Nana Yaw Aidoo
Shortly after Paul left Galatia, the Christians in that sub-region imbibed the doctrine of the Judaizers, who taught that the Gentiles were not truly saved unless they kept the Law of Moses (Gal. 1:6; 2:3-5). As Paul set forth the arguments that make up the entire book of Galatians, that it is sinful for a Christian to keep any element of the Law of Moses, he made a statement, which is our focus in this article. He wrote; “For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). From this verse, it is made clear that all who are translated from the world into Christ Jesus, become “children of God by faith.” Thus, to be “in Christ” is to be a “child of God by faith” and there is not a “child of God by faith” who is not “in Christ.”
Paul then proceeds to tell the Galatians (and us, by implication) how to get “into Christ.” Read with me: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). No one can misunderstand this text for it is evident that Paul is teaching that we enter into Christ at the point of baptism, when he wrote, “…baptized into Christ…” It is not taught by inspiration that we believe into Christ, neither is it taught that we pray into Christ, though faith is necessary in order to be saved and prayer is an important Christian duty. Another passage for comparison is Romans 6:3.
Therefore, if all who are translated from the world “into Christ” are—or become—“children of God by faith” and if all who enter “into Christ” do so at the point of baptism, then it follows that one is not a “child of God by faith” unless he is “baptized into Christ.” To the honest person, this conclusion is inescapable. Thus, those who teach that we are made “children of God” through “faith alone” (see Jam.2:24) or by saying a “sinners’ prayer” to ask Christ into our hearts (see John 9:31) are like the Judaizers, teaching another gospel (Gal. 1:8-9).
Someone might ask, “Which baptism is the apostle referring to? Holy Spirit baptism or Water baptism?” In answering this question, it needs to be noted that there is only “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). Therefore, whichever one it is, would of necessity render the other, useless. Thus, it seems strange to me that those who maintain that the baptism the apostle refers to is Holy Spirit baptism, still go ahead and administer water baptism too. This is inconsistency in the highest.
In the Great Commission, Jesus Christ commanded that disciples be made by baptism (not baptism alone) (Matt. 28:18-19). Thus, the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5, is the same baptism of the Great Commission. This baptism was to be administered by humans. Did the apostles ever administer Holy Spirit baptism? None of them did. As a matter of fact, no human on earth ever administered Holy Spirit baptism. Of Christ, John the baptizer said, “I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:8). When this happened, Christ had ascended to heaven. Thus, we see that when the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), Peter confirmed that it was Christ in heaven who was Himself the administrator (Acts 2:32-33).
Again, unlike the baptism of the Great Commission, which was commanded, Holy Spirit baptism was not a command but a promise (Acts 1:4-5). It ought to be evident to us all that promises cannot be obeyed but commands can. However, we see that water baptism was both commanded and administered by humans (Acts 8:36-39; 10:47-48) just like Christ authorized, and so it follows that the “one baptism” is nothing but water baptism. Notice also, Ephesians 5:26. Therefore, the one who is a “child of God by faith” is the one who has been baptized (immersed—see Acts 8:36-39) in water unto the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), the point at which he enters into Christ.
Moreover, it needs to be noted that the one who is in Christ and is a “child of God by faith,” cannot be in Christ just in part but must be in the “fullness” of Christ. The Bible teaches that the fullness of Christ is the church. Read this carefully; “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). The “church, which is His body,” is “the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” Thus, to be in the “fullness” of Christ, one must be in the church.
Then again, to be “in Christ” is to be “in the church” because the same thing that puts one into Christ is the same thing that puts one into the body, which is the church. Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” (1 Cor.12:13, Emph. NYA). Some contend that this text teaches Holy Spirit baptism. That cannot be, for the Holy Spirit is not said to be the element of baptism but the agent of baptism—by one Spirit. The reader should pay attention to Ephesians 5:26 and Ephesians 6:17 to see how the Holy Spirit plays the role of agent in baptism. Therefore, if all who are in Christ are “children of God by faith” and if to be “in Christ” is to be “in the church,” then it follows that one is not a “child of God through faith” unless he is “in the church.” Once more, this is an inescapable conclusion.
Friends, there is not a single person this side of the cross, who is a child of God, who has not been added to the church (Acts 2:47) which Christ purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). The Lord does not add people to denominations (1 Cor. 1:10-13) but to His church (Matt. 16:18)—the church of Christ (Acts 20:28; Rom. 16:16). Denominations do not make up the church of Christ. The church of Christ is not an invisible church made up of the various denominations of the world. The church of Christ is pre-denominational, anti-denominational, and non-denominational. Whereas each denomination claims to comprise just a part of God’s children and thus men can be saved without being a part of their particular denomination—which teaching renders each denomination useless—the church of Christ comprises all of the saved in the world (Acts 2:47) and one cannot be saved unless he is a member of it. There is literally only one body—or church—(Col. 1:18; Eph. 4:4), just as there is only “one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:6). And he who cares about his soul will verify whether this is so (Acts 17:11).
In conclusion, when one obeys the Gospel (Heb. 5:9; 1 Pet. 4:17), by believing in the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16), by repenting of his sins (Acts 2:38), by confessing his faith in Christ (Matt. 10:32; Acts 8:37) and by being baptized unto the remission of his sins (1 Pet. 3:21) so as to be translated from the world “into Christ” or be “added to the church” (Acts 2:47; 5:14; 11:24b; Col. 1:13), as sure as God’s word is truth, that person becomes a “child of God by faith.”
“And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).