The Berean Expositor
Volume 45 - Page 147 of 251
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the ministry of John the Baptizer, there was one baptism, that of water, the baptism of the
Spirit being yet future. During the Acts there were two, water and Spirit. Afterwards we
come to Ephesians and there is but one again. Which is it to be? The type or the reality?
The shadow or the substance? We cannot juggle with the word "one" and make it two,
for then by the same process we could have in the context two Lords or two Heavenly
Fathers.  The only person who can consistently maintain that the one baptism of
Ephesians is that of water, is the person who believes in baptismal regeneration, a
doctrine rightly rejected by sound evangelicals. We have before pointed out that water
baptism did not form part of Paul's apostolic commission. This is on his own testimony:
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (I Cor. 1: 17),
and this was during the Acts when water baptism obtained! If this was true for Paul's
earlier ministry at this time, how does it happen that water baptism becomes part of his
prison commission after the Acts, in a dispensation which is pre-eminently spiritual and
where all shadows have vanished in exchange for the substance? And this without a
word of explanation on his part! Those who wish to introduce water baptism in Col. 2:,
must be hard put to it in a context that speaks of the burial in baptism being carried out by
God and not man (the working [operation] of God, Col. 2: 12) and the doing away of all
shadows (food, drink, holydays, sabbath day) because now we can enjoy the reality that
the shadow stood for ("the body is of Christ", 2: 16, 17). Water baptism at its best is
only a type, a picture of identification with Christ in death, burial and resurrection as
Rom. 6: clearly teaches. To insert a type or a shadow here in a passage that speaks of
each member of Christ's Body "being filled full in Him" or "complete in Him", is to
insert an intruder. What can a shadow add to this Divine completeness? There cannot be
degrees in completeness. We are either, in this calling, complete in Christ spiritually or
we are not. If the type of water baptism must be added to make this completeness real
then this context is to say the least most misleading for it says nothing about such an
addition. The circumcision mentioned in the passage is not the type, but the spiritual
reality (verse 11). So is everything else that is brought forward, otherwise the argument
of verses 16 and 17 would be completely nullified.
Part of the misunderstanding that has arisen over the place of water baptism is due to
the shifting away from the Scriptural explanation of identification with Christ, to that of a
witness to the world of unbelievers. We cannot find one passage in the N.T. dealing with
water baptism that clearly teaches it to be a witness to unbelievers. What the world is
watching is our words, our actions, our lives. This is the most effective witness, not
ritual, which the world cares little or nothing about.
Coming back to the One baptism of Eph. 4:, we unhesitatingly believe that it cannot
be two, otherwise words have no meaning, and as it is one, it must be the reality which is
absolutely essential, and not the picture or shadow that set it forth previously. We do not
judge other believers who seek to justify water baptism, but they cannot do it legitimately
from this chapter or Col. 2:  They must go elsewhere to other Scriptures dealing with
another dispensation or stewardship. We repeat that on Paul's own testimony water
baptism did not form part of his apostolic commission by the risen Christ (I Cor. 1: 17),
and though he baptized occasionally during the Acts period, the context here shows he