DID THE NICENE CREED
SALVATION THROUGH WATER BAPTISM?
Some look at the Nicene creed and see the phrase 'We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins' and see an excuse to say that 'water baptism' is necessary for salvation.
The Bible does not teach that any work will bring salvation, it teaches 'grace' i.e. unmerited favor saves.
We do believe the Nicene creed, so to what does that phrase refer?
The authors of the Nicene Creed took the phrase "one baptism" from Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus.
Ephesians 4:4-5 (KJV)
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism...
So, we need to see what 'one baptism' he referred to. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to a unity grounded in the fact that there is but "one body and one Spirit...one Lord, one faith [and], one baptism."
The 'one baptism' referred to is not 'water baptism' but is the one baptism of seven that saves the soul. This is referring to what Bible scholars call the baptism into Christ and into His body.
This is commonly known, and the reason why so many denominations believe in the Nicene Creed, but hardly anyone tries to use that phrase to teach that it is 'water baptism' that brings forgiveness of sins.
Among Pentecostal Bible commentators, we find Finis Dake explain the seven baptisms this way:
Seven Baptisms in Scripture:
1. John's baptism in water (Mt. 3; Mk. 1; Lk. 3; 7:29-30; Jn. 1:31-33; 3:23-26; 10:40; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:3)
2. Christ's baptism in water (Jn. 3:22; 4:1-2)
3. Baptism in suffering (Lk. 12:50)
4. Baptism in the cloud and in the sea (1Cor. 10:2)
5. Christian baptism in water (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; 8:12-16, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; 1Cor. 1:13-17; 1Pet. 3:21)
6. Baptism into Christ and into His body (Rom. 6:3-7; 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12)
7. Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:11,14; 20:22-23; Mk. 1:8; 10:38-39; Lk. 3:16; Jn. 1:33; 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:2-3)
Three Baptisms for Believers:
1. Into Christ or into His body at repentance and the new birth. Called "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5), because it is the only baptism that saves the soul and brings into the body of Christ.
2. Water baptism after one is saved.
3. Spirit baptism, the enduement of power for service. It can take place before water baptism (Acts 10:44-48) or after it (Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-11; 8:12-21; 19:1-7).
The Holy Spirit is the agent to baptize into Christ and into His body (1Cor. 12:13);
Christ is the agent to baptize in the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:11; Jn. 1:31-33);
and the minister is the agent to baptize into water (Mt. 28:19).
Dake's Annotated Reference Bible.
So, the 'baptism' mentioned in the Nicene Creed is the baptism into Christ at salvation, and that baptism is the one that brings 'forgiveness of sins'. The Holy Spirit baptizes the repentant sinner into Christ, and into the 'body of Christ'.
1 Corinthians 12:13 (KJV)
13 For by one Spirit are we all 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.
Romans 6:3-6 (KJV)
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Galatians 3:27 (KJV)
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Colossians 2:12 (KJV)
12 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.
The one baptism is the spiritual baptism we call salvation. Water baptism is an illustrated lesson as a testimony of what was done for us by grace, through faith, when we were saved and immersed into Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
To "put on Christ" may be understood in two ways, according to the Law and according to the Gospel. According to the Law as in Romans 13:14, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ," which means to follow the example of Christ.
To put on Christ according to the Gospel means to clothe oneself with the righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and Spirit of Christ.
By nature we are clad in the garb of Adam. This garb Paul likes to call "the old man."
Before we can become the children of God this old man must be put off, as Paul says, Ephesians 4:29. The garment of Adam must come off like soiled clothes.
Of course, it is not as simple as changing one’s clothes. But God makes it simple.
He clothes us with the righteousness of Christ by means of Baptism, as the Apostle says in this verse: "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
With this change of garments a new birth, a new life stirs in us. New affections toward God spring up in the heart. New determinations affect our will. All this is to put on Christ according to the Gospel.
Needless to say, when we have put on the robe of the righteousness of Christ we must not forget to put on also the mantle of the imitation of Christ.
Luther's ...A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.
I Corinthians 12:12,13
Verses 12,13. Unity, not unvarying uniformity, is the law of God in the world of grace, as in that of nature. As the many members of the body compose an organic whole and none can be dispensed with as needless, so those variously gifted by the Spirit, compose a spiritual organic whole, the body of Christ, into which all are baptized by the one Spirit.
Jamieson Fausett Brown A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments.
I Cor. 12:12-13
Baptized into one body.
Many suppose that there is reference here to the ordinance of baptism by water. But the connexion seems rather to require us to understand it of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, (Matthew 3:11) and if so, it means, that by the agency of the Holy Spirit they had all been fitted, each to his appropriate place, to constitute the body of Christ-the church.
Barnes: Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical.
Paul does not design to teach that the sacrament of baptism, from any inherent virtue in the rite, or from any supernatural power in him who administers it, or from any uniformly attending Divine influence, always secures the regeneration of the soul. This is contrary both to Scripture and experience. No fact is more obvious than that thousands of the baptized are unregenerate. It cannot be, therefore, that the apostle intends to say, that all who are baptized are thereby savingly united to Christ. It is not of the efficacy of baptism as an external rite, that he assumes his readers are well informed: it is of the import and design of that sacrament, and the nature of the union with Christ, of which baptism is the sign and the seal.
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
So, those who believe in salvation by grace, unmerited favor, and do not believe that there is any work, let alone water baptism mandatory for salvation, do not have to throw out the Nicene Creed.
We believe The Nicene Creed the same way the authors of it understood it.
The 'one baptism' is one of the seven found in Scripture, but it is not 'water baptism' that is referred to...
The oneness (non Trinitarian) people do think water baptism is mandatory and one is not saved unless that is done. Some Church of Christ also believe that way. Neither of those groups can be called 'scholarly' in the Word, and their misconstruing of the Word of God has led them to many errant ideas.