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Baptist vs. Pentecostal Baptism

  • August 15th, 2008 by Pastor Darryl Curtis   |  0 Comments

Matthew 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Acts 2:37-38
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

These two methods of baptism are given in the Bible. Baptist churches generally baptize using the formula given in Matthew 28, while Pentecostal Churches generally baptize using the formula in Acts 2. There is no reason to argue about which of the two methods should be used to baptize. Since the Bible gives alternatives, we have alternatives. We are free to choose the alternative that we want. In our congregation, I have chosen to use the method given in Matthew 28:19.

I was challenged on my television program by a Pentecostal gentleman who said that he was taught that Jesus was the common name for all three members of the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were their titles, not their names. Therefore, according to his logic, to baptize in the name of Jesus was to baptize in their names, not their titles.

I pointed out to him that according to the Bible, God the Father does not give Himself the name of Jesus, but the name of YHWH, or Yahweh, as we pronounce it. I have found no Biblical reference, nor could he cite one, that records that the name of God the Father is Jesus. The Scripture does not record a name for the Holy Spirit at all. Since he did not have any Scriptural backing for the position that the given name of each of the members of the Godhead is Jesus, he could not persuade me that his position was scripturally accurate.

I don’t think that it is wrong if a preacher baptizes “in the name of Jesus”, but preachers that do so cannot make a Biblical case that that is the “proper” way to baptize. Therefore, they certainly cannot make a Biblical case that people who are not baptized using the formula “in the name of Jesus” are somehow not saved or are less saved than someone baptized using that formula. The formula that one uses for baptism is simply a matter of preference. Either one is equally correct.

Some points about the doctrine of salvation by baptism:

1.  The Bible records that Jesus promised the thief on the Cross that the thief would be in Paradise with Jesus on the day that the thief died, but there is no mention of the thief being baptized. It is highly unlikely that the thief was baptized after he was saved, as he was saved while on the cross, to shortly be killed by having his legs broken. Thus, it logically follows that if a man can be saved without being baptized, then the act of baptism, in whatever name, does not save. We as Christians should be baptized if we have the opportunity, but neither the act of baptism nor the specific formula used in the baptismal process can save us if the ministry of the Holy Spirit does not save us. Conversely, if the ministry of the Holy Spirit saves us, the method of baptism or the lack thereof cannot remove our salvation.

Luke 23:39-43
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

2.  Titus 3:4-7 says that we are not saved by works or ceremonies, but by the grace of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This being true, the relevant point is not the formula for baptism used by the preacher, but the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person being baptized.

Titus 3:4-7
4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

3.  Titus 3:9-11 also makes it clear that argument about such things is counterproductive. We should:

  • a.  Personally understand and be confident about the Biblical argument that is the foundation of our position.
  • b.  Explain our position to anyone who wishes to challenge or discuss our position.
  • c.  Avoid divisive and contentious people who, after hearing our Biblical explanation, still want to argue about baptismal formulas.
  • d.  Spend time in earnest prayer and the diligent study of the Word, so that we develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship will keep us assured of our salvation. Thomas doubted until Jesus confronted him. Let us diligently seek the face of the Lord through prayer and the study of the Word so that He confronts us as he did Thomas, and gives us both the intellectual and emotional assurance of our salvation.

Titus 3:9-11
9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.
10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

Pastor Darryl Curtis
Family Life Baptist Church

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