Calvary Road Baptist Church

OUR GREAT COMMISSION Part 6

“THE NAME”

Matthew 28.16-20

 

My text is Matthew 28.16-20. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples on a number of occasions following His bodily resurrection from the dead. Which appearance does our text record? Does anyone remember? Correct. We are about to read the account of the 8th time the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples before His ascension to the Father’s right hand:

 

16   Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

17   And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

18   And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19   Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20   Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

It has been my practice to work our way through our Lord’s Great Commission gradually, focusing on a word or a phrase at a time, so that I can more fully explain what our Lord’s Great Commission really is. When last we visited this passage the focus was on the phrase “baptizing them.” This message once again focuses on baptism (After all, we are a Baptist church, are we not?), selecting for our consideration the phrase “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” As the Lord Jesus Christ has directed to be baptized those who have been made disciples, He now describes the baptism of those who have been made disciples. Not the mode of baptism, for that is abundantly clear from the word itself. Baptism can only mean and does always refer to immersion.[1]

This phrase tells us other things about the baptism referred to in our Lord’s Great Commission. Let us take note of three of them:

 

First, NOTICE THE SINGULARITY

 

I call your attention to the fact that disciples are to be baptized, not in the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, but “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” That word “name,” onoma in Greek, is singular, masculine singular. Thus, we have in this phrase a singularity. Jesus Christ has been given all power in heaven and in earth. That delegated authority to which He refers (and I get ahead of myself a bit here), and this is easily born out by studying other portions of God’s Word, comes from God the Father.

Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ, possessing the entirety of legitimate delegated authority, in turn authorizes the baptism of those who have been made disciples of Jesus Christ. But notice that authority is granted to baptize in “the name.” There is only one name. What can this mean? What it means is really quite obvious. There is only one God. And has this not been the message of the Bible from the beginning?

 

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”[2]

 

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”[3]

 

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”[4]

 

“Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.”[5]

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses accuse us of believing in three Gods. They are wrong. Muslims are scandalized by their perception that Christians believe in three Gods. They, too, are in error. In some cases, these are errors of ignorance. But in other cases these are errors that result from wickedness, with sinful men simply not wanting to know, or know about, the one true and living God. After all, David tells us there are none who seek after God.[6]

Let no one think that the Hebrew scriptures, alone, reveal a sole Creator, a single Deity, a unique God. The Greek New Testament stands in harmonious agreement with our Old Testament. “there is none other God but one,” First Corinthians 8.4. “there is but one God,” First Corinthians 8.6. “For there is one God,” First Timothy 2.5. And what about Romans chapter 1, where Paul makes reference to the power of God, the righteousness of God, the wrath of God, the knowledge of God, the revelation of God, and the glory of God? Not gods, mind you. God. There is only one God and Biblical Christianity has never believed or even conceived anything else.

This singularity is seen in our Great Commission:

 

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

 

Next, NOTICE THE IDENTITY

 

The most widely used Greek lexicon of our day has this to say about the Greek word onoma in this verse:

 

“Through baptism . . . those who are baptized become the possession of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear.”[7]

 

So that you don’t react against this understanding of the Greek word for “name,” keep in mind that conversion followed by baptism is seen as a unified whole, not like the shallow professions of faith we see these days followed by attempts to persuade sometimes unwilling “Christians” to be baptized.

Listen to what Presbyterian Albert Barnes writes on this issue with astonishing clarity:

 

“To be baptized unto anyone is publicly to receive and adopt him as a religious teacher or lawgiver; to receive his system of religion. Thus the Jews were baptized ‘unto Moses’ 1Co 10:2. That is, they received the system that he taught; they acknowledged him as their lawgiver and teacher. So Paul asks, (1Co 1:13) ‘Were ye baptized in the name of Paul?’ --i.e., Were you devoted to Paul by this rite? Did you bind yourselves to him, and give yourselves away to him, or to God? So to be baptized in the name of the Father, etc., means publicly, by a significant rite, to receive the system of religion, to bind the soul to obey his laws; to be devoted to him; to receive, as the guide and comforter of the life, his system of religion; to obey his laws, and trust to his promises. To be baptized unto the Son, in like manner, is to receive him as the Messiah--our Prophet, Priest, and King; to submit to his laws, and to receive him as the Saviour of the soul. To be baptized unto the Holy Ghost is to receive him publicly as the Sanctifier, Comforter, and Guide of the soul. The meaning, then, may be thus expressed: Baptizing them unto the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by a solemn profession of the only true religion, and by a solemn devotion to the service of the sacred Trinity.”[8]

 

Baptists usually teach and preach that believer baptism is the means whereby the convert identifies with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But such teaching considers only such passages as Romans 6.3-5. Let us also recognize from our Great Commission that baptism is also a public identification with God the Father and the Holy Spirit of God, as well.

I close this point with comments made by Methodist theologian and scholar Adam Clarke:

 

“Baptism, properly speaking, . . . signifies a full and eternal consecration of the person to the service and honour of that Being in whose name it is administered; but this consecration can never be made to a creature; therefore the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are not creatures. Again, baptism is not made in the name of a quality or attribute of the Divine nature; therefore the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are not qualities or attributes of the Divine nature.”[9]

 

Finally, NOTICE THE TRINITY

 

“. . . baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

 

The word “name” shows to us the singularity of God, that there is only one God. But the disciple is to be baptized in the name (again noting that the word is singular), “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Single, solitary, unique and indivisible God. Yet, three Persons are referred to here!

Let me go quickly back to Adam Clarke:

 

“The orthodox . . . have generally considered this text as a decisive proof of the doctrine of the holy Trinity: and what else can they draw from it? Is it possible for words to convey a plainer sense than these do? And do they not direct every reader to consider the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as three distinct persons?”[10]

 

The great Baptist scholar, John Gill, remarked,

 

“Hence a confirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity, there are three persons, but one name, but one God, into which believers are baptized; and a proof of the true deity both of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and that Christ, as the Son of God, is God; since baptism is administered equally in the name of all three, as a religious ordinance, a part of divine instituted worship, which would never be in the name of a creature.”[11]

 

So you will not think that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are simply faces put on by God at different stages in history and to accomplish different goals, please turn to Matthew 3.13, where we read of the baptism of the Lord Jesus:

 

13   Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14   But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15   And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16   And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17   And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

Since Jesus Christ is the truth, John 14.6, and God cannot lie, Titus 1.2, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, John 16.13, if God is not triune then the truthfulness of God should be questioned. You see, in this passage I have just read we have Jesus Christ in the water being baptized, the Spirit descending upon Him in the form of a dove, and the Father verbally commending Him from heaven with an audible voice. But since there is only one God, this one true and living God must somehow be three divine Persons.

 

Let me recapitulate. To baptize disciples in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost means more than we Baptists who rightly make a very big thing of baptism generally assert. to be sure, baptism is an identification with Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. But it’s more than that. Baptism is also an identification with God the Father and with the Holy Ghost.

This, certainly, requires that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost be coequal members of the godhead, as The Nicene Creed, adopted by the Nicene Council, in 325 AD recognized:

 

“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.”[12]

 

So, there is one God. This one God exists in the form of three coequal Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And when one is qualified to be baptized, which is to say he is a disciple, he by means of baptism identifies and publicly declares his allegiance to this one, but thrice holy, God.

 

SERMON:

 

In this series of sermons on our Great Commission, my desire is that we, as a church, refocus and reaffirm our commitment to doing God’s will in God’s way, by being faithful to the command our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, gave to us almost 2000 years ago. To that end this sermon is not so much designed to get you to do something, as it is designed to get you to think something, and to clarify in your mind what a church is supposed to be and what a church is supposed to do.

Keeping in mind what we have rehearsed so far, as well as what we have learned over the past several weeks of studying our Lord’s Great Commission, I ask three pertinent questions:

 

The First Question Is WHY IS THERE LITTLE CONCERN FOR AUTHORITY?

 

It seems that the approach taken by many contemporary church ministries toward our Great Commission is somewhat like the now retired approach newsman Ted Koppel once complained about with respect to the Ten Commandments. Some here may remember that he bemoaned the fact, approaching twenty-five years ago now, that so many people looked upon them as the Ten Suggestions, rather than the Ten Commandments.

The way most churches these days approach our marching orders, the Great Commission, reflects the same mindset Koppel complained about. People ignore the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was extremely specific when He authorized actions to be taken on His behalf when He empowered ministry to be conducted on His behalf.

This means we are authorized to do what falls under our charter and we are not authorized to do what does not fall under our charter. But few seem to be concerned about our charter these days. We are commanded to go. We are commanded to make disciples. We are then commanded to baptize them. We have no right to alter that sequence of events. Yet around the world we find the very best churches indiscriminately baptizing people without taking any prudent steps to make sure they are baptizing real disciples.

If a pastor baptizes hopeful converts immediately upon their profession of faith, if a pastor baptizes hopeful converts without personally examining their testimonies with the utmost caution, if a pastor talks about how for example “an entire family of four was saved and baptized,” then I and those with experience carefully listening to sinners can guarantee to you that such a pastor is almost certainly baptizing people without authorization.

Why don’t pastors concern themselves with their authority? A pastor is not authorized to baptize someone just because he says he’s converted. A pastor is not authorized to baptize someone who is not a genuine Christian. The Bible teaches, and Baptists most assuredly believe, that baptism is for saved people only. The baptism of the lost is unauthorized. Why, then, aren’t pastors more careful to conduct their ministries under the umbrella of divinely instituted authority?

As for our guest preachers, not all the preachers who come here agree with me on this subject. But they are all preachers who I think are open to the truth of this approach to ministry, or who are already moving in this direction. Those who steadfastly resist this principle of baptizing only those who are authorized are preachers I will no longer invite to preach here. Why? Decisionism is wrong.[13]

 

The Second Question Is WHY IS THERE LITTLE CONCERN FOR CHRISTIANITY?

 

Christians beget Christians. Just as real sheep reproduce real sheep, real Christians reproduce real Christians. But there seems to be a conspiracy afloat in Christendom these days to avoid even attempting to discern between goats and sheep.[14] It’s much like the media’s refusal more than ten years ago to acknowledge that the Washington, DC area snipers, John Muhammed and Lee Boyd “John” Malvo, were muslims engaged in jihad.[15] I am afraid that people so easily become entrenched, are so easily lulled into the slumber of “This is the way we’ve always done it,” that they refuse to consider the consequences of what they are doing. What happens when a pastor is not careful to assure the genuine conversion of someone about to be baptized? Does that pastor not end up baptizing someone who may not be genuinely converted?

We have already discussed the fact that baptizing an unsaved person is unauthorized, something the Lord Jesus Christ never commanded and does not sanction. But looking at it from the perspective of the baptismal candidate, when a pastor baptizes a person he not only publicly certifies that the person is a Christian, he is also putting his personal stamp of approval on that person’s profession of faith. But he does so without due diligence to make sure the person is really and truly born again. What, then, will happen once that newly baptized person begins to live out his life in the church? If the person is not truly converted, if he is a goat and not a sheep, then in concert with other lost people in the congregation he will bear false witness to the saving power of the gospel on an unconscious and subliminal level. And the effect of such conduct? If First Corinthians 14.24-25 are any clue, then when there comes in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is not truly convinced of all, he is not really judged of all. And thus the secrets of his heart are not really made manifest, and so falling down on his face he will not really worship God. Though he may incorrectly report that God is in you of a truth.

Beloved, there is so much at stake here. Humanly speaking, there are so many souls hanging in the balance. Once a person is baptized and becomes a church member it is so very difficult to persuade him to address the issue of whether or not he is truly converted. So the time to deal with such a person as this is before he is improperly baptized before his false assurance becomes solidified, and before he becomes even more hardened in his unbelief.

Once a congregation is established with mostly unconverted church members because the pastor baptized without even attempting to discern between the righteous and the wicked, it’s almost too late. Evangelizing a congregation takes more than a decade, as our own experience shows. And we may not be completely finished yet. Evangelizing a congregation will almost certainly result in a church split. And evangelizing a congregation may very well result in a well-intentioned pastor making a fatal mistake and being fired from his position.

We simply must concern ourselves with real conversions and not false professions, with properly qualified baptismal candidates and not empty professions of faith. Why? Because the cause of Christ in our area is dependent upon it. I am not exaggerating. The Christian faith is not at stake, but the Christian faith in our area is at stake. Churches in our country are filled with unconverted members. That’s why we live in post-Christian America. The Christian faith in our area, in our nation, really is dwindling away. This is why I am determined that our little church, by God’s grace, will do something about that problem, and why we have to close ranks to get the job done.

 

Finally, WHY IS THERE LITTLE CONCERN FOR THE TRINITY?

 

We know perfectly well why the unconverted have no concern for the doctrine of the Trinity. “That which may be known of God is manifest,”[16] but they don’t want to know God or know about God. Whenever possible, unsaved man has “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God.”[17] So, it is no surprise when the unsaved twist and distort the truth about the nature and essence of God. But when men who claim to be Christians ignore the truths about the Triune God, when they seem willing to travel down the path toward Unitarianism, even denying by failing to emphasize the divinity of two of the three Persons of the godhead, then we must be alarmed. The uniqueness of the Christian faith is not its monotheism, for Judaism and Islam are monotheistic religions. The uniqueness of the Christian faith is its revelation of the Triune Persons Who comprise the one true God.

Indeed, without the Trinity there can be no salvation for sinners since the Second Person of the Trinity saves sinners from the wrath of the First Person of the Trinity. Ignore the Trinity and you have no gospel. When you have no gospel you have no Christianity, no salvation, no deliverance from God’s wrath, from sin’s punishment. Yet pastors are unknowingly baptizing people every Sunday who do not believe in the Triunity of God. And pastors themselves are oftentimes little more than confessing Trinitarians. You have but to listen to them speak and pay attention to their prayers to be convinced yourself that, though they say they believe in the Trinity, as a practical matter they are Unitarians. “Dear God, thank you for dying on the cross for me and indwelling me,” is not the prayer of a Trinitarian! And seeking to come to God for forgiveness, while ignoring the mediatorial role of Jesus Christ, is not Trinitarian behavior! Yet this is now commonplace in many of our churches.

 

My younger friends, what will the world be like for you when you are old? And what will the world be like for your children? I think we can all agree that it will be bad, indeed, with the militant Islam that is rushing into Europe like water after the dam breaks coming here as well unless Jesus Christ comes quickly. The Apostle Paul describes “the church of the living God” as “the pillar and ground of the truth.”[18] Thus, it is crucial that we of all people pay particular attention to the details, that we of all people exercise caution to be faithful to the directions our Lord Jesus has given to us, and that we of all people put forth a great and united effort to reach the lost for Christ.

Are you a member of Calvary Road Baptist Church? Then you have been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Your stated allegiance is to the Triune God, and it is He you are bound by word, by honor, by duty, and by debt to serve. We will so serve this one true and living God throughout the week, but in corporate fashion especially on Saturday evenings at 6:00 PM. I hope you will stand with the rest of us.

__________

[1] Carson, Alexander, Baptism: Its Mode and Subjects, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1981)

[2] Genesis 1.1

[3] Exodus 20.3

[4] Deuteronomy 6.4

[5] Isaiah 44.8

[6] Psalm 14.2-3

[7] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 713.

[8] Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com

[9] Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com

[10] Ibid.

[11] John Gill, The John Gill Library, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000)

[12] http://www.new-life.net/conf2.htm 11/17/02

[13] Decisionism is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these human actions shows that a person is saved.

Conversion is the result of that work of the Holy Spirit which draws a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and changes the sinner’s standing before God from lost to saved, imparting divine life to the depraved soul, thus producing a new direction in the life of the convert. The objective side of salvation is justification. The subjective side of salvation is regeneration. The result is conversion.

[14] An egregious misinterpretation and misapplication of the parable of the wheat and tares that originated with Augustine, referenced in Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Editor, The Anabaptists And Contemporary Baptists: Restoring New Testament Christianity, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishing Group, 2013), page 185.

[15] David Kupelian, “The Invisible Jihad,” Whistleblower, Dec 2002, (Selma, OR: WorldNetDaily.Com), page 4.

[16] Romans 1.19

[17] Romans 1.23

[18] First Timothy 3.15

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org