The following is a teaching found in some Pentecostal quarters. It comes from Seattle, Washington through Oeffler’s teachings in the nineteen twenties. This teaching went throughout New Zealand, the whole of Indonesia and now in some areas in Australia.
It says that water baptism must be in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a wrong interpretation of Scripture. Christ means “The Anointed” and comes from “Christos” and as a Jewish scholar says, in Hebrew, it means “The Messiah”, the realization of Israel’s hopes. Therefore “Christ” cannot be the Name of the Holy Spirit as they state. I have heard them teaching that “The Holy Spirit’s Name is ‘the Anointing’ (the Christ)”.
That belief reminds us of the heresy of the ancient Ebionites, who believed that Jesus was a man and that at the time of His baptism, “the Christ” descended upon Him, stayed with Him and left Him before His death. They were originally poor, Judaistic Christians. Their beliefs are heresy.
This teaching says that Romans 6:1-6 and 1 Peter 3:21 means those verses become a personal experience in water baptism and that the “old man” is removed in the waters of baptism. This also is unscriptural. It actually is sacramentalism, a carry over from paganism and Roman Catholicism and other Orthodox churches of the East- Russian, Greek, Syrian etc.
Another of the teachings of the above mentioned followers of Oeffler in New Zealand and Australia, that really came from Latter Rain Teaching, is found in Hebrews 6:1-3, where they wrongly say that such so-called Church teachings have already occurred (and are still occurring) and that we are experiencing further restorations in the Church. For example, “baptisms” is “water baptism” and “baptism in the Spirit”.
However, many translations of the Bible show that this “baptisms” actually is “ritual washings” in the Old Testament Israelite way of worship. They say “laying on of hands” (for prophesying) occurred in 1948. Also they expect that in the future we can see many cases of people being raised from the dead. They expect judgments in the Church similar to what happened with Annanias and Sapphira. These teachings began in the sixties. A correct understanding of Hebrews 6:1-6 and experience prove such to be wrong.
The same man from Seattle who taught this form of water baptism in the “Name”, had a “Light” appear during his bible class. This was told me by one of his followers, a missionary, who was there. They saw the light. Oeffler said, “I know where the church will go to for 3 and a half years ‘in the wilderness’ (Revelation 12) – the wilderness is Saudi Arabia!” Judge for yourself. Are his teachings right?
“IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, OF SON AND OF THE HOLY GHOST”
“In the Name” means “with fundamental reference to”. It distinguishes Christian baptism, which demands allegiance to the Triune God. John’s baptism only required repentance.
“In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” is a way of saying “Unto the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” – three Persons. In using “the Name” it means we are calling on the divine nature thus the whole Trinity. We call on each person therein. We call on the authority of all Three. It is “Name”, singular tense, because it is directed to the same Deity or same divine nature alone. All divine honour is to be to the Father, the Son and the Spirit. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is our formal initiation by baptism into Christ. It is directed unto the same name or the same Deity or same divine nature.
BAPTISM IN THE BOOK OF ACTS IS “BAPTISM IN JESUS’ NAME NECESSARY”?
In the Book of the Acts, the Name of Jesus Was Used. It was not a Formula to be used in the Rite of Baptism. Christian baptism followed faith in the Lord Jesus, Acts 16:31. Salvation was associated with His Name of Jesus, Acts 2:38; 8:12; 19:5. Being baptised without reference to a name or formula, is mentioned in Acts 2:41;8:12, 38; 9:18; 16:15,33; 18:8; 22:16. Mentions of a name show they were “baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus”, Acts 8:16; “in the name of Jesus Christ”, Acts 10:48; “they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus”, Acts 19:5. Peter in Acts 2:38 had said “be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ”. It is not clear what exact words were spoken in each case at the time of baptism.
In Acts 19:5, Paul acknowledged the six disciples were “disciples” and “had become believers already” despite the fact they had not been baptised in the “name of the Lord Jesus” or had “received the Holy Spirit”. His Name, Jesus, was called by the person baptised, certainly at salvation and probably at the time of baptism. Acts 22:16, “Be baptised and wash away your sins, calling on His Name”. It was also named over the person baptised, Acts 15:17, James 2:7 “Name that was invoked over you” (in baptism the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, or Jesus). The washing away of sins does not happen through the waters of baptism. The translation reads, “Get yourself immersed, be cleansed of your sins by calling on His name, or be cleansed of your sins as you call on His name”, Acts 22:16.
This was Paul’s testimony. He was told to “get yourself baptised and get your sins washed away”. His baptism was the outward and visible sign of his inward and spiritual cleansing. He was baptised “calling on His name”, thus being baptised in (or with) that Name. Water cannot wash away sins, renew the heart or perform any other spiritual action.
The importance is placed on the fact that the person being baptized or the one baptising must call upon His Name, Jesus. The point of Matthew 28:20 is that the One God is really Three Persons, each of whom has authority. The Father has authority, the Son has authority and the Holy Spirit has authority. This must be recognized.
In many baptisms, the candidate is asked, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God?” The Name of Jesus is thus used. When the person says, “I do”, he is expressing his faith in Jesus the Messiah and calling upon Him. This he did when previously he actually repented and turned to Jesus Christ as Savior, as Romans 10:9,13, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved.” and “for ‘Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved”. To call upon Jesus as Lord is to recognize that He is Divine. That is how Paul taught people would receive salvation. He does not include water baptism in these verses.
The Name of Jesus is called upon for salvation and at water baptism, even though the formula used may be “In the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Therefore, any baptism of a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ by immersion is truth. A believer is one who always “calls on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, as in 1 Corinthians 1:2, “With all those ‘calling’ (as in Greek) on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
The Psalm 95:6, “let us kneel before the Lord our Maker”; Psalm 94:1, “O Lord, you God of vengeance, shine forth!”; Psalm 88:1, “O Lord God of my salvation… I cry out in your presence”. To be born again, we call upon the Name of “Jesus”. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved (Jesus)”, Acts 4:12.
There is a large movement called “Jesus Only” form of Pentecostalism that is also called “Oneness”. It is actually a revival of Sabellianism. Sabellius, who wished to avoid any danger of tritheism, formulated this particular belief. He formulated that teaching, so says Cairns in his “Christianity Through the Centuries”, after 200 A.D. He taught “a trinity of manifestation of forms rather than of essence”, as do the Oneness Pentecostals. He said that God was manifested as Father in Old Testament times, later as the Son to redeem man, and as the Holy Spirit after the resurrection of Christ. There were not three persons in the Godhead but three manifestations! He denied separate personality to Christ, as do the Oneness people.
One wonders if the words of 2 Corinthians 11:2-4 do not apply strongly to the Oneness Movement, who certainly are saints of the Lord. It reads “I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one your received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough”. The Jesus of the Oneness Movement is not the Jesus Christ that Paul preached. One would never say, however, that they individually did find the Salvation of the Lord.
According to the “Encyclopaedia of Early Christianity”, no works of Sabellius survive. The doctrine was called Sabellianism in the east and Monarchianism in the west. This Encyclopaedia states that, “Monarchianism referred to a theological movement in Rome based on the teachings of Noetus, Praxess and Sabellius”. Like the Jews the early Christians were identified in ancient society by their monotheism. Monotheism means, “there is One God”. There are not many gods. We still hold to monotheism today.
“The Modalist Monarchians taught that one divine being had revealed itself as ‘Father’, ‘Son’, and ‘Holy Spirit’ but that these names referred only to temporary modes of activity and were not eternal characters within the Godhead. Sabellius allegedly taught that God was a monad (One) with three energies that appeared in history for the purpose of creation and salvation in ‘Father’, ‘Son’ and ‘Holy Spirit’.”
“Praxes taught that the Father was born, suffered, and died (Prax. 28-29). This not only was against scripture but also was against the then definition of the God incapable of feeling or emotion. Monarchianism was always rejected as the primary definition of divine being because it tended to blur the identities and roles of the Father and Son”.
The only time in Church History where this view of God has been held was at the time of Sabellius. It emerged again at the time of the beginnings of Pentecostalism 1913 in the States within the ranks of the Assemblies of God. They rejected such a heresy but many left them and took up the doctrine. A large number of so-called Pentecostals still follow the Oneness or Jesus Only doctrine to this day. Canadian evangelist R.E. McAllister preached at a Los Angelus camp meeting on baptism and noted Acts 2:38. One, Scheppe, the next morning shouted that the Lord had revealed to him the truth on baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It should be noted that revelations have always been dangerous.
Peter would have referred to the words of Jesus Luke 24:46,47, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be preached in his name to all nations”, as in Acts 2:37,38 he said, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins”.
Let us look at how Wuest, a converted Jew, and a Greek scholar translates it. “Have a change of mind, that change of mind being accompanied by abhorrence of and sorrow for your deed (of crucifying Christ), and let each one of you be baptised upon the ground of your confession of belief in the sum total of all that Jesus Christ is in His glorious Person, this baptismal testimony being in relation to the fact that your sins have been put away, and you shall receive the gratuitous gift of the Holy Spirit, for to you is the promise and to your children and to all who are at a distance, as many as the Lord our God shall with a divine summons call to Himself”.
This places the correct understanding of baptism, using the name of “Jesus”, in a different light from what the Oneness people say. Notice that baptism is “upon the ground of” etc., not exactly baptism where the one baptizing says, “In the Name of Jesus”.
Ewart, an Australian by birth, was there at the time. He preached publicly in 1914 on baptism in the name of Jesus and he with others were rebaptised. He “was the first to chart a new direction within the early Pentecostal movement. It was he who formulated a theology of the name of Jesus to validate the new baptismal practice”. This new doctrine spread rapidly, but was opposed by J. Roswell Flower, leader of the newly formed Assemblies of God. Despite losing members, the Assemblies of God continued to oppose the views of the Oneness people. It denounced, in 1915, aspects of Oneness teaching on God and Christ that are contrary to the Scriptures.
There is a large account of this in the “Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements”. The controversy among the Pentecostals was long, widespread, racial, denominational, doctrinal and rather bitter. The distrust still exists. This proves the necessity of knowing the Word of God and of following its truths.
A reading of the Bible and particularly of the New Testament proves these beliefs of Oneness to be wrong. Their belief that the Trinity is a doctrine brought in by the Roman Catholic Church is wrong. The Roman Catholic Church was not even in existence at the time of Sabellius. The emphasis on baptism in “Jesus’ Name” seems to replace emphasis on salvation through the Name of Jesus. There has been no proven belief in “Oneness” before the year 200 in the church.
Oneness statements such as when “God comes back again” are unscriptural. The scripture this is taken from is 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16 where it says, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven”. We cannot say “God”. We have to say “Jesus”, as is already explained by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 3:13, where he clearly says, “at the coming of our Lord Jesus”. This, of course, agrees with what the angels said in Acts 1:11, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven”. We wait for the return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who is coming back again. His very Person is returning. Also, in Hebrews 9:28, “so Christ will appear a second time… to save those who are eagerly waiting for him”. We wait for Christ to come. It is confusing to say, “God is coming”.
There is no case for a rebaptism using “Jesus’ Name” because the formula “In the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” was used previously in a believer’s baptism. When such a person who believed in Jesus was baptized by immersion, it was because he believed in Jesus and called on the Name of Jesus for salvation. In Acts 2:41;8:12,38;9:18; 16:33;18:8, it just says, “They were baptized”. Elsewhere in the book of Acts shows baptism in Acts 10:48, “In the Name of Jesus Christ”; Acts 19:5, “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. Acts 8:15,16 shows they had “only been baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus” and had not been “baptized in the Holy Spirit”.
It is salvation through the Name of Jesus that counts. Baptism, because of belief in Jesus, then follows. The formula does not matter. The person believes in Jesus. The Bible does not call for sacramentalism, which means the “sacrament” of baptism saves. Baptism comes after believing. If we are not careful, we can make “Baptism in Jesus’ Name” a kind of god – its importance being exalted above that of the redemption of Christ on the Cross and the necessity for faith in Him.
It has been said there is no mystery about God. For Paul, as in Colossians 1:25,26, “to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hid… but has now been revealed to his saints” and in verses 27, 28, regarding “mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, It is he whom we proclaim”. The word of God from the beginning of the Old Testament to its end, had mysteries. One of the mysteries was indeed the Person of God. We cannot say even now that this mystery has been revealed to us in the New Testament, that we know all there is to know about God. If we did, we would be as God. We are not and Paul says in Colossians 1:10 “as you grow in the knowledge of God”. Our minds can never comprehend the Person of God who is eternal, who is love, who is holy, who is invisible, who dwells in light and who is spirit.
A search on the Internet shows Oneness (Jesus Only) people also base their belief on John 4:24, KJV, “God is a spirit”, meaning one Person. However, the correct translation is “God is spirit”, that covers more than one Persons.
Oneness bases its fundamental belief of salvation on Acts 2:38.39. Those verses do show the way to salvation, give the need for water baptism and the promise of the outpouring of the Spirit as in Acts 2:4. At that time there was not a wide understanding of salvation among the Apostles. In fact, the Church in Jerusalem never lost its Jewishness or clinging to Law, as proved in Galatians. At the beginning, the then Apostles did not even include Gentiles in the Gospel hope. Yet Jesus had said to preach the gospel to every creature, in Matthew 28, Acts 1:8.
Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:14-36 shows lack of content of the gospel. He was preaching to Jews that Jesus was the promised Servant and Prophet. If Israel repented then, God would send Jesus from heaven as their Messiah to restore Israel, nationally, before the final woes. He had not received understanding of the teaching Jesus had given His disciples. Neither did he yet have revelation of the gospel as was given to Paul at a later date that he even fully failed to understand, 2 Peter 3:15,16. Peter had not yet been taught sufficiently by the Spirit and led into “all truth”. Later on the Spirit gave him much more understanding and so he was able to write the 1 and 2 Epistles of Peter. Therefore, it is not wise to base the message of the gospel as a foundation, on his sermon in Acts 2 even though he spoke truth.
That there was the Person of the Son in eternity along with the Person of the Father is proved by John 17:24, where Jesus prays, “Father, …to behold my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world”. The Father loved the Person of the Son in eternity. The Son had glory and His love in eternity.
In Acts 4:16 Peter clearly shows that there is salvation in no other name, other than in the Name of Jesus. Romans 10:9,13 that “If you confess with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (meaning He is Lord or God, Jehovah), …you will be saved”, and “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. The angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “You are to give Him the name Jesus”.
The ancient Hebrews were monotheistic, following Exodus 20:2,3. The Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 reads, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord”. They had a veil over their minds, as stated in 2 Corinthians 3. Their minds could not fathom that the one Lord was three Persons as shown in the Old Testament.
Nowhere does the Bible say that there is salvation in water baptism. To make the process of salvation in the person to involve, repentance, water baptism and baptism in the Spirit with the “evidence” of speaking in tongues is unscriptural. The New Testament does not show such a belief.
It is dangerous to base a doctrine on the revelation of a “man” in our day, as the Oneness Movement (Pentecostal Unity) does. Paul was given the full revelation of the gospel. It cannot be altered. There is not a verse in the Bible that says of a convert to Jesus Christ, “He was baptised in Jesus’ Name”. Therefore it is wrong to make such statements.
Everywhere in the Epistles and in Acts, we read such expressions as “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”, “There is salvation in no other Name”, “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord (‘Jesus’ of the New Testament) shall be saved”, “they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God”, “when you believed”, “calling on the name”, “you have testified about Me”, “to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me”, “who are called to be saints”, “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart, you will be saved”, “called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried that he was raised on the third day”, “my love be will all in Christ Jesus”, “who gave Himself for our sins”, “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit by faith” (as children of Abraham), “Christ has set us free”, “For neither circumcision (a type only of water baptism) counts for anything, nor uncircumcision but a new creation”, “In whom we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins”, “Unto Him who has loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood”.
Even in Acts 2:38 Peter does not say “You must be baptised in Jesus’ Name” as do the followers of the Oneness movement. There is no mention in the book of Acts, “you were baptised in Jesus’ Name”. To speak thus of a believer in Jesus Christ is to not see fully the work of salvation in the person’s life, as in Titus 3:5-7, “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness (including water baptism ‘in Jesus’ Name’) but in virtue of his own mercy by the washing of regeneration (not water of baptism) and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life”. This was the same Holy Spirit who came on the Day of Pentecost. Let us remember that He does many different things in us. Here, He renews us. For the believer being baptised, the importance of words in his life is his own confession of “Jesus is Lord”.
We are to believe on God, that is, the Father and so we should believe on Jesus Christ, the Son, also, John 14:1; “No one who denies the Son has the Father, everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also”, 1 John 2:21; with Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” and Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. It is calling upon the Name of Jesus that brings salvation. Water baptism is but a public declaration that the person has called and is calling upon the Name of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, the formula used is not what is important. Everything connected with our salvation, followed by water baptism is in the Name of Jesus, the Person of the Son.
Pentecostals who insist that we say, “I baptise you in Jesus’ Name” have missed the point. The point is that salvation, our baptism in Him our birth into the Kingdom of God are done in the Name of “Jesus”. It is the Name of “Jesus” through which we are saved. It is not necessary to use this mentioned baptismal formula. Personally, I say, “I baptise you in the Name of Jesus, or the Name of the Lord Jesus, or the Lord Jesus Christ”. All of those Names are mentioned in the book of Acts baptisms. I like to also mention, “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”, to indicate that there is a Trinity, God being One but three persons, even although I say “In the Name of Jesus”. It is the act of water baptism and its meaning that is more important than the exact words spoken.
Let us look at Mark 16:17,18, Jesus said such things is “they shall speak with new tongues”. Millions have this experience of speaking in new tongues. Generally, no one ever says, “In Jesus’ Name” at such a time. The reason is that the prayer as well as the one receiving, is actually standing in faith, in the Name of Jesus. In the same way the one being baptised in water is standing in faith in the Name of Jesus, as well as the person doing the baptising. Is it necessary to say “In Jesus’ Name”?
This verse can never mean that one is only saved, a believer, or born again if he is baptized in water. There have to be two or three verses in harmony before there can be a doctrine.
WHEN IS A PERSON BORN AGAIN?
He is born of God the second he accepts Christ as his Saviour. He is not born again when he is baptised in water. He is born again by the Word of God, as in 1 Peter 1:23, “You have been born anew not of perishable seed but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.” He is born again of water (the Word) and the Spirit, John 3:7 “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:8 “So it is of everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Galatians 4:9 “the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now.”
Water Baptism is Symbolic. In 1 Corinthians 10:2 the Children of Israel were baptised unto Moses by the waters of the Red Sea. This was not a literal baptism into his person. When we are baptised in the waters unto Jesus Christ it does not mean a literal baptism into His person. It is typical only, of something that has already happened in a spiritual and a way we experience.
Nevertheless, the act of baptism in relation to the person’s inner being, is indeed a spiritual experience but it only happens once in the life of the believer. The spiritual experience of having died with Christ and having been raised with Him, happened at conversion. That spiritual experience is continuous, according to what Paul said Galatians 2:15, “I see myself (continually) hanging on the tree with Christ”.
It shows we have accepted Christ at conversion, which has nothing to do with the removal of gold or of legalistic acts required by any church or pastor. It cannot be that the old man is put off in the water of baptism. There is no such teaching in the Bible.