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The One Baptism PDF Print E-mail
Written by R.Anna Phillips   


Macon, Ga., June 1891 

Some time ago I received a letter from a brother requesting my views of Eph. iv. 1-5. I was sick and the letter was misplaced and I have forgotten his name and State; but seeing this he will know it as an attempt to comply.

"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace."

"There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith and one baptism." And more especially did he want me to dwell on the "one baptism,'' its nature, etc.

The apostle had just been telling those brethren of Ephesus how God had saved them "by grace through faith, and that of themselves:  "not according to their works, but according to his mercy; and how by faith, had called them with an holy calling, etc, to obtain eternal glory. And now he would have them walk worthy of this calling. And the more to impress this duty upon them:, he reminds them that it was as "a prisoner of the Lord," and "for you Gentiles"---inasmuch as for preaching to them he was imprisoned; as, also, for obedience to the same faith and calling as theirs, he besought them to walk worthy of the high calling; or, as with all meekness and lowliness, with long-suffering forbearing one another in love. And what traits so fully and clearly declare them worthy? What more beautifully and surely "manifest the life of Jesus in our mortal body?"

Had there been no danger that even the strong might depart from this lowly walk with Jesus and begin to look not "on the things of others," and "to think more highly of himself than he ought to think," this admonition would not have been given. But that it is so often repeated and impressed, not only forewarns the strong, but also implies that the weak and erring abide. And remember, Jesus does not tell the weak to go get strong and right, but for the strong to bear with his infirmities. Jesus' whole life-work was altogether for others.

Paul, as a man, was pre-eminent in learning and morality, and as an apostle and Christian, was preeminent in spiritual wisdom and revelation; and, in proportion, was pre-eminent in meekness and all lowliness with long-suffering and forbearance. His walk proved he loved Jesus Christ, and loving him, he loved his people and sought their good and peace; and a fear lest a heady, high-minded carnal spirit, ignoring the good of others and rending the bonds of peace in the Church might prevail, prompted him so earnestly to beseech them to walk lowly. Oh, that his touchingly pathetic appeals might reach those causing strife and division to-day. Hear him: "I beseech you by the mercies of God." "I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--I, the prisoner of the Lord;" a prisoner for obedience to the faith, beseech you that ye walk worthy, with all meekness, etc., and thus keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace; and the more indispensable, as, "There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;" for this makes the members comprising the one body, members one of another, and members of Christ in particular; and, therefore, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, so to speak. And how can a member dare presume to disregard the good and peace of the body of Christ? How can he be otherwise than meek and lowly, walking in reverential fear, seeing he is a member of Christ? Ah! how can he willfully sin against a member, seeing it is to sin against Christ? Let all always remember that whatsoever one does to another, whether to wound or heal, shame or honor, or what not, is done to Christ.

And this one body knows but the "one Lord, one faith and one baptism." The one Lord is Jesus Christ, "who of God is made unto us (the Church or body) wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. He is Maker, Husband, Saviour, High Priest and sole lawgiver--is "Head over all things" to her.

The one faith is the faith of God's elect. There is more than one faith spoken of in the Scriptures. This "one faith" is necessarily a personal faith, common alike to each member, and that centers in and clings to Jesus Christ for eternal life. It is "to the saving of the soul," and in contra-distinction from justification by the law or other means than Jesus Christ; and is comprised in the assertion of an apostle when he says, "We believed in Jesus that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by works of the law."--Gal. ii. 16.

The "one baptism" is primarily and literally the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. There are several kinds of baptism spoken of in the Scriptures; indeed, any submerging, overwhelming or burying is a baptism, in a sense, and some Christians may be subject and some not. But this "one baptism" is, and must be, common alike to all; for, in a spiritual sense, it comprises all the principles of eternal salvation.

Indeed, the gospel, as the power of God unto salvation is how that Jesus died, was buried and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.--I. Cor. xv. 3.

Jesus, referring directly to his death, said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished ? "--Luke xii. 50. Such momentous things depended; and such an ignominious overwhelming! He went down into it, sealing the truth of the covenant of salvation made before the world was; and as making the way whereby God would remain just and be the Justifier of a sinner; and as securing to his people the gift of eternal life, given in him as resurrected from the dead. Hence thus, or Christ crucified became the Author, the way, truth and life:

When Jesus was made of a woman--made under the law or partook of flesh and blood with his people--it was, as it were, the marriage union with his bride, whereby they were no more twain, but one body; and that he might redeem her from the curse of the law, justify her to eternal life and glory, as transforming her from a natural to a spiritual body--as translating her from earth to heaven. He personally led the way, by this baptism, into death--death to the law and sin and then, as risen from the dead, alive forever more. He laid down his divine life when, and as, forsaken of the Father; gave his human life-blood as the price of redemption; took up his divine life again to his risen body, and thus became the "Beginning of the creation of God," or bodily workmanship to this eternal kingdom; "the first born from the dead," showing an afterlike following.

Though thus, Jesus, as Husband and legal Representative of his bride, represented her, and, in a sense, she died, was buried and arose from the dead with him, yet each one, personally and experimentally, must follow him in this baptism and resurrection to new life. Each member of the one body must be saved alike upon the same principles; or, as members of Christ, must, as Christ, become dead to the same and sin; overwhelmed or buried beneath the same condemnation and wrath, and by the same power of the Father, be raised up to the same life--and all by and to and for the same purpose of the Father. This is regeneration; it is "to be born again." And thus each child of God, dead and made alive to, and through, and for, and by the same, inevitably makes "one baptism." An apostle testifies "in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."--Col, ii. 11, 13.

But what about the body, and literal or water baptism? The body and soul, together with the spirit, constitute the Adam man included in eternal salvation. Each element must die to its first or natural generation and to be regenerated. This, to the body, would end time to it. So, while the soul has been actually baptized with Jesus' death, and as risen, has received the "manifestations of the sons of God," or living witness of heir and sonship, it still must wait, however, with groanings (Rom. viii. 23), for the like manifestation to the body. Yet, being of the "purchased possession" of Christ, it is, in pledge of actual after redemption and manifestations of the sons of God, admitted into the militant kingdom of God by baptism in water, in representation of its actual death, burial and resurrection to eternal life. It is thus baptized for the dead--itself as dead.--I. Cor. xv. 29. Also, this baptism symbolizes and answers to the same one baptism;" it outwardly and literally manifests the same one way, truth and life of salvation to the inner man or soul. In representing its after actual death and resurrection, it represents the same death to the law, and world and Sins, and the same resurrection to the same life and glory as Christ and each member of the one body. Paul says to such as are baptized in body, "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized unto Jesus Christ, were baptized unto his death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life; for if we have been planted together "--in this one baptism--" in the likeness of his death"--proving a burial, and not a sprinkling, is baptism," "we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this: that our old man is crucified with him that the body of sins should be destroyed"-as by actual death ;--" that henceforth we should not serve sin, for he that is dead is freed from sin."-Rom. vi. 3, 6.

He then goes on to tell them, in substance, that though not actually dead in body, yet by virtue of the baptism figure of actual death and resurrection to newness of life, to reckon themselves dead, indeed, unto sin and alive to God, and so walk accordingly; showing that water baptism outwardly manifests and answers to the "one baptism" to those of the one Lord and one faith.

I have written by "snatches" and very hurriedly, during the affliction of nearly all my little family, yet I hope the brother may find it of some use. Hope to hear from him. Hoping amid many trials.


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