By Oscar Vouga
Water baptism is being buried with Jesus in the likeness of His death, and rising to walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:3-5.) It is the expression of a believing heart, testifyng belief that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. It is the first step that a person who has repented (thus being crucified. with Jesus) must take, for by baptism we express faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Philip went to Samaria to preach, we read in Acts 8:12, that, “. . . When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Again, in verses 36-39 we find Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch, who was baptized because he believed with all his heart. Baptism is of no value without faith, or believing with the heart, and must be preceded by repentance. We are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, (Col. 2:12), and are therefore no longer living the same old life, but the new life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is the one ordinance which marks the transition from the old into the new life, when performed scripturally.
Being buried in the likeness of the death of Jesus, it can only be performed by a single immersion in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, which is the only recorded practice of the apostles of our Lord in the Bible—God’s Word.
IN THE NAME
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded His disciples saying, “Go ye therefore, (because all power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth, verse 18) and teach all nations, (Jews and Gentiles) . . . that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47), baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” These same apostles were also commanded not to depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promised Holy Ghost (Acts 1:4). One reason for waiting is that, “. . . When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth . . .” John 16:13. And, “. . . He shall teach you all things, and bring all things, to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26.
The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles are the only inspired books that we have which give an accurate account of how the apostles obeyed Matthew 28:19, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. To reject this account would be to accuse either the apostles of disobeying our Lord, or the Holy Spirit of failing to bring all things to their remembrance, and no sincere child of God would dare do either; so we will look at the records, and follow them as they followed Christ, by baptizing IN THE NAME of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the only formula that we have given to us as used by the apostles.
With the words of Jesus fresh upon their minds, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon their souls, the apostles preached the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ in mighty power. From the evidence given in the Word of God, they taught all believers to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, see Acts 2:38, “. . . and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ . . .” Acts 8:16: “. . . only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 10:48: “And He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (in the name of Jesus Christ, A.S.V. & Wey.) . . .” Acts 19:5: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
In the quotations just given, we have three different witnesses in four different places and conditions, all testifying to the same thing—that the only way to be baptized in obedience to Matthew is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. First, we have the Apostle Peter at Jerusalem to the Jews; second, we have Philip in Samaria to the Samaritans; third, we have the Apostle Peter to the Gentiles in Caesarea; and fourth, the Apostle Paul, rebaptizing those believers at Ephesus who had not been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. “. . . In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” 2 Cor. 13:1. Paul said also, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an en-sample.” Phil. 3:17.
Moses was commanded to make all things according to the pattern, and that being necessary, how much more should we do all things that pertain to the salvation of souls and obedience to the Word of God according to the pattern, by following the example of the apostles who were taught from the lips of Jesus Himself, and also being taught by the Holy Spirit what the NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is. The truth of singular immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is the apostolic pattern; therefore, we should study to find the reason, which is simply, that the NAME is Jesus. In Isa. 9:6 we read: “. . . and his name (the Son’s name) shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” This verse opens a subject which calls for close examination and profuond study, though it is very simple and plain. The subject is: What is the Name of the True and Living God?
We shall give only the simple fact. Jesus is also called Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Isa. 7:14 and Matthew 1:21-23). As already quoted, The Name of
Jesus is called The mighty God, The everlasting Father. This evidence of His Name is confirmed in John 1:43, where Jesus said, “I am come in my Father’s name . . .” and again in His prayer in John 17:6, 11, 12, 26, He said, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world:
Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me…”; “… I kept them in Thy Name . . .” “and I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it . . .” From all the evidence found in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, the only name which was manifested and declared unto them is the name of Jesus. By the name of Jesus they were kept, worked mighty miracles, and in it baptized all believers.
The apostles, by example as well as by precept, teach us to baptize in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We therefore preach and practice baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. There is remission of sins in no other name but the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12), therefore, baptism cannot possibly signify that the believer receives remission of sins, unless the name of Jesus is used as the baptismal formula; neither can we be thereby identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection, unless the name of Jesus is called upon the one being immersed into the watery grave, the penitent also calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16.)
We also find a few preachers who want to satisfy those on both sides of the subject of the baptismal formula, who are trying to combine the two being used by saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” or some such similar formula. This, however, is no more the Scriptural Christian baptism than if the statement, “In the name of Jesus Christ,” were omitted, as it is in no way baptism IN THE NAME of JESUS CHRIST. It is, however, an acknowledgment that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is right, scripturally, at the same time revealing the compromising attitude of the one using these words, who, having at least a certain knowledge of the truth, makes himself a man-pleaser. It is done to please an organization, or the crowds, and an effort to get away from the reproach of the name of Jesus. May we be reminded that if we do get away from the reproach of His name, we get away from Him; and if we be men-pleasers we cannot please God. Any one knowing the truth of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and compromising that truth, not willing to suffer loss for His name, ought to be ashamed to stand in the pulpit before the people, or to ask God for anything in the name of Jesus our Saviour.
The above article, “Water Baptism In The Name” was written by Oscar Vouga. The article was excerpted from Vouga’s book, Our Gospel Message.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.