|In what name should a Christian be baptized?|
Would not Colossians 3. 17: “Whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” settle the question that to baptize in “the name of the Lord Jesus” is the correct formula for this dispensation?
While cordially accepting Colossians 3:17, we cannot agree that it has anything to do with the question of baptizing “in (or “into”) the name of the Lord Jesus” rather than “into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Certainly we baptize “in the name of the Lord Jesus” and for that reason we do it as He laid down in Matthew 28. But we cannot in any way accept the theory that in the Acts some new “formula” took the place of the one He appointed then. There are three points which should be prominent in carrying out the ordinance:
(i) The authority on which it is carried out. We all agree it is “in the name (en to onomati) of the Lord Jesus”, that is, on His authority. The only record we have of the Lord instituting baptism is in Matthew 28 and Mark i6. If these passages are taken from us, we are shut up to some supposed occasion when the Lord gave other directions, of which we have no shadow of a record. Certainly every baptism in the Acts was carried out “in the name.” This phrase (en tO onomati), (quite distinctbe it noted from that used in Acts 8. i6 and 19. 5, but which the questioner and his friends seem to confuse with it), occurs only twice, that is in Acts 2:38 and Acts 10:48. If one of these phrases replaced the usual formula, which is it? or were there two new formul given?
(2) The second point is the confession of faith of the believer. If the servants of the Lord are responsible to baptize believers, the believers are equally responsible to be baptized. (This we have in Mark 16:16). For that they must confess their faith in Christ. This is embodied in the phrase referred to above as occurring in Acts 8:16, of the Samaritans, and Acts 19:5 of the Ephesian disciples. This is “into the Name (eis to onoma) of the Lord Jesus,” the Person into whose name the candidate desired to be baptized. This was specially important in the two cases referred to, because the Samaritans had been cut off from Israel and the Ephesian disciples had been wrongly baptised “unto John’s baptism.”
That the apostle Paul did use the formula of Matthew 28 may, I think, be fairly deduced from the passage. When he learnt that these disciples had not even heard that the Holy Ghost had been given, he asked at once, “Into what then were ye baptized?” He knew immediately they could not have received the right kind of baptism “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” for that would have informed them that the Spirit was revealed. No other form proposed as a substitute for that of Matthew 28 would have told them anything about it. Into this aspect of baptism very suitably fits the teaching of Romans 6, by which the believer learns that at his baptism he was identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
(3) The third point is the object of the act of baptism. This is not in contrast or opposition to the other two phrases, but in harmony—”Into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” The neophyte enters by faith into all that the Triune Name contains and implies. These three points have been for years emphasized by the writer in the act of baptizing—” ‘In the name of the Lord Jesus’ and on your confession of faith in Him, I baptize you ‘into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’.” The idea that Paul intended in any way to set aside baptism, in saying that “he thanked God he had only baptized a few of them” is certainly a mistake. He merely meant he was glad he had not performed the manual act, “lest they should say he baptized in his own name.” As an historical fact he was in the habit of having all converts baptized on confession of faith (see Acts 16:15,33; Acts 18:8).
Salvation not by Baptism
It should be noted that baptism is commanded to those who are already saved. It is not the way to obtain salvation or secure salvation. If you are worried that you were not baptized correctly and therefore in danger of losing your soul forever, then you should first accept Christ in order to be saved and then later be baptized.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (18) For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
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