by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXIV

December, 1944

Number 5

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

What does Paul mean by "one baptism," Ephesians 4:5?  I might ask two questions: IN what are we baptized?  INTO what are we baptized?  

Baptism in water is ruled out.  Paul says it is no part of his ministry.  He was not commissioned to be baptizing, I Corinthians 1:17.  Baptism, which began with Aaron and his sons, was never Scripturally administered by any except Israelites, and none except those who are either Israelites or connected with the Israelites or connected with the Israelites worship, as any authority to receive baptism.  It is astonishing to se how little regard is shown in Christendom, for the words of Paul referred to above.  We are carrying on Paul's ministry, and there is no place in it for baptism in water.  

We are told in I Corinthians 12:13, that we are baptized IN spirit.  No later revelation changes this.  This baptism does not represent an act on our part.  It is an act of God.  He does it, independent of human efforts. 

We are ALL baptized in one spirit, that is ALL SAINTS.  The idea that one may be saved, and then, later, receive baptism in spirit, is without scripture sanction.  No such thing is taught. 

The passage just referred to, says we are baptized INTO one body.  This accords with the face, as written by Paul in Ephesians 4, that the unity of the spirit includes, not only one baptism, but also one body, as well as one expectation in our calling, one Lord, one faith, one spirit and one God and Father.  This unity we are to keep with the tie of peace. 

We who are baptized in one spirit, into one body, are called the ecclesia of God.  We are hallowed in Christ Jesus.  That is, we are set apart in Him - devoted to God.  We are called, and also out-called.  The calling constitutes us saints.  All this is found in I Corinthians 1:2.  

God is kind enough to show how we may, in our experience, recognize that all this is true of us.  Those thus blessed "are invoking the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ," same verse.  We may feel that we are not worthy to be recognized as saints, but the fact that we have this experience, is proof that we are.  I believe that this is one experience that all saints have - they know that they are acceptable only in Christ, and in their prayers and worship, they invoke His precious Name.  

Not only are we baptized into one body, but in Romans 6 we are told that we are baptized into Christ.  Do not try to make this another baptism.  There is but one, and that is in spirit.  So in spirit we are baptized into Christ.  

It is also said in the same passage that we are baptized into the death of Christ.  That is, the benefits of His death are ours, because we are in Him.  How do we "get" into Him?  By baptism in one spirit.  The method of putting us into Christ, is putting us into His death.  He died to sin, and it is now lording over Him no longer.  

It was sin that lorded over Christ and put Him into death.  The sin was ours.  He was made Sin for our sakes, II Corinthians 5:21.  But sin did its worst when it killed Him.  He came out of death, leaving it behind.  This is now our state.  We are dead to din.  It can never touch our life in Christ.  The benefit of being baptized into His death is found in the fact that we, because of His being roused, are living to God.  God we are in Christ, having been put into Him by one baptism. 

The performance of this baptism is something that cannot be seen.  We experience its effects, but the operation is hidden from human eyes.  Not so, baptism in water.  It CAN be seen, and is one of the most popular rites in Christendom.  Hundreds will gather on the banks of a stream to witness it. No one is in any danger of being persecuted for being baptized in water.  Not only Christendom, but the world, regards it as the proper thing - the respectable thing to do. 

But the "church" has used thousands of reams of paper, and has spoken millions of words in disputing about baptism.  People differ as to the "mode," and as to the proper authority - "the legality" of baptism administered by certain ones.  For more than a score of years I "preached" in a church that regarded all baptism as "alien," unless it was administered by a clergyman of that church.  I have re-baptized scores of people who came from other denominations to ours. And in some instances even that denomination split, and some factions refused to recognize baptism administered by another faction.  

"Giants" in the art or oratory have "locked horn" in debate over whether sprinkling, or immersion, is the proper mode.  Argument after argument has been made in church papers on the subject.  

All this was a waste of time and effort.  If the church had only recognized the only baptism that counts under Paul's ministry, these discussions would never have occurred.  It is a fact that literal baptism is immersion in water or some other liquid.  The word in the Greek means to dip or immerse.  But that which is real baptism - that which really does what water baptism is supposed to do, but cannot - is baptism in spirit.  

The baptism of the priesthood - called washing, in the King James Version - did not insure a clean priesthood.  Baptism in water did not create a faithful Jewish following of Christ when He was on earth.  Al though thousands received the rite, less than a hundred and fifty were sufficiently interested in Christ and His teaching, to wait in Jerusalem untold Pentecost came.. And several years after Pentecost, tens of thousands who had been baptized were thirsty for the blood of the Apostle Paul. The ritual has always proved a failure, although administered by the authority of scripture.  How much greater is the failure as seen in Christendom today!  There is no crime known of the annals of the courts, that is not committed by baptized persons.  Christendom is a cesspool of crime and lack of love for God and man, in spite of the fact that all churches insist on baptism in some "form."  

But baptism in spirit really counts.  It cleanses the spirit.  It leads us to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It causes us to love God and our fellows. It makes us hate sin.  It produces a people zealous of ideal acts.  

Baptism is linked with circumcision, in Paul's epistle to the Colossians.  Both, literally, are rituals of Israel, but neither ever produced the desired results.  But in the stripping off of the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ, we are circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands.. The real circumcision of Christ occurred, not when He was a Babe in His mother's arms, but when He hung on the cross.  His real baptism was not in the Jordan, but when He was plunged into death, Luke 12:50.   This cleansed Him from our sins, and left Him Master over Sin and Death.  Through faith, we partake of His baptism, in spirit, Colossians 2:8-13. 

Let us leave, not only literal circumcision in flesh, but also literal baptism in water, to Israel.  They are rites of which we are not in need, since we have the real ritual, in spirit.  We have been taught by His grace, that the flesh has no standing with God—a lesson which circumcision in flesh failed to teach Israel.  And we have the baptism that is real cleansing—and this cannot be said of baptism in water.  

We are studying Paul's epistles.  This will probably occupy our attention for some months. In the nest issue, we hope to consider what is meant when Christ is mentioned as Head of the ecclesia. 

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