Natural water baptism or Holy Spirit baptized? Does God command water baptism for today?! I will bring the evidence, and you be the judge!
The book titled The Messianic Feast (my first book) has a chapter called “The Jewish Idiom of Natural to Spiritual.” That chapter contains about 19 pages of examples of items and events under the Old Covenant that pointed forward to spiritual truths in the New Covenant. Giving a few quick examples, the Passover looked forward to Christ, the Lamb of God, our true Passover.
There was the natural Temple, called the house of God, built with stones, and Peter shows that what that pointed to, that we are the living stones, built up as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). There was the natural incense offered in the Temple, and what that pointed to was the holy incense, the prayers of the saints, pictured as bowls of incense (Rev. 5:8). There was the main altar in the Temple where the sacrifices and offerings could feed the priests, and Paul explains that it pointed to a spiritual altar that we believers can partake of that those serving the first covenant cannot participate in (Hebrews 13:10).
Did the Water Baptisms Also Point Forward?
What about the various water baptisms, did they also point forward? Many may not realize this, but immersion in water (called baptism) was required by anyone entering the Temple in Jerusalem (see chapter 2, The Messiah’s Baptism). Also, John the Baptist, still under the Old Covenant was also led by God to bring his water baptism. However, were these natural water baptisms like the other examples of “natural” items and events that only pointed forward to the true, to the spiritual fulfillment? Did the natural baptisms in water forward to the true baptism, the Holy Spirit baptism the Messiah was to bring in?
John 1:33 “And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’
Moreover, when the promised New Covenant was coming in Jesus points them to this promised Holy Spirit baptism:
Acts 1:5 for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The Apostle Paul, speaking in Hebrews 8:13 and 9:1 begins comparing the two covenants. Then in Hebrews 9:9 Paul explains that the various sacrifices and offerings offered in the first covenant cannot make the worshippers perfect in conscience; they pointed forward to the new.
Hebrews 9:9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly, both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,
Then, in the next verse, Paul answers the question posed earlier (did the water baptisms only point further to the Messiah’s spirit baptism) as he explains that these things like the sacrifices and offerings are no longer imposed:
Hebrews 9:10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.
Now I have bold-faced “various washings” above because what Paul said, is that it was the “various baptisms,” along with the sacrifices and offerings, which are no longer imposed. Most English translations probably wanted to make it clear that it was only the Jewish “washings” that were no longer imposed, but that the Christian rite of water baptism was of course to continue. However, this is not what Paul said! Paul said the various baptisms, the immersions in water for the body; these were no longer imposed.
And, Paul does not qualify his statement by saying “Oh, of course, our main Christian rite of water baptism is, of course, to continue.” No, Paul does not qualify that there is still the main baptism to continue because he knew that the “various baptisms” in water were no longer imposed! So that is the true reason why he said that Christ had not called him to baptize people:
1 Corinthians 1:17a For Christ did not send me to baptize…
Yes, the various baptisms in water which were imposed by God while under the first covenant are just like the various sacrifices and offerings, they are no longer imposed. That is what Paul said, and that is what Paul meant. Now there are of course many scriptures on baptism that must, therefore, be explained, and that is what The Messiah’s Baptism book will do.