The Unity of the Spirit - Part 9

Posted in: 2009
By Tom L. Ballinger
Jan 11, 2010 - 6:26:23 PM

Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger

January 6, 2010



The ordinance of Baptism has been the source of endless controversies and divisions. It remains a constant source of antagonism among various sects and denominations. The reason for this disagreement is a historic one. A few short years after the Apostle Paul received the revelation of the Mystery, he wrote, “all men have forsaken me.” What he meant, by this, is that the Christians who had, initially, believed the latest report from God forsook the ONE FAITH. It is in Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy he recorded that Present Truth had been forsaken.

The mighty one in faith, the Apostle to the Gentiles, had forsaken the Old Testament on the Damascus Road in order to embrace the New Testament. The Lord Jesus Christ directed Paul’s Acts Period activities all the way across the Mediterranean Sea to a hired house, as a prisoner, in the capital of the world—Rome. There, this man of faith was in chains and under guard twenty-four hours a day. Many of his followers accepted the obvious fact that Paul had finally gone too far. They began to say that Paul was out of the will of God. Why? Because, Paul boldly forsook Pentecostal Truth and, eagerly, announced that he had met, in secret [ i ], with the Lord Jesus Christ in his place of confinement. It was there in the “lower parts of the earth” that Paul was given a SPECIAL REVELATION—the Mystery which had been hid from the ages and generations. Then, Paul made it manifest to the saints throughout Christendom (Col. 1:27). So, he moved again. This time, he moved from the New Testament FAITH TO THE FAITH of the Mystery. (As Saul of Tarsus, he moved from Old Testament FAITH to the New Testament FAITH of Paul the Apostle. After Acts 28, he moved from the New Testament FAITH to that of the FAITH of the Mystery).

He was, now, “Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 9) who had wrung out his life for the hope of Christ’s calling, only to acknowledge that “all they that be in Asia turned away from me” (II Tim. 1:15). Many rejoiced in the new revelation for awhile until persecution arose. Then, Paul told Timothy about the time when many “shall turn away their ears from the [present] truth” (II Tim. 4:4). This turning-away backward brought in confusion, darkness, strife, contention, and error. These distortions replaced the short-lived THE BOND OF PEACE which was “the Unity of the Spirit.”


Acts Period believers were very well acquainted with the doctrines of “baptism.” John the Baptist came baptizing with water. It is recorded in all of the Four Gospels that John would, indeed, baptize with water, but Christ would baptize with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33).

John’s baptism was for Israel. Christ’s baptism “with the Holy Ghost” was, initially, for Israel and, then, later for the Gentiles as well. In order to arrive at a sound understanding of what being baptized with the Holy Ghost meant; we must compare Scripture with Scripture. Luke 24:49 gives us a good insight into baptism with the Holy Ghost. Moments before His ascension, Christ said:

“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, UNTIL YE BE ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH” (Luke 24:49).

The “promise of My Father” is mentioned, again, as Christ spoke to His disciples on the Mount of Olives:

“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5).

By comparing “spiritual things with spiritual things,” the conclusion of this is: that the baptism with the Holy Ghost is to be “endued with power from on high.” The enduement was “the promise of the Father.” It was the imparting of “spiritual gifts” to the believers. The spiritual gifts were bestowed upon the one-hundred-and-twenty Jews in the “upper room.” They were waiting to be endued with the spiritual power from on high, as the Father had promised. On the Day of Pentecost, the following is recorded:

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).


It became clear that John’s baptism, during the Gospel Period, could have been considered as one baptism but, certainly, not the baptisms during the Book of Acts. There were two baptisms during the Pentecostal Dispensation; one baptism in water and one in Spirit. These could not be called ONE BAPTISM. If we can treat two baptisms as though they were one, then, we can, also, treat two Lords as one, two faiths as one, two Gods as one, two bodies as one, and etc. Thus, the “Unity of the Spirit” would, absolutely, have no meaning.

The Dispensation of the Mystery speaks of ONE BAPTISM. In order for the believer to guard the unity of the ONE BAPTISM, he must, of necessity, know what is the ONE BAPTISM. It ought to be obvious to our reader that water baptism is not THE ONE BAPTISM, for those who observe, or adhere to water baptism admit that it is only a shadow, or a type of another baptism. Those who baptize with, or in water admit that by practicing the ordinance, they are not endeavoring to keep the “Unity of the Spirit” because they acknowledge two baptisms.

There are those, today, who pretend to keep the “Unity of the Spirit,” but they, too, fail to rightly divide. Those who believe the Church of the Mystery began at Acts 9, or Acts 13 make a glaring mistake in explaining the ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4. The brethren who start the Church during the Book of Acts build a good case proving that water baptism was truth connected with a Past Dispensation. They attempt to phase-out Kingdom Truth and bring in Present Truth gradually. This is their first mistake. Kingdom truth ends abruptly. Present Truth is brought in as soon as Paul makes known the revelation of the Mystery in Ephesians and Colossians. The Acts 9 and 13 men, in reality, are Baptists with the water taken away from them. They are “dry Baptists.” This is seen by their mistakes in assuming that the ONE BAPTISM is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body . . . and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” This points to a baptism which is not in, or with, actual water, but it points to a baptism with spiritual water: “have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

Drinking into one Spirit has to do with “spiritual gifts,” and that is the context of 1 Corinthians 12. The Acts 9 and 13 brethren claim the ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4 is the baptism that, spiritually, places the believer into the Church, which is His Body. Their proof text for this is 1 Corinthians 12:13. However, these men are not drinking of the Spirit; if they were, they would manifest “spiritual gifts” such as tongues, healing, interpretation of tongues, supernatural knowledge, discerning of Spirits, and etc. (Read all of 1 Corinthians 12). The same Spirit that baptized in 1 Corinthians 12:13, also, gave one of the nine spiritual gifts to “every man” (V. 11). This cannot, possibly, be the “ONE BAPTISM” of the “Unity of the Spirit,” as found in Ephesians 4.

The second mistake these men make is that they ignore the baptism that is found in the prison epistles. The ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4 should be compared with the baptism which Paul speaks of in his prison testimony. Paul makes mention of a baptism in Colossians 2:12. The ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4:5 refers to the vital union of the believer with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This, then, must of necessity, be the ONE BAPTISM that we are to keep. Let's compare the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12 with the one in Colossians 2.

“For by one Spirit are we baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).
It should be perfectly obvious that the two references do not refer to the same operation. Since the one in 1 Corinthians 12 referred to baptism “into one body,” and the one in Colossians 2 refers to a death baptism, so then, God must be true and every man a liar, for we see that these two are different and not the same. The proponents of the Acts 9, or 13 school of thought, now, stand in the ranks of others who fail to “rightly divide,” for they attempt to make these two baptisms - one.

Ephesians 4:5 states that there is ONE BAPTISM. It is nothing less than self-deception to make ONE read TWO. When the Dispensation changed at the end of Acts 28, the only baptism that figures in the “Unity of the Spirit” is the ONE BAPTISM of the ONE SPIRIT.

Colossians emphasizes the fact that ordinances no longer exist. In fact, they have been blotted out (Colossians 2:14).  Ordinances have to do with the flesh and find no place in the Mystery which was revealed to the Apostle Paul in the Prison Epistles. In the new calling of the Mystery, the new doctrine of the ONE BAPTISM was brought in. When the Word of Truth is cleared of all the confusion on baptism, the “traditions of men” are torn up by the roots. While many, sincerely, think they are following the Word of God, they are, in reality, following the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Colossians 2:22); failing, all along, to divide the Word of Truth rightly.

The UNITY OF THE SPIRIT forbids addition, or subtraction. The member of the One Body who seeks to “walk worthy” will leave the results with God.


We, now, come to the Seventh element of “The Unity of the Spirit.” This is not the summation of all of the previous Six “Ones.” This is the essential last element—the SEVENTH—which is the Number of Completion. This completes all of the essential components that make up the Divinely established “Unity” among believers of the Present Dispensation. It is our Bond of Peace.

We have pointed out, again-and-again, that this “Unity” is the unity of believers as it pertains to the Revelation of the Mystery. We should not include all of God’s family members into this special “Unity.” It belongs to the Church, which is His Body. The content and context of the “Unity of the Spirit” forbids the student to read into it the saints from by-gone times and dispensations. This Unity conveys the concept that unanimity among members of the Mystery was established by the Holy Spirit, and, as such, we are to endeavor to keep it.

“The One God and Father” of Ephesians 4:6 is not to include saints like those heroes of Hebrews 11—“the great Cloud of Witnesses.” We did not mix others in with the One Body, the One Spirit, the One Hope, the One Lord, the One Faith, the One Baptism, nor should we mix others in with having “the One God and Father,” as we have.

Close attention should be paid to the mention of the four times that the word, “all,” is used.

“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all”  (Ephesians 4:6).

“The God and Father of all” is not about all believers from time immemorial; nor is it “Who is above all” saints of every calling; nor is it Who is “through all and in you all” who are saved. The Ephesians Epistle’s main thrust is its insistence that the Church, which is His Body expresses the fullness of Christ who fills all-in-all (Ephesians 1:23). As such, non-members cannot be said to be His fullness.

The paraphrase of the verse gives the meaning as it is seen in its content and context:

“One God and Father of [ us ] all, who is above [ us ] all, and through [ us ] all, and in [ us ] all.” (Ephesians 4:6)

The insertion of “us” speaks of members of the Church, which is His Body.

We see no reference to Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, David, Gedeon, Samson, and etc. Nor, do we see any members of the Church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38), nor, any members of the Church of God, unless they moved from faith-to- faith. The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head shares this unique Unity, excluding all other companies of God’s redeemed.

Ephesians 4:7 seems to confirm this thought. Notice the usage of the word, “us.”

“But unto every one of US is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”

The “US” is to be understood as those who are members the Church, which is His Body, as are the other references to “us” in Ephesians 4:6. The word, “us,” is in the domain of the Present Calling of the Mystery and is not shared with any other company, or calling.

End Notes:
   [ i ]. The Lord Jesus Christ met, “in secret,” with Paul in his prison [lower parts of the earth] and revealed to him the Mystery [then ascended up] (Ephesians 4:9-10). (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things).