Baptism

QA251 QUESTION: I would like to ask several questions pertaining to the Bible’s teachings on baptism – both in water and in the Holy Spirit – and on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and he received the spirit of God in the form of a dove.

John 1:29-33, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. And John bore witness ‘I saw the spirit descend to remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’.”

In the gospels, both the baptism of John by water – otherwise known as the baptism of repentance for sin – and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are spoken of as necessary for salvation and a deep union with Christ.

Christ said, in John 3:3-5, “Truly, truly I say to you unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” “One must be born anew to enter the kingdom.” Peter said in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Paul also emphasized baptism in Acts 19:4-6, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance telling people to believe in Jesus who was to come, and on hearing this they were baptized and then Paul laid his hands upon them and the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

Are these things true? What is the deeper meaning of baptism? What is the function of baptism in these two substances – water and the spirit – today? What happens on the spiritual plane at the moment of baptism? What does Christ’s statement about being “born anew” mean for us on the Path? Is it true that the outer manifestation of baptism in the spirit must be speaking in tongues? Acts 2 describes the experience of the disciples at Pentecost when they received the manifestation of the comforter that Jesus had promised them. “And there appeared to them tongues of fire resting upon their heads, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” What is the deeper meaning of speaking in tongues and prophesying? Is the connection with one’s own inner channel of guidance the same things?

In Corinthians 1:12, verse 17, Paul speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. “To each is given the manifestation for the common good. To one the utterance of wisdom, to another the utterance of knowledge of the spirit, to another faith, to another healing, to another the working of miracles, to another tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues, to another the discerning of spirits. All of these are inspired by one and the same spirit.”

I feel that many of these gifts of the spirit are manifesting through people in the Pathwork at this time even though there has been no outward baptism in the biblical sense. Is this true? Is there a new baptism in the spirit occurring spontaneously on the Path? Is the giving of your Force the same as the pouring out of the spirit upon us as this occurred at the ritual of commitment? I feel that it is and will welcome your comments and answers to my questions here.

ANSWER: As I said many times before, almost all eternal truths that were pronounced in former times were symbolic and never to be understood literally. There was good reason for this, which I have also explained in the past and need not repeat here.

The symbolical meaning of baptism by water and the spirit is really quite simple. Water symbolizes the eternal flow of feelings, of ever-changing truth that yet remains unchanging in its essence. Spirit means the active principle of thought and will. All these human faculties must be given over to the spirit of Christ, who symbolized through his life and death what love means.

Repentance is obviously a prerequisite for the inner rebirth of the spirit. If you cannot recognize your lower self, how can you adjudge how harmful its effects are? How can you be motivated to deeply desire to change it? When this happens, feelings will change, thoughts and will direction will change, and you shall truly be reborn of water and spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ.

It is not just a simplistic belief in the historical figure of Jesus Christ who creates salvation. This is often the case, and it is clear that “in the spirit of Jesus Christ,” or “in the name of Jesus Christ” means exactly that: the attitude, the thought material, the feelings of love and openness, of forgiveness; the positive intentionality at all times; the devotion to God; sacrificing the little ego and self-aggrandizement for the greater cause.

Whether the physical act of baptism in water took place or not is immaterial. If it did, it was a ritual whose purpose was to express the inner meaning. Later, as was so often the case, the ritual lost its inner meaning and became an empty gesture. The act itself was believed to create the transformation. And that, of course, cannot be, no matter how much you may praise the Lord and pronounce your devotion to him.

Inner transformation is hard work and a lengthy process, as you all know. It would be insurmountably difficult if it were undertaken without the help of the Lord. With his help all things are possible.

When real baptism, in the sense I explained – that is, inner transformation and total commitment to the will of God – takes place, a great light springs up in the Spirit World. A light that adds to the great reservoir of eternal life and glory, of all that is good and wonderful.

About speaking in tongues, here a great deal of confusion exists. It is a known fact that on the road of spiritual development, psychic powers awaken. These psychic powers can be dedicated to God and then become integrated in the totality of the new spiritual person in a meaningful and harmonious way.

At times, though, the fascination with these psychic powers is so great that more emphasis is put on them than is desirable and the spirit of the inner journey gets lost. There are mediumistic manifestations of many different kinds. One of them is speaking in languages that the medium does not know.

This is often very convincing for bystanders and may help them to give up their materialistic conviction that only what they can see, touch, and understand is real. In other instances, it becomes sensational and can lead to psychic phenomena that are not determined by divine spirits.

In biblical times, when there was a great influx of inner awakening and new understanding on deeper levels, all sorts of psychic phenomena appeared: healing, speaking in tongues, and many other phenomena that were not necessarily mentioned because they could not be explained, or understood. It is a great mistake to make any of these phenomena in themselves – even healing – an end or a proof or a goal. They are only by-products and should be taken as such.

Divinely ordained spirits could use prophecy occasionally for specific purposes, but more often than not prophecy is being used by very unreliable sources and even by evil spirits.

The “comforter” is something you all have experienced. When you no longer defend, when you commit yourself to your truth, when you are filled with goodwill and with the intent to follow God’s will in all things – no matter how great your sorrow, your pain or your fear – you will be comforted.

The “tongues of fire resting on their heads” is not just the symbolic expression of the fire of love, the strength of the spirit that is more powerful than all else. It is actually a manifestation of this power on the energy level. Some who are clairvoyant can see the aura light up with a great, surging light that appears like fiery tongues, coming out of the head.

You are right that the gifts of the spirit are truly poured out to many friends on the Path who make their commitment to serving God’s plan as an ongoing attitude. Your commitment ceremonies are outer symbolic rituals of baptism, but always remember that the outer must never become more important than the inner. The inner must always be the stronger, the more firmly entrenched in your souls, from which a beautiful outer ceremony can give only inklings.

Yes, when I give the Force through the hands of the instrument, it is a specific outpouring of the spirit, combining with the force that you have generated by your sincerity to serve God’s will, to follow in Christ’s footsteps and live in his spirit, in his attitude, with similar feelings as he so clearly demonstrated.

As you need to renew all attitudes, laws, and dispositions in order to manifest the ever-flowing waters of truth and divinity, so must Scripture be read and understood. It should never be taken as a fixed, verbal dictum. In that way it will lose its very life.

Use your spirit of truth and life to understand whatever Scripture you come in touch with as a manifestation of truth and life. In order to do so, some sayings must be seen as no longer being applicable. Others must be recognized for their inner meaning only, and not on the factual level.

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