Q: Can I baptize myself? I’m a believer and have accepted Yahushua as my savior so maybe I don’t need to bother with water baptism. What say you? How does all this have to do with receiving the Holy Spirit ?
A: Good questions. Hum, I am thinking the answer may be yes but we need to consider the power of the Holy Spirit in all this. One question always seems to raise others and you are asking three questions – all related, of course. So, when is the Holy Spirit given, before, after, or when? In thinking about this question the account of Phillip and the Eunuch come to mind. Once the Eunuch understood the Gospel message did He receive or after He came up out of the water?
(Act 8:35) Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about YaHshua. --
He then wanted to know what was to keep him from baptism and Philip said none – if you take the time to read the full account you will see there is not record of signs, not talking in tongues, etc. Just two men in the water, one confessing YaHshua as Savior the other having already done that.
(Act 8:36) As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"
It should be understood that this Philip has been identified by Biblical scholars as one of the servants originally selected to wait on table and is not one of the Apostles (Acts 6:5; 21:8). There is an Apostle by the same name but this is not him, it is Philip, one of the seven selected to help out, just a guy like you and I, who is later identified an Evangelist (preacher of the Gospel, as were the other 6). So, from this we can understand that too much may be placed on whom or who is not baptizing us. It does not have to be someone that can demonstrate a direct connect with the original Apostles as some works claim.
Some do teach this, that the laying on of hand must be from a man ordained in the linage of the original Apostles, claiming this connection has never been broken. This, of course, makes their work the only true work on earth. Some that have taught this no longer exist but still others have and are making this same claim.
One has to wonder if the Eunuch had traveled on and Philip had left before coming to the water if the Eunuch full of belief, would have baptized himself. Remember, it was not Philip pressing him to be baptized, it was the Eunuch that looked at the water, it was his choice. Philip seems to have shrugged his shoulders and said, sure, why not? Or, at least, in attitude and it may have been Philip did not know just where this was going, after all, one day a servant of tables and after the persecutions began and they were all dispersed he found himself a preacher of the Gospel and here he was with a foreigner, most certainly not a Jew. All pretty strange stuff for a Jewish boy who just a few days previous witnessed the murder of Stephen, a fellow table waiter.
I have looked into baptism some before and never considered this before the possibility of a person baptizing themselves -- good question. Still, even in this we need to find where the Holy Spirit fits in, after all, it is the confession of YaHshua as our Savior and symbolized in the baptism we are buried with Him and then raise with Him in life by the Holy Spirit and this means we need to understand the business concerning what and who this Holy Spirit is.
What I have noticed is that the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son, as we are told, is the mystery of the God and this mystery is YaHshua in us and then we find the Father too is in us, not full on but partially, we are given a tiny piece of them as a down payment in the promise to come.
(2Co 5:5) Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (G728 - deposit or pledge, even as a security deposit)
(Col 1:27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
(Rom 8:11) And if the Spirit of Him who raised YaHshua from the dead is living in you, He who raised the Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through HIS Spirit, who lives in you.
Mystery solved -- THEY are in us but only a small piece as a deposit confirming the full promise to come – the deposit then later the full payment. With this understanding, then, who is the Holy Spirit? The answer is self-evident isn’t it? Where does this leave those teaching the Holy Spirit as a separate personality of the Trinity God Head? Right, out in the cold, outside of the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the Father in us and the Son in us, a shared eternal Spirit, and we are sealed by this very same Spirit, the life, for the lack of a better word, of our Heavenly Father imparted to us in part, not yet fully given. When the fullness does come we will be changed completely and become like Him.
(1Jn 3:2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
The Holy Spirit is given at different times, so it seems -- some received the HS before baptism, many days before, others after baptism and still others being baptized twice and then receiving the HS. When looking at all of these variations it became apparent, to me anyway, that the "evidence" everyone is looking for in HS baptism was an ends to a means back in the first few years of the New Covenant -- the evidence of HS being given by the speaking in tongues even by fiery flames flickering overhead and such, all to confirm something not seen clearly by the Jewish Apostles – well, not ever seen before.
One demonstration of the Holy Spirit, used to introduce the Jewish population to a new way, a New Covenant occurred at the Feast of Pentecost, a mere 50 days after our Lord YaHshua was crucified -- most of them had been baptized before, we can assume, as Many Jews practiced cleansing by baptism, and many others had experienced the Baptism of John in his call to repentance -- 3,000 being baptized that day.
Also, some 50 day before this, the Apostles were given the Holy Spirit when the raised YaHshua breathed on them, so the tongues of fire, 49 days later, flicking over their heads was just for show. Then later when Philip baptized a bunch of Samaritans in the Name of our Savior YaHshua there was no evidence this was acceptable (forget about the Eunuch -- possibly and most likely a black man) -- Peter and others were called in from Jerusalem -- why? Because, the Jews and this includes the Jewish Apostles were only taking the Gospel to the people of Israel and the Samaritans were usurpers to the throne of Israel. Remember our Savior's encounter with the Samaritan woman, "...even the dogs get the crumbs from the master's table". YaHshua denied her at first, remarking the gift He was offering was for the Children, or Israel, not for the dogs or Gentiles. Hum, different from what we hear, right? This was to change, however and the Holy Spirit signs were used to confirm a change and expansion of this gift to those dirty dogs even. Still the Apostles had a problem with this -- hence, Paul is broken then raised up as the Apostles to the Gentiles. Hum, another teaching contrary to many -- Peter was never the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Then we have the baptism of 12 of John the Baptist disciples. They had already been baptized in the baptism of repentance but not into the Name of the One Who Saves, into His Name. So, they too were baptized again and Paul laid hands on them and they exhibited the same Holy Spirit evidence as other outsiders proving, again, at a different time and under different circumstances that even those who have repented and been baptized have a need also to be baptized again into His Name. Remember, the Samaritans had been baptized into His Name, so why the display of the Holy Spirit? Simply, as mentioned, to confirm they had and were accepted into the Body of the Christ, and by this out ward display no one dare say otherwise even if they hated these people or not. Peter, remember, ran into this bigotry when he had to stand before the Jerusalem counsel and give an account of himself for the baptism of the Roman officer and his whole house. Didn't he know it was forbidden for a Jew to enter the house of a Gentile? That was the best argument they could come up with because the rule had not been written yet concerning the baptism of those unclean gentile people. Luckily, Peter had take along some other believers and had witnesses to stand up for him. So, it was decided, Gentiles too could come to the Messiah. After these things were completed and it was realized the Gospel was truly for the whole world then this sign or demonstration of what was, or who was acceptable was no longer needed. But see what people do today? Not everyone, but everyone in ignorance, even those that do not follow along with the Charismatic groups seeking spiritual renewal do not know why they may or may not object to such antics.
So, it seems to me that a person baptizing themselves would be between that person and out Heavenly Father and would seem more correct and personal than the chrismatic nonesense going on in some churches today. The laying on of hands was an outward demonstration as was the speaking in tongues to prove acceptance of people outside of Israel, this, remember, as we read had to do with the Mystery of God.
One last thing -- in some ways it seems appropriate to have a witness or two of our confession, not hiding our acceptance of Him as our Savior, so to speak. And I do not think it really matters if it is strangers or loved ones, participating or not for if we confess His Name He will confess our Name before the Father and the angels of Heaven.
(Mat 10:32) Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
(1Co 12:3) Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "YaHshua is accursed!" and no one can say "YaHshua is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.
What say you? What say I ? YaHshua is Lord -- halleluYah !!
(Act 2:38) Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of YaHshua the Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
At this time Peter was speaking to Israel, all of the Jews, never imagining, at this time, that this would apply to the Gentiles. I know this is hard for us to understand today but this is what they thought their commission was. Yes, YaHshua said to go into all the world but they thought, to Israel for they did have an original command from our Lord –
(Mat 10:5) These twelve YaHshua sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
(John 4:9) Then said the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, ask a drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
(Mat 15:25) Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
(Mat 15:26) But He answered and said, It is not meet (fitting) to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
(Mat 15:27) And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
(Mat 15:28) Then YaHshua answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as you will. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
What did the disciples take away from this account? They saw the Lord’s sympathy and saw no change in the rules of Torah when it came to dealing with Gentiles. The Jewish population had been taught not to associate with the Gentiles, that Genitiles were like beasts, or unclean animals.
Later, during the first years of Peter's ministery, he was called on the carpet for having associated with a Gentile, a Roman officer, no less, and not just that, but he entered this dirty gentiles home. When the leadership and the congregation at Jerusalem heard about this, they were up in arms and Peter had to defend his actions as the tempers against him rose, but luckily he had three other Jewish brothers who would bear witness with him –
(Act 11:2-3) And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision (Jewish belivers) contended with him, Saying, You went in to men uncircumcised, and did eat with them.
The Jewish brethren did not like it, some accepted this but when you read the history as it continues in the Book of Acts you see the Jewish brethren, like the Elders, and especially those believers of the Pharisees and Lawyers, later, going after Paul too, as Peter fades into the background, seemingly cowarded by those who had taken over the leadership in Jerusalem -- headed by James, the brother of YaHshua, in the flesh.
Just because these believers did believe did not turn them into these perfect creatures of the flesh, no, and if you add the human element back into what was happening and what is recorded in the Book of Acts you will see this, the human element of jealousy, power struggles, even the possible attempt to get rid of Paul, a real thorn in the side of some in the leadership.
What has this to do with the Holy Spirit? Everything! The Holy Spirit is given but does not take control, does not possess as a spirit of Satan does and desires.