“I baptize 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 baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with 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.” (Reference: Matthew 3:11-12 )
You may remember from one of the previous days a discussion of what Anabaptists/Mennonites believe concerning baptism and when a person is baptized.
After the early Christian church become the accepted Christian church baptism became less a profession of faith and more a preventive practice to guard against sin. Hence the practice of baptizing infants was thought to protect them from the sinful world they were born into. Of course this intention became sullied with financial and the accumulation of power over others. Baptism then became an entry way to being a part of the community. It’s purest intention was that one’s family would guide and nurture young children into becoming faithful members of the church. It’s basest intention was that an “offering” would be given to the church in gratitude for its welcoming and sheltering a new member.
One of the things the historic Anabaptist were adamant about was adult baptism and that it should come at a time when the person to be baptized understood the outer and inner significance. The “redeeming” of baptism to its purest and original purpose was very important to the historic Anabaptists. They stated there were three types of baptism: water for repentance and forgiveness; blood for Christ’s atoning action (or enduring suffering for Christ’s sake) ; and Spirit as a coming of God’s presence and guidance in a person’s life.
Pilgram Marpeck said in his confession of 1532, “Both John and the law [that is, the old laws and the ten commandments that rule the Jewish people and for which believers need forgiveness for having broken], by God’s bidding and command, are gone, for they could only produce sorrow and tribulation. However, He who came after John, the laces of whose shoes John was not worthy to untie (although, according to the witness of Christ, John nonetheless was the holiest man born of woman), was Jesus Christ—Jesus Christ, the living power of God Himself who baptizes with fire [fire being the symbol of the cleansing action of the Spirit] and the Holy Spirit [Matt. 3:11]. I fear that he whom Christ has not baptized into godliness with fire and the Holy Spirit can say little about the might and power of Christ. For him, Christ is known only in the letter, like Moses, and Moses like Christ, and he finds himself still under the curse of the law. For those who have been baptized by Christ with fire and Spirit know Christ and His people differently from the others.”
Modern Anabaptists/Mennonites consider baptism the beginning of the Christian journey. Some start that journey when very young, too young to know its significance. Sometimes a believer who was baptized before the time of accountability and of faith will be re-baptized. Others see early baptism as a purely outer experience, and subsequent baptisms because of Christ’s blood and the coming of the indwelling of the Spirit.
May you beloved be aware of the movements of the Spirit in your life and give due regard to each of the types of baptism in your life. Selah!