Water Baptism I know, understand and have experienced. Which is to be expected of a Baptist upbringing along with my theological training and ministry. Spirit Baptism, or baptism in the spirit I know comprehend and have experienced. Which is not to be expected of a bona-fide Baptist, but God is no respecter of denominational labels for the spirit moves like the wind where it wills.
Fire Baptism I am not certain that I know, understand or have experienced.
Yet I sense that these three baptisms which are mentioned in the scriptures are not included by chance and that it is incumbent upon me to search each baptism and gain understanding. For in understanding comes wisdom and with wisdom comes revelation. In this sense baptism by fire comes up way short in my comprehension, not that I can boastfully claim full understanding of the other two.
Never-the-less I have been plagued with a nagging doubt that I need to push further into and an understanding and a deeper revelation of the third trio. This has been for front in my mind and spirit this past week.
What does baptism by fire mean? What did it mean to those who heard the term in the desert from John the Baptists lips? Is it relevant today? Do we need to seek out this baptism? Or does each believer receive this baptism at some point in their journey? And if so, when do we become baptized in fire?
Here is what I heard the Lord say. To those listeners in the desert by the river Jorden when they heard the term, baptism by fire; their thoughts would have turned I believe to the alter, burnt offerings and purification with a cleansing and forgiveness.
Therefore, I believe that we are called, exhorted and encouraged to present our bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit, to the fire of the Lord. To do this we need to build our own alter of righteousness, forgiveness and repentance. Upon this alter we are to bring our sacrifice of worship and praise and in doing so the fire of the Lord may fall on our sacrifice and consume the flesh.
As in Leviticus 6 this fire is never to go out for it is an eternal flame holy and acceptable to the Lord of Hosts. As priests we are to attend to the alter on a continuous basis presenting our offerings of praise and worship allowing the purifying flame to continually burn on our alter.
But without the alter of our construction in place within our mind and will, I believe that no fire will fall on our sacrifices. This I believe is an important revelation, for me anyway.
When I looked up three baptisms, this was what I found that it generally refers to:
Baptism in the blood of Jesus (Salvation)
Water Baptism which signifies the death and burial of "The Old Man" and the resurrection of "The New Man".
Baptism with the Holy Spirit or Baptism by Fire which empowers us to live victoriously. As a Pentecostal I believe this is accompanied by "speaking in Tongues" or as some would now say, receiving a "prayer language". Regardless of one's position on that point, "power for service" is a phrase I heard over and over again when I was growing up in regards to the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and I think it sums it up well.
I have not heard the term baptism in the blood is that scriptural
You asked a good question (several in fact): What does baptism by fire mean? What did it mean to those who heard the term in the desert from John the Baptists lips? Is it relevant today? Let me start with what John said and the imagery this may of called up in the minds of the time: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." And is a conjunctive, logical connective; it isn't separating the two words. There may be more than one thing happening but they are connected at the same time. Acts 2:3,4 bare this out. "(distributed) tongues like fire appeared and rested on each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." Thus the question "what does the fire represent?" (note: when reading this we can not ignore vs. 17 and 18)
Tongues of fire appear first - fire would/could/should call up imagery and scripture of: God's Holy presence, purifying/ purification or Divine wrath. The real first is vs.2 which should draw the mind to a divine presence has entered the room ("from heaven") (Ezek. 1:4). The fact that it rested on each of them is interesting possible showing "the permanence and intimacy of the Spirit's ministry."
Verses for Fire and God's presence: Ex. 3 burning bush; Ex.13:21-22 pillar of fire; Ex. 19:18 with Rev. 15:8 descends on Mt. Sinai; Ps. 144:5; Is.29:6; Deut 4:24 with Heb. 12:29. There are more Mark 9:49; 1Peter 1:7.
We Christians (no matter our differences) are of one baptism, one Spirit.
Sideline study when reading these verses Acts 2: 1-12 it may help to recall Gen. 11:1-9 the Tower of Babel. God divided the languages now, the Gospel is preached in every mans own tongue.
Hope this helps, hope I made some sense with it.
Resources: ESV, LEB, FSB and Fire as a Motif of God's Presence.