Let’s connect some serious dots today. Satan has attacked and confused two of the most important doctrines of Scripture. They both explain exactly how we are Christians and the basis for our unity. Satan always entangles and distorts in the areas of the cruicial, never the trivial. But before we look closer, remember that God has revealed to us His truth, truth which human eyes have never seen, nor human ears heard, and we are not to look on things that are seen but things that are not seen. The visible is temporary; the unseen is eternal (1 Cor. 2:9; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). It is this writer’s opinion that the two doctrines that the evil one has attacked the most are the new birth and baptism. We are born into God’s kingdom, and we are baptized into God’s King. Can I just say that again? We are born into God’s kingdom, and we are baptized into God’s King.
Let’s take baptism first. As surprising as this may sound, there are seven baptisms spoken of in the scripture – seven. Baptism simply means “immersion for the purpose of identification,” but this immersion does not always involve water. Three baptisms are wet (involving water); four are dry (no water). The three wet baptisms are (1) baptism of Christ – Christ identifying with the people that He will die for (Matt. 3:13-17), (2) baptism into the kingdom – identifying as subjects of God’s kingdom (Matt. 3:11-12), (3) and baptism of the Christian – identifying with Christ’s body (Matt. 28:18-20).
There are four baptisms that are dry. They include (1) baptism into Moses – Jews identifying with Moses to cross the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:1-2), (2) baptism of fire – identifies God’s judgment by Christ (Matt. 3:11-12; Lk. 12:49), (3) baptism of the cross – Jesus identifying with the believer’s sin (Lk. 12:50), and last but not least, Spirit baptism; identifying with the person of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:5; Acts 2, 1 Cor. 12:13). Six of the seven baptisms are visible baptisms, located in the physical world of men, but the seventh is invisible, not seen with human eyes (Acts 1:4-5, 11:15-19; 1 Cor. 2:6-16; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). Six baptisms are to teach us, one baptism is to save us.
Paul wrote some amazing truth to the Ephesian church to emphasize the tenacious, unbreakable bond of the body of Christ. Though we are made up of many individual believers, we are one body, standing or falling as one. Satan has divided us into splintered groups, weakening our witness to the world. Read carefully Paul’s words:
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Notice that Paul mentions just one baptism, not seven. This should shout to us! The reason is because this baptism is located in God’s unseen but real world. It identifies us with the body of Christ; it is this baptism that saves us, unifies us, and equips us for service for our Lord. We are one! Amazing! At the moment of our salvation, the Holy Spirit immerses us into the body of Jesus Christ identifying us with Him. At that instant, we become one with Him. His life becomes our life.
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5:11-13).
How can we know that we have eternal life? Because we have been immersed into Christ, we have become one with Him. This is why Paul’s favorite term for Christians is simply “in Christ.” All believers on the day of Pentecost were both filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit. That day was a special day on God’s calendar and can never be repeated any more than the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
Today, centuries later, the moment we believe in Christ, we experience the same phenomenon. We are supernaturally baptized with the Spirit into the body of Christ. This, along with regeneration, is what makes us Christians. Every Christian has been baptized into Christ (1 Jn. 5:20). This baptism is no longer accompanied with supernatural signs, nor is it marked by emotional outbursts – nor is it wet. Spirit baptism happens regardless of how the believer feels. The ordinance of water baptism is very important today. It gives us a visible, temporal symbol of God’s invisible real world. It shows us what no human eye can see, nor ear hear, nor truth that has ever entered the mind of men.
Christians are identified in many ways in the Bible. We are called the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19–20), Christians (Acts 11:26), little children (John 13:33), believers (Acts 5:14), the church (Acts 2:47), the elect (Rom. 8:33), sons of God (Gal. 3:26), Abraham’s seed (Gal. 3:29), and the circumcision (Phil. 3:3). Paul’s favorite way of referring to Christians is those who are “in Christ” (1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 2 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1, 3; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2; 1 Thess. 2:14).
Because of the extreme importance of Spirit baptism, it is little wonder that this became Paul’s favorite moniker for Christians. Nor should it come as a shock that Satan hates this truth. Blessings!