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

God wants everyone to be saved. As a child of his, I want what he wants. God not only wants everyone to be saved, but he works to this end. As a child of his, I work because God works.

Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save people. (The world already stood condemned.) He sends me out into the world to save people. As his follower, I see each person as a soul in need of forgiveness.

God is perfect in his love. He demands that I, as a child of his, be perfect in love as well. He wants his love to extend to all people.

Jesus speaks a true word that saves. He sends me to speak his same word. As his follower, I am ready at all times to offer to others the opportunity to hear, believe, and obey his word.

So like the Lord Jesus Christ, we say:

So he told them, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working” Jn 5.17.

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.

In the Pisidian Antioch synagogue, where Jews of the city met together, Paul and Barnabas preached Jesus and concluded with a warning:

“Watch out, then, that what is spoken about by the prophets does not happen to you:
‘Look, you scoffers; be amazed and perish!
For I am doing a work in your days,
a work you would never believe, even if someone tells you’” Acts 13.40-41

Continue reading

“The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever! Amen” 2 Tim 4.18.

The Lord will do the same for all his faithful people. Not the complete absence of evil in the world, but the Lord’s delivery from real harm is what sets him apart as the God who saves forever. Praise to him!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for every saint, who by God’s power is protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Praise the God of our salvation!

1 Pet 1.3-5