By the process of elimination we have demonstrated that of the various baptisms mentioned in the New Testament, the “one baptism” is the water baptism commanded by Christ under His New Covenant.
This baptism is a burial in water, and is intended for the alien sinner for the remission of sins. Preceded by faith, repentance and confessing Christ, the “one baptism” is the moment when God forgives us of our past sins and adds us to His one body, the church. Those who would seek and save the lost must preach and promote this “one baptism” “even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20b).
People often speak of different “modes” of baptism, such as sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. In fact, Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language offers the following definition of the word baptism: “the ceremony or sacrament of admitting a person into Christianity by dipping him in water or pouring or sprinkling water on him, as a symbol of washing away sin and of spiritual purification.” It is imperative to remember that modern language dictionaries are designed to give the modern meaning of words, and do not necessarily reflect the original meaning of a word. Our job is to ascertain the meaning of a word at the time it was employed in the writing of Holy Scripture.
Actually, the word baptism, properly understood, allows no elasticity in definition. Joseph Henry Thayer defines baptizo (the Greek word rendered “baptism”) as “to dip repeatedly, to immerge, submerge In the N. T. an immersion in water.” The Greek word for sprinkling is rantizo. The Greek word for pouring is cheo. Neither of these words is ever used to refer to the “one baptism.” Furthermore, even in the absence of a Greek-English lexicon to define the word baptizo, the New Testament itself leaves no doubt as to the authorized form of water baptism. In choosing a location to use for baptizing, John chose the waters of Aenon near Salim because “there was much water there” (John 3:23). Much water is not necessary for sprinkling and pouring, but it is for immersion. Jesus and John the Baptizer (Matthew 3:16), as well as Philip and the eunuch (Acts 8:38-39), went down into the water and came up out of the water, thus indicating immersion. Accordingly, Paul twice described baptism as a burial (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). Hence, the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 is a burial in water.