By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Many churches claim and teach multiple baptisms — spiritual, in water, and by the Holy Spirit. However, many Christians realize that Paul revealed there is “one baptism” (Eph 4:5). Jesus commanded that one baptism when He resurrected. Jesus declared, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 ESV). Christ also taught, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).
The one baptism is the baptism that Peter commanded those who asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” as they were cut to the heart for they had crucified Christ. Peter instructed, “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” (Acts 2:38). That one baptism in Jesus’s name is baptism in water (Acts 10:47–48). The one baptism in water is also to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Throughout 1 Corinthians, baptism is in the name of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:13). Paul compared baptism to Moses leading Israel through the sea and under the cloud (1 Cor 10:1–2). Paul revealed that those who have been washed in Jesus’s name are justified and sanctified by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:11). This is the baptism that Paul revealed for those who God joins to the body of Christ — the church (1 Cor 12:13). In the Book of Acts, Luke reported that those baptized were saved and added to the body of disciples (Acts 2:41, 47). Furthermore, Paul observed that baptism is for the dead resurrecting when Christ returns (1 Cor 15:29; cf. Rom 6:5).
The Scriptures reveal that baptism unites the repentant believer with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:4). The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the saving gospel (1 Cor 15:1–4). This one baptism is the means of God working and not a work of man. Paul taught, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,” (Col 2:12–13).
Christians can unite that there is one baptism. Peter revealed, “baptism now saves you” because one is born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3; 3:21). Ananias urged Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).