I am not going to beat the subject of water baptism to death, but I did feel that there were a few more things I needed to say on the topic. If this is the first post you’re reading on this, you may want to go back and read the post before this one and also the post that Debs did here on her blog. This post relates to both of these.
Those that adhere to the Triune formula of baptism based on Matthew 28:19 oppose the Jesus name formula for baptism by saying that “in the name of Jesus” does not mean that the baptizer needs to say the name of Jesus in baptism, rather it is just meaning that they are baptizing the candidate ‘in the authority of Jesus’.
If this argument is valid, then it is equally true that baptism “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’ (Matthew 28:19) also only means in the authority of the Father, Son & Holy Ghost, and therefore we do not need to repeat the formula ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’ either. This would leave us with no baptismal formula that needed to be said! If, as some claim, “the name of Jesus means the authority of Jesus” then so much more should the NAME, rather than titles, be called over an individual in baptism.
The Necessity of Baptism
As far as baptism not being a part of the plan of salvation, I don’t believe this view lines up with Scripture.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
1Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
What Must I Do To Be Saved?
Consider the story of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16. If you read the chapter, you’ll see that Paul, who was accompanied by Silas, casts a demon out of a young lady that had been following them around. This lady had been possessed by a spirit of divination(fortunetelling), and when her masters saw that their hope of continuing to make profit from her was gone, they were ticked and managed to get others stirred up against Paul and Silas to the point of having them beaten and thrown in prison. In spite of their beaten and bloody condition, they manage to sing and praise the Lord, and all the prisoners hear them. (verse 25) God sends an earthquake so powerful that the prison doors open and all the prisoner’s bands are loosed. The jailer wakes from his sleep and freaks out at what he sees. Perhaps he was thinking everyone would escape and he would lose his job, so he pulls out his sword, ready to take his own life.(v.27)
Here’s the rest of the story. (Why do I suddenly feel like Paul Harvey? J)
Acts 16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
Act 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
In verse 28, Paul sees the plight of the jailer and calls out for him not to hurt himself, assuring him that all of the prisoners are still there. In verses 29 and 30, we see the jailer trembling and falling down before Paul and Silas. Then, he asks them a very important question. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Their response? –Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” They did not tell him, believe, and you are saved, but rather you shall be saved. (future tense) Verse 32 tells us that Paul and Silas “spake unto him the word of the Lord.” What exactly did they say? The Scripture does not tell us outright, but verse 32 tells us that the jailer washed their stripes and then him and all his household were baptized. If baptism is a non-issue and not a part of the plan of salvation, then why would Paul and Silas bother to baptize these folks? (see Mark 16:16)
What Doth Hinder Me To Be Baptized?
Consider the case of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8. First of all, before the eunuch comes on the scene, the Lord begins to set things in motion for Philip(a follower of Jesus) to meet this man.
Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
8:28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
The Lord directs Philip to go to this man who is sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah.
Act 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
Act 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
It’s amazing to me that even though we are imperfect human beings, God can still take us and use us to help us open up another person’s understanding.
Verse 32 and 33 tell us what the eunuch was reading.
Acts 8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
8:33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
In verse 34, the eunuch asks Philip who Isaiah is talking about in these verses. What does Philip say?
Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
What exactly did Philip say? The Scripture does not give us a word for word conversation between the two, but look what the eunuch asks Philip in verse 36.
Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
I don’t think I’m being presumptuous to say that baptism must have entered into their conversation. Why else would the eunuch bring it up? Verse 37 gives us Philip’s response.
Act 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Act 8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
What was Philip’s pre-requisite to baptizing this man? He told him that if he believed with all his heart, then yes, he would baptize him. Once again, I refer back to Mark 16:16.
If I were to ask most folks that consider themselves Christians what the gospel is, I would probably get an answer similar to this. The gospel is the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. I can agree with that, but just how is the gospel applied to our lives. Without going into a lengthy explanation, this is what I believe.
Jesus died – We repent. (Romans 6:1,2)
Jesus was buried – We are baptized. (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12)
Jesus resurrected – We receive His Spirit(the Holy Ghost)
I do encourage those who are reading here to study this out more on your own. This is by no means an exhaustive study concerning baptism.
Paul tells us in the book of Timothy:
2Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
And Jesus told us:
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
May God bless you and guide you as you study His precious Word!