By Your servant, Dan
Most of the time a person is baptized by a Church minister and the new convert may think they are dedicating their lives to the Christ but the minister or Priest is looking at having brought another person into their organization. As an example when you are baptized in a Catholic Church you are then a Catholic, they do not recognize any other baptism, and a non-Catholic is not allowed to participate in the Eucharist -- to be a Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, 7th Adventist, etc. So, the baptism of the world is different, not just in a physical way but spiritual as well.
When the Apostles preached the Gospel and baptisms took place they pretty much walked away and the new believers got together at each other’s homes -- later there was some instruction from Paul to act orderly, and to set up this orderly conduct the office of deacons and elders were set up. These elders and deacons were to be servants to the believers, not their bosses. This need grew out of the elders of converts. Later Paul made known his disapproval at how the growing numbers of converts were dividing, siding up to different personalities, and Paul mentioned his disapproval of this, but it was happening and is today the reason the Christianity Churches are divided, even to the point of a different baptism, into different names, and spirits. Most, I believe, of the new converts hearing a heart breaking and mind changing sermon has an overwhelming emotion and desire to change their lives, to be better, and they go to the altar call seeking the baptism of repentance, but fail to be baptized into the Name of the correct Savior. So, the converts are sincere but end up being misled by the preachers and teachers of the word and accepting a false name and ultimately a false messiah that is more representative of a Greek God than of the Messiah, YaHushua. Still, their baptism of repentance is valid as a declaration to change, but too many stop their bible study and fall into just following the crowd. This kind of thing was going on from the beginning as Paul observes –
(1Co 1:12-16) Now this I say, that every one of you says, "I am of Paul"; and "I of Apollos"; and "I of Cephas (Peter)"; and "I of the Christ". Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
Paul sees the division and is not happy about it. While Paul was called as an Apostle to the Gentiles he plainly states he was not called to baptize and baptized very few, but remember Philip? Philip the table waiter was going around baptizing. This should confirm for us that to be baptized into His Name does not require an Apostle -- I personally do not believe this office of Apostle continued beyond those called personally, face to face, by YaHshua.
(Act 19:4-6) Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on the Christ YaHshua. When they heard this, they were baptized in the Name of the Lord YaHshua. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them (12 disciples of John), the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.
This proves that those baptized in the "baptism of repentance" (Not in His Name) should be baptized again only this time in His, YaHshua's, Name. Paul’s "laying on of hands" does two things, first it proves he had the same authority in YaHshua as the other Apostles and second, that there is a second baptism for those coming to the true Messiah.
If someone has never been baptized and answers the call, they can, in my opinion, baptize in His Name and this comes with the baptism of repentance. You are making a declaration to God Himself that you accept YaHshua as Savior. For those already baptized, but not into His real Name, there remains a second baptism to complete the chain of events from the repentant heart to the declaration to the correct Savior – the one and only Savior.
Did the 12 disciples of John then baptized themselves or did Paul take each one individually? It does not say, which leads me to believe that it does not matter, that part is not that important except for the individual – truly, it is a symbolic burial of the old person and the resurrection of the new person, a shadow of something to come. Notice, the 12 disciples of John the Baptist did speak in tongues, and did prophecy but not tongues of fire. We clearly see this part of the evidence of the Holy Spirit is no longer being used.
The approval of the second baptism, if not already baptized into His Name, is demonstrated, not by Paul, but by the Holy Spirit evidence, Paul is the tool used, the Holy Spirit is the seal, even the show of approval. No one argues that Paul is doing something out of line by taking the 12, pre baptized disciples of John the Baptist and baptizing them again, this time in our Savior’s Name. The approval for this is visually seen by the physical and visual evidence of the Holy Spirit placing the same signs that were evident with the Apostles of YaHshua at Pentecost. As a side bar to this event it also proves Paul’s Apostleship as well, equal to that of Peter.
These signs are taken by well-meaning people as well as the wolves
and used as a control feature over people coming to God in the "baptism of
repentance", and then leading them off to be baptized into their fold,
their group, or some cult of exclusion. Some new comers to the faith are
encouraged to speak in tongues, which is defined by the greater Evangelical and
Pentecostal groups to be any sort of babbling and they actually tell some that
they will not receive the Holy Spirit if they don’t. Some are told to fake it
and it will eventually come. This all comes from not understanding the
progression of change, from the work of the Apostles to the Israeli peoples and
then to the Gentile nations and then down to us. In the beginning the first
converts were Jews only – the evidence of “fire”, speaking in other languages,
or languages of angels, and even “prophecy” used to let everyone of the
Apostles know who was to be allowed into the Church. Once approval was
illustrated by the Holy Spirit with these visual signs and the message was
clear, no one was to be rejected, then these evidences were no longer needed.
The Apollos Conundrum:
Apollos, a devout Jewish believer with a great deal of knowledge in Scripture and a talented speaker is teaching a Gospel concerning YaHshua and is convincing many that YaHshua is the promised Messiah and he has not been baptized, and he has not met with any the Apostles. He is taken aside at one point and a better version (understanding) of the Gospel of the Kingdom is explained to him by a husband and wife, not any Apostles. This is important because it explains that to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom does not even require baptism. This example tell us that the teachers of the Scriptures and delivering messages concerning the coming Kingdom of God do not have to be full-fledged, baptized members of your group or mine. We can then, learn from those we may not agree with, or that are outside of our particular group, and a proof of baptism is not required. We have this account to verify the fact that the Gospel is bigger than any one person, of group, or organization.
(Act 18:24) And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that YaHshua was (is) the Christ.
Here we have an example of a preacher of the word, Apollos, who is of the “baptism of repentance” (John’s baptism). He has gone out and convinced many. He is pulled aside by Aquila and Priscilla and explained to him “the way of God more perfectly”. Apollos is a highly educated Jew, and we are told he was “instructed in the way of the Lord”, so what could Apollos have been missing – he is a Jew, very knowledgeable in the Scriptures, so what could Aquila and Priscilla every tell him? My guess is that Apollos had not grasp the “Liberty” found in YaHshua, our “freedom” through Him in all things. At any rate, you will notice baptism is not mentioned here. This is a good example of a person able to teach the word without being baptized into His Name. This would also mean that the truth is not confined to only those of a special baptism or calling, cult or mega church – the truth is not limited to one special groups or Church.
Our Liberty, Our Freedom
Hardly anyone understands the "liberty" we have in the Christ, YaHshua. It is not the freedom to sin, to lead an immoral life, or to do anything against our conscience -- but, with the kind of freedom He has given us comes a higher moral position. In the past if you sinned against yourself or someone else and it could not be found in the Law then is was not a sin. The Jewish Rabbis and other teachers then started defining what was and was not sin -- they had the Law, but what about those gray areas? By the time they got through with it, the Law, even the Creator of the Law called it Moses Law, or the Law of Moses and some of His Apostles called it the Law of the Jews, not the Law of God or YaHWeH. Now, today, there is a big movement afoot, called the HRM (Hebrew Roots Movement).
This movement is trying to do what others have tried and failed in doing and that is attempting to restore the Old Covenant. Not even the religious Jews have the Old Covenant in practice. They fail and always will fail in the trying to be perfect in the Law because they do not have the Temple. They have rejected the only individual that could set them free from the requirements of the Law and the Temple service and sacrificial system. They have cut themselves off from their God in their defiance. Until the Temple is restored they have no path to forgiveness – no animal blood sacrifice – no forgiveness. This is true of the Hebrew Roots people, at differing levels of leadership; they cannot properly restore the Old Covenant, or correctly restructure the Old Covenant to allow for what is missing, so they too are missing something – perfection. In this they mistakenly continue the crucifixion of the Christ.
Hebrew Roots Movement – Traveling backward
The HRM see the Hebrew connection with the First Century Church and assume
this is how it is supposed to be, ignoring the fact that we are living in the Times
of the Gentiles. This time of the Gentile is not going to be finished until
YaHshua returns and then He will do all the restoring that needs to be
done. The Christians, on the other hand, somewhere in the past, saw this
freedom in the Messiah and preached the freedom while they were busily building
their own set of rules and obligations, many of which were inherited from their
pagan past -- exchanging one kind of slavery for another, and calling it holy.
Our Savior has set us at liberty to function in Satan's world, no matter what society you live in, a godless or a super religious one, you, as a believer, should suffer only for Him and not because you wear your pants backward, or demonstrate against the government you are convinced is Satan born -- we are to live at peace with all men and if we suffer it should only be because we will not declare anyone else our Savior but only YaHshua (YaHushua).
So, we are the children of the Kingdom, and as such we do not have to pay taxes, -- but wait -- YaHshua instructed Peter on this very thing, and told him, Peter, to pay the required taxes so as not to offend those collecting the taxes of town or for the Roman Government. This is the really good example of the liberty we have but with this liberty comes a higher, unnatural rule – to live at peace with everyone, to respect those in authority, not to go out of our way to show off our religious nature. Peter was instructed to pay those asking for tribute (tax) and YaHshua told him the children of the King do not pay taxes but in order not to offend those in authority to pay. (Matt 17:24-27)
This is a really good example how the law has no authority over us, the Children of God are free, but we obey common law anyway out of respect for the feelings and attitudes of other – including those not yet having entered this truth concerning the children of the King. By the act of God’s love in us we are ready to share when asked and to be obedient citizens in a world we are not happy with – we live as strangers -- our true citizenship is still in Heaven and YaHshua is bringing our passports with Him. Our patience is waiting for the coming of YaHshua to restore what needs to be restored.
(John 15:19) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
(Heb 13:13) Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name. (City to come – Rev 21)
(Php 3:2021) But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord YaHshua the Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power (God the Father) that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself. ESV
(1Pe 1:17) Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. NIV
If we take what happened during the first Pentecost after the Crucifixion of our Savior, YaHushua, and apply that to us, then something is missing. Today all we see by the eye is the baptism of water and that is no miracle as men are doing that, it is not as if water is falling from the sky on us. But, the Holy Spirit is, because it is promised to us and we are of greater belief, or should be, because we believe this to be true without seeing it, without seeing with the eye, this miracle.
(John 20:29) YaHshua said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
This, I believe, can be applied to this subject. The visual miracles and signs were not because the believers of then were seeking them but because our Heavenly Father was demonstrating His approval. Once this was recorded then we, as believers, are to believe the record and have no longer a need for proof of the eye. Our belief is in a way greater because we are believers without the physical or visual proof. Many of them died because of what they witnessed, what they saw and became convinced in their own minds and faith. Many of our brothers and sisters after them died, or paid with their lives for their belief in things they had never witnessed, believing in YaHshua and His promises without miracles, without signs and wonders.
Laying on of Hands – And Philip
The matter of “laying on hands” -- a procedure carried out by the Apostles in bringing about the sign of the Holy Spirit being given. As far as I know no one is teaching what I am about to tell you -- I have written of this in an article before but to the point -- Read Acts 8:12-17 -- get your bible out brothers and sisters and read these verses -- you can go back to Acts 6:5 and you will see where this Philip came from and then leading up to this baptism event – the baptism of Samaritans into our Savior’s Name by this Philip. You will see that this Philip is not one of the Apostles but one of the seven men selected to serve tables in the beginning. We see him later preaching the Gospel and baptizing people that are not Jews. The Jews did not like the Samaritans (John 4:9; 8:47).
So, here is Philip, a table waiter, and believer, baptizing non-Jewish people – what was he thinking? Christianity in that time frame was still considered a Jewish religion and believers were still going to the synagogue to discuss and worship YaHWeH, even James pointed this out in his decision to keep the Jew and Gentile parts of the church separate (Acts 15:21). It appears that Philip had stepped out of his element in his excitement to share the Gospel and it is most likely due to his encounter with the Ethiopian, a non-Jew, that he felt comfortable in going to a people the Jews did not like, the Samaritans. He obviously picked up on the fact that our Savior intended His sacrifice to open the way for all people. These people, the Samaritans were kind of like the lost step-child, between the Gentiles and the Jews, of mixed blood, many claiming linage with the tribes of Israel and hanging on to Jewish style worship.
After the events surrounding the Samaritans (Acts 8:6-10) and Peter coming to the Samaritans for the laying on of hands, even though Philip had baptized many into the Name of our Savior, and even though Philip exhibited many signs and miracles of healing, the laying on of hands was necessary to demonstrate to all that even Samaritans were not to be refused. Philip was not done, for our Lord YaHushua called him to meet the Ethiopian, a stranger from another land and in that account there is not the laying on of hands and Philip is immediately taken after the Ethiopian is baptized (Acts 8:39), and finds himself in a different place. Philip had no doubt he was doing the right thing, after all it was the Angel of our Lord told him to catch up with the Ethiopian, but you will notice, this was a private event and there was no need to prove anything to anyone else, so the need for the Holy Spirit to manifest any kind of sign was not necessary.
His Holy Spirit approval for taking this path came by these miraculous things that happened to him. By these two events in the life of Philip we see the Gospel is not contained or restricted to just one body or type of men. But still, the Apostles had to be shown. Even though the Messiah told them, all they heard was that He had come to His own people and was to go to Israel, which satisfied them completely because they, like all good Jews, saw the other nations and other nationalities as unclean beings. You see this discrimination in an encounter between Paul and Peter --
So, word gets back to the Apostles at Jerusalem and they send a team out to see what is going on in Samaria and with Philip. Once they get there, I assume, they could hardly believe it, so, Peter then "lays hands on them" and they receive the same sign of talking in other languages (tongues) as did the original, Jewish, believers, proving this was all okay – they were given evidence to let the Samaritan believer in. Now everyone was satisfied. But you will notice there is no mention of fire? It would seem then that the evidence for who was to be allowed into the fellowship with YaHushua had been reduced to the “speaking in tongues”. How long this lasted we can only guess but we know that it eventually stop. The purpose had been accomplished, letting everyone know the Gospel message and the calling to salvation through YaHshua was for everyone, Jew, Samaritan, and Gentiles.
Here is the thing; it took an Apostle of high rank for this to happen with the laying on of hands to prove the receiving of the Holy Spirit was also for the Samaritans. By this also we know this Philip was not the Apostle Philip. Today all of the Apostles are dead and not available for the “laying on of hand”. In each case where this is mentioned, except for one, the laying on of hands by an Apostle was a special sign of acceptance, and used to confirm to the Apostles themselves, to the leadership of the Church at Jerusalem for the advancement of the Gospel out into the Gentile world and not to be refused to anyone, not even a Samaritan. It took some time as even the Jewish Apostles had difficulty with their life long discriminatory attitude toward all non-Jews.
(Gal 2:11-12) But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision(Jews). And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. KJV (dissimulation = hypocrisy or, as I see it, discrimination)
Second Laying on of Hands
There is another instance of instructions concerning the "laying on of hands" but this is within a groups ministry and is part of a blessing of approval in sending out fellow believers on a mission and has nothing to do with baptism. Next, this same Philip, a table waiter, was taken to a road where an Ethiopian traveling back home reading some prophecy concerning the resurrection of the Messiah. Philip explained it to this stranger, and then told the stranger about the Gospel, the Good News of the Coming Kingdom and our dedicating to the coming King by the sign of baptism -- burying the old man and raising the new, symbolically dedicating our new man to the Christ, YaHshua.
In this account Philip is asked by the Ethiopian what was to prevent him from being baptized right then and there -- he said, look there is water, and Philip said fine, and they got down from the cart and the Ethiopian went down into the water -- no laying on of hands, nothing, really, but a joyous new believer. This man is never heard from again, but may very well be the origin of the Jewish/Christian mixture of faith found in Ethiopia today and not the Queen of Sheba, as some speculate.
In Acts 8:26-39 it sounds like both Philip and the Ethiopian were baptized -- they both went down into the water -- I am sure you see the real sense of this and that it is not saying this at all -- both of them went down into the water and the Ethiopian was baptized or "immersed" which is what "baptize" means.
Notice, the Ethiopian stated his belief, and then was baptized, no great words from Philip, no laying on of hands, just water baptism into the Name of our Savior, YaHshua -- we know this part because we are told that is exactly what Philip was doing prior to this with the Samaritans – baptizing them into His Name (Acts 8:12). Declare yourself and go down into the water, that's it. Too many misunderstand the "laying on of hands" and make it part of their group doctrine.
I don't think is it wrong it is just not a requirement and was a method used to convince the super prejudiced that the Gospel was for everyone. Even after this incident with Philip and the Apostles and the Samaritans -- it was necessary for our Savior to give Peter a vision leading to the baptism of a Roman Officer, Cornelius and his whole household, and even then Peter had to return to the Jerusalem council and stand before all of the elders in defense of his actions -- for they said it was unlawful for a Jew to enter the house of a Gentile –
(Act 10:45) And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
(Act 10:47) "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
(Act 11:23) So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, "You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them."
Lucky for Peter he had taken some other Jewish believers with him and they witnessed the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit (the tongues again) just as they had on that day of Pentecost -- proof YaHshua had accepted them. You will notice, too, the Holy Spirit was given before the water baptism. I think this is important, because it demonstrates that receiving the Holy Spirit does not require water baptism. Water baptism is a sign between the one being baptized and His Savior, a symbolic gesture of dying with Him and being raised a new person with Him – the reality of this is still future, when He returns and we are resurrected, changed –
(Php 3:21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body…,
(1Co 15:42) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
Peter had his witnesses to back up what he had done, going into a Gentiles house? James and the other elders and other believer of the Pharisees might have been ready to stone Peter, but instead, gave him the opportunity to explain himself. Apparently the episode with Philip and the Samaritans was not as serious as this.
Even so it did not end there, they, the original Apostles still were reluctant to deal with the Gentiles, as we read earlier (Gal 2:11). YaHshua had another plan, He tried to lead them by example using signs of approval, the same signs He originally used on them but it still was not working, so, He calls Paul, a man that hates the followers of YaHshua, a man bent on persecuting as many "turncoat" Jews as he could -- YaHshua picks him, Paul, to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.
(Act 9:14-16) And here he (Paul) has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on your Name. But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel to me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my Name's sake.
Paul, as the Apostle to the Gentiles, said later that he was not called to "baptize" -- still, he did baptize a few -- Paul met twelve of John the Baptist disciples and he did baptize them, but even then, Paul did not go about baptizing believers as a whole. He converts many, bringing great numbers to the Savior, YaHshua, yet baptized on a few, and laid hands on a very few.
(Act 19:3-7) And he said unto them, Unto what then were you baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.
(1Co 1:14-18) I (Paul) thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Can we see now? The laying on of hands is for a purpose, when the purpose is no longer needed then it is laid aside (no pun intended). The Laying on of hands as a blessing is a good practice but to expect those of today to begin to chant or call out at every occasion in babbling tongues or the language of angels is wrong. Too many fake this in order to comply with those telling them they must or they do not have the Spirit, this is a lie. It is a wicked generation that continually looks for signs (Mat 12:39).
An Original Sign of Acceptance
The laying on of hands became a sign of acceptance. Philip had baptized some of the Samaritans (Acts 8:2) but the hard headed Jewish believers in Jerusalem had to see it for themselves, so they sent Peter and John, to lay hands on these repentant souls to see if it was true that even Samaritans are accepted and when they did this even though Philip had already baptized them, were able to see for themselves that yes, even Samaritans were to be accepted. Read all of Acts 8, and you see that Philip did not lack in the spirit, he was performing miracles and in such power and amazement as to even cause the local magician to step aside and seek baptism himself. By this we know that the purpose of Peter and John's arrival had nothing to do with the people receiving conversion or the spirit, but about seeing with their own eyes the evidence.
(Act 8:14-17) Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Another way to see it -- Philip was an elder, not an Apostle, and he had done many miracles among the Samaritans and even had baptized the Samaritans into the Name of YaHshua, but look, as you read Acts 8, that Philip called for the Apostles, out of Jerusalem, Peter and John came, and it was to them that Philip asked them to lay hands on those he had baptized and they demonstrated the receiving of the Holy Spirit. But look, it was through the Apostles this sign came, not Philip, a fellow worker, because Philip was not one of the Apostles. Do you see, the Apostles are all dead and buried, awaiting the return of our Savior. Are we to then call them up from the grave? Heaven forbid. This should demonstrate that the laying on of hands at baptism was practiced by the early Ecclesia but the sign of the Holy Spirit came only through one of the Apostles, not an Elder, or servant such as Philip. Do we stop laying on of hands as a practice? No, not at all, for a blessing is passed on and requested and is a tool used within the Ecclesia as an aid and encouragement to believer, whether for healing of comfort or request in service. Philip, was a table waiter, and he was baptizing anyone that asked him, but it was only through the hands of the original Apostles --- well, I am repeating myself, hoping you see and understand that you do not need to feel guilty if at you baptism you did not go crazy as some say you must.
There is another baptism coming, a worldwide baptism, but that is way down the road, and I will discuss that a little later, but for now let's look at who can baptize?
Who Does the Baptism
It is my opinion that anyone can baptize you -- I know they make a show of it in Scriptures with the Holy Spirit causing those baptized to talk in other languages (tongue) and for fire to appear over their heads, but many of these gifts (signs) are not for us today. I hope that at this point you see that the Holy Spirit is actually given to you before the act of water baptism. It is the Holy Spirit of our Heavenly Father that is calling and opening the mind of those He is giving to YaHshua.
Too many wolves have capitalized on what was happening with the First Century believers by applying these things to today – seeking after signs and wonders. However, consider this – the Apostles waited for Pentecost and when the Holy Spirit came on them they spoke in other languages (tongues) and fire flickered above their individual heads, they were like living candles. Later, we hear of the speaking in tongues but no more mention of the flames above the head. How many people today are baptized and flames of fire burn above their heads? This alone should tell us things have changed. Next, in the account on Pentecost there is no mention of water baptism? Our Savior, YaHshua, is with the disciples for 40 days after His death, teaching them things about the Kingdom – then He mentions baptism but not by water –
(Act 1:3-15) He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
This is a confirmation of what John the Baptist said himself –
(Mat 3:11) "I (John) baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Do we see this today? Imagine, if you will, people coming to the Lord and speaking in other languages or tongues of angels and fire bursting from the tops of their heads. I would think this would make the evening news. In fact the internet would be literally burning up with You Tube videos. Again, the lack of this evidence proves there has been a change and the purpose of the signs was to lead the Apostles in the direction YaHshua wanted them to go, not confining themselves to Israelis only.
The baptism by water is a baptism of repentance and John was doing that, as would be anyone before YaHshua. We read of accounts of water baptism still being carried out in the first century but the incredible is diminishing.
We are given an account of several disciples being baptized by “fire”, not water. Later we see many people are convinced and become believers in the message Peter delivers and in that day we are told 3,000 individuals –
(Act 2:41) Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand soul. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
You will notice it is the Apostles coming up with “many signs and wonders” and no mention of the 3,000 speaking in tongues, only that they received his word, and no mention of laying on of hands, only baptism. The miraculous things of the First Century Church were just that, miraculous things kick starting the movement and building a following in the Name of YaHshua, that no one could deny. Most of them were witnesses or knew of witnesses to these events surrounding YaHshua. For a time it would appear these people being influenced and unable to deny the miracles of the Apostles would sweep up the whole world, and this was why Paul (Saul) was given paper to search out and imprison anyone calling on this name, YaHshua, as Messiah. We all know what happened to Paul, being struck blind, and then raised up to be an Apostle to the Gentiles -- not Peter, but Paul. All of those with the power of Laying on of Hands that would produce the sign of the Holy Spirit, had all been eye witnesses, they had walked with, and been taught by YaHshua personally. Remember Philip? This is a wonder and sign past that the first century Ecclesia (called out ones) saw and realized by this that no man was to be refused.
We, today, have the knowledge that no one is to be refused that wants to come to our Savior. Unlike the exclusiveness of the Jewish religion at that time, heavily prejudiced against the Gentiles, but in this we can see the need of the Laying on of Hands miracles to change this Jewish thought. Today, we know it is to all people and when we become part of His earthly body we are on faith alone and in some respects that is a greater blessing, even YaHshua made mention of just that, how much more a blessing to those who have not seen but still believe.
Then, of course there is the Calling. Your calling may be different from mine, and mine from yours, but we are all still one in Him, doing what we do by the same spirit, but in a different way (1 Cor 12:4-6). So, from what I can see there must be a great number of people down through the histories that never saw the baptism of water, but were adopted as sons and daughter by the Spirit alone and the evidence of this is the calling they were called to -- the revelation and understanding of things that seem so reasonable to you while others think it strange -- when you have lost the world but gained the Kingdom, you will know in your own spirit if He is with you. Still, if we think water baptism is required and you feel, as I do, that it is then how this happens is up to you. No matter who helps you with this, a friend, a loved one, a local minister, just remember, you are NOT being baptized into some Church of men but into our Lord YaHshua -- it is between you and Him, not some man, so if you are moved at the mount of hearing the Gospel it does not matter who is baptizing you, just know this -- Satan will not baptize you, not into the Body of the Living Christ, never, so fear not, your baptism is your baptism. Yes, some have used the act of baptism to build a body of followers unto themselves, but if this is the reason for you baptism then it is not a baptism to YaHshua, nor in His Name, but of men. Be you a follower of Him, not some man, or Prophet, or minister, or Cardinal, or Pope. You are called to His word, so read it, study it, talk to Him.
Peace to you -- If you seek baptism by an ordained minister or pastor or elder into the Name of our Savior YaHshua then I would recommend you contact the following. There are other groups but I have the most confidence in these. I will add more groups as I am able to investigate their origins. I personally do not agree with many of the doctrines they teach. If, however, you go back to the first century Church you will find many of them did not agree on every issue. The Apostle Paul ran into these same divisions and expressed his disappointment, none the less, it did not mean these followers of YaHshua were not part of the body because they disagreed on certain issues. The one overriding issue they all had in common was the Messiah they accept, YaHshua, and no other.
Peace, your servant, Dan
Congregation of YHWH
P.O. Box 832
Carteret, NJ 07008
-- or --
Yahweh's Restoration Ministry
P.O. Box 463
Holts Summit, MO 65043