“ In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 3:1-2…And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. 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? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” Matthew 3:10-15.
The first important point we should notice is the gospel preached by John the Baptist, and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Kingdom of Heaven Gospel. There is a difference between the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, and the church, the body of Christ. Now, you can have the Kingdom of God, and the body of Christ without the Kingdom of heaven. But, you cannot have the Kingdom of Heaven or the body of Christ without the Kingdom of God.
John was offering both, the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God to Israel. The Kingdom of Heaven was the earthly kingdom promises to Israel throughout the Old Testament. Unless they truly repented, and remained faithful, they could not have the Kingdom of Heaven. It was now time to repent and make ready for the King. The time had finally arrived.
That explains why there is never a word in the gospel they preached, about His coming death and resurrection. John was not preparing the nation for His death, but for His Messianic reign. Thus, all three baptisms have some bearing on the Kingdom of Heaven rule on earth.
First, there is the baptism of Jesus. John did not know that his cousin, Jesus, was Israel’s Messiah. He was told that he would know Him when he baptized Him.
Our Lord’s baptism not only revealed Him to John, but was also the Lord’s approval and identification with John’s intended ministry. It is very significant that Jesus was thirty years old when He was baptized. This fact gives additional meaning to the statement, “for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”
John’s message was in line with the Old Testament prophets. It was “Turn or burn.” When John used the metaphor of an ax laid at the root of the tree, or a floor cleaned of chaff to be burned, he was speaking directly to the nation of near and impending judgment if they did not repent. This is the baptism of fire to which he alluded. This baptism of fire will be fully realized in the Tribulation. By the time we get to the end of Acts, it is evident that the nation would not repent.
The third baptism was also a point of Old Testament prophecy for Israel. It is called a “pouring,” or a “falling.” “And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” Joel 2:29. “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:” Isaiah 44:3. “(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them :…)” Acts 8:16.
This baptism is also associated with the Kingdom of Heaven, and these events were the first installment of the promises. These three baptisms were all part of the Kingdom of Heaven gospel. Nothing in the context has any connection to the church, the Body of Christ. No one today is baptized with fire, or WITH the Spirit. The baptism today is BY the Spirit, INTO the person of Christ. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Romans 6:3.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.