Baptism “in the Name of Christ”

Brother Lipscomb: There is a people among us who deny the authority in Matthew 28:19, where Jesus says: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” They say this baptism is not in the name of Christ, and they claim all the authority we have to baptize was given by Peter on the day of Pentecost; that that was in the name of Jesus Christ, and not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They say Christ is head, and we must be baptized in his name only; and in so doing we honor Christ first, and in honoring him we honor God and the Holy Ghost. They further say that Peter had power to bind and loose whatsoever he would on earth and it should be bound in heaven; and he nowhere bound baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Please give us your views through the Gospel Advocate. Please state if the baptism in Matthew 28:19 is in the name of Christ. Did Peter have power to bind or loose anything that Christ did not bind or loose?

 

Either our brother misunderstands the people of whom he speaks or they fail to understand very plain and simple matters. To do a thing in the name of a person is to do it by the authority of that person. To baptize in the name or by the authority of Jesus, one must have his authority. He must authorize them to do it. The apostles, as well as others, must baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. He must give that authority. In Matthew 28:19 there is no account of any baptism being performed. It only tells that Jesus authorized his disciples to go and baptize. They did this first at Pentecost. “All power [all authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore [by my authority], and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20.) In this Jesus authorizes the apostles to teach and baptize by his authority, or in his name.

On Pentecost, about ten days after his ascension, the Holy Spirit came, and the apostles did what Christ authorized them to do in Matthew 28:19. They, in his name, or by his authority, preached and baptized. The authority was Matthew 28:19. They acted on this authority at Pentecost; they preached in the name of Jesus Christ. The two scriptures stand related to each other as the giving of a command and the obeying it. Jesus, in Matthew 28:19, commands the disciples; on Pentecost, they obeyed this command. What Jesus commanded, the apostles did. One is doing what the other commanded to be done. Whatever is done in the name of Jesus Christ is done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; for these three are one. Jesus commanded what he had heard of his Father, and the Holy Spirit was sent in the name of Jesus Christ, to call to their remembrance all things they had heard of Christ (John 14:26). “He will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of [or from] himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak” (John 16:13). Whatever is done in the name of one is done in the name of the three.

Again, a man must come into a house before he can live and act in it; so we must come into the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before we can act in his name. Then persons must be baptized into Christ before they can act in him or by his authority. In Matthew 28:19 the proper translation as given in the Revision and in all late translations is: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” They are put into the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit by baptism. They are then in condition to act in his name, as members of his body and as his servants; and when they were baptized into these names, the apostles were to teach them to do all that Jesus had commanded them, which included teaching and baptizing others, all people, of every nation. They are to be baptized into his name, then in his name, or by his authority, they are to baptize others, just as the apostles did. Jesus told the apostles: “But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Neither Peter nor the apostles were authorized to do anything save as the Holy Spirit guided them to do what Jesus had taught them.

David Lipscomb

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Joining a Brass Band

Some of the brethren who desire to take a leading part in the church work joined a brass band. They would engage in band practice during our protracted meeting, at the same hour of service. They would also practice instead of attending prayer meeting. We admonished them not to let the band interfere with their church work. They would reject the admonition, and, besides, have given a concert in which they burlesqued* the church and an elder, and one feature of the program was a dance, with banjo music. (Enclosed find their program.) The church has withdrawn from the brethren, charging them with reveling and such like, which Paul condemns in Galatians 5:21. They ignore the action of the church, and claim they will take part in our services, and we cannot keep them from it. Have we acted on scriptural grounds, and how shall we protect ourselves from imposition by them? We desire to do only what the Book teaches.

 

Joining a brass band or performing in it is not necessarily sinful. The habits and practices of it may lead into sin that Christians ought not to countenance and that a church ought not to tolerate in its members. It is just as lawful to cultivate music in a brass band as in any other way, if no sinful practices are encouraged or participated in. I think the custom of the bands in small towns is to lead out into things that are wrong. The program of this minstrel concert seems to me to indicate that no Christian should participate in it. “Comic songs,” a “negro sermon,” a “dance,” and a “breakdown” constitute items of it. Certainly no Christian could engage in or encourage these. Then it leads to other associations that are evil, to company that lowers the standard of morality, and to the ridicule of religion, and does not obey the admonition of the Spirit, which says: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

Then this seems to me very manifest revelry. Revel is defined: “To feast with loose and clamorous merriment; to carouse; to wanton.” This is condemned as unworthy of Christians. It is especially sinful, and shows a low religious feeling that will cause Christians to neglect church services and Christian worship and instruction to engage in such things. Persons following this course ought to be remonstrated with, and, if possible, saved from such courses. If not, spiritual ruin must be their portion. A man of any self-respect or Christian feeling cannot force himself on a church or claim its privileges which has excluded him. If a man has been, by the customary way, excluded from a church, he has no more right to participate in the privileges of the church than if he had never belonged to it – no more right to force himself upon it than he has to force himself upon the privileges of a private family. The civil courts would protect the church from such intrusion as readily as they would protect a private family. We mention this for the benefit of those who attempt such things. A church had better bear patiently with such intrusions than to appeal to the courts.

David Lipscomb

* “to make ridiculous by mocking representation.

Is Playing Ball Conforming to the World?

Paul says (Romans 12:2), “Be not conformed to this world,” and John says (1 John 2:15): “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Now, I am well aware that there is a line of distinction between the world and disciples of Christ; but just where, in all cases, I do not know. For instance, there is here in Midway a baseball club, and they meet Saturday evenings to play. I do not belong to the club, though I have played a few times, and I find it excellent to develop one’s muscles. For no other purpose would I participate. It has its evil associations; but they play here in town, so there is very little ungentlemanly behavior. Now, do I cross the bounds of a Christian life when I share the sport with them? Am I “conformed to this world” in so doing?

 

We were never in a baseball club, and know but little about them, but suppose the right or the wrong would depend largely upon the sort of people that compose them and the manner in which they are carried on. If decent, well-behaved young men that are most of their time confined to indoor work, as clerks, get together occasionally and in a gentlemanly manner, so that nothing improper shall be said or done while the game is going on, we do not see that there would be any more harm in that than in the jovial running on, extravagant talking and laughing, and slang style that is usually indulged in by young people when they are together. But where wicked, profane, and obscene young men get together in such plays, we think Christians should keep out of them; and not only out of such plays with young men of that character, but Christians ought as far as possible to keep out of the society of such men at all times, except to endeavor to teach and influence them to better things. Just simply as a matter of pastime, Christians should not associate with such people. Their own morals will be corrupted by such association. Every child of God should be striving every day not only to grow better himself, but to make others better, to exert an influence over all around for good. But there is a lack among the members of the church in these matters when with the wicked, the vulgar, and the rude. Instead of exerting an influence over them for good, they are too apt to partake with them in their wild ways, rather than so act as to win others from their folly. We think whether a young man who is a member of the church should play in a baseball club, or others of a similar character, or not, should depend upon his own character as much almost as theirs. If he can go among them and improve them by his association with them, he might without impropriety go among them, and might even, do good in so doing.

But if a Christian is disposed to love wild company him­self and to fall into the habits of the low and vicious, then for his own sake he had better stay entirely away from evil influences. A Christian should be careful never to go into any societies unless he can either receive good from them or impart good to them. If no good is to result either way, then make that a reason for staying away. Nothing is more blighting to a Christian’s character than evil associ­ation, unless he has strength enough in himself, derived from God’s divine appointments, to overcome the evil. If he is weak enough for the worldly influence to overcome him, he had better always keep away from them. Before a young Christian goes into a baseball club, or any other social club, he should consider first whether he be able to resist any bad influence any association with them might bring upon him and come out unscathed. In the next place, he should consider whether he is able to exert any good in­fluence upon them that will have any tendency to elevate them and turn their attention in any wise to the religion of Christ or not. If he decides that the character of those persons is such that they are beyond the reach of good in­fluences, he should keep away from them.

Elisha G. Sewell

The Case of Balaam

Brethren Lipscomb and Sewell: In Numbers 22:20-22 we read, “And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him.”

Now, if the above is true, what assurance have we of being blessed in doing what God tells us to do? You may say that he did something that God did not tell him to do, but it seems that God’s anger was kindled for the simple act of his going. Please answer in the Gospel Advocate.

 

This case of Balaam is precisely a similar one to that of the Israelites desiring a king to rule over them in the days of Samuel, the prophet, as recorded in I Samuel 8. Here they wished something contrary to the provisions he had made. He decreed they should have it as a punishment for dissatisfaction with his will. He gave the king, accompanied with the warning as to the evils that should follow.

Balaam gave a sort of obedience to God, but would not accept God’s decree as a finality, and showed his anxiety to go contrary to God’s will by coming to God to see if he would not change this decision. God, provoked at the disposition to rebel and the seeking God to change his mind and decree, did change it, and gave the command – or, rather, permission – for him to go. He did it under circumstances that Balaam ought to have understood that it was left him to rebel against God if he desired. And the going now against the refusal of God was an indication of his anxiety to go contrary to the word of God. When he did this, God’s anger was kindled against him.

It is a principle clearly laid down in the Bible that when men do not wish to obey God’s commands out of pure reverence for his authority, God permits them to go the way they love. They usually satisfy their consciences and think they do God’s service; yet the course they follow only leads to their destruction as a punishment for dissatisfaction with his will. Here he told Balaam not to go. Balaam returned to him, asking if he might not go, or to see if he would not change his mind. God, provoked at this dissatisfaction, told him to go; but when he went, God’s anger was kindled against him to his destruction.

The only difference between this case and that in I Samuel 8 is, here the permission to go, contrary to the expressed will of God, is given without the warning of the results, as was in that case. The reason of this difference may be found in the fact that Balaam was a prophet and less excusable in his course than these uninspired people. It is an admonition to us that we should take God at his word without preferences of our own. If we desire other ways, he will let us follow them to our ruin.

David Lipscomb

The Meaning of “At Hand”

 

A Baptist brother, preaching on “The Establishment of the Kingdom,” quoted Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16-21. In explaining Matthew 3:2, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he says it means “already there.” He gave for an example that having received a letter, to which we were going to reply, we would say: “Yours of — is at hand.” Please give us your views on the same.

The Greek verb rendered by the phrase “is at hand” in our Common Version literally signifies to approach, to draw near. The perfect tense is used in this passage in the Greek, and would be correctly rendered has come near, has approached. To draw near is one thing, and to be actually present, set up, is another.

We have the very same Greek word, in the same tense, differently rendered, in Luke 10, where the Savior, in giving instructions to the seventy, tells them if they entered a house or city that would not receive them, to shake the dust from their feet against them, and tells them to say: “Notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” This shows exactly what is meant in Matthew 3 — that the kingdom was nigh unto them. The kingdom of God was near when John began his preaching, and this is just what is said in the passage. John began the preparatory state of the kingdom, and this preparatory state continued till the crucifixion of Jesus, and the church was fully set up when the Spirit came upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost. The kingdom was present in its preparatory state when John began his preaching, and this explains the passages that speak of the kingdom as present while Christ was still on earth, such as when Jesus says: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). The kingdom was present, in its preparatory state and suffered violence before Jesus died; but after this Jesus said: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The words will build signify something to be done in the future, as everyone knows; and as this was said after the other passage which speaks of the kingdom as already suffering violence, the first one must refer to the preparatory state, in which it was then present, while the other refers to the full establishment of the church, which was then in the future, but was fully established on the day of Pentecost, when three thousand entered by a law that was never preached to men on this earth till that day.

Elisha G. Sewell

Asking, Seeking, Knocking

What is meant by saying: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you?” (Matt. 7:7.) Who is he talking to? Also please explain verse 11 and Acts 2:41.

It seems to me three plainer sentences cannot be found in the Bible. They mean exactly what they say, meaning always, as Christ so often declares, that we shall ask according to God’s will, seek where he has directed, and knock at his appointed door, and the blessings asked, sought, and knocked for shall be obtained. There is nothing mysterious or singular or difficult to understand that we can see. This is laid down as a general principle. Many specific directions involving this same principle, with the modifications, are presented in the Bible. “If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.” (I John 4:14.) “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss.” (James 4:3.) “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.” (Luke 13:24f) These show that the asking, seeking, knocking must be done according to the will of God, else they cannot meet the promise. Verse 11 cannot be made plainer. It says God is more ready to give good things to his children than we are to ours. Acts 2:41 says those who received the words spoken by Peter were baptized as he directed, and three thousand were added to them (the disciples).

Christ’s Ascension

Brother Lipscomb: Did Jesus Christ ascend with his fleshly body into heaven? If so, please harmonize the scripture that no flesh nor blood shall enter heaven.

Jesus arose with the same body, with the same wounds with which he died. We have no account of any change in this body, but Paul says: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.” (1 Cor. 15:51f) As Christ was not changed in the grave, because he wished to appear to man in his mortal flesh, he was, no doubt, changed, as those who are not in their graves will be changed, in a twinkling as he ascended.

David Lipscomb

The Definite Article in Greek

Brother Lipscomb: I see an article in the Baptist, Volume XI, No. 11, page 327, headed “The,” in which it is said that Rom. 3:1 should read “the circumcision.” On Romans 3:4 it says that “our translators have inserted ‘the’ before ‘law,’ making the passage refer to some particular law, moral or ceremonial, when it is not in the original text.” Further on it says: “It is by works of law, any law — moral, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical — and, therefore, not by baptism, as the law of pardon.” Now, I want to know if this champion, who fears none and debates with all (except Brethren Brents and Swee­ney), is correct in his rendering, or does he not make void the truth of the gospel by trying to establish a human-made plan of salvation?

The writer in the Baptist is not the first to discover a wonderful “mare’s-nest” in the use of the Greek article with the term law. Several of our learned brethren about Lexington, Kentucky some years ago advanced the same idea in reference to its use. They only made a different application of it. It is likely the editor of the Baptist borrowed the mistake from them, as he has but little originality of thought. There is nothing in it. Mr. Griffin presented the same idea in a discussion we held with him. The use of the article in Greek is a very indefinite matter, and is oftener used or not used for the sake of euphony than on any other grounds. Take, for instance, this sentence. The article is attached in Greek to the word circumcision, but it does not necessarily mean the Jews. The article is attached to the word God in the next verse. Does this mean some particular god among many gods? The term God is frequently used in the same sense without the article attached. In verse 5 the word God is twice used. It refers to the same great Jehovah in both instances. In the first instance it has no article; in the second the article is attached. It is simply a matter of sound. Following some words, the term God would be harsh and difficult of calling. Then the article is used to give a soft and flowing style, easily pronounced. This use or non-use of the article is common in the New Testament with reference to the term God, the term law, and various other terms.

Our brother evidently misquotes his reference to the use of the article with law; but we give an example to show that the article is used or absented even when the Mosaic law is referred to: “The law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law?” (Gal. 3:17-­19.) Now, there is a distinct reference to the law of Moses given four hundred and thirty years after the promise made to Abraham; but there is no article connected with it, either in verses 17 or 18. In verse 19 the article is connected with it. In verse 21 it is used again with the article first, afterwards in the same verse without the article. No sane man can doubt that all these refer to one and the same law. It shows conclusively that the article is used for other purposes than distinguishing between a specific law and law in general. The article did not occupy precisely the same office in Greek that it does in English. The pronominal adjective fills this office.

 David Lipscomb

When Were the Apostles Inspired?

Brother Lipscomb: I want you to explain when the twelve apostles were inspired — on the day of Pentecost or before? I think they were before, for Matthew 10:7f says: “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” Mark 6:13 also says: “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” Luke 9:1 also says: “Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.”

There can be no doubt but that the apostles were endowed with the power of working miracles and possessed a measure of the Spirit of inspiration previous to the day of Pentecost. But the Holy Spirit came in the fullness of his power on Pentecost, and they were then fully endued with the knowledge which the Spirit revealed and were plenarily inspired. There are different degrees of inspiration, corresponding to the measure of the Spirit received. The full apostolic measure was received on Pentecost.

 David Lipscomb