"One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism"
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"One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism"

Ephesians 4: 5

Ephesians 4: 4-6 states a basic thing already abundantly clear in Paul's writings.
The great theme of Ephesians is the purpose of God to unite all people in Christ,
creating out of Jew and Gentile one new man (2: 16).
This accomplishment is described as the body of Christ.

Seven major factors of this unity are given in 4-6, including verse five:
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism."

"One Lord"

We must first emphasize the fact that there is only "one Lord."
This was the very essence of apostolic preaching.

Simon Peter states it clearly and boldly when he and John were arraigned before the authorities.
"There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
(Acts 4: 12)

There is no other! There is no second or third.
You cannot place anyone by His side.
He is no mere man, teacher, or prophet.
He is the Son of God!
He is the Lord of glory!

One Lord Jesus -- there is no other!

Paul states it in 1 Corinthians 8: 5, 6:
"For though there be those that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth,
(as there be gods many, and leaders many,) but to us there is the one God, the Father,
of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ,
by whom are all things, and we in Him
."

He expresses the same truth in 1 Tim. 2: 5:
"There is one God, and one mediator -- and only one between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

Note that "one Lord" is the center of this sevenfold unity.
It must be so.
Everything centers in and around the Lord Jesus Christ.

He is the Head of the body, the Church.
He is the Lord and Master of each believing soul.
Every believer depends completely on the Living Lord.

He is the one Director, the one Person in charge.

There was only one Jesus of Nazareth.
He was incarnate only once 1900 years ago.
He suffered as one Person, and He died as one Person.
He was buried as one Person in His one body.
He rose from the dead as one Person.
There is only one Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ, for a true believer, is not only the Saviour through whom his hope is to be fulfilled,
but also the Lord to whose will he must submit.

It is the recognition of the sole leadership of Christ that brings believers together
and enables them to recognize their oneness in Him.

In this matter of Christian unity this is essential.
The unity is the unity of those who believe that there is only "one Lord,"
and that He is so perfect, and His work is so perfect, that He needs no assistance.

There is no co-redemptrix, such as the Roman Catholics claim the Virgin Mary to be.
There is no assistance needed.
And the Christian does not need the intervention of any saint to pray for them.

There is only one Mediator, and He is enough.
He is complete in and of Himself, and nothing can be added to Him and His perfect completed work.

We look to the unique Lord Jesus, and we look at no one but Him.
He is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega.
He is the beginning and the end.
He is the all and in all.
"Him that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

"One Lord"

Lordship includes the ideas of possession and authority.
A Lord, in the proper sense, is both owner and sovereign.
When used in reference to our Lord, the word expresses these ideas in the highest degree.

Christ is the Lord!
He is our rightful owner and absolute sovereign.
We are not our own, and we must glorify Him in our body and spirit which are His.

Our reason is subject to His teaching, our conscience is subject to His commands,
our hearts and lives are subject to His control.
We are His slaves.

His Lordship over us is founded, not simply on His divinity, or upon His creation of us,
but also and specially on the work of redemption.

We are His because He has purchased us with His own precious blood.
"Ye are not your own, you are bought with a price." (1 Corinthians 6: 20)

"For this end he both died and rose again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living."
(Rom. 14: 9)

"One Lord" -- the Lord Jesus is the one Lord.
He owns us, loves us, cares for us, protects us, guides us, and keeps us.

We recognize His sovereignty and own Him as our Deliverer and Ruler,
and we trust, obey, love, and worship Him.

No one can rightly called himself or herself a Christian who does not acknowledge Christ as Lord.

Early Christians jealously guarded this prerogative of the Lord Jesus.
And many of them died rather than to acknowledge the Emperor as "lord."

One of the best known historical instances is that of Polycarp, the aged Bishop of Smyrna,
who lived in the second Christian century.
When commanded to say, "Caesar is Lord," he refused, and made this noble confession:
"Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong;
how then can I blaspheme my Saviour and King
?"

Upon this testimony Polycarp was sent to the stake to seal his testimony with his blood.

"One Faith"

The one faith we have is the faith that the Lord Jesus Christ died for us, and we belong to Him.
This is the great essential New Testament message concerning
"justifying faith."
That was the very nerve and center of apostolic preaching.

It is stated perfectly by Paul in the words:

"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation
to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greeks.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:
as it is written, 'the just shall live by faith
.' "
(Rom. 1:16, 17)

There was not one faith for Jews and another for Gentiles since God is one
and He shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith. (Rom. 3:30)

The "one faith" is the confession "that Jesus Christ is Lord." (Philippians 2: 11)
None can do this but by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3), but the Spirit who enables one to believe this
binds all together in one faith.

This was the kernel of apostolic preaching -- that it is by faith.
A person is justified, not by the deeds of the law, or any righteousness of his own.

We have a classic statement of it in Romans 3.
Having reminded us that as Christians we are now in a new position, in the words,
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested." (3: 21)

"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,
to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

I declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just,
and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Where is boasting then?
It is excluded.
By what law? Of works?

Nay: but by the law of faith.
Therefore we conclude that man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law
."
(Rom. 3: 21, 24-27)

This is the great central message of the gospel.
It is through this faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work that we are justified.
That is the meaning of this "one faith."

It is the whole argument of Paul's letter to the Galatians.
"This is the gospel, and there is no other gospel," Paul said.
The gospel is that "God justifieth the ungodly who believe in Jesus."

This "one faith" is something that is set over against every other teaching with regard to the way of salvation.

So, we have "one Lord, one faith."

"One Baptism"

Here again is something at which we must look carefully.
A great theologian, named Bruce said: "This question is not one in which reference to the Greek text
will give much additional help
."

In a Christian weekly paper, the writer was happy to dismiss this with the words,
"Of course, this means water baptism by immersion."

But surely, in the whole context we cannot regard this as just a reference to the "mode"of baptism.

Notice, that it is put under this heading of "one Lord."
What is the significance of that?

He is the one Lord in Whom we believe by faith, and by Whom we are saved through faith.
And we must realize that we are incorporated into Him.
That is Paul's theme at this point.

It is a reference to our baptism into Christ.

Not merely a baptism into His name, because that again calls our attention to the physical act of baptism,
whereas Paul is here concerned rather with the question of the mystical union,
which is symbolized by that act.

This is a reference to our being baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is just another way of putting what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12: 13.
There he is talking about the "one body" as he is here in Ephesians 4.

And this is how he puts it: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.
Whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;
and have been all made to drink into one Spirit
."
(1 Corinthians 12: 13)

"One baptism" refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit into the heart of the believer.
This is exactly what the Lord Jesus will provide.

The coming of the Holy Spirit, when He is known and realized may affect people in different ways,
but He is always the same in Himself.

There will be some people, who in receiving the Holy Spirit discover that their hearts are flooded
and filled with a great sense of elation because they belong to God and God belongs to them.
Other believers will gradually come to realize that they are in the very presence of God.

But in all cases the result will be the same.
The One Spirit sent from God to be in our hearts is the Holy Spirit of God, and He comes to us
and comes into us by the grace of God.

Some say that the entrance to the church is by immersion.
Others say it is by pouring, and others say it is by sprinkling; but Paul says there is but one baptism.

Some think baptism should be applied in infancy.
Others think that only adults should be baptized, but Paul says there is only one baptism.
I believe that the mode of baptism is immersion.

But the point is that there is but one divinely appointed way by which those who have one Lord and one faith
and are admitted into one body -- and that one way is baptism.

No doubt, this reference is to the baptism of the Spirit, which all true Christians possess before,
and when they may be without, external baptism.
This baptism is in a perfect sense, "one" baptism.

If this were not expressly stated here, many Christians when asked how many baptisms there are
would probably answer: "Two -- baptism in water and the baptism of the Spirit."

But the point here is that Jewish and Gentile believers alike, acknowledge one Lord, share one faith in Him,
and have undergone one baptism into His name.

"One Lord in whom we all believe, and whose name we have been baptized."

In this passage baptism probably means death (as in Luke 12: 50; Mark 10: 38f.)
"I have a baptism to be baptized with." (Luke 12: 50)

Mark 10: 38f. states:
"But Jesus said to them, 'You do not know what you are asking.
Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized
?"

It must be remembered that in the Corinthian passage (1 Corinthians 12: 13),
as in Romans to 6:1-11 and elsewhere, Paul did not confuse water baptism with the death-resurrection baptism
by which one is "baptized into Christ."

So we conclude:
"One body animated by one Spirit sharing one hope, acknowledging one Lord, confessing one faith,
sealed by one baptism, and recognizing one Father of all, and that unity is for all time
."
-- Wright

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@aol.com