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One Baptism?

You wouldn’t think it from looking at the religious world, but God says there is one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). It’s the baptism that Jesus authorised his apostles to take to all nations, a baptism which must be preceded by faith and repentance (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:36-38; 8:12,36-37).

The scriptures teach that biblical baptism is immersion in water “for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38), just as Christ’s blood was given “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Here's why: Romans 6:3-5 says that it is in baptism that we connect with the death of Christ, and baptism puts us “into Christ” (see also Galatians 3:27). That tells us that before baptism we’re still outside of Christ, and still need to make contact with his blood which was given for the forgiveness of sins.

That’s why baptism is a significant part of the Christian message. One cannot read the New Testament scriptures without noticing a lot is said about it. In Acts 8, when people were told “the good news of the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised.” When Philip told the Ethiopian treasurer the good news about Jesus, the official’s response was, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptised?”

That says a lot about the importance of baptism. The “one baptism” was, and still is, an integral part of the message about Jesus Christ. However, today there is a multitude of churches offering a range of different baptisms. In fact, some churches don’t do it at all. Others water down its meaning, reducing its importance.

But the baptism Jesus Christ authorised does not fit the disparate range of baptisms taught today. Those alternative baptisms simply don’t align with the “one baptism” — baptism in the name of Jesus Christ — which is described in the scriptures. Only the baptism commanded by Christ and taught by his apostles is the “baptism which now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21).

The baptism authorised by Christ…

~ is for the forgiveness of sins Acts 2:38

~ puts us into the death of Christ Romans 6:3

~ puts us into Christ Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27

~ is when we “put on Christ” Galatians 3:27

~ is when our sins are washed away Acts 22:16

~ is thus an appeal to God for a good conscience

1 Peter 3:21

~ is a burial in water Acts 10:47-48; Colossians 2:12

~ is when we are raised to new life Rom 6:3-5; Col 2:13

~ is when we are saved by faith in Christ

Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31-34; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21

If a church offers a baptism which differs on any of these points, it’s not the “one baptism” authorised by Christ. They may baptise to tick a box, so to speak, or to appease people, but the baptism taught in God’s word is much more than ticking a box. It is being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-5) — “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn’t fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

There are many alternative baptisms on offer, but don’t settle for anything less than the one baptism which Christ authorised.

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