John’s baptism was essentially a call to repentance in preparation for the coming Messiah. Thus, his baptism signified forsaking and the remission of sin (Luke 3:3) . Luke wrote, “John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel” (Acts 13:24 also Mark 1:5).
“Repentance” as proclaimed by John the Baptist included much more than the confession of past sins (Psalms 32:1). As his words of instruction make clear (Luke 3:9–14), “repentance” was to be followed by a changed life in which the beliefs of righteousness already shown in Scripture were to be seen in the life (Micah 6:8).
Repentance, confession, and forgiveness, were the first steps to be done in preparing “the way of the Lord” and making “his paths straight,” in filling in the “valleys” and leveling the “mountains” of a person’s character (Luke 3:4, 5; Matthew 3:6).
Christ’s baptism was the baptism of the Holy Spirit as seen in the following passages:
“John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:16).
“It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism” (Acts 19:1-7).
The Lord promises to give the Holy Spirit as His mighty power to all believers. Thus, we see the progressive experience with God: repentance – baptism – remission of sin – reception of the Holy Spirit.
What Is the Purpose of the Gift of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus give us the answer, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This power is for witnessing: it gives (1) power within, (2) power to proclaim the gospel, (3) power to lead others to God.
As witnesses, the disciples were the visible evidence of God’s grace to the world (John 1:12). And through the Holy Spirit’s power, they were to fulfill God’s great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
The great commission is sometimes called the “charter of foreign missions.” Christianity, as a religion, was the first one to take a clear international labor. Heathen religions did not have a missionary outreach. They were mainly national in nature and did not set to evangelize and seek to convert the other faiths.
Christ predicted that at the end of time, the gospel of the kingdom would be “preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14). By the Holy Spirit, the believers will do even “greater works” (John 14:12), that is, greater in number rather than nature. While Christ’s work had reached a relatively small area of the world, after His ascension, the truth will reach the entire world through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In His service,