Posts Tagged ‘Baptism’

‘…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…’ (Matthew 28:19 NIV) ‘On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus…’ (Acts 19:5 NIV) The issue of what specific words you should use when baptising is close to what Paul warns Timothy about: ‘quarrelling over words’. (2 Timothy 2:14) The formula ‘In the name of Jesus’ or ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ is not about what specific words to use in a baptism ceremony (although the trinitarian formula is a good one to use and had been used by the church over 2000 years). The ‘in’ means ‘into’ – ie. water baptism symbolises your entry into the life of God, into the new creation, into the hope God gives in Jesus, into the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that began at Pentecost. Likewise, being baptised “in(to) the name of Jesus” means entering into all that Jesus has done and is for the believer. The words we use when baptising someone help communicate that, but obviously there is no magic or spiritual power in the actually words we use. To demand a specific term, or the full name of Jesus (‘The Lord Jesus’ instead of simply ‘Jesus’) to distinguish him from anyone else called Jesus is not only silly, but is bordering on witchcraft – thinking that our words or incantations will release some kind of spiritual power or make God act. If you were to follow that logic fully, you would need to use the Aramaic version of Jesus rather than the English translation of the Greek, and even then if you mispronounce it you may end up baptising people into the name of some other guy called Yohoshua or Yaheshua…

misused bible

The verse:

“Repent and be baptised, 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 2:38

How it’s misused:

Salvation is made to be conditional: ‘God will forgive you provided you repent and get baptised.’

The Holy Spirit is treated like a commodity; something we can get by following the right formula.

What it’s really saying:

The ‘for’ in ‘for the forgiveness of your sins’ (Greek: eis) does not mean ‘in order to get’, as if the repentance and baptism will make forgiveness happen; rather it conveys the idea of, ‘because of,’ or, ‘in light of.’ So the call to repentance, and the physical act of baptism (a demonstration of repentance) is in view of the fact that forgiveness has already come. It’s because God has forgiven us in Christ that we repent.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is not so much an individual event that happens multiple times, as the global, New Covenant event of the Father pouring out the Holy Spirit upon His people – the event that was inaugurated at Pentecost and has be continuing ever since – we are living now in the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy. Peter here is speaking corporately to Jewish people who knew this promise, and was assuring them that this promised Holy Spirit has come. Notice that receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit here is not a result of their repentance as much as a simultaneous event. It is actually an assurance that they will be able to repent because the Gift of the Spirit has come, and it is He who enables them to respond to the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.