This article is part of Christ Church's "What questions would you like to ask a Pastor?" series. Click HERE to learn more about asking a question. And click HERE to read the rest of the answer articles.
One of our neighbors in the Powell area asked us on Facebook, "Do you baptize in the name of Jesus like the Bible says?"
The short answer is yes. Like all Bible-believing Trinitarian Churches, Christ Church baptizes in Jesus' name because the Bible teaches the Church to administer baptism in the authority of Jesus.
Now here is my long answer. Whenever someone says, "I believe the Bible," it's helpful for the person to explain what they believe the Bible is teaching. So, let me expand upon my yes. Questions asking about baptizing in Jesus's name generally fall into two categories. The first group is those who read Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 2:38 and then wonder how to understand the verses together. The second group is those from a "Jesus only" or Oneness Pentecostal background who believe Acts 2:38 commands only the formula or words "I baptize you in the name of Jesus Christ" may be used during a baptism.
We can address both groups asking whether the Church should baptize only in the name of Jesus by looking at what Acts 2:38 means by reviewing how Luke uses the phrase and similar phrases throughout the book of Acts. As you read these passages that use a version of "in Jesus' name," notice they deal with baptism, supernatural healing, teaching, preaching, and salvation. Both Christians and non-Christians use the phrase in Acts. Yet even with the differences, you see one similarity or common theme. Every verse points to things happening by the authority and power of Jesus Christ!
Acts 2:38, "And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 3:6, "But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!"
Acts 3:16, "And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all."
Acts 4:7-10, "And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well."
Acts 4:17-18, "But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name." So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus."
Acts 4:30, "while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
Acts 5:28, "saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
Acts 5:40, "and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go."
Acts 8:12, "But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."
Acts 8:14-16, "Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Acts 9:27-28, "But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord."
Acts 10:48, "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days."
Acts 16:18, "And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour."
Acts 19:5, "On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Acts 22:16, "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name."
Did you notice the common theme of Jesus Christ's authority? The apostles and the Church go forth, making disciples of Jesus in His power and authority. The Church never seeks to fulfill its mission in its own power or authority. Jesus' authority is the greater context of Acts 2:38. Read Matthew 28:16:20. In this passage, we see that Jesus has all authority, and He promises never to leave His Church. Acts 2:38 is not speaking of a baptism formula, but in whose authority does the Church baptize.
Matthew 28:16-20, "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Before we bring the answer to an end, let's return to the second group. The Jesus only view typically comes from a denial of the Trinity. Yet, throughout the Christian Church's two-thousand-year history, it has affirmed the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed in the Bible. When Christians say God is Triune or use the term Trinity, they mean God is one in essence and three in person. The three persons of the Godhead are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (In the future, I will write more about the Trinity.) Hopefully, that explains why someone who denies the biblical teaching of the Trinity wouldn't want to follow the baptism formula that Jesus gives in Matthew 28:16-20.
We're only touching on the phrase "in the name of Jesus Christ" in Acts. There is more to say regarding baptism, and I am confident more questions about baptism will be answered in this series. Let's end this answer with an affirmative statement regarding what Christ Church believes and practices. Like all Bible-believing Trinitarian Christian Churches, Christ Church Presbyterian properly baptizes in the authority of Jesus' name using the formula or words "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
How should you baptize?
What formula to use in baptism?
In what name should we baptize?
Why we baptize in the name of Jesus.
Should you baptize in Jesus name or the name of Father, Son, and Spirit?
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