The Great Commission has been quoted, preached on, written about, and dissected frequently, as one of the texts that has received some of the most attention in biblical studies. Deservedly so.

In recent days, I wrote a series of meditations on Matthew 28.18-20. And today a neighbor and I studied the same passage in his home. With all this attention given to the text, Jesus’ words about baptism made a greater impression.

The first part of making disciples, he said, is “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” Mt 28.19. First, it bears repeating that Jesus does not command that these words be said at the moment a baptism is performed in order to be scriptural. So this is not a “formula” that makes up a part of some baptismal ritual (contra Richards 578). It is an explanation of the function of baptism in God’s plan.

The English phrase “in the name of” does not apparently express the proper sense. It is not like Acts 2.38 where baptism is commanded “in (epi) the name of Jesus Christ.” Two different prepositions are used. The preposition eis generally indicates direction and purpose. It seems to mean in Mt 28.19 that people are to be baptized into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

Be sure to watch this excellent video, released about a week ago, by Lance Mosher on why John the Baptist baptized people during his ministry. He goes on to explain the various baptisms in the New Testament and which is the one baptism of Ephesians 4. It’s well explained and presented.

Be sure to visit Lance’s website, TopicalBibleStudies.com.

As a long-term investment in our health and work, Vicki and I let few things interfere with our thrice-weekly workouts. But a few things are more important. Such as a baptism. Yesterday, I baptized a couple we had been studying with, and they chose the best time for the two of them, at 4:30 pm—on his day off, and right after she got off from work, still early enough in the day so that the water was bearable. (It’s wintertime here, and the baptism was done in an outdoor pool.) That caused us to miss our workout, and we were happy to miss it. To help someone move from a state of lostness to receive salvation in Christ is of all things the most important.

“So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen” 2 Tim 2.10 NLT.

We stand before the opening gate
To step within, discover our fate;
The Lord alone can tell
What bides us ill or well,
How long or short will be our wait.

Sooner than the blinking eye,
We’ll pass from here, to there we’ll fly—
No power can hold us back,
Nor shake us from this track—
To a dying world we say goodbye.

No more contained by love of earth,
We dive to embrace a life of worth—
A death, a silent tomb,
Release from certain doom—
Both word and water give us birth.

GraceGrace takes care of sin, breaks its power, releases from its condemnation. But some take a lax approach to sin because of grace. After all, God is going to forgive, regardless — so they think. Such an approach comes close to the attitude that Paul anticipates when he writes about grace.

What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?
Romans 6.1 NET Continue reading

Ask what saved Noah, and most people will say the ark, thinking that the danger from which he needed saving was the water. But Peter says that the water saved that ancient preacher of righteousness, with his family, because the danger was that perverse generation, and the water separated them from it. As real as that salvation was, so is baptism, and so it saves us from our sins.

20  after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed. In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water. 21  And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you – not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22  who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him. (1 Peter 3:20-22 NET)

(Read my earlier, longer take on this here. Today’s post was inspired by John Wehan’s, “Saved by baptism?“)

Q: My friend says that saying, “Come in to my heart, Jesus” saves you; I say Mk 16:16 is necessary. Why is baptism ignored?

A: Protestants have an aversion to baptism, apparently since the time of Martin Luther, who swung from the extreme of Roman Catholicism’s works-righteousness to declare that faith only saved.

Many see baptism as a work of merit, so it has to be excluded. They miss, however, that the New Testament identifies it as an act of obedience, but nowhere calls it a work of righteousness or merit.

The British Baptist scholar, F.F. Bruce, stated that the New Testament does not know of an unimmersed believer. But even he dispensed with the necessary reason for baptism. It’s been observed that, according to Baptist doctrine, it’s easier to get into heaven than it is to get into the Baptist church, for they teach it’s not necessary for salvation but it is to enter the Baptist church.

By helping our Protestant friends see the difference between works of merit and the obedience necessary to salvation, we might be able to help them overcome their aversion to it.

For as you say correctly, according to Mark 16:16 (and other texts) faith and baptism are necessary for salvation.

Have a question? Pop it to us on the Plink forum or in comments below.