When we come to Christ we first go through a process called the baptism of water (or John’s baptism). This baptism is the beginning process of a believer. It is the process of relinquishing one’s control, a giving up of one’s authority, a permanent turning from evil. This is the first baptism that we find in the Scriptures. It is an entering into the water just as Noah did when he entered into the Ark or just as the Israelites when they crossed the Jordan. It is the baptism into the wilderness, where we abandon this world, repent and turn away from our old fleshly life. We brought by this baptism into the wilderness where we instructed and tried, it is a time where we come to realize our own depravity and wickedness. For just as wood, hay and chafe float in water, so does our own sin and evil float to the top in the water of baptism. It reveals our own inability to perform this Christian life.
Luckily there is a second baptism that Christ desires to pour out upon His beloved children. Unfortunately, most people never receive this baptism. This is baptism of fire (otherwise known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit). The term “Holy Spirit”, or “baptism of the Holy Spirit” makes most of us extremely uncomfortable. We often think of weird charismatic gatherings and other such things when we hear this. We must realize, however, that there is such a thing as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it isn’t weird and out of control though. The Holy Spirit is God, and thus He has the same nature and attributes of God and the Father. He is orderly and dignified, not weird. The Holy Spirit, when it baptizes a believer, brings down a holy refining fire, which purges that which the baptism of water has revealed.
“For our God is a consuming fire”
-Hebrews 12:29 NKJV
This baptism purges us and refines us in the dread fire of God’s incredible majesty. He uses tribulations and afflictions to remove the layers of “us”, to remove the husk of our lives, the worldliness and sin. God uses affliction to train His troops. He uses the hardships and difficulties to harden us into élite troops that will be able to stand against Satan and all his forces. Tribulation is the way that Christ builds strength within a man or woman, the way He cultivates and constructs His people.
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
-Hebrews 12:11 NKJV
“That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,”
-1 Peter 1:7 NKJ