The One Baptism

Woman being baptized

The One Baptism

Baptism is an important subject. One cannot become a member of any Christian denomination save the Quakers and the Christian Scientists without submitting to something called baptism. The Greek term for “baptism” occurs 127 in the Greek New Testament.

The Bible teaches there is only one baptism (Eph 4:5). In the New Testament, however, we read of several baptisms.

There is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist told his followers that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was only promised to the apostles. Jesus told the apostles before his ascension, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). On the first Pentecost following the resurrection, the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4).

Cornelius and his household were baptized with the Holy Spirit. While Peter was preaching to Cornelius and his household, the Holy Spirit fell on those who heard the word (Acts 10:44). Peter said that Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit in the same way the apostles received it (Acts 10:47).

No one today is baptized in the Holy Spirit.

There is the baptism of Jesus’s suffering.

Jesus said he had a baptism to be baptized with, and that he was distressed until it was accomplished (Lk 12:50). Jesus’s sufferings are called a baptism, for he was totally immersed in his sufferings. This baptism is not for us today.

The fathers of Israel were “baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor 10:2).

Since the Israelites were covered by the cloud and the sea, this can appropriately be called a baptism. This also placed the Israelites into a new relationship with Moses—he, not Pharaoh, was now their leader. However, we cannot be baptized by the sea and the cloud into Moses—This baptism is not for today.

The one baptism in Ephesians 4:5 seems to be what we call “Christian” baptism. However, groups practice baptism differently. Some sprinkle infants. Others believe in total immersion of adults. Some say baptism is closely connected with salvation. Others say one can be saved without being baptized.

Just who is right?

To find out who is right, we must turn to the Bible. Scripture is “profitable for doctrine” (2 Tim 3:16)—Any doctrine we hold must come from the Bible. God has given to us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). If we are to have a godly answer to this question, we must turn to God’s Word.

This morning, we want to examine what the New Testament has to say regarding baptism.

Being Baptized Follows the Example of Jesus

Jesus left us an example that we should follow in his steps (1 Pet 2:21).

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus asked John to baptize him “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). Jesus knew that he would command all his followers to be baptized; Jesus wasn’t willing to ask his disciples to do anything he had not done. Since being baptized is a command of God, Jesus had to comply with this command.

When we are baptized, we follow the example of Jesus. Have you followed Jesus’s example?

Baptism Was Commanded by Jesus

Jesus commands his apostles to baptize. “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son” (Matt 28:19). “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16).

Part of preaching Jesus is preaching the command to be baptized (Acts 8:36).

If you have not been baptized, why are you not following the command of Jesus?

Baptism Places One into Christ

One needs to be in Christ. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3). In Jesus, we have the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7).

The only way one can get into Christ is to be baptized into Christ. “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27). ‘As many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Rom 6:3).

If you have never been baptized, you need to be baptized to be in Christ.

Baptism is for the Remission of Sins

Baptism remits one’s sins. “Let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). If you want your sins to be remitted (forgiven) then you must be baptized.

Some religious groups teach that “for” in Acts 2:38 really means “because of.” According to this view, one is baptized because his sins are already forgiven. However, we need to notice what Jesus said. In speaking of the cup at the communion service, Jesus said, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt 26:28). If one is baptized because his sins are already forgiven, Jesus died because our sins were already forgiven. Such is simply absurd.

After Saul had prayed for three days, he was told, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

Those who claim that baptism has nothing to do with salvation often have individuals come to the mourners’ bench and pray to receive salvation. Nowhere in Scripture is prayer and conversion linked together. The Bible nowhere mentions a prayer one must pray to be saved. This “plan of salvation” is without any merit in the Bible

Baptism is Necessary for Salvation

The Bible teaches that one cannot be saved unless he is baptized.

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:16). This text places salvation at the point of, not before, baptism. But many will object saying, “The verse does not say he who does not believe and is not baptized will be condemned.” Yet, baptism followed faith: “he who believes and is baptized will be saved.” If one does not believe, he will not submit to baptism. Without faith, we cannot please God (Heb 11:6), whether or not we’ve been baptized. An atheist isn’t going to be baptized, because he doesn’t believe he needs to be.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism” (1 Pet 3:21).

Have you been baptized? Have you been saved?

Baptism Alone Does NOT Save

Baptism must follow hearing the gospel. Those who have never heard the gospel will not be baptized. They do not realize they have a need to be baptized.

Baptism must follow believing the gospel. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16). One who does not believe will not be baptized. He doesn’t believe he has any reason to be baptized. Even if he were baptized, baptism would do him no good.

Baptism must follow repenting of sin. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Unless one repents, he cannot be baptized; repentance must precede baptism.

Repentance means to turn from sin and turn to God. Repentance is changing your thinking and behavior toward sin. Repentance involves walking in newness of life.

Baptism must follow confession of faith. Many of those who claim to have been saved confessed their sins at their baptism. “With the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:10).

Only after one has heard the gospel, believed in Jesus, repented of sin, and confessed his faith in Jesus can he be baptized. This excludes small children. Since children cannot believe, repent, and confess faith, they cannot be baptized.

How Should One Be Baptized?

Some groups simply sprinkle water on candidates for baptism; others pour a little water over the head; others immerse. Which is right?

The Greek term for baptize means “to immerse.”

The New Testament speaks of baptism as a burial. The Colossian Christians were “buried with [Jesus] in baptism” (Col 2:12). “We were buried with Him through baptism into death” (Rom 6:4).

Since the New Testament speaks of baptism as a burial, individuals should be totally immersed.


Have you been baptized? Have you been baptized properly?

God loves you and wants you to come home.

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.

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