By Carol R. Lumplin
There is more misunderstanding about “baptism,” than perhaps any other New Testament subject. A great deal of this is due to the disregard for what the New Testament plainly teaches. Paul wrote, “there is one baptism,” (Eph. 4:5). Since there is one baptism, it would rule out (1) John’s baptism, which ended when Christ died upon the cross (Col. 2:14); (2) Holy Spirit baptism, which is found only in Acts 2 upon the apostles and in Acts 10 upon the household of Cornelius; (3) fire baptism, which is yet to come upon those who know not God and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:7-9). This one baptism is the one which Jesus commissioned His apostles to perform (Matt. 28:19).
The apostles were directed and controlled by the Holy Spirit in what they could teach and bind upon people in religion (Matt. 16:19; 18:18). The Holy Spirit directed the apostles in all truth (Jn. 16:13). Since they were directed in all truth, we are confined in our understanding of “baptism, ” to what they have given to us in the New Testament.
Paul said, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). “In the name of the Lord Jesus” means by His authority. The Lord has spoken on the subject of “baptism.” The book has been finished; no additional word will be forth coming (cf. Heb. 9:16-17). Honest and concerned people will open “the will of the Lord,” and there determine the “all” about “baptism.”
Baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ into the name of Jesus Christ. Peter commanded the believing Jews to, “repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . . ” (Acts 2:38). Peter was binding God’s law (Matt. 16:19) upon the Jews, with all the authority of Jesus Christ supporting him. Philip taught the same fixed authority to men and women in Samaria, who were baptized (Acts 8:12). Other accounts of the authority of Jesus Christ are expressed in (1) the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10:47-48) and in (2) the conversion of the Ephesians (Acts 19:1-5).
Baptized into the likeness of the death of Jesus Christ. “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. For we have been planted together in the likeness of his death . . . ” (Rom. 6:4-5).
Baptized into Jesus Christ. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3).
Since, we have the authority of Jesus Christ to bind what soever the inspired apostles and writers have taught us in the New Testament, then are we not also bound by what our Lord said about baptism in His ,commission to the apostles? He said, “All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of ‘the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:18-19). The authority of Jesus Christ (in His name) instructed the apostles to baptize those taught into “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” When a sinner is baptized “in the name of the Son,” to the exclusion of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, is he baptized according to the authority of Jesus Christ? He either is, or he is not.
I firmly believe those of us who baptize people; when baptizing, should use the language of Jesus Christ. If not, then why did the Holy Spirit direct the apostles to do this? Just some food for thought.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 8, p. 236
April 19, 1984