In Who’s Name Are We to Be Baptized?

A question sometimes arises as to Who’s name or what title or formula is to be used when baptizing. The following remarks are written in order to clarify this question. To begin we must understand that it is the Spirit and not the letter of the law that gives life – 2 Corinthians 3. Those who would make a great issue of the exact formula to be said at one’s baptism have probably missed the reality of what salvation is all about, for salvation is not in the “letter” of what is written but in the power of the Spirit.

However, to clarify this truth, let us look at the examples in the Scriptures where baptism is mentioned along with the name used. Of course, the key passage is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Here we see that all authority has been given to Jesus in heaven and on earth (this is in contrast to Adam who only had authority over the earth). Jesus then commands the apostles to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They were to teach them to OBSERVE all things that He commanded them. He promised to be with them to the end (a promise that He has given to all true believers – Hebrews 13:5-6). Now, the point of this command seems to be that the converts were to be baptized in identification with God as revealed in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the great truth of God clearly revealed in the New Testament (New Covenant).

Now, in reading through Acts, one is immediately struck by the fact that the above was put into practice by the apostles as they preached Jesus Christ the Lord crucified and risen. Peter begins his preaching career by saying to those Jews on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” He was telling them that they had to take sides with the very One who had been rejected by them less than two months prior to this time. This One was none other than the One Whom God had sent, Who had been slain by evil men, Who had been raised from the dead by God, and Who was exalted to the Father’s right hand. Further, the Holy Spirit had been sent by Jesus – Acts 2:22-24, 32-33.

Thus, to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ was to receive the entire testimony of God as revealed, that is, that the Father had sent Jesus and now the Holy Spirit had come to make Him known to all men. If you receive the Son, you also receive the Father and the Holy Spirit. See John 7:37-39 and 13:20 for two examples of this truth being taught by Jesus while on earth.

Thus, to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48) or the Lord Jesus (Acts 8:16; 19:5) is to be identified or associated with the Three Who are One.

In most instances in Acts the exact title used is not mentioned – Acts 2:41; 8:12-13, 38; 9:18; 16:15, 33; 18:8. When Paul was baptized, he did so while calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:6).

Again, one must admit that to believe in Jesus is to believe in the Father – John 5:24; 8:42; 14:7-11; 15-18.

Thus, the exact words used at one’s baptism is not the key issue. Rather, one must ask if one’s faith is truly in the one true God as revealed in the Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Jesus a believer has access by one Spirit to the Father – Ephesians 2:18.

God is now known as three yet one. When we are baptized into Jesus by His Spirit we are put into vital union with Him so that we are His body. He is our head – Ephesians 1:22-23; 1Corinthians 6:19-20. We know God as our Father – Romans 8:12-17. This is the true standing of all who have eternal life in Jesus – John 17:3.

In closing, please read the Captive’s Corner The Meaning of Baptism in order to see the meaning of this ordinance today. It is important to distinguish between water baptism and Spirit baptism. The first is done by an act of men, the second is done by an act of God. The first does not impart life, the second does. A person can experience the first and not be saved, but anyone who experiences the second is saved.

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In Who’s Name Are We To Be Baptized?

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