come. John spoke of it when he preached repentance.
John said that Jesus would “immerse you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Jesus will immerse all of mankind by means of the Holy Spirit or by fire. For the church, we escape the “immersion” to come. We are tested by God’s Holy Fire [1 Corinthians 3:10-15] but we are not destroyed by it because we have been incorporated into Jesus’ Body and will escape God’s judgment. But the next “global immersion” will not be by water, but by fire [2 Peter 3]. The entire world we be “laid bare” by an immersion of fire. And those who reject God’s Holiness and reject His righteousness will be cast into the fire of His wrath [Revelation 20:11-15]. But because of this, new heavens and a new earth will emerge. All will be made new when the creation enters its last and final phase of existence –the eternal state when God and man will be together and heaven and earth will be the same place.
As Peter says, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness,” [2 Peter 3:11-13].
Let none of us be found ashamed on that Day, thinking, “I wish I would have taken God more seriously when I had the chance –when I had all that time to believe Him!” Rather, let us live holy and godly lives, encouraging one another to purify ourselves from all ungodliness and seeking the Spirit’s power to make us holy, as God is Holy. Let’s pray in the Spirit, unhindered by all manner of sin that so easily entangles us, and live as God’s people, the holy and unblemished Bride of Christ.
Love in Jesus,