Baptism Means I'm Being Sanctified by the Spirit
Why do we immerse new believers in the first place? What is the meaning or significance of this act? Baptism signifies three vitally important realities in the life of a new Christian. It is a display of Trinitarian glory, for it declares that the believer is joined to Jesus, that the believer has been forgiven by the Father, and that the believer is being sanctified by the Spirit.
Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? (Acts 10:47)
Peter promised that those who repent and believe, their faith being made visible by baptism, would “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). And in Acts 10:45-47, when Peter saw that “the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles,” he declared: “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
And so baptism not only declares that we have been joined to Jesus and forgiven by the Father; it also declares we are being sanctified by the Spirit.
What does “sanctified” mean? It means being “set apart,” “made holy.” This is not a one-time event, like being joined to Jesus or forgiven by the Father. The Spirit’s work of changing us lasts our entire Christian life, because no Christian, no matter how old, can never say, “I have no sin” (cf. 1 John 1:8-10). So baptism doesn’t say that this work is finished. Rather, it declares that the Spirit has “moved in” to the new believer, who is now a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19), and begun that work of sanctification. It means that the new Christian is displaying the gifts of repentance (Acts 11:18) and faith (1 Cor. 12:9). It means the new believer shows evidence of the “fruit of the Spirit,” such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). And baptism is a promise to the believer that, as Paul assured the Thessalonians, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.”
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