Baptized In the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

May 16, 2021 Speaker: Josh DeGroote Series: The Church: Members of Christ and One Another

Topic: Baptism Passage: Matthew 28:18–20

We have been in our present series for several weeks, looking at what it means that we are one body and individually members of one another. The local church is seen as a body and each person a member of the body.

You might wonder, how does baptism fit into this series? Historically, at least since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century - it has been commonly accepted that there are three non-negotiable things that a church must have if it is a true church - faithful biblical preaching, the faithful administration of the ordinances, and church discipline. 

So, quickly I want to cover what we believe about baptism and then take a deeper look at our text:

  1. We believe this is an ordinance given by Jesus.
  2. We practice “Credo-baptism”, in other words baptism is for believers. Those who have repented of their sins and believe in Christ alone for salvation.
  3. We practice baptism by immersion.
  4. We believe the ceremony is a sign of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection by faith.

What I want to draw your attention to today is the often overlooked, but deeply significant phrase that baptism is to be done “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...

What is the significance of being baptized “in the name (singular) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Before I jump in, let me say, I want this to be helpful… for those who have not been baptized for sure. And also for those who have… that you would be reminded of the spiritual reality behind the outward ceremony. What that is all about! I want to flesh out three things that I believe are extremely important:

  1. Baptism is in the triune name of God because we are saved and given a new life by the Father, Son, and Holy working together in harmony.
  2. Baptism in the triune name of God means that we bear the name of God and are called to a new walk.
  3. Baptism in the triune name of God unites us with others who have been saved by the same God and bear the same name.


Saved and by the Father, Son, and Spirit

When one is baptized, the emphasis is usually put almost exclusively on Christ. And of course, this is not without some warrant. The ceremony of baptism symbolizes our union with Christ in his death and resurrection, for sure. But when the risen Lord Jesus, with universal, unconquerable authority commissioned his disciples he said,

Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The command is to baptize in the name (singular) of the only true God who is Triune. In other words, there is one God who exists in three co-equal, co-eternal Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. And yet they are united in essence and purpose. And the Father, the Son, and the Spirit work together in perfect harmony, perfect unity to bring about our salvation. This is not a peripheral issue. This is not an issue akin to trying to discern how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. No, this is massively important! We know because Jesus said, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a truth that is so essential to our knowledge of God and to our joy in God. Michael Reeves, a theologian from the UK, said the following:

It is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God. God is triune, and it is as triune that He is so good and desirable. 

Which is why we are baptized in the name of the Triune God. This is who our glorious God is. And it is God as Trinity working in perfect oneness to save sinners that makes baptism in the triune name so significant. Once the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to this truth, you will begin to see it over and over again in the NT. I want to look at a passage that has become one of my very favorites which lays out for us this dynamic so clearly and wonderfully. It’s found in Galatians 4:4-6 which says,

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working in unison. To what end? For our adoption into God’s eternal family. What comes to mind when you think of being a child of God? I’m reminded of what J.I. Packer wrote in Knowing God when he the following:

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means he does not understand Christianity very well at all. 

First, we see the Father, the source of all, eternally gracious sending forth his Son. Our salvation is initiated by the Father. Any view that says that the kind Son came to placate the quick tempered and easily irritable Father has nothing to do with Christianity. 

To be sure, the Father is holy and cannot look on sin. He will punish all evil and sin, no doubt. How could he do otherwise and be good. But it was the Father himself who in love sent the Son in order to do all that was necessary to uphold His glory and pay the penalty for our sins. God the Father sent his Son on a mission to redeem many sons and daughters.

Next we see the Son, our Redeemer who left his glorious place in Heaven to be born of a woman. This speaks of the incarnation of Christ who assumed our nature. He was born under the law. He came to fulfill the law, perfectly obedient in all things. And why did he do this? In order to redeem lawbreakers like you and I and make us sons and daughters of God!

I want you to notice the harmony. The Father sends. The Son redeems. He is not an unwilling participant. He came willingly. Christ loves the Father and always does what pleases him. And the Father loves the Son and loves that the Son so willingly does his will. Listen to the words of Christ Himself in John 10:

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This charge I received from my Father. (John 10:17-18)

The Father sent the Son, the Son came willingly to lay his life down to redeem many sons and daughters. 

And last, but not least, we see the Holy Spirit, the indwelling Comforter who makes the truths of the gospel come alive in our hearts. Because of the work of Christ to make us God’s children, God the Father sends the Spirit into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” The Holy Spirit gives us the internal, indwelling witness that we are God’s children. He makes this gospel truth come alive, so that it is not just true objectively (because it is in the scriptures), but it is experienced truth subjectively in our hearts. And notice again the unity. The Father sends the Spirit who is called the Spirit of the Son. And what does the Spirit do? Internally, he rejoices and causes us to rejoice in the Father as our Father!

When one is baptized, he is to be baptized in the name of the Father (who is their Father) and of the Son (who is their Redeemer and purchased them for God) and of the Holy Spirit (who indwells and cries Abba! Father!)


Baptized In the Name - walk (new walk)

The second aspect I think is significant is the reality of being baptized “in the name…” We are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The baptize (baptizo) means to immerse or to be dipped. And so the ceremony of baptism takes place and one is baptized in water, they are immersed in water. And they come up wet. What does it mean to be immersed in the name of God the Father, Son, and Spirit? 

I think what it means is that we now belong to God and bear his name. We are no longer our own. The first question of the NCC is “What is our only hope in life and death?” The answer is: “That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.” When one is baptized in the triune name of God, they are being marked as God’s. It’s like an invisible tattoo. That person now belongs God. They bear his name. JI Packer wrote in his little, excellent book “Concise Theology”, “Baptism into the name of the triune God signifies control and direction by God himself.” 

Now, listen, with this comes blessing and responsibility, privilege and duty. Think about the blessing of bearing God’s name. The most well known benediction in the bible is when Moses was instructed to have Aaron and his sons speak the blessing over the people of Israel:

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. 

You’ve heard that before, but do you know what the Lord says in the next verse? Verse 27 says, “So shall they (Aaron and his sons when they bless the people) put my name upon the people, and I will bless them.” God says, they will put my name, my covenant name “Yahweh” upon the people and I will bless them. Bearing God’s name, wearing his name means being the blessed, covenant people of God. We are blessed beyond comprehension. When I hear some people talk about needing to get to step into this place of favor with God, it's usually part of a sales pitch. What more could we ask for than every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), or all things (Romans 8:32), which is ours in Christ. Richard Sibbes wrote,

We are only poor for one reason, that we do not know our riches in Christ.

What blessing we have as those baptized in the name… But bearing the name of God also comes with responsibility; it comes with duty. Far too many professing Christians live as though they still had possession of their lives. Being baptized in the name means there is a change in ownership. It tells us Whose we are. We belong to God. And it tells us who we are - God’s very own people who now live for his glory, which means it matters how we live because we bear his name!  Our lives are to be marked by loyalty to our God who saved us! Listen to how Paul puts in 1 Corinthians 6 in the context of fleeing sexual immorality. He said,

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

What’s ultimately required of Christians, bearing the name of God is summed upon Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, in word or deep, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Whatever you do. So being baptized in the name and bearing the name of the triune God brings with it immense privilege and serious duty (example: the children of royalty).

So being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit means you are saved by the triune God, you bear the name of the triune God, and then


Joined to others

The third aspect I want to flesh out quickly is this. When you are baptized, you are joined with other people saved by the same God and bearing the same name. We are joined to others in this new humanity, a new race, a new covenant people - the church. We are joined to one another in a mystical way by the Holy Spirit, but also in a very tangible way by our committed fellowship and service of one another. Historically, baptism has been seen as an emblem that one is part of the visible church. Look again at what Jesus said, 

Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Baptizing them. Who’s them? Disciples. This is so cool. When you have disciples who have been baptized in the triune name of God, saved and bearing His name… and then you have new disciples who get baptized in the triune name of God, saved and bearing his name… they are joined together. 

Baptism, the ritual or ceremony, is an outward sign of our being joined with all other disciples who are likewise baptized in the triune name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Of course we are joined together with all Christians everywhere, but we are most directly joined to the Christians in the local body in which we are members of one another. When we see the church for what it is and baptism for what it is, there is such a unity in this “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) we share in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Listen to the connection Paul makes in Galatians 3:27-28:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  

This passage is not saying there is no such thing as male and female or Jew and Greek. It is saying those distinctions don’t add or detract to our unity in Christ. We share this one baptism. We were baptized into Christ, baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Think of how scandalous this was in the first century in a city like Galatia or Antioch or Corinth. If you went to an observance of the Lord’s Supper or a baptism celebration, there would have been slave girls and free men, poor and rich, Jew and Gentile, male and female, united - eating and drinking together, celebrating their one baptism. Celebrating the saving work of the one true and living God - the Father, Son, and Spirit and the name they bear. Praise His name!

In closing, I want to address a few different kinds of people here this morning. 

** To the saved and baptized: Remember! Remember the Trinity in salvation. Remember, that you are not your own. You’ve been marked by God; you bear the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let your prayer be, “Let me live and pray as one baptized in the threefold name.Remember, you not only belong to Christ, you also belong to the body. Remember, you are members of one another. You are not your own.

** To those who need to be saved: Perhaps you came to worship today assuming you were a Christian, but if asked to explain the gospel or if pressed about whether or not Christ is LORD (Master), you are not so sure. I have one thing to say: “Repent, believe, and be baptized!”

** To the saved, unbaptized: Be baptized! Baptism coming up on JUNE 27.

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