Beliefs Matter: One Baptism  Ephesians 4:4-5; Galatians 1:6-9; 3:26-28

28 Apr

Ever made a bad first impression? Have you ever felt like you’ve messed it up enough that you wish you could start all over? That’s one way of describing what baptism is all about, a new beginning, a brand new life.

Ephesians 4:4-5: There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– {5} one Lord, one faith, one baptism; Belief Matters—Eph 4:7 beliefs that really matter, we’ve covered …today One Baptism

When speaking of the one Baptism Paul could not have had in mind the question or debate of where it was of pouring, or sprinkling, or immersion. Only immersion was practiced in the time of the apostles. The earliest case of sprinkling for baptism on record is that of Novation in 251 A. D., who was “baptized” upon his bed while sick by pouring a large quantity of water over him.

According to the historians, immersion was nearly the universal practice until the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church declared at the Council of Constance that immersion and sprinkling were of equal validity.

Paul was certainly not referring to Holy Spirit baptism as the one baptism that was the common experience of the church. Baptism in the Holy Spirit was an exceptional experience. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 2:4). About ten years later, at the house of Cornelius, Peter saw the Holy Spirit fall of Cornelius and his household.

In telling about this, Peter said that the Holy Spirit fell on them, “as at the beginning. Then remembered the word of the Lord how that he had said, John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:15-16).

These are the only cases of Holy Spirit baptism recorded in the Bible. The experiences of those who claim to have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in modern times are so contradictory that no confidence can be placed in them. If there is only one baptism, surely there ought not be any disagreement as to how it is to be performed, or in what it is done.

(Acts 2:38-39 NIV)  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. {39} The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

The difficulty comes in the simple definition —  or redefining – of the word eis. Is it saying that baptism is to receive the forgiveness of sins or baptism is because my sins have  already been forgiven? To say the same thing in another way: is baptism necessary in order to have your sins forgiven?

If the word eis in Acts 2:38 means their sins were already forgiven before baptism, it has to be interpreted the same way in Matthew 26:28: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Does anyone here believe that forgiveness of sins was possible for the masses BEFORE the death and the “shedding of blood” by Jesus?

The One Baptism is an immersion in water of a person who understands and believes the good news about Jesus and who is willing to follow Jesus as his One Lord.

  1. Is an immersion – Word means immerse or dip (ship sinking, man drowning), parallel w/ DBR; some vv. refer to “much water” or “going down into the water” and indicate that immersion is what was going on (Matt. 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38-39). Some may wonder if sprinkling is okay. Wrong Q—don’t need to be trying to figure out whether what we may have done is good enough but figuring out what God wants.
  2. Understands & believes the good news— (vv. Acts 2:24-38; Col. 2:11-12) not a ritual, must be understanding & faith, not for babies or others who don’t understand or believe.
  3. Willing to follow Jesus as their one lord—(vv. Acts 2:36, 41) not magical & not the end of the journey, rather the beginning.

The purpose and meaning of baptism is broad:

  • It is associated with being a part of the church, being clothed with Christ, repentance, death, the Holy Spirit
  • It is associated w/ forgiveness of sins and salvation. I believe a proper understanding of it fits with the clear biblical teaching that we are saved by grace through faith. The best simple way I know to say it is that baptism is one of the responses to God’s grace in order to be forgiven and saved.
  1. Salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8-9). Grace is the basis for salvation, no way we can save ourselves. When we get baptized, we are not saving ourselves (but cf. Acts 2:40-41).
  2. Baptism is a response to grace. Grace is primary; grace is the basis; baptism is a response to it. Without the grace, baptism would be meaningless.
  3. Baptism is not a work (Titus 3:4-5). Rather, it is a response to Christ’s work.
  4. Baptism is a matter of faith (Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:11-12).
  5. Baptism is one of several responses to God’s grace (faith, repentance, confession).
  6. Baptism is a necessary response (vv. Acts 2:38; 22:16; I Pet. 3:21; John 3:3-5).
  7. Baptism is the beginning point for new life (Rom. 6:4), I don’t know of any other point in time that the NT says we die to our old life.

Every “religious group” teaches some response to God’s grace is necessary for salvation, to believe in Jesus or accept Jesus or pray to Jesus etc. The idea of responding to God’s grace is biblical (“those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace,” Rom. 5:17). I believe the NT teaches baptism is a part of receiving it, one of the necessary responses, in view of the clear statements that connect w/ salvation.

If you are familiar with “the sinner’s prayer” I encourage you to think carefully about that. I can’t find that in the Bible, Rev. 3:20 is talking to Christians.

People feel a need for a tangible beginning point, and baptism is that beginning point…a particular event at a particular point in time and an actual act which is deliberate and able to be witnessed. I believe the sinner’s prayer is a way of filling the void left when people remove baptism.

So baptism is an immersion in water of a person who understands and believes the good news about Jesus and who is willing to follow Jesus as his One Lord.

  • This is the One baptism shared by all God’s people. It holds us together as God’s people.
  • This is what we believe & teach at Parkway & something you need to do if you want to be a member of Parkway.
  • If you’re not quite there yet in your thinking, that’s okay. Our walk w/ God is a journey. But I encourage you to be thinking, praying, & studying about this.
  • It is a vital part. I’d love to talk with you about it if you wish. Or if you think I’m wrong about this, I’d be glad to dialog with you.

(Galatians 1:6-9 NIV)  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– {7} which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. {8} But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! {9} As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

(Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)  You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, {27} for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. {28} There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Why is this so important? Because the religious world is good at giving “false confidence” in this area. We’ve got to spend some time today in Acts 19:1-5

Paul found some disciples who had been immersed in water: “in the right way” for the wrong reason. Why was it such a big deal? What was the recourse? How does it affect us today? 

Throughout this series of messages on Belief Matters we’ve been saying it’s not enough merely to understand what the Bible teachers or merely to concur with it. It needs to change our lives.

If we believe in the One Baptism, we’ll do two things: Get baptized, w/ understanding, w/ faith, w/ the intent to follow Jesus. If you haven’t done that, I urge you to do so. If it’s associated with being saved, it’s really, really important. Wouldn’t want you to do it just to do it; need to understand. Glad to discuss it with you further.  Live like you’ve been baptized (not “follow the rules”). Parallel <> baptism and death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus.

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Posted by on April 28, 2020 in Baptism


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