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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 47 : Baptize My Disciples | Day 325

Baptize in the Right Name!

The battle raged on for hundreds of years following the first century: a perpetual conflict between Gnosticism and true Christianity. The Gnostics regarded higher knowledge and secret revelation--rather than the revelation of the Scriptures--as supreme and as the basis of salvation. They denied the true humanity of Christ and at the same time considered the incarnation of Almighty God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to be impossible. The New Testament writers battled the seeds of this heresy in Scriptures such as Colossians 2:9: “For in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

When a person is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, these heresies are refuted. It is significant to observe that the command to be baptized does not say "in the names" but "in the name.” (See Matthew 28:19.)

To baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is to honor each Person of the Trinity.

By publicly identifying with the Trinity in baptism, we are recognizing the fact that all three are one God, even as Scripture states in both the Old and New Testaments: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4). “[There is] one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6).

Although the word Trinity is not used in Scripture, that term is used to describe the unity of God being three distinct divine People in One. Each person of the Trinity has a specific function, not only in the creation of the world, but also in the redemption of mankind and the sanctification of believers.

God the Father is the source of all things. He is the One Who planned and ordained the redemption of mankind. God the Son is the One through Whom all things were created. He is also the Sustainer and Preserver of the universe. He overcame the power of death and is now the risen Savior. He established and commissioned His Church, which is also His bride. God the Holy Spirit is the One Who inspired the writing of Scripture and guides us into all truth. He indwells the bodies of all believers, who then become His living temples.

Around the first century, it was common for Gentiles who desired to convert to Judaism to be circumcised and baptized into the Jewish religion. It is likely that some of the 3,000 believers to whom Peter spoke on the Day of Pentecost were proselytes who had already been baptized into Judaism but had not been baptized in the name of Jesus. Thus, Peter declared:

“... 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).

When we carry out baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and understand the meaning of each element, we can avoid much doctrinal confusion and establish a solid foundation for our faith. Let's ask God to help us understand the importance of each Person of the Trinity and the role and function each has in our lives.

“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).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard