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:
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.
The Holy Spirit baptism was for a specific purpose, to enable the recipients
to perform miraculous signs.
The Holy Spirit baptism was for a specific time, during the infancy of the
The Holy Spirit baptism was for a specific people, namely the apostles and the
household of Cornelius (Acts 2, Acts 10).
The Holy Spirit baptism was never commanded, but only promised (Acts 1:8).
The Holy Spirit baptism could not be administered by men, but only by Jesus
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
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).
THE GREAT COMMISSION
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
"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).
WAS IN WATER
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
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."
BY THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE USED
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
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]
THE REMISSION OF SINS
in order for a baptism to be the "ONE" true and valid baptism, it
must be for the same purpose, the remission of sins.
what we have learned from these Bible passages, the following
is a description of the "ONE" baptism that is valid today:
DESCRIPTION OF THE "ONE" BAPTISM
The ONE baptism is in water (Acts 8:36).
The ONE baptism is a burial in water and a resurrection from the
water (Romans 6:4, Acts 8:38-39).
The ONE baptism is to be administered by men (Matthew 28:19).
The ONE baptism is to last until the end of time (Matthew 2 8:20).
The ONE baptism is for the people of the whole world (Matt.
28:19, Mark 16:15).
The ONE baptism is to be done in the name of the Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit (Matthew 8:19).
The ONE baptism is for forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16, 2:38).
The ONE baptism is for those who are capable of believing (Mark
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).