Part 6 of 10

 One Body and One Baptism

Ephesians 4:4-6a There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father…

While in every dispensational setting there has been only “One God” who is the “One Lord” and the “One Spirit,” in this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2), there is but “One baptism” that is unique to this grace dispensation. Unlike the Jewish baptism “unto repentance,” which requires water, this “one baptism” is the dry baptism that places each believer into the “one body of Christ.

Paul’s listing of “one baptism” among the many other “ones” listed Eph 4:4-6 is quite significant. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, tells us about this “one baptism” here in 1 Corinthians 12:13. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Every believer, during this age of grace, has been “baptized” or placed into the “one body” of Christ. With this baptism into “the body of Christ,” the believer is simultaneously made “to drink” or take in the one “Spirit of life” that is “in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2a). So, we have two aspects to this “one baptism.” 

1. This one (dry) baptism places each believer into Christ POSITIONALLY. Being baptized or positioned in Christ, we stand justified and righteous. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) This is our objective salvation, being available to all men who believe.

2. The second aspect of this one baptism is that the believer also receives Christ into them at the very same time that they are baptized into His “one body.” This second aspect makes the believer new DISPOSITIONALLY, by virtue of Christ’s indwelling resurrection life and nature being dispensed into the believer’s Spirit ( Col 1:27). This aspect is our subjective or personal salvation (Rom 5:10); making us new within by His very “life” (Gal 2:20).

With the advent of Paul’s one baptism into Christ’s “one body” two baptisms that are commonly still taught and/or practiced erroneously today are eliminated. “Water-baptism” and the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” are two baptisms that are no longer applicable during this day of the grace of God.

1)      Water-baptism: Under God’s program for Israel , which began with ancient Israel and continued to be taught by John the Baptist, Jesus, and “the twelve,” there were washings (Heb 9:10) and then a baptism with water “unto repentance” (Matt 3:11). This was to prepare the children of Israel to receive the Messiah and His Kingdom to come to earth (Matt 6:10).

Unlike Israel ’s water-baptism “unto repentance,” Paul’s “one baptism” is a “dry” baptism. There were other dry baptism’s mentioned in Scripture; e.g., Israel was “baptized unto Moses in the cloud” (1Cor 10:2) while in the Sinai wilderness after Israel left Egypt . Paul’s “one baptism” occurs simultaneously with the grace believer’s first believing; it is not a “baptism unto repentance.”

Paul’s “one baptism” places the believer “in Christ,” whose Spirit then flows the rich supply of His life and nature…to the believer’s soul; to lead, guide, strengthen and nourish them. Have you ever noted the seventy-five occurrences of the term “in Christ” that appear in Paul’s thirteen epistles to “the body of Christ”? Paul makes clear that the believer’s full inheritance is afforded them simply by having been placed into Christ.

2)      The “baptism with the Holy Spirit” (Matt 3:11): The baptism with the Holy Spirit was administered by Jesus as the baptizer (Mark 1:8), first to His 120 Jewish disciples in the upper room at Pentecost. The medium into which they were baptized was the Holy Spirit.

By contrast, we may note in 1Cor 12:13 that the Spirit is the baptizer of the grace dispensation believer into the body of Christ.” The medium into which the believer is baptized is Christ’s body,” not water or the Spirit. These differences are quite notable.

Jesus prophesied of the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” to come upon His Jewish followers. “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you:” but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem , until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49) Note that the coming of the Holy Spirit during the early Acts period came “upon” them, to “endue” or “clothe” the Apostles and disciples “with power.” The Spirit came upon them to empower them outwardly, such that these once fearful ones (e.g., Peter) would then become bold witnesses to testify of Jesus and the kingdom to come.

After His resurrection, Jesus spoke these words as recorded in Acts 1:8. But ye (His Jewish followers) shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses … unto the uttermost part of the earth. Jesus said when the “after…Holy Ghost is come upon youye shall be witnesses.” This miraculous Holy Spirit-power to “come upon” them was to empower and enable them to preach the “gospel of the Kingdom” (Matt 24:14), with “wonders and signs” (Act 2:43). These signs were intended to confirm their preaching and offer of the Kingdom to come to earth, as seen in the early Acts period (Acts 2:25-36, 3:18-19, 8:12).

Why is the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” not applicable today? It is because the times of proclaiming the kingdom “at hand” and also of the offering of the kingdom as seen in early Acts, have now past. It has past with Israel ’s “fall,” which occurred at their rejection of the King and His Kingdom by their ultimate blaspheming of the Holy Spirit in the stoning of Stephen. Romans 11:11b through their ( Israel ’s) fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles

Israel is set aside for now. “Water baptism” and “the baptism in the Holy Spirit” belong solely to God’s program for Israel . Israel ’s program has been interrupted by God inserting “the dispensation of the grace of God” for the Gentiles. God’s program for Israel will restart after the rapture of “the body of Christ.”

Thus, Paul’s baptism into the one “body of Christ” is quite unlike these two baptisms we see under God’s program and the dispensation of “the Law” that concern the nation Israel . Neither of those baptisms apply to “the body of Christ” today since Israel ’s long-promised Messianic Kingdom has been put into abeyance until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled. “… blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Rom 11:25b)

Today, under “the dispensation of the grace of God,” principally for the Gentiles today (Eph 3:2), there is but this “one baptism.” That “one baptism” initiates believers into a full and effective salvation. We are regenerated and renewed within our spirit by the deposit of Christ’s “Spirit of life. Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Then also we enter a process of being renewed in our soul. 2 Corinthians 4:16 …though our outward man (body) perish, yet the inward (soul) man is renewed day by day.

Considering all this, I can only ask why it is that Christians today persist in promoting the two baptisms that pertain only to Israel at a time when we today have the greatest “one baptism” of them all. Today believers may enjoy the “one baptism” into the “one body” (1Cor 12:13) of Christ. By this “one baptism” into Christ’s “one body” each believer truly becomes one with Christ… which is union with the one Godhead.

The believer today may be seen much as a piece of cloth that has been placed into water – we, as a piece of cloth, are in Him (Jesus is the “water of life.”). At the same time, He, as “the water of life,” is in you, the believer, much as that water at the very same time permeates a cloth that was placed into water.

We might then ask; is the cloth in the water? Yes! Likewise, the believer is “in Christ.” Is the water in the cloth? Yes! Likewise, Christ is “in you,” the believer. Every believer is eternally one with Christ by this “one baptism” into His “one body.”