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The Name used at baptism is important!!

Background: While discussing the name in which we are to be baptized, the question is sometimes asked, "What difference does it make whether we're baptized 'in the name of Jesus Christ' or 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?'  Isn't that splitting hairs?  What difference does it make?"  What follows is a demonstration that the name does in fact matter.

Very briefly, under the terms of the New Covenant, each believer is the Temple of the Living God (1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16). 

Since the Law of Moses provides us with "types and shadows" of things that would later come to pass (Hebrews 10:1), let us turn there for a pattern of the significance of the Tabernacle (and later, of the Temple) pertaining to the name of God.

Speaking of the Tabernacle, and ultimately, of the Temple, God said:

DEUTERONOMY 12:5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:


DEUTERONOMY 12:11 Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:


DEUTERONOMY 14:22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
DEUTERONOMY 14:23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.

All of the offerings and sacrifices of the Children of Israel were, of course, brought to the Tabernacle (which is described in Exodus 25-30).  From the above verses, the actual significance of the Tabernacle was that THE NAME of God dwells there.

Did "the Name" of God matter at that time?  Certainly, it did.

The Tabernacle was a mobile structure; it could be relocated as needed.  Eventually, the Tabernacle was replaced by the Temple, which was a permanent structure.  The purpose and function of these two places were identical: all of the tithes, offerings, and sacrifices of Israel were brought there, for this is where God chose to place His name.

In 1Kings 8, we read about the dedication of the Temple.  Take the time to read all of 1Kings 8, and note how the word "name" is used throughout the chapter.  I'm only going to point out some of the highlights here (without any particular context), but please read the chapter yourself.  King Solomon said:

1 KINGS 8:15 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying,
1 KINGS 8:16 Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.
1 KINGS 8:17 And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
1 KINGS 8:18 And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
1 KINGS 8:19 Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.
1 KINGS 8:20 And the LORD hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.

1 KINGS 8:29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.

So then, the Tabernacle, and later the Temple was built as a dwelling place for the name of GodIn this context, all of the other things in the Temple were decorations.  Granted, they were important decorations (cf. Exodus 25:40), but they were decorations nonetheless.  The Temple itself was the main item because it housed the name of God.

It is precisely on this basis that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in the following manner:

MATTHEW 23:16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
MATTHEW 23:17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
MATTHEW 23:18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
MATTHEW 23:19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
MATTHEW 23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
MATTHEW 23:21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
MATTHEW 23:22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

Why?  Because the name of God dwells in the Temple, and sanctifies everything therein.  The same is true of the Altar and even of Heaven itself.

So then, did "the Name" matter? Of course it did!

* * * * * * *

After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter began to fulfill His commandments of Matthew 28:19 and Luke 24:46-47 on the Day of Pentecost, saying,

ACTS 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, 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.

According to Peter, here at Acts 2:38, this baptism "in the name of Jesus Christ" is for the remission of sins.  Remember, salvation is not possible if our sins are not forgiven, and the name of Jesus Christ is part of that process.  The name of Jesus Christ was reiterated later, when Peter said:

ACTS 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
ACTS 4:11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
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.

So, according to Peter, nobody can be saved in the titles of Jesus Christ (meaning, "in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost").  After all, the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is Jesus Christ.  And as we've just read at Acts 4:10-12, there is no name other than "Jesus Christ" by which we must be saved.

Did the name matter? Of course it did.

* * * * * * *

It should be pointed out that God hasn't changed, as it is written:

MALACHI 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

HEBREWS 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

The Temple made with hands that Jesus referred to above at Matthew 23 was built so that God's name would dwell there.  Under the terms of the New Covenant (i.e., the Gospel of Jesus Christ), the very bodies of the believers are now the Temple of God!!  The apostle Paul wrote:

1 CORINTHIANS 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

and again,

2 CORINTHIANS 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Since the bodies of the believers are the Temple of the living God, then the name of God dwells in the bodies of the believers.  Does the name matter?  It did in the Old Testament, and it matters in the New Testament as well.

Therefore, if you have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, then you bear the name of Jesus Christ, the living God, on your flesh.

Note: We see something similar in weddings: A woman goes into her marriage bearing her own last name.  She leaves that wedding bearing the last name of her new husband.

If, on the other hand, you have been baptized in the titles of Jesus Christ (meaning, if you have been baptized with the words "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost") then the name of Jesus Christ is not upon you, since you were not baptized in His name ("Jesus Christ").

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Last modified: Sat Feb 19 17:14:43 CST 2005