Baptism is one of the delicate topics in Christendom, because it is central to salvation. Some denominations believed baptism should be done in the name of “Jesus”; others believe it should be done in name of “the Father, the Son and the Spirit”, whiles others believe it can be done in either way. Another concern has to deal with whether baptism means “immersion” or just “sprinkling of water” of the sinner? People give different interpretations to scripture, but it is important to verify everything that is told us from the source [Bible]. To understand these concerns, journey with me as we go through the Bible (God’s written word) and see what it says about the first concern of baptism. All scripture verses are taken from the ubiquitous King James Version.
“Jesus came and spake to unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and 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”, (Matthew 28:18-19).
This was what Jesus told his disciples before he ascended into heaven. Notice that Jesus did not say “in the names”, rather, He said “in the name”. However, after Pentecost, there was a statement by Peter. He 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).
The question raised by many then is “should we follow Jesus’ command on baptism or Peter’s”? To begin, one should understand that Peter was a disciple of Jesus who was filled by the Holy Ghost when he spoke these words.
To understand baptism, one needs to understand who God is. In Genesis 1:26, God said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. The Hebrew word for God, Elohim, is in fact, plural. This does not mean that there are three Gods, nor split personality, but rather, three persons in God – this is what some denominations refer to as Trinity. For as the Bible teaches, there is but only one God (Deut. 6:4).
It should be pointed out that the term Trinity as a word is not in the Bible, so are the following terms/words too: rapture, denomination, evangelism, fall of man, theism, etc. There are a whole lot of terms or words that are used in the modern era to describe different concepts in the Bible. For example, the term “homosexuality” is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, but it was described in the Bible (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27). It is therefore immature to argue that because the word, Trinity, is not explicitly spelled in the Bible; it should not be used to describe the nature of God.
Bible sayings on a particular topic must be taken in total to understand it. The Bible did not contradict itself on any matter. On the subject of “the plan of salvation”, Mark 16:16 just states that one “must believe and be baptized”. In Acts 2:38, the Bible says one must “repent, and be baptized”, and Romans 10:9 says one must confess and believe. On the other hand, John 3:16 just says “one must believe”. The question then is which of these plans should one follow? What the Bible is saying on the matter of salvation is that one must believe, repent, confess and be baptized to attain salvation. This is the aim of baptism.
In concluding, it is interesting to point out that Mark’s record on baptism just state that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”, (Mark 16:16). The point here is that since God is one; and the Father, the Son and the Spirit are one in the Godhead (Col. 2:9; 2Cor. 13:14), baptising in “the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit” is the same as baptising in “the name of Jesus Christ”. The church of Corinth was faced with the same problem of division (1Cor. 1:10-13), but Paul advises us to “avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law” because they are “unprofitable and vain”, (Titus 3:9). Paul also advises us to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. It is always best to double-check everything you have been told about God; and which better place to double-check it than the Bible?
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you. Amen!