There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
There are a lot of “one’s” in this passage, aren’t there? Let’s break this down:
Paul mentioned “one body.” Go back a couple of chapters and read Ephesians 1:22-23. In that passage he defines the body as Christ’s body, and further defines it as Christ’s church. He’ll define it in this way again in Ephesians 5:23. In that passage he says that Christ is the Savior of his body which is his church. So Christ’s body is his church, and there is only one body. Therefore, as far as God is concerned, there’s only one church. So why do all these different churches with their different names and different doctrines exist?
Paul then mentions “one Spirit.” This would be the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of each book of the Bible, from Moses who wrote Genesis through Deuteronomy to John who wrote Revelation. Right before listing all of these “one’s” in Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul wrote about “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Following nothing but the writings of these Spirit-inspired authors which make up the Bible will produce that unity.
Then Paul speaks of “one hope that belongs to your call.” God calls mankind by the gospel of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14). The gospel (literally, “good news”) is that God’s love is shown in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8). Our hope of salvation and eternal life is through Jesus (Romans 1:16; 5:2; 8:24-25; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10).
Next Paul mentions “one Lord.” That would be Jesus the Christ, our only Master. Only in Jesus do we find the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Yet there is a thought we should all ponder. It’s easy to call Jesus our Lord, but do our actions back up our words? Study very carefully Matthew 7:21-27, and then examine yourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5).
The apostle next speaks of “one faith.” Do you want an interesting project to do? If you still have one of those old-fashioned phone books with the Yellow Pages, get it out and turn in the back to “Churches.” Examine the numerous different kinds of churches listed there under all those sub-headings, and call one from each sub-heading. Ask to speak to the preacher or some other authority in that church, and ask them to tell you what that church believes and why they believe it. You won’t get far before you see just how many different “faiths” man has come up with over the years. Yet the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write that there is only “one faith,” and that faith comes solely from the words of Christ (Romans 10:17). Jesus wants his followers to all say the same things and be completely united (John 17:20-23; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Philippians 2:1-2). The only way that’s going to happen is by following God’s Word alone (Proverbs 30:6).
Now Paul mentions “one baptism.” Today, different churches baptize in different ways for different reasons. Some sprinkle, some pour, some immerse. Some teach that baptism is done as a sign that you’ve already been saved, some say it’s done for forgiveness of sins, some say it’s done to save a baby from sins inherited from the parents. Yet God says there’s only “one baptism.” Every time you read the word “baptism” in the New Testament, you’re reading a transliteration of a Greek word which means to immerse. Thus, baptism is immersion rather than sprinkling or pouring. The New Testament teaches baptism is done for several reasons, including to be saved (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21), forgiven (Acts 2:38; 22:16), clothed in Christ (Galatians 3:27), spiritually circumcised (Colossians 2:11-12), becoming a part of that one body mentioned above (1 Corinthians 12:13), and being spiritually buried and resurrected (Romans 6:3-4). The Bible teaches that only penitent believers in Christ as the Son of God need apply (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 8:12, 35-38). Have you been baptized with the “one baptism”?
Finally, Paul mentions “one God and Father of all.” There is only one God, the God of the Bible. “No creature is hidden from his sight” (Hebrews 4:13). Are you ready to give an account to him? (2 Corinthians 5:10)