Laying On of Hands

John the Baptist taught that our baptism had three parts to it. First and foremost, baptism of water which is for the forgiveness of our sins, but also anointing by the Holy Spirit and "fire" which is the trials that arise on account of our lifelong committment to follow Jesus no matter what. In the very earliest days of the Church, the Bible introduced us to the meaning of baptism's second part:

"When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, and they went down there, and prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet he had not come down on any of them: they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them , and they received the Holy Spirit." (Acts:8:14).

By doing this, Peter and John showed us a sacrament that almost every church in Christ has followed ever since. The reasoning cannot be contested. If the Apostles did it, then we must do it, too. This "laying on of hands" by the elders and officials of the Church after baptism brings us into a deeper closeness with Jesus so that the aura of God can surround us more tightly. That is the Holy Spirit which comes into us to teach us, comfort us and guard our lives in the Lord. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual anointing, but the apostolic actions of Peter and John illustrate the need for the Church's role in it as well.

The third part of baptism is trial. When you look at the story of Moses leading the Israelites across the Sinai desert to the Promised Land, you will see that the journey lasted 40 years and was filled with many trials which they had to overcome. Moses did not take them to Jerusalem straightaways. That journey and those trials is an allegory of our lives committed to follow Jesus to the kingdom of heaven. It shows us the need for our lifelong committment to trust God no matter what and to persevere in our faith.

"I have found over the course of my own life that it was filled with decisions I had to make whether to obey the commandments of Jesus or do things He said were wrong. Sometimes I made the wrong choices and always, when I did, my life began to founder. But it was like falling down. When I got back up to tell God I was sorry, He welcomed me back on His path and my faith became stronger, and so I persevered." That is what John the Baptist was talking about the third part of baptism, the "fire" of those kind of trials that come in our way as we journey through life toward His kingdom and the eternal life He promised. Staying close to Christ is the ongoing confirmation of our faith we must hold onto for life.

That is the full meaning of our baptism in the Lord.

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