Luke 3:16 John [the Baptist] said, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

 Baptism is a key step of obedience in our walk with God.  It is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual experience.  Baptism follows confession, repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Saviour, not the other way round.

 Baptism is something done to you, not by you. [1]

There is quite a discussion about whether baptism with water is separate from baptism with the Holy Spirit.

 I believe that the Holy Spirit can come at the water baptism, just as John baptized Jesus and the dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit rested on him as he rose from the water.

 Matthew 3:16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

 There is a difference between the baptism by John and the baptism by Jesus and it is that difference that our verse today points out. “I baptize you with water; but … He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

 In the words of Dr  Spence-Jones in 1909: John could do no more with his words and symbol baptism than rouse the people to struggle after repentance and a change of heart and life, while the Messiah would endow people with the influence from above, that was really needed in order to purity of heart and life. He would procure and pour out the influence of the Divine Spirit. [2]

 1 Corinthians 12:13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

 The washing of the water symbolizes the cleansing of regeneration – the old lies dead in the water and the new creation arises, using the symbolism of death and resurrection.

 Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

 But baptism by Jesus speaks also of baptism by fire – which is not fire (as in the fires of hell) but the fire of purification.

 We used to sing the song “Refiner’s Fire”, by Brian Doerksen of Vineyard, speaking of gold refined by fire.

 Purify my heart, Cleanse me from within, And make me holy. Purify my heart, Cleanse me from my sin, Deep within

 The idea of purification comes from Isaiah 6:6-7: The coal of fire taken from off the altar and laid on the mouth of Isaiah the prophet.

 Isaiah 6:6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”

 Writes the ancient Bishop Wordsworth: “With fire to purify, illumine, transform, inflame with holy fervour and seal, and carry upward, as Elijah was carried up to heaven in a chariot of fire.”

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.


Water and Spirit, together are symbols of baptism, but more than just symbols. They are a reality.


Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism for us may seem just an ordinary step in a Christian church but baptism carries much more emphasis in people who come from a different faith background.


For a Muslim to be baptized is perceived as a clear act of converting out of Islam and into Christianity, socially, spiritually, culturally and maybe even legallyAlthough the act of baptism in some Muslim contexts isn’t a big deal, in most other contexts it is perceived to be a huge, irreversible step, virtually inviting severe retaliation from family or mosque.[3]

Baptism wherever it happens also carries with it a sense of equipping for service to God.

In my own experience, it was the words of baptism which God later revealed to me as my path of service to him.


It is when we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we are empowered by God.


Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The baptism with the Holy Spirit is always connected with testimony and service.[4]

 The theologian Torrey writes: If a person has experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit [through conversion], he is a changed man, but he is not fitted for service until in addition to this he has received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.[5]

 Today Shakira, Danielle and Rita are being baptized, baptized with water and fire.

 We know that God has a purpose and plan for each of them, that plan which is Holy Spirit enabled and Holy Spirit purposed.

 I can’t wait to see that Holy Spirit plan work out in their lives.


[1] Martin Sutherland Radical Disciples: exploring Baptist ideas 31

[2] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Luke (Vol. 1, pp. 67–68).


[4] R A Torrey The baptism with the Holy Spirit 9

[5] ibid