By Larry Ray Hafley


From Tennessee: “There is one Lord (Eph. 4:5 Jesus). Why did the early church call the Father, `Lord’ (Acts 4:26)? If the Father and the Son both are Lord, then what about the one baptism? Can it also be water and Holy Spirit baptism?”


Do you see the argument our querist has confronted and presented? Ephesians 4:5 says there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” A Pentecostal has evidently argued, “If the `one Lord’ is two persons (The Father and the Son are called `Lord,’ Acts 2:36; 4:26), why can it not also be true that `one baptism’ is water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism? If two persons are `one Lord,’ does it not follow that two elements, water and the Holy Spirit, may be `one baptism?’ ” With this argument, the Pentecostal seeks to establish Holy Spirit baptism. This is obviously the background of our inquirer’s question.

It is true that both the Father and the Son are addressed as Lord, but the “one Lord” of Ephesians 4:5 is Jesus. The apostle proceeds to refer to the “One God and Father” (Eph. 4:6). Compare 1 Corinthians 8:6, “But to us there is but one God the Father . . . and one Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ has been crowned as Lord or Ruler by the Father (Acts 2:36; Eph. 1:20-23). He is the “One Lord.”

However, if the “One Lord” includes the entirety of persons in the Godhead, as it very well may on occasion, it is at least a unity of nature, substance, character, purpose and work. Such oneness cannot be found in water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism. See the chart below.

1. Nature – Deity
2. Substance – Spirit
3. Character – Holy
4. Purpose – Salvation
5. Work – Gospel
2. Purpose – Water baptism to save and Holy Spirit to reveal truth
3. Administration – Water baptism by man and Holy Spirit baptism by God
4. Time – Administered at different times (Acts 2:1-4, 38, 41; 10:44-48)

A Similar Argument

The fact that Jesus and the Father are called Lord “proves” that water baptism .and Holy Spirit baptism constitute the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5, according to Pentecostal doctrine. In Acts 5:3, 4, and 9, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “Lord.” So reasoning like. the Pentecostal, I see three who are the “one Lord.” Now, may I not argue that three baptisms, namely, the baptism of John, the baptism of Christ, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are the “one baptism” of our text? Why not? Pentecostals will not accept the baptism of John and neither will I, but with their logic, one could “prove” that it is part of the “one baptism.” What proves too much, proves nothing; hence, their argument fails.

Two Immersions

The Pentecostal argument falls because it is two immersions. One is in water and the other is in the Spirit. Baptism is immersion; one immersion, one baptism. Another immersion in the Spirit (another element) is a second immersion, a second baptism.

To argue that two persons, Father and Son, are “One Lord” in an attempt to justify two immersions, two baptisms, as “one baptism” is to reason inconsistently. In order to have a parallel, two persons, Father and Son, must be one person. If two persons could be “one person,” we might be able to reason that two baptisms are “one baptism.” So, the parallel runs together. Two persons who are “one Lord,” one in authority, is not parallel to two baptisms which are called “one Baptism.” The parallel could only be established if the two persons were one person, not one Lord, and the two baptisms were one baptism. That last sentence is a confusing absurdity, but such are the consequences of false doctrine.

Jesus is the “One Lord,” and water baptism is the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5.

Truth Magazine XVIII: 3, p. 34
November 21, 1974