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March 28, 2020 at 10:35 am #59040Rebecca A.Moderator
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”
There is certainly much debate and confusion surrounding the topic of Baptism in the Bible. Questions people often have surround the idea of how baptism should be applied to them today or if it should be applied at all. I’ve heard a little bit of everything about baptism;
“You have to be baptized to be forgiven of your sin”
“if you are not baptized you are not saved”
“baptism doesn’t save you, but you need to do it.”
“you have to be baptized to be a member of our church”
“baptism is just an outward expression of an inward change”
“baptism is the first step of obedience to God”
“baptism is a confession before men”
“If you are not baptized you cannot grow spiritually”
“If someone is not baptized I question if they are really serious about their faith in God.”
“You were not baptized correctly, you need to be baptized like this…”
The list goes on and on. These are just a few of the things I have personally heard from people, and I am sure there are many other phrases and teachings you have heard regarding baptism. It is so sad to see the confusion and bondage people are in because of a lack of understanding what the Bible says about baptism from beginning to end. Not to mention that there are multiple baptisms in the Bible, some of which have nothing to do with water(Hebrews 9:10, Matthew 3:11). And I would be remiss if I did not mention that, as stated above, “You have to be baptized to be forgiven of your sins” is not completely off the wall. In Mark 1:4 we see John was baptizing with water and it had to do with the remission or forgiveness of sins, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” We cannot forget that context is important, it is true that John was baptizing for the remission of sins at that time. Physically washing people with water was not something new for Israel, the law taught this idea of baptism. But later in the Bible we see that Paul was not sent to baptize “1 Corinthians 1:17”, in fact he says our forgiveness of sin is by the work Christ accomplished on our behalf by dying on a cross, shedding His blood, being buried, and raising again on the third day (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We are not saved by any work we perform, salvation is only attainable by God’s grace through faith(Ephesians 2:8-9).
One point that needs to be clear is that water baptism is a physical work you do. If we are saved by grace through faith and not of works then our work of water baptism cannot save us. Many people will agree with this statement but there are those who will try to tell you that water baptism can give you some extra kind of blessing or favor with God. This is false. Paul tells us that we are complete in Christ when we trust the gospel and that we have been given all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places in Christ(Colossians 2:10, Ephesians 1:3). If we are complete, lacking nothing, and have all spiritual blessings, then water baptism has nothing to offer us that God has not already given us in Christ. Do not let others try to rob you of what Christ has provided for you by His work!
My goal in this post is not to show every instance of baptism or to compare all of the different types of baptisms and why men were instructed to do them. I am not even going to go into detail about what Paul’s “one baptism” provides for us from a practical standpoint. But it is a great study to do on your own! I would like to simply cover the one baptism that Paul says applies to us today.
This is a huge topic and as I stated early a much debated one. So if we are going to talk about Paul I must make a disclaimer because if I don’t someone will inevitably say something. Yes, Paul did baptize a few people with water. Oh no! This means we need to be water baptized too!(Sarcasm) To cover every reason why Paul may have water baptized people would just get us off the immediate topic, but the key is to acknowledge that Paul thanks God that he did not baptize more people, and he also proceeds to say that Christ sent him “not to baptize, but to preach the gospel”(1 Corinthians 1:10-17) We also learn from these verses that baptism and the gospel are not the same, this is something to keep in mind.
Another thing to note is that if Paul “was sent not to baptize” than he was not sent to fulfill the so called, “great commission” that Jesus gave to his disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”(Matthew 28:19-20). Paul is not being disobedient to God by not following the “great commission”. I have covered in more detail in previous blog posts the revelation given specifically to Paul from Jesus Christ which was hidden during the time of the book of Matthew and was different than what God had revealed to the nation of Israel through His prophets. (Romans 16:25 Vs. Acts 3:21). Paul was given an apostleship to the gentiles, and given a gospel to preach that was different than that of the 12 apostles.
Now that I am sure I have given you more questions, lets move on for the time being and cover the real topic of this post. What is the “one baptism” Paul talks about that applies to us today?(Ephesians 4:4-5)
Romans 6:4 seems to be a point of confusion for many people. I have heard people use this verse and say that verse 4 is what happens when you are water baptized. I realize not everyone teaches this, but some do. Nowhere in these verses is water mentioned! In fact, Paul assumes that his audience already understands that they were already baptized into Jesus Christ at this point of his conversation. This is evident by the previous verse, vs. 3, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”. “Were” is past tense, This baptism had already taken place for these individuals. He does not explain here how this baptism took place, he simply reminds his audience what happened when they were baptized.
In 1 Corinthians 12:13 we see how both they and we are baptized into Jesus Christ. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…”. Notice, it is not a baptism we perform with water, in fact, it is not a baptism we perform at all. It is performed on us by the holy Spirit. The Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ, the new creature. Titus 3:5-7 also eludes to this baptism, explaining that we are saved by God’s mercy through, “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost”. Notice again that this “washing” is performed by the Holy Ghost, there is not literal water washing us. God’s Spirit identifies us with Christ by baptizing us into His Body.
This brings us to another question, If this baptism happens to us by the Holy Spirit, how and when do we receive the Spirit? Paul talks about people being the temple of the holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” So does this mean that all men’s body’s are the temple of the Holy Ghost? I hope it is clear by the context of 1 Corinthians that again, Paul is talking to those who are already saved so he is not saying that all men have the holy spirit dwelling in them. Only those who are saved are the temple of the holy Ghost. We can know this because the Bible explains to us how and when someone receives the holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
This verse is pretty clear, we are sealed by the holy Spirit once we hear and place our trust and belief in the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). At the moment of belief we are sealed with the Spirit and the Spirit baptizes us into Christ’s body! These things are performed on us without our knowledge, it is not something you feel happening. For this reason many people who may have trusted the gospel are still ignorant of this work that was performed on them. It is something I did not even learn until I was 20 and someone showed me these verses. It is so clear to me now and provides so much peace because I do not have to worry any longer about all of the questions I had concerning baptism. Praise God for His word that we can know all that has been provided for us by God’s grace and mercy through Christ’s finished work!
Everyone has an answer to the multitude of questions about baptism. Hopefully this answer has been clear and a help to see what Paul says about the “One Baptism” that applies to all those who believe the Gospel today! Christ’s work is sufficient to provide you with all you need to be saved and have a hope of eternal life. (Titus 1:1) Water baptism is not something that applies to you today, be informed, and do not let others rob you of the riches Christ has freely given you by grace through faith alone!
Written by: Rebecca
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