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Water Baptism in the Name of Jesus (Not!)

         There’s power in the Name of Jesus.

         But apparently not in baptism.

         The vast majority of Christians worldwide for the last two-thousand years have absolutely refused to invoke the Name Above Every Name [1] in water baptism.

         By this, at the very onset of their Christian walk, they have failed to honor the Lord Jesus though simultaneously claiming a very close walk with Him.

         Most are simply unaware. Many have been taught an alternative method and have accepted it, though it violates Scripture. Some simply do not care.

         What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.

         “Baptism doesn’t matter. So back off.”

         “Baptism is very important, of course, but the first Christians obviously got it wrong.”

         “Baptism in the Name of Jesus is heresy.”

         “Oh that. Yeah, there’s some weird people out there doing some weird stuff, especially those guys. The verse at the end of Matthew is very clear on the right way to baptize.”

         Despite the fact that every single reputable Biblical encyclopedia, dictionary, ancient source, and denominational historical record states flatly and clearly that the original water immersion method taught and administered by the apostles included invoking the pure and holy Name of Jesus, about 95% of all Christians continue to refuse to use the Lord’s Name in baptism. And most conduct baptism in a man-made non-Scriptural manner.

         This disses the Lord.

         If a Christian believes in and honors the Holy Trinity, (a non-Biblical term), his or her water baptism will certainly reflect it. He or she will honor these three distinct Persons by invoking their Biblical titles. He or she will honor the first Person of the heavenly Godhead—the Father. He or she will honor the second Person of the heavenly Godhead—the Son. And he or she will honor the third Person of the heavenly Godhead—the Holy Spirit.

         There’s only one little problem.

         This is something the first followers of Jesus never did.

         And the reason why is simple: They recognized Jesus the Messiah as YHWH Himself. And they honored the one God of the Hebrews and showed their allegiance to Him by invoking His Name, the Name Above Every Name, in water baptism. They were taught by the apostles themselves, who set the precedent, and who were themselves taught directly by the Lord Jesus.

         The record in the Book of Acts and throughout the epistles is clear—there is absolutely no Scriptural historical evidence whatsoever for title baptism. It never occurred. It was a much later development.

         Now, why does one suppose this happened? Why was it officially changed, though the Word of God continues to loudly declare it openly and exclusively? Who could possibly be responsible for removing the powerful and holy Name of the Lord Jesus from baptism?

         Regarding the Word of God, which Christians claim to honor, here is the overwhelming evidence that demands a verdict: 

         And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” [Mark 16:15-18]

         Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. [Acts 2:38-41]

         But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. [Acts 8:12-17]

         So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; [Acts 9:17-18]

         “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’” [Acts 22:12-16]    

         While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. [Acts 10:44-48]

         It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men. [Acts 19:1-7]

         Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. [Romans 6:3-4]   

         Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. [1 Corinthians 6:11]

         There is a reason such verses of Scripture bring strong reactions. If one studies the Book of Acts, one discovers that the enemies of the Lord hated His Name, and they hated His followers’ use of His Name. They knew there was great power in the Name of Jesus, and they knew it greatly superseded their power.

         Demons were cast out by the Name of Jesus, not mere titles.

         Miraculous healings took place by the Name of Jesus, not mere titles.

         People were being made free from the wicked power of sin by the Name of Jesus, not mere titles.

         Concerning the command of the Lord regarding water baptism, why have most Christians agreed with the enemy?

         “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]

         This is why Peter said what he did at the conclusion of the first prototypical message of the Church Age. Immersion in water in the name of Jesus signified the giving of oneself to Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior. It signified an extremely undignified and all-embracing act—dying completely to self—performed in the open and recorded in public for all to see. It signified the burial of the repentant (dead) person and total surrender to the Lord Jesus.

         Instead of dissing the Lord in baptism, it was the highest possible form of praise.

         Real Christians are constantly on the move toward greater spiritual growth and maturity, the gaining of more revelatory knowledge, and a closer walk with the Lord. We learn new things all the time. Life with the Lord Jesus is a spiritual adventure. It is productive and fruit-bearing, though there are times of severe struggle and trial.

         However, resistance against new revelation is often on the surface, ready to emerge. In light of that:

         Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [2 Timothy 2:15]

         Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. [Acts 17:10-11]

         Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. [Colossians 3:17] [2]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Philippians 2:9

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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