Water Baptism, Pt. 2

Scripture: Matthew 28:19, Acts 8:16-17, Acts 10:44
Is there a certain phrase that must be used to correctly baptize someone? This is the second in a two-part series on baptism. Sincere Christians get caught up in certain phrases used and experience tremendous guilt over this issue. This program looks at a variety of references in Scripture regarding baptism and phrases used or not used.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hello friends and welcome to Bible Talk. I'm John Bradshaw and with me is Gary Gibbs. Hi, Gary.

Gary Gibbs: Hi, John. It's good to be with you and we're talking about baptism and some of the confused views that are in existence among many different churches about what baptism is.

John: And how it ought to be done and what somebody ought to say when a person is being baptized. Now, we don't need to get into the mode of baptism. We are going to presume right here that the biblical method of baptism is the correct method. That is, the mode of baptism by immersion.

Gary: Totally immersing or submersion of somebody under the water.

John: Which is what the Greek word "Baptizo" actually means. So you can't actually baptize someone in any other way than by immersion, isn't that right? Because then it wouldn't be baptism.

Gary: Yes, it really is. In fact, we did a whole series of programs on this topic before. And if people call in or write in at the end of the program, they'll get the address and telephone number, they can actually get one of our Bible studies on baptism.

John: Absolutely right. But that's not really the burden of where we're going today because as we discussed last time here on Bible Talk, some people get all bent out of shape about the very words that are used. Somebody wants to be baptized in the name of Jesus only, and somebody in the name of the Lord Jesus. And it has to be that way or it can be no way in spite of the fact... The fact, that Jesus said to his disciples, "Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Gary: That's right, John, but here's what people say and there are whole churches built around this one doctrine. I'm not talking about entire denominations or a denomination built around this.

John: True.

Gary: It teaches that you have to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ only or Jesus Christ only. That is built around the concept, John, of separating what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19. At that point, he said it was before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And the idea is that after the outpouring of the spirit, the formula of what is said has changed or it's been enhanced. And then the argument is actually kind of convoluted because people take it back to Matthew 28:19 and show you this "in the name..." Name is singular. Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, Jesus is the Holy Ghost.

John: The other thing that I've been told frequently as I interact with people on this subject is that when Jesus said, "the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit," well "Father," "Son" and "Holy spirit" aren't names. They are titles.

Gary: That's right. That's the whole concept.

John: But here's the point. When Jesus said that, even when Peter said, "Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ," they were not referring at all to a certain, specific formula that had to be spoken. They were speaking far more spiritually than that. You mean to tell me, that your experience with Jesus is all wet, pardon the analogy, because somebody said a word out of place when you were being baptized? Come on, now. What Jesus was getting at and what Peter was getting at is that when a person is baptized, they take on or into their lives the authority of Jesus Christ, the authority of the Father, the authority of the Spirit.

They become a follower of God and they believe as the believers back in Peter's day were asked to believe that Jesus Christ himself is the promised Messiah.

Gary: But John, how do you prove that? The Bible says here in Acts 8:16-17. As yet he, the Holy Spirit, was falling upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost. This whole thing about being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus only really is intimately tied into, apparently in the Scripture, to receiving the Holy Spirit. And what I've heard, I've sat with preachers of other different faiths and they've told me this you cannot receive the Holy Spirit until you are baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and are prayed over with hands on you.

John: So what you're... Let me get this straightened out here. You're saying that there are ministers and preachers who say that unless the very correct words are spoken, then you're not going to receive the Holy Spirit.

Gary: That's right. And that you cannot be baptized in the Holy Spirit until you have had this particular formula. It almost sounds like "Hocus pocus" and if you say "Hocus pocus" then the magical words, laying the hands on people, then the Holy Spirit just comes flooding in and you speak in tongues and do whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to do.

John: Well, that didn't seem quite right according to the Bible. Should we have a look at a passage in the Bible where people are baptized and the Holy Spirit comes and so forth? Shall we look at that?

Gary: Please, let's do that.

John: There's at least one that I want to turn your attention to. And we'll look in verse 44 of Acts 10... I'll read a few verses through here. "While Peter still spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all of them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished as many as came with Peter because on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnified God." Then Peter said, notice this, Peter said, "Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Not name of Jesus Christ, not the name of the Lord Jesus.

Here it's the name of the Lord. And he remained there with them for a few days. People received the Holy Spirit in a very marked way. They received the miraculous gift of languages, the gift of tongues before they've been baptized in water. So, this idea of having things the other way around just isn't consistent with what all of the Bible says.

Gary: It really isn't. I remember showing this very text to that pastor friend of mine. And he really couldn't say much or there wasn't much to say because obviously the Holy Spirit was poured out on people before they had water baptism.

John: I don't want to put the brakes on this discussion here and I know there's more that we both want to cover here but I do want to say this, kind of a disclaimer. Can a person be wrong about this and still be a genuine Christian in their heart?

Gary: I think so. I think if they love the Lord Jesus Christ and they're being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that's fine. Because what the Lord is looking at is the meaning of baptism. It signifies a person is saying, "I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe he is the Messiah. I'm giving my life to him, to die to sin and to live according to his power." That's what's it all about.

John: I know there are good Christians listening to this program today who love the Lord and I wouldn't want them to think that here at Bible Talk, John and Gary are saying you are less than a Christian if you disagree with me or you or somebody else on this subject. But I think what we do want to say, even though... Please know that we're not suggesting someone isn't a Christian or having a real experience, but what I really am concerned about is that somebody would take a subject like this, and make it something they live and die for. Make the words spoken the beginning and ending of a person's Christian experience.

Gary: And that's the problem because a lot of good Christians who are following the Lord are being put on a serious guilt trip over this issue where the Bible is not consistent. If it was an issue where the Bible is consistent on this, where in the book of Acts, every time you saw somebody was baptized it had the identical words, and that would be indicative of something we needed to do. But the words change every time. All you have to do, friend, is take your Concordance and look up the word baptism and how it's used, or baptize in the book of Acts and you'll see the words used each time.

John: And it would be helpful if somewhere in the Bible it was recorded just exactly what was said at a baptism. It's not there. So what we must understand is that what the Bible writers are getting across is not that there's a magic formula to be spoken. But that in baptism a person accepts Jesus Christ of Nazareth as Messiah, as Lord and Savior, as the Saint of God, and the Son of God.

Gary: It really is, and John, I want to take you back to Acts Chapter eight again, that's where we were reading verses 16 and 17. Later on in the chapter we have the famous story about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. The Ethiopian eunuch had traveled to Jerusalem. He was a seeker after the true God. And Philip is placed providentially in a place to meet the Ethiopian eunuch.

John: Sure. God leads him right to this spiritually hungry man.

Gary: The man is studying there in the book of Isaiah and he doesn't understand who the prophet Isaiah is predicting will come and obviously he's talking about Jesus.

John: Sure.

Gary: And after Philip studies with him, they come to a body of water and there in verse 36, it says the eunuch says, "See, here's water. What doth hinder me to be baptized?"

John: Sure, that's a great question.

Gary: It is, and then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." And that was the key point. Philip was asking him, "Are you clear on the message I've just studied with you? Are you clear on the central truth?"

John: The answer was, "Yes." That's right.

Gary: And this guy feeds back and verbalizes the central truth he got out of that Bible study with Philip. He says, "I believe Jesus Christ..." now what he is saying is that "Christ" is not a last name for Jesus. It's a title.

John: That's right.

Gary: "I believe that Jesus is the Messiah." "Christ" is Greek for "the anointed one." "Messiah" is Hebrew for "the anointed one."

John: You've gotten over in Acts 19:5. "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." Now, what was it that they heard? Paul said to some people who were believers that John the Baptist truly baptized with the baptism of repentance. Saying to the people that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus. That is, Jesus the Messiah. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The present truth for that time was that Jesus Christ was, is, forever will be the Messiah. And friend, that's the important thing. That's the central theme of the Bible. Christ is Lord, Christ is Savior, and that being a Christian means accepting his lordship thoroughly and completely in your life.

Gary: And that's why the disciples offered the book of Acts, or pointing these converts back to that fact that prophecy has been fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Those prophecies that predicted the coming of the Messiah and they're signified by their baptism. "I believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies and I'm accepting him as my Lord, as my Savior."

John: Now in the last couple of moments we have on Bible Talk today, I'm going to just go to one of the verses... It's related to this thing somehow. Have you ever been told that there's such a thing called baptism for the dead?

Gary: Oh, yes. I've had people visit with me. I have friends, in fact, who teach that you need to be baptized for the dead. Let me read the text, John.

John: Go right ahead.

Gary: It's here in 1 Corinthians 15:29. "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead if the dead rise not at all. Why are they then baptized for the dead?"

John: I had somebody at my door just recently telling me, "This is what we do. We got somebody's grandmother being dead for 50 years and you stand in the water and be baptized for her. Somehow she is baptized by proxy because you're in the tank or in the river or wherever you might be." And all you need to do, friend... The reason I think, it's important we discuss this is because a lot of people are going to have this presented to them. You might be studying with somebody right now who's telling you that this is a biblical thing and you read it there in the Bible and you say, well it does say baptize for the dead.

And isn't the whole chapter kind of gearing around this thing? one Corinthians 15 is the resurrection chapter.

Gary: OK.

John: And right there, we don't have time to go to this deeply but here's the crux of the matter. All the way through 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is writing that we have a hope because the dead rise. Isn't that right?

Gary: That's right.

John: Being dead isn't the end because one day there's going to be a getting up morning. And he says... How far up should I go? I'll just read verse 29. Well, I won't read it. You read it. He said, "What will they do then, the baptized for the dead, if there's no resurrection?" In other words, why get baptized? Because baptism signifies a death and a resurrection. If there's no resurrection, why are you going through the motions of being baptized and playing this resurrection thing if there isn't a resurrection?

1 Corinthians 15 tells us all the way through there's a resurrection one day. Paul is simply saying what shall they do which are baptized considering they're dead. Why are they baptized then in view of the dead? If the dead don't rise, why should we be baptized?

Gary: That's really clear. Sounds like there are a lot of confusing teachings about baptism. Thank you for clearing that up for all of us.

John: Get more. Write, call, and whatever you do, join us for more next time. I'm John Bradshaw with Gary Gibbs. See you again on Bible Talk. [music]

Male Announcer: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we just discussed and expands on the subject, including information you want to know. To receive this free informative Bible study guide, simply call, write, or email and ask for BT 103 "Is There Anything Left You Can Trust?" The toll-free number is 866-Biblesays. That is, 866-2425372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, P.O Box 1058, Roseville, California 95678 or email us at bibletalk@amazingfacts.org. Bible Talk has been produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk Radio.

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