Doctrine of Christ
Baptism into the Body of Christ
The Fifth of the Seven Baptisms
By: Eldon McNabb
"By one spirit are we all baptized into one body." (1 Cor. 12:13) Two factors are involved here. First, there is a body which is The Church. (Eph. 1:22,23) Second, a person becomes a part of The Body by a baptism. This is the baptism to which Paul refers in Ephesians 4:1-6. "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
The Body: The Lord uses the human body to represent The Church just as He uses the temple, and Jerusalem, and Zion.
In Eph. 4:15,16, he said, "Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Paul got this partly from Psa. 122:3. "Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compacted together." Again, in Eph. 2:21,22, he said, "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Obviously these statements can in no way be used to describe Christianity in general.
Of all the cities in Israel, God chose Jerusalem to "put His name there." Even so, of all the groups in Christendom, God will yet choose one group from among all of the groups which make up Christianity, to put His name there. (Mal. 3:16-18) Later, in His prayer with His Twelve, He said to the Father, "Keep through thine own name those whom Thou hast given me. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name." (John 17:11,12). They were the spiritual city which God had chosen to put His name there.
All the redeemed are noted in The Book of Life, but those in the Body of Christ are written in another book also. This is made clear in Rev. 22:19. "God shall take away his part out of The Book of Life, and out of the Holy City." The same point is made in Heb. 12:22,23. "Ye are come unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the church of the firstborn which are written in heaven."
It is certain that no man on earth, except Jesus Christ, can determine whose name can, or cannot, be in The Book of Life. However, the scriptures clearly show that The Church has the authority, yea the responsibility, to bind to, or to loose from, membership in the Body of Christ. As Jesus said. "whatsoever ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 18:15-20) It is in this light only that we can comprehend the words of Jesus in John 20:23. He said, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained."
In Peter's day not all who were added to the Lord were anxious to become part of The Body of Christ. For after the death of Ananias and Sapphira, "great fear came on all The Church, and upon as many as heard these things." They were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. "And of the rest durst no man join himself to them; but the people magnified them, and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women." (Acts 5:11-14)
The Baptism: Shortly before Jesus left, "He gave authority to His servants." Mark 13:34. That included the authority to bind believers to The Church. As Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." (Matt. 18:18-20; John 20:23, and 1 Cor. 5:12,13)
Once The Church has made a covenant with a person, God then writes that persons’ name in "the Book of the Holy City," in heaven. Rev. 22:19. This binding is referred to as a Baptism in both 1 Cor. 12:13 and Eph. 4:4,5. He shows in 1 Cor. 12:13, that it is the "Spirit" of The Body that does the baptizing. He mentions the ceremony which is used to accomplish this union in Isa. 62:5. "As a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee." This is evidently The Bride of Christ, for he goes on to say, "as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." So, increase of The Body is made when believers make a covenant with The Church.
By taking the covenant with The Body of Christ, one receives "a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off." (Isa. 56:5)
In Heb. 10:1, he said the law was a shadow of good things to come. It is of particular note that God made two covenants with Israel under Moses: one at Sinai and the other in Moab, immediately before they took of the land of promise. He commanded Moses to make a covenant with the children of Israel, "beside the covenant which He made with them in Horeb." (Deut. 29:1,12-15) Even so, the covenant of salvation which we received by Him is not the only covenant to be taken under Christ Jesus. He also said in Psa. 25:14, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and He will show them (not sinners) his covenant."
If we hope to enter into that promise and inherit the world, we must be joined to The Body of Christ by the baptism of His covenant, which He has given to His messenger and forerunner. This covenant is sealed by the shaking of the hand and the agreement of as many as two or three, who have the authority of Christ. (Isa. 13:2; Ezek. 17:18; Ezra 10:19, and Matt. 18:16-20)