“one Lord, one faith, one baptism;” (Ephesians 4:5, NKJV)
While the one baptism unifies, the many contradictory teachings and practices of baptism found on the religious landscape divide believers. The Scriptures speak plainly about the what it is, who it is for, and what it accomplishes. The one baptism is the great commission baptism and is for the whole world (Matt. 28:19). The one baptism is water baptism, not Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 8:12-13, 16, 35-36; 10:47-48). The one baptism is immersion in water, not sprinkling or pouring (Acts 8:38; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). The one baptism is for those who believe the gospel, repent of their sins, and confess their faith in Christ, not for innocent babies without the capacity of faith (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 8:36-38). The one baptism washes away our sins and saves us (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). The one baptism accomplishes this because the sinner is baptized into the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3). The one baptism brings a person into a relationship with Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:27). The one baptism is “into one body,” the church (1 Cor. 12:13; Acts 2:41, 47). The one baptism is not a work of man that earns salvation, it is a work of faith in God’s grace (Tit. 3:4-7; Col. 2:12). We can have the unity God arranged for Christians by accepting what the Bible says about the one baptism which Christ commands and blesses.
5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose. The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; 6 The wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit. 7 All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; To the place from which the rivers come, there they return again. (Ecclesiastes 1:5–7, NKJV)
The Lord God created the earth with times and seasons intended to regulate and sustain life on this planet. The heavens and the earth are His, and He honors us with being stewards of His great creation (Psalm 8). These cycles of life are evident in the daily rotation of the earth that makes the sun appear to rise and set each and every day. Wind currents encircle the earth, forming weather patterns and helping to shape arid, temperate, tropical and frigid regions of the earth. The earth’s evaporation system moves water from the seas to the clouds to the land to the rivers and back to the seas. It is an amazing filtration system that provides life-sustaining water to humans, animals and plants. These cycles and seasons did not appear by chance. They could not have merely evolved over billions of years. No, my friend. God “spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:9). Yes, climate changes. It always has. Seasons come and go. God made them that way. While we take care of the planet, remember, God created the earth to take care of you.
As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country. (Proverbs 25:25, NKJV)
Good news lightens the heart and refreshes the soul. Like cold water in the heat of the day, good news revives us within. The good news of Jesus Christ (the best news of all) does more than temporarily refresh us, it sustains our souls unto eternity. From heaven’s throne the gospel of redemption has been revealed to and preached by the apostles of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12). God speaks to us in His Son by their word (John 13:20; Mark 16:15; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). How satisfying God’s word is to the thirsty soul – living water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:10-14)! The news of the gospel working to save the lost and to transform lives is wondrous news. Do not be overwhelmed when some refuse the gospel. Instead, remember others are being saved by the same gospel. Listen for the news of their salvation and be invigorated in your faith. Let us take heart and be revived by the good news that comes from heaven.
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3–5, NKJV)
The new birth is a spiritual birth, not a physical one: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which his born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). There is one new birth, with two parts (water and the Spirit). To be “born again” one must be “born of water and the Spirit.” What is the “water” of the new birth? It is not the water of physical birth, but the water of spiritual birth. It is the “washing of water” that happens when sin is washed away by the blood of Christ. It is the cleansing that occurs in water baptism (read Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3; Acts 8:35-39). The Bible says, “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21, KJV). What is “the Spirit” of the new birth? It is the Spirit of God, whose seed (the word of the kingdom) is planted into the heart of the sinner (Matt. 13:19, 23; Ephesians 5:26; 1 Peter 1:22-23). The Spirit of God acts upon the heart by His word, producing faith, convicting the sinner, and persuading him to obey Jesus to be saved (Acts 2:37-38, 39-41). The new birth is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Have you been born of water and the Spirit? Only then can you enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16, NKJV)
There is a danger in allowing the Bible to explain itself. The danger is not against the truth or those who believe it and obey it. No, the danger is to false teaching and to those who cling to error instead of surrendering it for the sake of truth. That is dangerous to the soul. This verse well illustrates our point. The preacher Ananias plainly explained to Saul what he had to do in order to be saved. He had to “arise and be baptized, and wash away (his) sins.” The blood of Christ was applied to his sins when he was “baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3). This is “the washing of regeneration” by which God saves us (Titus 3:5). Calling on the name of the Lord, according to this Scripture, involves being baptized in order to “wash away your sins.” That is dangerous to the false doctrine of salvation before and without water baptism. No amount of appeals to Greek grammar or rationalizations will change the clear force of this verse. Baptism that washes away your sins is commanded by the Lord. The danger comes when one refuses to believe and obey this verse, and instead cling to a doctrine that disregards the word of God. Why are you waiting to believe and obey this divine directive?
For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13, NKJV)
Judah forsook Jehovah for idols. He was the God who gave them water for forty years in the wilderness and the land of Canaan, where they took cisterns they had not dug (Neh. 9:25). The false gods gave them no spiritual refreshment, only spiritual death. Christians must be careful to always and only drink from the fountain of living water, who is Jesus Christ, and not the broken cisterns of false teaching, religious error and worldliness (John 7:37-38). Do not forsake the Lord for broken cisterns that can hold no water.
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:21-22, ESV)
Although many reject water baptism as having anything to do with being saved, Peter’s statement remains very clear: “Baptism…now saves you” (v. 21). Who gave water baptism the power to save? Not the church. Not a creed. Not the one being baptized. Not the preacher. Not the water. It is none other than the resurrected Christ who empowers water baptism to save you from sin’s death. The blood of Christ cleanses the conscience from the works of sin when the sinner is baptized into His death (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 6:3). To conclude that water baptism has no power to save is in direct conflict with the word of God and the power of Him who is in heaven “at the right hand of God” (v. 22). Instead of opposing the word of God, appeal to God for a good conscience. Be baptized to be saved – not by your own merit – but “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.