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Which baptism is good for a Christian?
The baptism we are most familiar with is the baptism of water for the remission of sins. The Bible says that John baptized in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there. (John 3:23) It is obvious that baptism requires much water. A few sprinkles on the head is not the type of baptism described in the Bible. The word baptize, itself, means submersion.
In the book of Acts we read, And as they [Philip and the eunuch] 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? 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. 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. (Acts 8:36-38)
Biblical baptism requires at least two people going down into the water; one to baptize, and the other to be baptized.
Jesus also baptizes us with His Spirit and with fire. John said, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. (Luke 3:16) The prophet Isaiah had declared that the Lord would cleanse His people from their iniquities by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. The word of the Lord to Israel was, I will turn My hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin. (Isaiah 4:4; 1:25) To sin, wherever found, our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29) In all who submit to Gods power His Spirit will consume sin. In this way Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
This question and its answer were printed in the August 2001 issue of Present Truth.
If the Holy Spirit is not a being, why then did Jesus in Matthew 28 say disciples are to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the omnipresence of the being of God Himself. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) Yet, as we read the Bible we find that the Holy Spirit is not a separate being from the Father and His Son, but rather the omnipresent Spirit of God, which is holy. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? (Psalms 139:7)
Regarding Matthew 28, Jesus was talking to His disciples when He said, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19) Peter, who was a disciple of Jesus, was obviously present when Jesus gave this command. If we want to know what Jesus meant by this command, we can trust Peter to give us the proper understanding. Lets turn to the text of Scripture where this command of Jesus was obeyed for the first time. In Acts chapter two Peter said, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38) Here Peter instructed these people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, rather than in three separate names. But, supposing Peter temporarily forgot the command of Jesus, let us find more evidence.
In Acts chapter 10, Peter commanded [Cornelius and his brethren] to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:48) From these verses it is plain that Peter must have understood the command of Jesus differently than most Trinitarians understand it today. However, maybe Peter was alone in his understanding of this command.
When Peter and John came to Samaria they found a group of people who had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:16) Obviously Peter was not alone in his understanding of the command of Jesus.
What about Paul? Keep in mind that Paul said of the gospel he preached, I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:12) How did Jesus teach Paul to baptize?
When Paul visited Ephesus he met certain brethren there who had only been baptized by Johns baptism. Paul instructed them about Christ, and when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:5)
There is no record in the Bible of anyone baptizing in three separate names of three individual persons. Now there are three possibilities that could explain this. 1) The disciples were in direct rebellion against Jesus and purposely disobeyed His commandment. 2) The disciples understood the command of Jesus differently than most Trinitarians understand it today. 3) Jesus never gave the command to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
The most logical and reasonable of these possibilities is choice number two. The disciples obviously understood the command of Jesus differently than most Trinitarians understand it today.
Let us look at it in another way. Jesus commissioned us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Greek pneuma). Was Jesus, by making this commission, trying to teach the idea of a trinity? I think not, or He would have been contradicting other statements He made, and many statements made by other Bible writers. There is nothing in the verse that says there are three persons in the Godhead. There is nothing in the verse that says who is God. The word God is completely missing from the verse. We learn elsewhere in the Bible that the one God of the Bible is the Father. Paul wrote, To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Corinthians 8:6) The Bible uses the phrase, God the Father thirteen times, but it never says, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.
Notice also that the verse says we are to baptize in the name of Why is it singular if there are supposed to be three persons? The word name in the Bible often refers to a persons character. Jacobs name was changed to Israel because his character had changed. If we believe this verse to be referring to actual names of three individuals, as most Trinitarians suppose, then it would be impossible to fulfill the command. The text says to baptize in the name of Simply reciting the statement, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is not fulfilling the command. To baptize someone in the name of a person we must know the persons name. It would be possible for us to baptize in the literal name of the Father, for we know His name: Yahweh or Jehovah. It would also be possible for us to baptize in the literal name of the Son, for we know His name: Yahshua or Jesus. But it is not possible for us to baptize someone in the literal name of the Holy Spirit, for nobody knows that name, if it exists.
The Father anointed His Son with His own Spirit. Therefore they have the same Spirit. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Hebrews 1:9) For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. (John 3:34) As plainly shown, the Father has given His Son His Spirit. What type of spirit do they share? Surely, it is a Holy Spirit. The Bible mentions several different types of spirit. We read in the Bible about foul spirit, evil spirit, unclean spirit, dumb spirit, excellent spirit, humble spirit, wounded spirit, broken spirit, haughty spirit, faithful spirit, good spirit. All these spirits are distinguishable by the adjective that describes them. We know that God the Father has a spirit, and can that spirit be anything else, or anything less, than Holy? The word Holy is an adjective in every case, whether in English or in Greek. Holy Spirit is not a name, but a description of the Spirit of God.
Matthew 28:19 certainly does not prove a trinity, nor does it prove that the Holy Spirit is a separate being from the Father and His Son. If we are to find proof of these doctrines in the Bible we must look elsewhere.
I hope this helps to answer your question.
This question and its answer were printed in the April 2002 issue of Present Truth.
Question:What does Matthew 28:19 mean?
I greatly appreciate your answer to someone in Zimbabwe about baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (April 2002 Present Truth), although I did not really gain an answer of what Jesus meant by this commission. Could you please explain from the Scriptures if the scripture explains this; although I greatly appreciate your silence where the Scriptures are silent.
Thank you for pointing out that the verse was not thoroughly explained. In the answer you refer to I was mainly focusing on what it does not mean, namely it does not mean that there are three persons in one God as so many trinitarians wish to believe. Jesus said, All power 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 Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:18-20)
As we noticed in the April 2002 issue of Present Truth, Jesus was not giving a specific formula of words for the preacher to recite at a baptism. We know this because,
1) There is no record in the Bible of anyone using that formula at a baptism.
2) All the recorded examples of people baptizing after this command was given show that it was done in the name of Jesus. (See Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5.)
3) The word name is singular, indicating that it has reference to the character rather than to proper names of individuals.
4) It would not be possible to literally baptize in the proper name of the Holy Spirit, because we have not been given that name, if such a name exists.
Once we realize that Christ was commissioning His disciples to baptize into the character of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, it is easier for us to understand His words. Several times in the Bible the word baptize refers to something other than literally immersing in water. For example:
Long after Christs literal baptism in water He said, I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! (Luke 12:50) Here it is obvious that Jesus was not referring to being literally immersed in water, but rather to an experience He would encounter. This experience was to be so intense that it could be described by using the word baptize which literally means, to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed. (Strongs Greek Dictionary)
Jesus used the word baptize in the same way in the following verses: He said to James and John, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. (Matthew 20:22, 23)
In these verses Jesus used the word baptize to signify passing through an overwhelming experience. Paul used the word in this way when he wrote, For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27) Being baptized into Christ is more than just being immersed in water, but rather indicates a complete dedication to Christ.
We could look at Christs words in Matthew 28:19 in this way: Go ye, therefore, and disciple all the nations, Immersing them into the name [character] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19 Rotherham Version) This command is closely connected with the command to teach. Christ wants His disciples to understand the truth about God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit of God.
In Acts 2:38 we see the principles of the great commission demonstrated. On the day of Pentecost Peter proclaimed, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Acts 2:38) The Father calls or draws (John 6:44) us to Christ, we are literally baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and the Father gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us in our Christian lives.
I hope this helps to answer your question.
This question and its answer were printed in the July 2002 issue of Present Truth.
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