If you didn’t grow up in the church, baptism is one of those things that can really confuse you. I mean from the outside it looks like baptism is simply just plunging someone in the water. So what’s the big deal? It’s not really the water that makes a big deal, or the words that someone says during baptism that is the big deal, it’s the witness that baptism produces.
If you were to go back and look at Ephesians 4 you will see that baptism is a really big deal. “4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (NRSV) Did you ever wonder what it meant when the Bible says “one baptism”?
I think the Bible has two things in mind when it mentions “one baptism”. The first, of course, means there is only one real baptism. For example there is no such thing as “re-baptism”. If you were placed in the water when you were a tiny infant and then came to faith in Jesus Christ much later in life and felt the call of the Holy Spirit to be “re-baptized” only one of those is a real baptism. Baptism, according to the New Testament, is only reserved for those men and women who genuinely know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Therefore, there is no real way an infant can be scripturally baptized.
Being baptized also unites believers with Jesus’ church all over the world. That means when a man or a woman is baptized, they are joining with other brothers and sisters with faith in Jesus all over the world. Yes, baptism is not meant to join you to a local church in your hometown, but it is also meant to join you to Jesus’ church all over the world.
One within the Church
There is another aspect of oneness in the church that comes from baptism. When someone is baptized it should be a public event for the entire church to see. The reason why the church needs to see baptism is because this it unifies people within the church. Baptism should prompt the church to partner with someone who has just come to faith and help them understand how to live a life for Jesus. Baptism should bring unity between the person being baptized and the church in which they are baptized.
In a sense then, baptism represents between people and the church what the Trinity represents between Jesus, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. Just as there is oneness in the Trinity in three different people, so there is oneness in the church though it’s made up of many different people.