Monday, March 25, 2013

Some Thoughts on the Oneness of God and Baptism in Jesus Name

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The Greek meaning of the words mentioned are from Strong's Hebrew Greek Dictionary.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." I read an interesting polemic against the doctrine or teaching of the Oneness of God some time ago. The writer, apparently a biblical scholar of some sort, pointed out that the above referenced scripture in mentioning that God was one, was speaking of the unity of oneness and was not numerical in nature. I looked at the word "one," אחד pronounced ' echâd , in Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionary and, sure enough, it does have the connotation of unity. Below is the quote from Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionary: 
A numeral from H258; properly united, that is, one; or (as an ordinal) first: - a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any (-thing), apiece, a certain [dai-] ly, each (one), + eleven, every, few, first, + highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together.

I was curious and I wondered what word the Lord Jesus used when He quoted Deuteronomy 6:4 in Mark 12:29, where the Bible says, "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:" The Lord Jesus was answering the question of one of the Scribes. What I found was the Greek word Jesus used was "εἷς,"  pronounced heis or hice. Below is Dr. Strong's Greek meaning of the word εἷς:
(Including the neuter [etc.] ἕν hen); a primary numeral; one: - a (-n, -ny, certain), + abundantly, man, one (another), only, other, some. See also G1527, G3367, G3391, G3762."
Now I don't claim to be a Greek scholar but I do read English pretty well. The Greek word εἷς is "a primary numeral; one." For me, that settled it. 

There is another word in the Bible that intrigues me, that word is "remission," in the Greek ἄφεσις, with the pronunciation, aphesis. The word remission is found 10 times in the Bible, all in the New Testament. 9 of the 10 times the same Greek word is used. Below is Strong's Greek Dictionary definition:
From G863; freedom; (figuratively) pardon: - deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission."
This word is used in Matthew 26:28, Mark 1:4, Luke 1:77, Luke 3:3, Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, Acts 10:43, Hebrews 9:22 and Hebrews 10:18. For this discussion I want to zero in on Acts 2:38 and Hebrews 9:22. Both references use the same word as in the above definition.

In Acts 2:38 the Apostle Peter used the word remission, ἄφεσις, when he told his Jewish listeners that they should, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Now there are some who would have us believe that baptism is just a signification that we have accepted the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, e.g., His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary as sufficient. We can be baptized but  it is not necessary for salvation. I do agree with them to the extent that I think that Jesus' sacrifice at Calvary was sufficient for all time. But baptism is not a take it or leave it proposition. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22, "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." Without blood being shed there is no remission? No forgiveness? The same word is used in Hebrews as Peter used on the Day of Pentecost? The Apostle Peter said in 1st Peter 3:21 that "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." The like figure? Like what? Verse 20 of that chapter says that Noah and his wife, his sons and their wives were "saved by water." Oh no, we do not believe that just being dunked in a baptismal tank can save anyone. (at least I don't!) But baptism does save us when we have repented toward God and put our faith in what The Lord Jesus did at Calvary (See Acts 20:21.)

But Someone might ask, "what about Matthew 28:19?" I remember witnessing to a fellow worker years ago about his need to be baptized in Jesus name. He spoke with his Baptist pastor about our conversation (I have nothing against Baptists) and he told me that his pastor told him if he had to choose between Jesus and Peter to take Jesus' word for it. But Jesus never mentioned remission of sins in Matthew 28:19. You know, come to think of it, Jesus never even commanded anyone to be baptized in Matthew 28:19. In fact, no one was baptized in Matthew 28:19. He told His apostles, including Peter to go and baptize. And when they went and baptized they did it in the only name that can save, the name of Jesus. The Bible says in Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Jesus name is the only name of salvation? There is salvation in no other name? I think Peter knew exactly what he was telling those Jewish listeners on the day of Pentecost.

But doesn't that do damage to the doctrine of the Trinity? Well, yes. As stated in the first part of this blog, the Bible clearly says that God is One. Numerically  according to what the Lord Jesus said. And I rather doubt He was mistaken. So what about the Trinity? I have read that Apostles Creed, which by in large I don't have much problem with. Apostle Paul did say in Colossians 3:1 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." However he didn't mention, as does the Apostle's Creed that Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God the Father. "A minor point," you say, well yes but true none-the-less.  If you want to read it the following link will tell you a lot about it,'_Creed. 

Let me be bold to say that no where in the Bible record does anyone use the triune formula in baptism. In the accounts recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, the only way baptism was carried out was in the name of the Lord Jesus or the name of Jesus Christ, etc. This fully agrees with the statement of the Apostle Peter and the Apostle John in Acts 4:12 when they told the Jewish rulers that there is salvation in no other name, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The name of Jesus Christ in baptism is the individual's public confession of his or her repentance toward God and faith toward the lord Jesus Christ. This fully agrees with Romans 10:8-9 which says, "...The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." It is not optional if one is to have a hope of heaven. If you, my friend, have never repented of your sins, that is turned your life over to God, and if you have never been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus for (in order to have your sins) remitted or forgiven, let me encourage you to find someone to baptize you today. God has given you the promise that you will receive the Holy Ghost just like they did on the Day of Pentecost. Don't delay, you are only one heartbeat away from eternity.

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