What The Holy Ghost Is All About
“And When The Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come . . . ” (Act 22:1).
The day had finally arrived! The joyous Feast of Pentecost was underway in the city of David!
Devout Jewish families from all over the known world crowded the streets, just as they did each year, in celebration of this sixth day of Sivan (our month of June), the fiftieth day after Passover.
But let’s imagine what must have been happening in one home in the city. No plans had been made to celebrate. In fact, they hardly knew the day had arrived. They were waiting. If it took a week, two weeks, a month or a year, they would wait. Jesus had instructed that they,
“…should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father . . . For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence . . . ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both In Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:4-5, 8)
Suddenly, a noise was heard in the distance. It sounded like an approaching windstorm gaining velocity. In fact, it was becoming so strong, fear gripped each occupant of the room-as well as everyone in Jerusalem, for they all heard the loud, violently roaring wind.
All attention was centered on one-hundred-twenty praying believers in the upper room of John Mark’s home. As the hissing wind burst through every crevice and crack, the entire house was filled with it!
While the shocked group hovered in silence, eyes wide with wonder, a second amazement caught their attention. The wind subsided and a huge ball, appearing to be fire, hung in the center of the room. As they sat, transfixed in fear, the ball seemed to disintegrate and distribute itself into small flames of fire resembling tongues. These flickering streaks then suspended themselves above each person in the group-without singeing a hair of their heads. Not even a thread was scorched!
The fear dissipated. Then each one began to feel a churning and burning in the very recesses of their souls. Thrills shot up their spines. God’s presence soaked, submerged, and flooded them. The Spirit had filled and covered them just as surely as John had plunged them into the Jordan River in his baptism of repentance.
Often these disciples had been with Jesus. But never had they experienced such thrills; such bliss! They were thoroughly bathed from head to feet!
Then came a new sensation. Chins began to quiver as they trembled and shook all over. Strangely, their tongues refused to cooperate with their minds, becoming totally unmanageable. Instead of normal speech, unintelligible sounds and utterances began to gush forth. The Spirit of God was forming strange words which bypassed their intellect and flowed right through their mouths.
What was causing this wild phenomenon? But who cared?!! It felt so good inside, the sound was trivial. Some were singing in tongues, some were leaping, some dancing and swaying, and some laughing-with a few prostrate on the floor.
But what were the disciples saying? No one could understand a word!
“With Stammering Lips and Other Tongues . . ” (Isaiah 28:10).
Visitors and residents of Jerusalem traced the noise to the house and hurried up the stairs. What was going on up there?
Momentarily, they stood speechless at the spectacle. Here were common, uneducated Galileans fluently speaking in various foreign dialect-praising God and proclaiming His wonderful works! Heads were straining to peek at the curious display of the one-hundred-twenty tongue-talking Jews.
“Why, I’m from Libya-and I understand perfectly what she’s speaking!”
“Listen to that man over there talking in my native tongue! And I’m from Mesopotamia!”
Having come from every country in the known world, the Jewish visitors to Jerusalem were astonished to hear native Galilean men and women glorifying God in “their” foreign languages. Representatives of the entire Jewish nation were being positively informed of a promise they had expected for centuries.
“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear” (Isaiah 28:10-12)
However, not all were thrilled by this supernatural demonstration. Certainly the scribes and Pharisees were craning their necks for a better view. But upon recognizing the followers of Jesus who had so troubled them the last three and a half years, they immediately rejected everything.
“I can tell you what’s wrong with them . . . they are full of new wine!” And a snicker trickled through the crowd.
“Yeah, that’s it. They’ve probably had a little too much to drink.” And the chuckles became louder.
Everyone in the crowd was aware of the effects of “new wine”. This most intoxicating of all wines came from soaking
dried grapes in old wine. When pressed a second time, the concoction produced wild, delirious emotions.
Some doubters in the crowd disdained the supernatural by labeling it as the gibberish of drunkards. Little did they realize that the followers of Jesus Christ were actually tasting heavenly wine dispensed by the Spirit of the Living God!
The Breath of New Life!
Every new-born infant is powerless until breathing begins. The same is true in the spiritual. After emerging from water baptism, we enter into the covenant community of God’s family. But there is no life at all until we are filled with the Spirit of God.
A baby cries and screams when entering this natural life; the new-born child of God often cries or shouts with joy when spiritually transformed. The emotions are affected when we recall the forgiveness of our past sins and Jesus’ new life flowing from within.
When the disciples received this “super power,” it accessed them to the highest level of joy. Accompanying that joy was a desire to accomplish their own unique task for the Lord.
However, they could have accomplished nothing for God’s Kingdom without that direct contact with supernatural power. Without the Spirit, we humans are ineffectual.
A crowd of confused listeners, divided in opinion, awaited an explanation. Some considered this the most miraculous event ever witnessed, while others remained suspicious and critical.
Peter, the chief apostle, stood to speak. Jesus Himself had earlier designated him as the spokesman after privately asking the disciples, “Whom do men say that I am?” Based on Peter’s correct answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Master commended him by saying,
“…thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
It was time to fulfill that commission. The door to God’s new Kingdom was about to open to the entire human race. Whatever Peter declared would have Heaven’s authority.
“The Man With The Keys Speaks!
Peter began his message by sweeping aside the taunt that the disciples were intoxicated. No one was permitted to eat or drink at the Feast of Pentecost until after the third hour of the day (nine o’clock in the morning). There hadn’t been time to become drunk!
Had you been Apostle Peter, how would you have convinced the crowd that this was a fulfilled promise from God? The best way to explain a spiritual experience is by the Word of God. To overrule any objections, Peter reminded them of the prophecy written by the Jewish prophet Joel, hundreds of years earlier concerning this great outpouring.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit” (Joel 2:28-29)
A second proof then emerged. Jerusalem residents were acquainted with Jesus’ miracles and wonders. He had openly healed the sick and raised the dead, affirming that He was God manifest in the flesh.
The third indisputable evidence concerned Jesus’ resurrection. Although Roman soldiers had carefully guarded Christ’s tomb, He could not remain in a grave. And the rulers were well aware of the empty tomb where His broken and bruised Body had lain! The soldiers were paid to lie that disciples had stolen Him away. Yet there was no doubt that Jesus had risen.
Fourth, Peter referred to a favorite Jewish ancestor-David. Jesus was the promised Son of David to rule and reign in Jerusalem. David knew that the Messiah would come as his descendant, but he also knew that by His Divine nature, Christ would be David’s Lord-not his son.
Concluding the sermon, Peter stressed that what the crowd had witnessed was the fulfillment of centuries-old Divine promises. The gift of the Holy Ghost is a pledge of all favors intended for the future.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
What a terrifying thought to those Jews who had witnessed Jesus’ miraculous ministry! They were responsible for His crucifixion! They were guilty of crucifying their Messiah!
The Word had been made flesh and lived among them for thirty-three years. After overcoming death, Hell, and the grave, He had been glorified as the LORD (Jehovah of the Old Testament) and Christ (Messiah of the New Testament).
The truth of Peter’s words stung their hearts with conviction. The Blood of this righteous Man-their Messiah-was staining the conscience of every stunned listener.
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
That same question asked by the convicted throng is still repeated by individuals worldwide as-they ponder the devastating effects of their own transgressions against the Savior of mankind. “What can I do to rid myself of this terrible guilt? How can I be pardoned for the grief I have caused my Lord?”
The keys Peter used to instruct the Jews for entering this new Kingdom contain the same message for believers of all subsequent generations.
“Then Peter said unto them, 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 2:38-39).
These words give joyful hope and promise to me and you! We are considered as “afar off’, without natural Abrahamic privileges. Yet we can rejoice because we are regarded as the “spiritual seed of Abraham.”
“That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galations 3:14)
Throughout the ages, God had planned this supreme blessing. This tremendous experience would be bestowed as a gift to every person who believes in Jesus Christ in this present dispensation. It is the “blessing of Abraham” stipulated in the original Covenant made with man concerning his salvation.
That same day 3,000 people obeyed Peter’s instructions and were baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. Thus, the Church for which Jesus shed His precious Blood and which He called, “My Church,” began with 3,120 members!
Invisible . . . Yet Seen And Heard!
Although the Spirit submerging the disciples was invisible, it was manifested in such a way that believers could later determine whether one had received an identical experience.
Jesus compared it to the wind.
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Wind itself is invisible. Yet the effects produced by the blowing are usually both seen and heard. So it is with the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Peter, in referring to the effects produced by the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, said:
“Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he (Christ) hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
Paul described his own ministry like this:
“My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Corinthians 2:4).
A demonstration of the Spirit simply means that the Holy Ghost has produced effects that are perceived by the physical senses of seeing and hearing.
Only three instances are given in the New Testament that actually explain what happened when people were baptized in the Holy Spirit.
* On the Day of Pentecost:
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4).
* At the household of Cornelius:
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46).
* At a gathering in Ephesus:
“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6).
In comparing these three passages, only one outward manifestation is identical when people received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In each instance, they “spoke with tongues” in a language which was totally foreign to them.
Other supernatural manifestations are mentioned-the sound of a rushing wind, visible tongues of fire, and the prophesying by converts at Ephesus. But on all three occasions, they “spoke with tongues.” In relating the incident to other Jewish leaders of the Church, Peter defended his visit to the Gentiles:
“And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning . . . Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:15,17).
No wind, no tongues of fire. Yet the brethren were certain the Gentiles had also received the Holy Ghost! The outward manifestation of speaking with tongues (as the Spirit gives utterance) was the accepted New Testament evidence of a person receiving Spirit baptism. We may conclude that:
* The apostles themselves received this evidence.
* The apostles accepted this evidence to validate the supernatural experience of others.
* No alternative evidence was acceptable or necessary.
* Nowhere in the New Testament is any other evidence of
receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit provided.
It’s Like Being Born Again”!
In His conversation with Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler, Jesus described the coming of the Spirit as a birth of water and Spirit:
“…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
At first, the idea appeared totally absurd! Nicodemus visualized a grown man re-entering his mother’s womb and being born again. But Jesus was describing God’s Spirit impregnating the human heart, actually creating a new life. We emerge from the womb of one condition into the radiance and spiritual activity of another.
When we’re born of water (baptized by immersion into the Name of Jesus Christ), we are joined outwardly to the Kingdom. Yet when we’re born of the Spirit (filled with the Holy Ghost), we are joined inwardly.
Just as Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost at His natural birth, so is every child of God begotten by the Holy Ghost. The same Spirit who dwelled in Jesus without measure (John 3:34), comes to reside in each believer.
Repentance secures our forgiveness; water baptism remits our sins and initiates us into the New Covenant family of God. But that is incomplete. We need God’s expression to assure us of Divine acceptance. That’s what the Holy Spirit baptism does. It reveals unmistakably that we have been accepted and rid of all sin and guilt.
In some strange and wonderful way, God imparts what we could never obtain for ourselves, though we attempted for a thousand years. God’s righteousness becomes our own!
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…” (Romans 3:22).
Until our lives are made anew by His Spirit, we cannot hope to obtain victory over sin and death. Because Christ’s Spirit dwells within, it is possible to grasp spiritual truths and obey, understand, and please God. The new birth provides the possibility to understand and obey God’s laws.
To obtain God’s power, we must do things God’s way. To enter His Kingdom and obtain all its beauties and benefits, we must come according to the Scriptures-by a birth of water baptism and the Holy Spirit.
For you… Your children… Those Far Off
“Is the Holy Ghost really for me today?” is a question asked by many hopeful believers. They may have been taught that the Holy Spirit is given automatically upon acceptance of Jesus Christ. But they have never felt the wondrous sensation that accompanies the new birth experience.
However, no hint is given in Scripture of a change in God’s plan. The gift of the Holy Spirit is every believer’s birthright privilege. His presence continues to dwell among us today as mightily as at Pentecost.
When someone receives the Holy Spirit in this dispensation, the Spirit’s manifestation is different than was experienced under the Old Covenant.
We receive One Spirit with attributes of great power and mighty works from the Father and attributes of obedience and submissiveness from Jesus, the Son.
“For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:20). “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galations 4:6).
To further emphasize that the Holy Ghost (Comforter) is not a separate Being from the Father and the Son, Jesus said,
“…But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you . . . and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:17-18, 21).
If we can believe that the Father (the invisible Spirit) dwelled in the Son (the flesh), we can believe that both the Father and the Son dwell in our hearts in the form of the Holy Spirit. His Spirit will lead, guide us into all truth, heal the sick, give power over the Devil, make intercession for us in prayer, and provide Spiritual Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit.
Rather than a Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit is the Eternal God’s Spirit relating Himself to mankind in a new and peculiar manifestation-the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son (also called the Spirit of Christ).
All the Father’s attributes of power and the Son’s attributes of obedience and submission are combined in this One Spirit given unto men. Jesus was given the Spirit without measure, but we are given only a measure of this marvelous manifestation of God’s Spirit.
In which place was the Holy Ghost first received? Not in the Temple. Not among the rulers and scribes. Not among the priests, nor even in a synagogue. It was in a simple, common place-a home.
God’s most precious promise was distributed first to ordinary, average people-not to intellectuals or theologians. Thus Pentecost separated Christianity from holy places, away from religious people. His Spirit is available to any person, in any congregation, in any building.
In fact, this wonderful Gift was not specifically for Jesus’ group of twelve specially selected men. Had the Spirit not been given to the one-hundred-twenty believers, we may have reasoned that the Lord visits the ministry or holy men exclusively. But many unnamed people were in that upper room group. Many had never preached a sermon from a pulpit. But they experienced a brand new manifestation of God’s presence at a brand new place.
Adding a zero to the 12 apostles to make 120 was one of history’s most important additions! It removed God’s Gifts from priests and prophets and distributed them among common, ordinary folks like you and me. All distinctions based on sacred classifications were abolished. God had begun to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh!
Distinctions based on kinship were also cancelled. Jesus’ own mother and brothers were given no special consideration. They waited in the upper room along with the others. No one can claim special blood privileges as an exemption for not being Spirit-filled. Everyone can and must be a recipient of the Divine nature by repentance, faith, water baptism in Jesus’ Name and the infilling of the Holy Ghost.
Both the young and old, male and female, rich and poor, intelligent and illiterate , saint and sinner can come freely and boldly to receive this glorious Gift of the Spirit.
(The above material was published by Sear for Truth Publications, Inc. in Houston TX.)
THE TRUTH ABOUT WATER BAPTISM
Every individual that comes to Jesus, being drawn by the Spirit, will want to be baptized. And in fact, to obtain full salvation, will need to be baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the
remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Jesus commanded baptism (Matthew 28:19) and said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
However, before baptism the baptismal candidate should be thoroughly repentant and believe with all his heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Acts 2:38, 8:37). The act of being immersed in water in the name of Jesus will not in itself bring about the remission of sins. Repentance and baptism in Jesus’ name are required. A sinner who has no intention of turning from his life of sin will not be profited by the act of baptism.
Not until a sinner fully repents and believes that God has forgiven him, should he submit himself for baptism in the name of Jesus, by a duly authorized minister. However, failure to do so when he fulfills these requirements will put him in disobedience to the gospel of Christ and will inhibit spiritual development.
PURPOSE OF BAPTISM:
Baptism is an act of obedience to God by a person who believes in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The obedience is in order to receive remission of repented sins (Acts 2:38). In answer to a good conscience before God baptism does also now save us through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Peter 3:21). Baptism is a type of putting on or being clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27).
By baptism a believer expresses his divorcement from his old sinful life and identifies himself as desiring to live a new life for Jesus. His previous life of sin is actually buried with Christ in baptism (Romans 6:4).
PROPER MODE OF BAPTISM:
Sprinkling, pouring, and immersion are modes of baptism practiced today. Ephesians 4:5 states, “One Lord, one faith, ONE baptism.” Therefore we believe there exists but one correct mode of baptism. That would be the one employed by Jesus and His disciples.
Two scripture references let us know what that mode is. “And Jesus, when He was baptized went up straightway out of the water. . .” (Matthew 3:16). Acts 8:38, 39, in reference to Philip baptizing the eunuch, says, “. . .And when they were come up out of the water. . .” Went up straightway out of and come up out of strongly implies that baptism is properly administered by immersion in water. Paul’s reference to baptism as a burial with Christ (Romans 6:4) supports this position. Study of the Greek word baptizo, from which baptism comes, gives conclusive evidence that immersion in water is the proper mode. Baptizo means to dip, plunge, or immerse.
SCRIPTURAL FORMULA FOR BAPTISM:
Jesus commanded His remaining eleven Apostles, in Matthew 28:19, to baptize. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them…” He spoke to men whose understanding had been opened to the scriptures (Luke 24:4-5). His words obviously captivated them. They were witnesses to His death, burial and resurrection. They were soon to witness His ascension. They knew He possessed the words of eternal life and they would not forget these.
He charged them previously, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Doubting Thomas, upon seeing the nail prints in His hand and the wound in His side, had already made the confession, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). The disciples knew He was God manifested in flesh, they did love Him, and they would not fail to keep this commandment.
On the momentous day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts the second chapter, we read for the first time they obeyed this command to baptize. They had all just been filled with the Holy Spirit of God and spake in other tongues as this Spirit gave the utterance (Acts 2:4). Peter had stood with the eleven and preached a message of Jesus the Christ and Him crucified. Jews and proselytes, gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost, changed from mockers to inquirers. Pricked in their hearts from Peter’s message, they asked what they should do to be saved. Peter, the logical spokesman due to the fact Jesus gave him the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19), issued this reply, “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 (the Spirit of God the Apostles received).”
Peter exercised his God-given authority. The other eleven Apostles stood in silent agreement with him. The people were receptive, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and
the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
At first glance this might seen to be a contradiction of what Jesus commanded them in Matthew 28:19, as to the formula for baptism (words said over a baptismal candidate as they are immersed). Knowing that all scripture is inspired of God (II Timothy 3:16) and therefore there can be no contradiction in scripture, we must analyze these two verses a little closer. In doing so we will find that Acts 2:38 is not in contradiction to but is the application of Matthew 28:19.
First let us observe what the Lord Jesus commanded, “…baptizing them in THE NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The command is to baptize in THE NAME (singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In Peter’s reply as to what should be done he said, “. . .be baptized in THE NAME of Jesus Christ. . . .” In order for these to agree, and since they are both contained in the Word of God, they must, THE NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost must be THE NAME of Jesus Christ.
Scripture confirms this. “She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Matthew 1:25 adds, “…and he called his name JESUS.” The Son, spoken of in Matthew 28:19 conceived by the virgin Mary of the Holy Ghost, received the name Jesus. This same Jesus states, “I am come in my Father’s name. . .” (John 5:4-3). Jesus inherited His Father’s name just like you and I inherit our father’s name (Hebrews 1:4). The Holy Ghost comes in the same name, as Jesus speaking in John 14:26. denotes, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, . . .” THE NAME of the Father is Jesus, THE NAME of the Son is Jesus, and THE NAME of the Holy Ghost is Jesus.
The Word of God again holds true; there is no contradiction. Father, Son and Holy Ghost are titles of one God whose name is Jesus. Peter and the rest of the Apostles knew that. Therefore, Peter gave the formula he did, and the rest of the Apostles stood in agreement with him.
Thus, on the day of Pentecost three thousand souls took on the name of Jesus in baptism. The name that Peter declared in Acts 4-:12 was the only name given under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved. Philip invoked the same name in baptizing the Samaritans in Acts 8, “. . .only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Peter continued the pattern in Acts 10:48. He commanded a gentile household that had already received the Holy Ghost to be baptized in the name of the Lord. The word command takes on special significance here considering it was delivered to an Italian army officer. To him, disobedience to a command demanded severe, consequences.
In Acts 19:1-7 we read of twelve men in Ephesus who lacked the gift of the Holy Ghost. Learning they had not received the Holy Spirit, Paul, the Apostle born out of due season (I Corinthians 15:8), immediately inquired of them unto what they were baptized. Since they were baptized only unto John the Baptist’s baptism, a baptism unto repentance, Paul explained that they were to believe on the One who came after John, Christ Jesus. When they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost. This Bible narrative depicts to us two important points about baptism: (1) If a person has not received the Holy Ghost it may be because he has not yet been baptized in Jesus’ name; (2) If a person had been previously baptized but not in Jesus’ name, Paul rebaptized him in the name of Jesus.
Paul was a strong believer in the name of the Lord. He learned the name of the Lord in an unforgettable experience that transpired in his life on the road to Damascus. “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest…” (Acts 9:3-5). Paul, formerly a persecutor of the Christians, became a Christian. He speaks of calling on the name of the Lord at his own personal baptism, in Acts 22:16.
Some other references signifying the formula for baptism to be in the name of the Lord Jesus are: “. . .baptized into Jesus Christ. . .” (Romans 6:3); “. . .but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus” (I Corinthians 6:11); “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
Reference books further support the fact that the early church used the form in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as their formula for baptism. “The original form of words were `into the name of Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus.’ Baptism into the Trinity was a later development,” Dictionary of the Bible by Scribners, page 241, vol. I. “The early church always baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until the development of the Trinity,” Canney Encyclopedia, page 53. The doctrine of the Trinity was officially adopted by the Catholic Church in 325 A.D. approximately three hundred years after the beginning of the church.
Jesus commanded baptism. The disciples and the early church obeyed His command and commanded it to others. The Holy Bible, delivered unto us by the hand of the Lord, commands it. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every individual seeking full salvation to be baptized, using the proper Biblical mode and formula.
The Bible contains no record of anyone being baptized any other way than by immersion in water (mode), in the name of the Lord Jesus (formula). We therefore conclude that baptizing in the titles, using the words “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” is a tradition instituted by men. Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 is not being obeyed by using the titles; it is only being repeated. Peter and the rest of the Apostles were in obedience to God on the day of Pentecost in stating that baptism should be administered in the name of Jesus.
Salvation comes only by the grace of God. It is only by His grace that we can repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of our sins. It is our privilege and our honor to be buried with Christ in baptism in answer to a good conscience toward God. By our act of obedience in baptism, in the name of Jesus Christ, we receive the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost. All who have repented should be baptized in the name of Jesus even if they have already received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-48). God commanded it. Every true believer will do his best to obey the commands of God. He would let nothing hinder him.
(The above material was published by the United Pentecostal Church International An OVERSEAS MINISTRIES Publication in Hazelwood, MO.)
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