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Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick (living), and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Mark 4:1 And he began again to teach by the sea side... 2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, 3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

Hebrews 4:12 is referring to both conversion and judgment by the word of God. The word understood, obeyed and applied in our lives is able to edify and save us.

Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

The word understood and rejected will condemn us.

John 12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Nothing can be hidden in the day of judgment.

Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

The soul is the whole being or creature.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The soul sins and dies.

Ezekiel 18:4 ...the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

The spirit is the character; the independence we have in the way we think that controls what we do.

Isaiah 66:2 this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

The ‘dividing asunder of soul and spirit’ is the difference between what we want to do naturally and what we want to do to obey the word of God.

Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

The word of God can (and must) change the way we think. Our character must be conformed to that of the son of God if we would be saved.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I do not pretend to understand exactly what Paul means by ‘the joints and marrow’. I will hazard the guess that ‘joints’ is that which joins and ‘marrow’ is that which provides nourishment. I suggest that the word of God is able to separate us from this world and join us to Christ and change our reliance on the bread that perishes to the bread that gives life.

John 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you...

The word of God properly understood, becomes ‘a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart’ via our conscience.

Romans 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

Genuine faith comes only from hearing (understanding) the word of God.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

In Mark 4:1 the parable of the sower illustrates the reactions of different people when presented with the word of God. We all have freewill to reject the word because we can’t be bothered to understand it, to embrace it half-heartedly, to throw it away for this world’s goods or to allow it to mould our lives and bring forth fruit for God. We are not pre-programmed to accept or reject. The word of God is not forced upon us.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (damned in the Bible means condemned to death not eternal torment).

The difference between water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible records just two baptisms with the Holy Spirit.

The first was at Pentecost.

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The second was at Caesarea.

Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

That baptism with the Holy Spirit was not a normal occurrence is made clear when Peter explains it at Jerusalem. The singular, out of the ordinary, event was meant to prove to the Jewish Christians that the gospel could now be preached to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles could be baptised into Christ. Peter was forced to recall the event which had occurred some 5 or 6 years previously and remember Christ’s words.

Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning (ie at Pentecost).16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us (ie at Pentecost), who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

Two things become apparent here.

1. Believing on the name of Jesus Christ was not normally accompanied by baptism with the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit was normally given by the laying on of the apostles’ hands and after water baptism. This is the order preached to the Jews at Pentecost.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The order is (1) Repent, (2) be Baptised (in water) and (3) receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

That the gift of the Holy Spirit was administered only by the laying on of the apostles’ hands is shown in the case of the Samaritans baptised by Philip.

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

2. Cornelius’ household having been baptised with the Holy Spirit still had to be baptised in water.

Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Paul explains that by baptism in water a believer undergoes, in symbol, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Baptism in water is a public confession that we believe that the death, burial and resurrection of Christ did in fact happen and was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins. By being totally immersed in water a believer has all past sins washed away and begins a new life.

1. Death - When we are baptised we go down into the water to wash away our sins and our past way of life. This is a symbolic death of our old selves.
2. Burial - When we are baptised we are for a few seconds completely covered by water. This is a symbol of the burial of the person we were.
3. Resurrection - When we arise out of the water we begin a new life to be lived by the commandments of Christ. This is symbolic of resurrection.

Below are some scriptures which show that baptism by immersion in water is necessary for ALL believers.

1. Jesus was baptized.

Matthew 3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

2. Jesus said it was necessary to fulfil all righteousness.

NIV Matthew 3:15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness." Then John consented.

3. The disciples were commanded to baptise.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:

4.  Jesus didn’t say ‘he that just believes shall be saved’; he said:

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved...

5. Jesus (via his disciples) baptised those that believed on him.

John 3:22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

John 4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

It is unreasonable to suppose that Jesus would have had his disciples baptise believers if it is not necessary to be baptised.

6. At Pentecost Peter told the Jews:

Acts 2:38 ...Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins... 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

7. Philip baptised the Samaritans.

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

8. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptised. For the Eunuch to request baptism infers that during Philip’s preaching he had been told that it was necessary.

Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37... If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

At the baptism of the eunuch there is no mention of Holy Spirit gift. We know from Acts 8 that although Philip had the Holy Spirit and could work miracles he was not an apostle and could not confer Holy Spirit gifts.

9. Paul (Saul) had to be baptised.

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

10. Lydia was baptised.

Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household...

11. The Philippian gaoler was baptised.

Acts 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Having been told that if he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, he would be saved, he still had to be baptised in water.

Acts 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

12. Disciples at Ephesus having been baptised by John the Baptist had to be re-baptised when Jesus was fully explained to them.

Acts 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Paul tells the Ephesians that there is:

Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

There is no evidence to suggest that this is anything other than water baptism.

Paul speaks of the Colossians being buried with Christ in baptism.

Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Peter speaks of baptism saving us.

1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The writer to the Hebrews speaks of having our bodies washed with water.

Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Only the thief on the cross was promised an entrance into the kingdom without water baptism but we must remember that he was ‘dying with Christ’ not in symbol but for real. He had confessed that he was receiving a just reward for his sins from which we might infer repentance. His belief in Christ being the Messiah who would come into his Kingdom was remarkable when all Jesus’ disciples had forsaken him because they didn’t understand. [The coma before ‘today’ has been placed in the wrong place by the translators (there is no punctuation in the Greek) and the thief will not enter paradise until the resurrection.]

Jesus speaking to Nicodemas is not referring to baptism in the Holy Spirit.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Rebirth by baptism in water must be accompanied by a rebirth in the way we think.

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Because there are no apostles still alive today the Holy Spirit gifts are no longer available in the way that the New Testament describes. There is no evidence that those who received the gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the apostles’ hands could pass the gift on. Philip’s baptism of the Samaritans illustrates that they could not.

The prime purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit was to bring the whole of Christ’s teaching to the apostles’ remembrance and to guide them into truth.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The Holy Spirit gifts were a sign from God that the gospel preached by the apostles was the truth. There are many churches which profess to have members with the Holy Spirit today but it is evident that they do not all preach the same gospel. Is God then the author of confusion? Or should we not rather reasonably conclude that the claim is an unfortunate misunderstanding until proven otherwise?


I hope this helps.
Glenn Smith