Monday, March 02, 2009

More thoughts on baptism...

I'm now reading through the passages that relate to baptism in Acts, since those passages relate to baptism after Christ's death, and after the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. One of the questions I had/have is... does the "baptism with fire" or the coming of the Holy Spirit replace the necessity for baptism with water in relation to forgiveness? So that's where I started this morning...

Acts 2:38 - "Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

This passage echoes an old question and brings up a new one for me: Is it the repentance or the baptism that brings about the forgiveness of sins? And does the baptism bring the Holy Spirit, or is the Holy Spirit the baptism and the water was merely symbolic because the Isrealites still needed the ceremony?

Acts 10 describes the giving of the Holy Spirit to the first gentiles and answers one of the questions above. In verse 47 it is clear that the gentiles there had been given the Holy Spirit, just as the Jews had, but that they had not been baptized with water yet. So the answer to that, at least, is that no, baptism with water is not required for the Holy Spirit to be given to someone. It doesn't say, though, that the baptism wasn't important, because those gentiles then went and were baptized with water. Was it just to fit in with the Christian community, or did it serve a greater purpose?