College & Career Class Lesson Summary, November 11, 2018

Paul closes verse 3 by speaking of the unity of the Spirit being necessary for the bond of peace. We know that peace and unity go hand-in-hand, however, only true peace and unity can generate from God Himself. It is impossible to join God unto iniquity and therefore it is equally impossible for a believer to unite just anything and assume it has God’s blessing. Unity must begin with the Spirit and end with the Spirit. To that end, Paul lists 7 foundational elements that portray this Spirit of unity. These may not necessarily be the only elements, but they are nonetheless very foundational and pivotal.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 

Let’s briefly walk through each of these and understand how each one of these demonstrate the Spirit of unity.

ONE BODY

As we’ve seen coming out of chapters 2 and 3, the eternal purpose of God was to unite Jew and Gentile as one, cohesive unit. They would be fellowheirs and fellowcitizens, together, in the household of God. They would be (formally) two different bodies, yet through redemption in Christ, would be united in one body. Paul affirms this in other epistles,

Romans 12:4  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 12:5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 

1Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 12:13 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. 

Spiritual Unity requires that those associated with the Spirit reside in union, together. The body of believers is a body of harmony. Whether we live as if that is the case is another matter. But, regardless of how we live or think, the reality is God made of twain, ONE new man, and so making peace.

ONE SPIRIT

God has not sent multiple spirits, which would gender confusion, but there is one spirit – and, it His very Spirit. The idea of the Spirit of God is primarily thought of in terms of person-hood and that is certainly not incorrect. However, if we consider what a spirit does, in the scriptures, it may give us a better grasp of His purpose. Often in the Old Testament (and even in the New), we find the term spirit being used to describe the inner faculties of a being–their ability to reason–their will and desire. If someone was exhausted, after resting and eating, it might be said that their spirit was refreshed. If the spirit is the heartbeat of our inward mechanics (of thought, energy, desire, etc.), then how would this translate into the Spirit of God?

Secondly, the Spirit is often associated with breath and life. If the Spirit is the seat of motivation and that motivation is encapsulated by His life, then it is that one Spirit that all believers have in common. There is indeed only one Spirit of God that drives spiritual motivation and spiritual life.

ONE HOPE

As you read throughout the New Testament, you’ll find various aspects of hope being defined, as it relates to the believer. However, if you were to examine the common thread, our hope can be boiled down to the common confidence that we have of the (yet) unseen – that our bodies will one day be redeemed (just as we are in One Body in Christ). Our physical bodies will experience the same reality that our Spiritual bodies do – redemption. One believer doesn’t have this hope while another has something completely different. We have ONE HOPE in Christ and we all share in that same hope.

Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 

ONE FAITH

Faith is simply agreement with God – it is accepting Him for who He is and it is the inward resolve that He is Right and True. In the book of Galatians, chapter 3, Paul calls Jesus Christ by a different name – Faith. In Revelation, John writes that He who sat upon the throne was called FAITHFUL and True. The essence of our acceptance of God funnels down to the same focal point – Jesus Christ. Our faith is meaningless if it does not have Faith Himself as the subject. In other words, if Faith (the person) didn’t exist, then our faith (confidence) would be without purpose. Just as our hope, there isn’t one means of faith for Believer A and another means for Believer B – there is one Faith – we have the same confidence in Christ.

ONE LORD

The word “Lord” simply means “master” or “ruler”. There should be very little argument that if our faith and hope are in one person that this one person be also referred to as the One Lord. It should be worth noting that Jesus was made both Lord and Christ by His resurrection from the dead. According to Peter in Acts 2, God the Father crowned Jesus with the full ramifications of being Christ (Messiah – the “Anointed One”) and Lord (Master of all).

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. This is by God’s establishment. Those who teach that we need to make Jesus Lord in order to be saved are taking a lot of liberties to conclude they have the power or authority to make such an establishment. Is it within our ability to craft a person into a lord, let alone the Lord of all Creation? How foolish a thought! In fact, when men attempt to establish lords for themselves, they invariably create idols which are simply deficient compared to the Lord Himself. No, it is not by our establishment that Jesus is Lord, it is by God’s. God established Jesus as Lord and we simply decide if we will recognize that reality – we decide if we will agree with God. We do not make Jesus Lord of our lives (or anything for that matter) – we just allow ourselves to be subject to His already established Lordship.

ONE BAPTISM

You don’t have to look long in the Bible to find that there are many instances where baptism is being spoken of – some directly by using the actual term and others indirectly by using what the term can mean. In other words, it would be like having a discussion where you use the word “cooking”, but in another discussion, you are talking about the processes of cooking without actually using the term “cooking.”  Also, depending on the context, cooking can mean various things.  Our initial reaction to conclude the term “cooking” with food preparation, however, cooking can also be used in various other contexts.  For example, cooking used in an accounting context would imply some sort of impropriety carried out on the books – the record of debits and credits.  Cooking can also be used in terms of preparation, but not limited to food.  If someone is said to be cooking something up in their minds, it would mean they are devising/putting together something.

Ok, enough about cooking – but hopefully you can see that we can discuss something by either using the word or describing it (in the absence of using the word).  Likewise, context will help drive our understanding of the word according to the way it is being used.  Recognizing both of these ideas is critical when considering scripture (not just with Baptism, but with anything therein).  However, since our focus at hand is baptism, let’s explore some usages of this word, both by direct usage, description and context.

Baptize/Baptist/Baptism is a ‘transliterated’ word, meaning, when the translators of the Bible were deciding on the proper English word, there wasn’t a word yet in English that properly conveyed the word so they essentially took the source language’s word and gave it an English flavor.  The word was baptizo, so you can see we didn’t try very hard in our word creation and settled on baptism.

So, what does baptism mean?  We have been conditioned to think of a water ritual/ceremony and, based on what we see in scripture, that certainly isn’t an incorrect rendering of the word.  Yet, just as we saw with cooking above, the word baptism is not limited to the water event.

Jesus was baptized in water and there were two reasons why He was baptized (any other reasons need not apply so we do not put words in the scripture’s mouth).

Matthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 

John 1:31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 1:32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 

We’ll look at Matthew’s record shortly, but John is fairly clear here that the reason Christ was baptized with water was to make Him manifested to Israel.  If baptism automatically means “put into water”, then why does John need say that he came baptizing with water?  This is a clue that perhaps baptism can exist in a ‘dry’ fashion.  John uses this water ceremony to identify Christ to Israel as the Christ.  This will be important to remember – that baptism is associated with identification.

Matthew states that Christ is baptized in water to fulfill all righteousness.  Under the law, there were requirements for the priests (who performed the sacrifice), but likewise there were requirements for the sacrifice itself.  Christ, being both the High Priest and the Sacrifice itself fulfills the righteousness necessary by being ritually cleansed by His water baptism.

  1. In Leviticus 8, we find the consecration of the priesthood performed with a washing of water.
  2. In Leviticus 16, we find the operations for the Day of Atonement and the priest who performs this must wash himself clean in the process.
  3. In Leviticus 1, we find an offering of personal atonement and we find that not only is the sacrifice to be without blemish, parts of it were to be washed in water.

In the same section in Matthew, we see reference made to two other agents of baptism (that aren’t water).  Here, we have the Holy Spirit and Fire (both, obviously, ‘dry’ baptisms).

Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 

Jesus actually was baptized twice.  Now, if that strikes you as odd, it is probably because you have baptism being always synonymous with water, yet, we know this isn’t always the case.  In Matthew 20, Jesus is dealing with being asked by the woman if her sons could be granted to sit on His right hand and left hand and in the mix of this discussion, Jesus asks, “Are ye able to be baptized with the baptism I’m baptized with?”  He obviously is not talking about His water baptism as clearly anyone can submit themselves to a ritual cleansing.  If you read the section, you’ll see that He is referring to His death at Calvary.  Jesus was baptized once in water and once in death.

In Romans 6:3-4, we find that believers are indeed able to be baptized with that same baptism, yet, it is by faith that they experience this baptism.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into 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. 

In 1Corinthians 10, we find Paul speaking of Israel coming out of Egypt that they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  The scriptures record that they crossed the sea on dry ground, so even here we have two more ‘dry baptisms.’

1Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

To recap – we have these baptism agents listed:

  1. Water
  2. Holy Ghost
  3. Fire
  4. Death
  5. Christ
  6. Cloud
  7. Sea (dry land)

It shouldn’t throw us off when we recognize this reality of multiple types of baptisms in scripture.  And, as I mentioned above, it would be important to remember the identification work of baptism.  In every instance we’ve looked at is an identification of some sort.  Either the identification is with the agent of baptism, or it is identification with something else that the agent is performing.  This is the common theme of baptism – to show identification.  If, as Paul says in Ephesians 4, that there is ONE baptism, then which is it?  Which of the baptisms above are the ONE baptism?  I think the answer lies in the common purpose – there is ONE identification that brings unity to the believers and that is to, with one voice, one faith and one mind, be identified with Christ Himself.

ONE GOD & FATHER

In the world of principalities and powers, Paul makes no bones about the fact there is but one God and Father that upholds all of this unity he has been writing about.  The term ‘God’ simply means “power” or “authority” and as a polemic against the spiritual wickedness in high places, Paul plants his flag in the ground that there is only One God.

When writing to Israel, Malachi alludes to the fact of there being One God and Father,

Malachi 2:10  Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? 

This same God, who unifies the body of Christ, has given us the means by which we can grow in our united reality, one with another.  In the next section, Paul is going to unfold what God gave to us and what their purpose fulfills.

Our story continues…