“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’”
Why does the Bible say, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force?”
Because people can take the Kingdom of Heaven by the faith in the beautiful gospel that says that Jesus blotted out all the sins of the world through His baptism by John and His blood on the Cross.
What kind of gospel did Paul preach? He preached the gospel of Jesus’ baptism and His blood. Acts 19:1 says, “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’” However, these people believed in Jesus while leaving out the meaning of Jesus’ baptism. They didn’t know the beautiful gospel that leads to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul’s question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” was a very unfamiliar question to some disciples at Ephesus. Other people would have asked them, “Did you believe in Jesus?” But Paul asked the question in this extraordinary way so that they could receive the Holy Spirit by renewing their faith in the beautiful gospel. Paul’s ministry was to preach the beautiful gospel of Jesus’ baptism and His blood. Paul, Peter and John also testified to Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist.
Let’s take a look at the apostles’ testimony to the gospel of baptism. First Paul testified, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:2-3) and “For as many of you as were baptized in to Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
The apostle Peter also testified to the gospel of Jesus’ baptism in 1 Peter 3:21, saying, “There is also an antitype which now saves us ─ baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”
John the Apostle also testified to this beautiful gospel in 1 John 5:5-8. “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is He who came by water and blood ─ Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.”
John the Baptist played a crucial role in completing the beautiful gospel. The Bible says the following about John the Baptist in Malachi 3:1-3 and Matthew 11:10-11. John the Baptist was the representative of mankind and he was the prophesied Elijah to come, as written in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, a sin offering was killed to shed its blood after taking away the sins of a man by the laying on of his hands. In the New Testament, however, Jesus was the sin offering who took away all the sins of the world through His baptism and died on the Cross to pay the wages of sin. Jesus saved mankind because John the Baptist passed all the sins of the world on to Him through the baptism in the Jordan River.
God planned two kinds of great deeds in order to save mankind from their sins and He fulfilled them all. The first was to have Jesus come into this world through the body of the virgin Mary, and to have Him baptized and crucified to take away all the sins of the world. The second was to have John the Baptist born through Elizabeth. God caused these two events to occur in order to save mankind from their sins. This was the work planned by God in the Trinity. God sent John the Baptist into this world six months prior to Jesus, then sent Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, into this world to free mankind from judgment for their sins.
Jesus bore witness to John the Baptist in Matthew 11:9. “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.” Furthermore, when John the Baptist, who passed all the sins of the world on to Jesus, saw Him the next day, he bore witness by saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
The Bible has many records of John, who baptized Jesus, and we should strive to gain better knowledge of him. John the Baptist came into the world before Jesus. His role was to fulfill the beautiful gospel, which was God’s plan. The Bible says that Jesus accepted all the sins of the world from John and that John passed them on to Him to fulfill God’s will.
We call him John the Baptist because he baptized Jesus. What meaning does the baptism of Jesus by John really have? The word “baptism” implies “to be washed.” Since all the sins of the world were transferred to Jesus through His baptism, they have been washed away. Jesus’ baptism had the same meaning as “the laying on of hands” that the sin offering received in the Old Testament. The spiritual meaning of baptism is “to pass on to,” “to be washed” or “to be buried.” Jesus’ baptism by John was an act of redemption to take away the sins of all the people in the world.
Jesus’ baptism has the same significance as the laying on of hands, which was the method of passing sins on to the sin offering in the Old Testament. In other words, the people of Israel passed their yearly sins on to the sin offering on the Day of Atonement through the laying hands on of the high priest. This sacrifice in the Old Testament had the same function as Jesus’ baptism and His death on the Cross.
God appointed the Day of Atonement as the time to take away the sins of the Israelites. On the tenth day of the seventh month, the high priest passed all the yearly sins of the people onto the head of the sin offering by laying his hands on the sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people. This was the sacrificial system that God established. It was the only way to pass the sins of the people on to the sin offering, and transferring the sin by the laying on of hands was the everlasting law that God had established.
“Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgression, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:21-22).
In the Old Testament, a sinner laid his hands on the head of a sin offering and passed his sins on to it in order to be forgiven. And on the Day of Atonement, Aaron the high priest, as the representative of all Israelites, laid his hands on the head of the sacrifice to pass on the sins of Israel. Then the offering was killed after it took on their sins.
It has the same spiritual meaning as the baptism (Baptisma in Greek means “to be washed, to be buried, to pass”) that Jesus received from John in the New Testament. Just as the high priest in the Old Testament laid his hands on the sin offering to pass on the sins of the people of Israel, so all the sins of humanity were passed on to Jesus through His baptism by John the Baptist. Jesus then died on the Cross to atone for our sins. This is the beautiful gospel of truth.
Just as Aaron the high priest offered the sacrifice for atonement in place of the people of Israel, John the Baptist, one of the descendants of Aaron, carried out the task as the representative of mankind by baptizing Jesus, and thereby passing all the sins of mankind on to Him. God described such a wonderful plan of His love in the Bible as follows in Psalms 50:4-5, “He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people: Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Amen, Hallelujah.
History of the Church said that there was no Christmas for the first two centuries in the early church. The early church Christians along with Jesus’ Apostles had only commemorated January 6th as “the Day of Jesus’ Baptism” at the Jordan by John the Baptist. Why did they lay such a great emphasis on Jesus’ baptism in their beliefs? The answer is the very key to the Christianity of Apostolic tradition. But I hope for you not to be confused with the water baptism of believers and the Baptism of Jesus.
The baptism of believers as it exists today has a very different meaning from the baptism Jesus received from John. Therefore, we should all have the same faith as Jesus’ disciples if we want to receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We should all receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by believing in Jesus Christ’s baptism, which He received from John, and in His blood on the Cross.
If the early church thought of baptism as an extremely important ritual, it was due to their pivotal faith in Jesus’ baptism, and we should nowadays also consider Jesus’ baptism by John as indispensable component to our salvation. Furthermore, we must reach and keep the right faith of perfect knowledge, which says that Jesus had to be crucified due to His baptism by John. We should bear in mind that the Holy Spirit begins to dwell in us when we believe that Jesus was baptized, died on the Cross and was resurrected to become our Savior. Jesus’ baptism by John and His blood on the Cross has such a special meaning in the beautiful gospel.
The fail-safe way for us to receive the Holy Spirit is to believe in the beautiful gospel of Jesus’ baptism and blood. Jesus’ baptism cleansed all the sins of mankind at once. It was the baptism of redemption that leads us to receive the Holy Spirit. Since some people don’t realize the power of Jesus’ baptism, they understand it as mere ceremony.
Jesus’ baptism forms part of the beautiful gospel, which tells of how He took away all the sins of the world and accepted the judgment for them by shedding blood on the Cross. Anyone who believes in the words of this beautiful gospel becomes a member of the church, which is a possession of the Lord, and enjoys the blessings of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God to those who have been forgiven for their sins.
With His baptism, Jesus became “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” well enough (John 1:29). In John 1:6-7 it says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.” In order to believe in Jesus as our Savior, who took away all our sins, we must understand John’s ministry and testimony as it is written in the Bible. Then we will be able to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. In order to receive the Holy Spirit, we also need our strong faith heartened by his testimony. Therefore, to complete the beautiful gospel of truth, we must believe in Jesus’ baptism by John and in His blood on the Cross.
In Matthew 11:12 it is written that, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” This passage is known as one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. However, we have to pay attention to the phrase “from the days of John the Baptist.” It surely proclaims that the ministry of John was directly connected with Jesus’ ministry for our salvation.
Jesus wants us to enter the Kingdom by bold faith, as bold as violent men. We sin every day, we are fragile, but He permits us to enter His Kingdom by the daring faith regardless of our wickedness. So this passage means that people can take the kingdom of heaven by the faith in the beautiful gospel that says that Jesus blotted out all the sins of the world through His baptism by John and His blood on the Cross. In other words, it means that Heaven can be taken through the bold faith in this beautiful gospel of Jesus’ baptism and blood.
Jesus’ baptism took away all our sins, and our faith in it guarantees that we will receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We must preach this gospel to our neighbors, relatives, acquaintances, and to everyone else in the world. We must have faith in the beautiful gospel that says that the sins of the world were transferred to Jesus through His baptism. Through our faith we will obtain the bliss of redemption and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ baptism took away all our sins, and His blood was the judgment of the sin. We must explain to non-believers the beautiful gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only by doing so, will they come to believe in the gospel and receive the Holy Spirit. I want you to believe it. Only by having faith in Jesus’ baptism by John and His blood on the Cross can man be forgiven for all his sins and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Everyone can become a son of the Lord, in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, and one of our brothers and sisters by believing in the beautiful gospel of the water and the Spirit. You should have the same faith in the beautiful gospel as Paul had. I thank the Lord for giving us this beautiful gospel and praise Him. Amen.