WHAT IS THE "ONE BAPTISM"?


        The Christian's "Seven-fold Platform for Unity" is found in Ephesians 4:4-6: "There is one body and one Spirit, Just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." (NASB). You will notice that there are seven words, each of which is preceded by the word "one." Please give special attention to the expression "one baptism."

        When some of our brethren went to Japan shortly after World War II ended, they had a great deal of difficulty in convincing the people that there was only one true God. Reportedly, they had 600 million gods, more gods than people. In the United States the difficulty is not usually in convincing people that there is one God, but there is much difficulty in convincing some that there is one baptism.

        In the cited text we learn that there is "ONE" God. We accept that, for after all, "ONE" God is exactly what it says. Why then should there be any difficulty in accepting the fact that there is "ONE" baptism? After all, that's exactly what it says. When the Bible says "ONE" baptism, it means exactly the same number as when it says "ONE" God.

        The person who believes there is only "ONE" God does well. When he wants to show proof of the Bible teaching as to the number of true Gods, he turns to the passage under consideration and concentrates his attention on Ephesians 4:6, "ONE God and Father of all..."

        However, having established that there is only "ONE" God, because of a preconceived idea about baptism, he may totally ignore verse 5 of the same passage which clearly says "ONE baptism" and then teach that there is a plurality of valid baptisms today. Whatever the passage means regarding the number of true Gods, it means that we have that same number of valid baptisms.

HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM?

        Someone might suggest the "ONE" baptism is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This just couldn't be the "ONE" baptism that we are looking for because of what the New Testament reveals about Holy Spirit baptism:
  1. The Holy Spirit baptism was for a specific purpose, to enable the recipients to perform miraculous signs.
  2. The Holy Spirit baptism was for a specific time, during the infancy of the church.
  3. The Holy Spirit baptism was for a specific people, namely the apostles and the household of Cornelius (Acts 2, Acts 10).
  4. The Holy Spirit baptism was never commanded, but only promised (Acts 1:8).
  5. The Holy Spirit baptism could not be administered by men, but only by Jesus (Matthew 3:11-12).
        It should be obvious to all that the baptism of the Holy Spirit cannot be the "ONE" baptism. We are looking for a baptism that was commanded for all people for all time, and one that could be administered by men in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

THREE BAPTISMS?

        Your dictionary may say that there are three baptisms: immersion, sprinkling, and pouring. Obviously, the writer of the dictionary definition is only reporting what is being practiced by various religious groups. No effort is made by the dictionary to define the word as it is used in the Bible. Therefore, we do not go to the dictionary to learn about the "ONE" baptism. If the "ONE" baptism is sprinkling, then pouring and immersion are excluded. If the "ONE" baptism is immersion, then sprinkling and pouring are excluded. Whatever the "ONE" baptism is, keep in mind that only "ONE" is authorized by God. Every other baptism except that "ONE" is in error.

THE "ONE" BAPTISM IS THE BAPTISM OF
THE GREAT COMMISSION

        To correctly identify the "ONE" baptism, we must find the baptism that was intended to continue from Pentecost to the end of the world. In giving the Great Commission Jesus said: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20).

        That preaching and baptizing began on the day of Pentecost as the church was ushered into existence. It is the baptism of the Great Commission that is valid today, and will continue to be valid until the end of time. It was commanded. It was to be administered by men. It was for the people of all nations who were capable of believing. (Mark 16:16).

BAPTISM OF THE GREAT COMMISSION
WAS IN WATER

        "And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?'" (Acts 8:36). There was enough water for the one who was being baptized, as well as the one who was doing the baptizing, to go down into the water. This was not a "sprinkling" or a "pouring." Clearly, it was a burial, an immersion. "And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water the Spirit of the Lord snatched Phillip away..." (Acts 8:38-39).

THE "ONE" BAPTISM WAS A BURIAL

        It was the apostle Paul who wrote in Ephesians 4:5 that there is only “ONE” baptism. Clearly, he understood what the “ONE” baptism was. In Romans 6:4 he described it as a burial: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father so we too might walk in newness of life.”

        Again, it was Paul who described the “ONE” baptism to the Colossians: “Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him form the dead “ (Col. 2:12).

        Without question, the “ONE” baptism was a burial in water.

SPRINKLING AND POURING ARE EXCLUDED
BY THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE USED

        There are three distinct words used in the Greek for "sprinkling," "pouring," and "immersion." The word for "sprinkle" is "rantizo." The word for "pour" is "keo." The word for "baptize" is "baptizo."

        When the English Bible was produced, the Greek word "baptizo" was not translated. Instead, it was transliterated when it was anglicized. It was carried over from the Greek by changing the final letter from "o" to "e." If the word had been translated properly, there would be no question as to the so called "mode" of baptism.

        Acts 2:38 would correctly say: "Repent and let each of you be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."

        Mark 16:16 would say: "He who has believed and has been immersed shall be saved." John the "baptist" would be John the "immerser."

        The Greek words for "sprinkling" and "pouring" are not to be found in these passages because the subject is baptism, and baptism means "immersion."

THE "ONE" BAPTISM WAS FOR
THE REMISSION OF SINS

        When Peter stood up with the other apostles on the day of Pentecost and preached the gospel for the first time, the plan of salvation was revealed. Those who wanted to be saved were commanded to repent and be baptized. The purpose of that baptism was "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). At the time of Paul's conversion the preacher not only instructed him to be baptized, he also told him the purpose of that baptism: "Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16]

        Today, in order for a baptism to be the "ONE" true and valid baptism, it must be for the same purpose, the remission of sins.

DESCRIPTION OF THE "ONE" BAPTISM

        Putting together what we have learned from these Bible passages, the following is a description of the "ONE" baptism that is valid today:
  1. The “ONE” baptism is in water (Acts 8:36).
  2. The “ONE” baptism is a burial in water and a resurrection from the water (Romans 6:4, Acts 8:38-39).
  3. The “ONE” baptism is to be administered by men (Matthew 28:19).
  4. The “ONE” baptism is to last until the end of time (Matthew 2 8:20).
  5. The “ONE” baptism is for the people of the whole world (Matt. 28:19, Mark 16:15).
  6. The “ONE” baptism is to be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 8:19).
  7. The “ONE” baptism is for forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16, 2:38).
  8. The “ONE” baptism is for those who are capable of believing (Mark 16:16).

CONCLUSION

        Any baptism that does not fit the description above cannot be the “ONE” baptism of the New Testament. But, what about those people who thought they were being baptized in the Holy Spirit? What about those people who have had water poured or sprinkled on them? It simply means that they have never been baptized as the Bible teaches.

        What should they do? Let the Bible answer the question: "Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38).