By: Norm Rasmussen
Has anyone tried to convince you that if you were water baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you were baptized incorrectly? And – the only acceptable way to be water baptized is to be baptized solely, or exclusively, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Here are the words the Apostles and disciples clearly heard from Jesus Christ regarding water baptism of new believers (disciples):
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Ghost." - Matthew 28:19
It is improper understanding of some wording in Acts 2:38 and 19:5 that has brought confusion into Christianity regarding the proper way to be water baptized:
Acts 2:38 reads: Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
In the name of Jesus Christ in the above scripture passage means: In His authority. In the authority of Jesus Christ, in other words. Matthew 28:18 reads: Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been give to Me in heaven and on earth.
Wherever the apostles write "to be baptized in the name of Jesus" this refers to baptism in the authority of Jesus Christ or on His command, according to Matthew 28:19, which reads: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Surely we don’t think that the Apostles disobeyed Christ’s command to water baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, do we, as was decreed in Matthew 28:19? For what purpose would Christ have told them to baptize in all three names of God, if it was to have no relevance after His resurrection back to heaven?
Although there is only ONE name by whom we get saved … the name of Jesus Christ … if it wasn't for the Father we wouldn't have had a Jesus to save us. And if it was not for the Holy Spirit we would never be able to walk in obedience to God's Word. The Holy Spirit is the power by which an individual comes to Christ.
God The FATHER and God the SON and God the HOLY SPIRIT are inseparable. The Godhead consists of three distinct persons, yet they work in complete unison at all times. One person of the Godhead is incapable of doing anything contrary to the will of the other two persons of the Godhead. What the Father wills, all three wills, though the Father would never will anything contrary to Jesus nor the Holy Spirit. That is why the Bible says God is One.
This is also why Jesus Christ gave this command in Matthew 28:19, to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – (The Three persons of the Godhead).
One must be very careful in how one interprets one particular passage of scripture. Let scripture explain scripture whenever possible. Let a portion of God’s Word confirm what another portion of God’s Word means. Matthew 26:18 (“all authority”) gives clarity and correct understanding of:
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name (authority) of Jesus Christ …” in Acts 2:38.
Acts 19:5 is to mean the same thing. It reads: When they heard this, they were baptized in the name (authority) of the Lord Jesus.
Maybe this analogy will help you understand a little more clearly. If you are being used of God to cast a demon out of a person, if the Holy Spirit leads you to say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you foul spirit, to come out of this person!” … the demon full well understands that by you using the name of Jesus Christ, you are also implying: “By the authority of Jesus Christ, I command you foul spirit, to come out of this person!”
And, the demon also understands it to mean, “By the authority which was given to Jesus Christ by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, I command you foul spirit, to come out of this person!” (Here is a writing that might help you understand this a little more clearly, if you are interested: http://www.carm.org/questions/baptise_name.htm )
However … though some may not agree with me, I believe the wording in Acts 2:38 and 19:5 was never meant to bring confusion, but RATHER, written as it is to help the reader also grasp more fully what Romans chapter 6 is addressing. In Romans 6, note carefully that the Holy Spirit did not move the Apostle Paul to write about our identity in the Father nor our identity in the Holy Spirit. It is our identity in the person of Jesus Christ - His death, burial and resurrection - the impartation of His righteousness; His holiness, to us – His power – His strength - and the impartation of our sin to Him, our weakness to Him (See: 2 Corinthians 5:21) that makes us a totally new creation (See: 2 Cor. 5:17).
Water baptism does not save us whether we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit … or exclusively in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Water baptism is a physical act on our part to clearly demonstrate that we want to identify with Jesus Christ in every way possible. Gal. 3:27, "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Because we desire to fully clothe ourselves with Christ, it demonstrates that we want to do everything possible to stop sinning. It demonstrates that we want to do everything possible to obey the Father’s will, just as Jesus did and does. It demonstrates that we want to receive all the Holy Spirit power available to us from God to obey God. Afterall, we see that the Apostle Paul was water baptized shortly after Ananias layed hands on him to receive his sight and to be filled with the Holy Spirit:
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. (Act 9:17-18).
For sake of clarity, what DOES save us then? Believing that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for our sins by giving His life and shedding His innocent blood on the Cross to wash away all our unrighteousness – all our sins. Was this anything you and I came up with? NO! It was all of God’s doing. God came up with the plan. God executed the plan. God deserves all the credit for it. Thus, by God’s grace and God’s grace alone is it available to us. Faith plus grace is what saves us. (See: Ephesians 2:8). Not water baptism, in any name or names of God you want to put to it, and I certainly mean no disrespect to God in saying thus. Some Christians want to mandate that one cannot be fully saved unless they are water baptized, and the whole of scripture does not bear that out. (Here is a writing that might help you understand that more clearly, if you are interested: http://www.carm.org/questions/baptnec.htm )
Yet once you become saved, there is every reason to expect the Holy Spirit to impress upon your heart to be water baptized, because He wants you to learn as quickly as possible the importance of you learning of your identity in Christ, and to tap into the power of Christ to overcome sin thereafter, and to more effectively walk in the Spirit so that we might glorify God to the fullest.
Acts 9:17-18; 16:30-33 and 18:8 validates the obedience of water baptism, for anyone interested, after one becomes saved.
(Furthermore, many can attest that until they became water baptized, they were not walking in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. Some want to formulize that until a person is water baptized, they are not capable of being filled with the Holy Spirit, which I believe is erroneous as well, even though again, multitudes can testify that this was when they received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. There are scriptures that strongly suggest that people were filled with the Holy Spirit prior to be water baptized, so in my estimation, one needs to be very careful about "formulating" how one is be filled with the Holy Spirit. Bottom line, is that scripture clearly points to a believers necessity of desiring to be filled and stay filled with the Holy Spirit, and God has any number of ways He can do that. We simply need to desire to be filled and stay filled of the Holy Spirit as best as we can, without going on any guilt or condemnation trips, and let God do the rest.)
WHAT NAMES OR NAME IS THE PROPER WAY TO BE WATER BAPTIZED?
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