The eleven disciples which we assume to mean; Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, Simon, Judas were present when Christ gave the Great Commission in the region near Galilee, after his resurrection. Matthew quoted Jesus Christ as saying,
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20
Most theologians consider this to be the most important command that Jesus Christ alleged to have made to his disciples. What seems out of place is that none of these disciples referred to this command in other writings. Like grass growing in the cracks of sidewalks, it would have been normal for at least one disciple to refer to this command when speaking about baptism.
My pastor said things can be said once and be true. However, the certainty of the Great Commission is in question when those hearing the Great Commission apparently ignored Christ's instructions on baptism. Therefore, the way baptisms were performed after the ascension of Jesus Christ should agree with the command we know as the Great Commission. The Great Commission dealt with spreading the gospel by going to all nations, teaching the commands of Christ, making new disciples and baptizing these new disciples in the name of the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles makes it clear that the disciples went into the known world teaching, preaching and making disciples. Several baptisms were performed within the book of Acts, but not one used the method for baptizism as commanded in the Great commission.
In the attempt to understand the requirement of baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit a search of the scriptures was made. The prime directive was carried out to the letter except one concerning the name or names used in baptism by the eleven disciples. Why would those who heard the great commission baptize their disciples into or in the name of Jesus? Six of the baptisms recorded in the New Testament were in the name of or into the name of Jesus. The remainder of recorded baptisms did not use any name or have a specific order to them. There is no evidence that any of the disciples baptized the way described by the Great Commission.
Therefore, it is crucial to return to Matthew 28:19 to keep our interpretation in context with the subject matter. The subject matter of Matthew 28:19 is about preaching, teaching, making disciples and baptizing them. Matthew 28:19 is not addressing the makeup of the divine nor did it discuss God as three persons. If God wanted men to know that there were three persons in the divine unit, he would have said it in a way that could not be disputed. God is omnipotent and powerful in speech and grammar, for this reason his commands are straightforward.
According to Ungerís Bible Dictionary the doctrine of the Trinity is implicit rather than explicit in the Old Testament. Implicit refers to something understood even though it is not directly expressed. Interpretational errors occur when thoughts are implied, as the idea conveyed can be interpreted completely different than expressed or in the wrong way. Anyone who dictates what they want done in writing must clearly declare what they want. Commands that are not directly expressed leads to misunderstanding. Confirming Godís commands is the duty of the Christian if only to know the certainty of the truth of the matter.
It is not important to know how our church leaders derived the doctrine of the trinity. It is more important that you know how you derive the truth from Godís word and come to a conclusion based on what God said. Your time in bible study is not the time to approve current theology of what our church leaders say. Bible study is the dedicated time you spend with God to listen to him.
Just as an Ambassador would, your interpretation of the bible should agree with the context of the written word of God. Just as number, facts, and gender correspond in grammar, your conclusion needs to correspond accurately with the word of God. Mistakes in interpretation no matter how little change the expressed will of God.
The church has two sacraments, the communion table and the baptism of disciples. Both of these sacraments are symbolic of partaking in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In communion we celebrate with the symbols of the broken body of Christ (bread) and shed blood of Christ (wine) to commemorate Christís death on the cross and the resurrection of his body.
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26
Baptism is another ceremony symbolic of partaking in the death burial and resurrection of Christ.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4
Being submerged in water represents the death of Jesus Christ and our death to sin. It is symbolic of the death and burial of Christ that we put the old man to death and have died with Christ. Coming out of the water represents the resurrection of Christ and a new life that we live in Christ.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:10-11
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27
Baptism is a ceremony demonstrating a personal commitment to Christ signifying that we died to sin and were raised to live for Christ. The purpose of baptism in Christ is to associate our life with the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Using the verbal formula to baptize in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit distracts from the real purpose of identifying with the death and resurrection of Christ.
Jesus Christ the central theme of the Bible and Godís word is the testimony God has given about his Son. Baptism is the first step in following Jesus and the disciples baptized their disciples by the authority and Command of Jesus Christ.
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19
People associate bars with drinking alcoholic beverages, so a person coming out of a bar is assumed to be under the influence and intoxicated. However, by law before that person can be arrested for being under the influence the police must perform a test for alcohol blood levels to make their case. On the other hand, Christians define the trinity by the association of names without distinguishing the differences between each person of the divine. Names alone do not establish a clear distinction between living beings?
Has Godís word clearly described the father, the son and the Holy Spirit as a divine unit or group? The word trinity defines a group of persons that functions in units of three persons in contrast to the human race that functions in units of two, the male and female. Matthew 28:19 is a written instruction to go, teach, make and baptize disciples, nothing more. Yet, man has associated these names the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as persons. However, can we describe the Holy Spirit in the following manner?
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. I John 1:1
Consider this, has the Holy Spirit been described with attributes that can be heard, touched and seen by mankind? These are necessary attributes needed to establish a presence that sensual men assign a name to. In other words, men normally identify the presence - what we may think of as a outward appearance - with a name. Without attributes that can be seen, heard, and touched - man should be at a loss to say the Holy Spirit is what we normally determine to be a person. Therefore, you should,
not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Test everything. Hold on to the good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Testing everything is a prudent way of knowing what is true and what is not. Prudence is a sincere concern over oneís own interests while exercising good judgment or common sense. How does anyone exercise good judgment unless they question the genuineness of the information used to make decisions? Christians live in a world that makes mountains out of mole holes, a world that makes decisions in haste and without enough of the right information. Christians are commanded to test everything and take Godís word to heart. Paul wrote, "Do not go beyond what is written." 1 Corinthians 4:6, but we tend to fill in the blanks by adding our thoughts to make our interpretation reasonably correct. The standard rule of interpretation is to keep things in context, confining our understanding to the content of the scriptures.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
How does one know the truth and Godís good and perfect will without knowing Godís side of the story? How do we understand Godís stand if we do not listen to him? A prudent way to know the truth is the method God prescribed.
This particular method requires you to find and listen to God's testimony. Did any disciple other than Matthew refer to baptizing in the name of the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? Did the disciples who heard this command baptize anyone in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit? These questions have answers that disagree with church tenets.
No one has seen God with the human eye. The bible has given descriptions of the person of the Father and of Jesus Christ, but no physical description of the Holy Spirit.
The description of the Father
Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord . When I saw it, I fell face down, and I heard the voice of one speaking. Ezekiel 1:25-28
The description of the Son
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. Revelation 1:12-16
How is the Holy Spirit described? Does the bible describe the Holy Spirit as the third member of the divine? The Holy Spirit is described as a promise Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, Acts 2:33, A deposit that guarantees, 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:14, A seal of ownership 2 Corinthians 1:22.
you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13
God set his seal of ownership on us, 2 Corinthians 1:22
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:5
The biblical descriptions of the Holy Spirit do not give attributes that normally describe persons. While the Holy Spirit speaks to man and has a hand, a police officer would ask questions that would describe his appearance. Men associate persons as having a physical presence that include the dimensions of height, weight, color of eyes and color of hair. While a physical description of the Holy Spirit is not found in the bible, any description would prove beyond a doubt the existence of a third person within the divine.
The reality of the doctrine of the trinity is an opinion of our forefathers when the church was formed. Our church leaders believe that there is one only and true God and rightly so, but within the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence? One thing is certain, God speaks in simpler terms and did not express himself within his word in this manner.
Our church leaders believe that Matthew 28:19 is a clear statement of the divine nature. The problem being, the eleven disciples appointed by Christ did not use the formula derived from Matthew 28:19 to baptize their disciples. When God says one thing and man says something else there will be disagreement and confusion. God is not a God of confusion so something has to be wrong with the current interpretation.
The bible is the testimony of Jesus Christ taken from reliable men who reported what they saw and heard about the life and deeds of Jesus Christ. When writing about a concept that you want the reader to learn specific information, you repeat the same ideas more than once and write it in plain language so that cannot be mistaken. Perhaps we need to ask this question. Why didnít these witnesses of the great commission clearly express the thought of God being three persons in plain language?
Today, theology has replaced biblical teaching in our churches, as theological terms are use more often than biblical terms. (This does not mean that the terms used by men are not correct, it means that it is much harder to test theological terms against the word of God.) If through human reasoning theologians produce terms, which cannot be found in the scriptures and may be doing more harm than good. For example, God in three persons and the terms first, second, and third person is used frequently in the church, but they are not found in the Bible. How do Christians know what is the truth without testing what is being taught to make every thought of our mind obedient to Christ 2 Corinthians 10:5? We must go back to the basics, to the pattern of God's word to see what God says.
Therefore it is important to know the difference between the scriptures and theology in order to understand the terms used by man. It is just as important to know what is written as it is to know what is not written. If it is not written in the bible, chances are that the teaching is going beyond the scriptures by adding the thoughts of man to what is written. It is tough to live a Christian life according to what is written, but believing the opinions of men will make you a slave of their beliefs and possibly lead you astray. Consider this thought, do you honor any promises you did not make? In the same way, God does not have the responsibility to honor anything he did not commit to do.
Paul wrote that Christians were to work out their salvation with God with fear and trembling. You and God are the only persons involved with your salvation. Bible study should be the time you spend with God to listen to him and learn exactly what he expects of you.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw ó that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Revelation 1:1-3
Blessed is the person who reads what is written in the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ and then takes it to heart. God doesnít want anyone to perish but come to repentance. Judgment day will be a day of grief to God as he will send thousands of deceived men and women to the lake of fire. On that day, God will be judging people who did not take him seriously and did not take his word and promises to heart.
Are we as Christians to take to heart what is not written in the scriptures? Is our mind focused upon what God is saying when we study or read Godís word? Do we hear the thoughts Godís word is revealing or do we allow Godís word to be filtered through what we have learned from men?
Ask yourself this question? If you were God and you wanted your children to know something specific, how would you express those thoughts to them and how would you put those thoughts in writing? For man to understand God, he has to communicate his thoughts in ways that men and women can understand.
Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20
God has given men eyes and ears to understand the environment men live in, but do we use them to discern the truth pertaining to God and his truth. The world has been displaying the invisible qualities of God, eternal power of God and his divine nature from the creation of the world. In the creation God created every creature having breath with mates in pairs of two, which includes the man he created in his image and likeness. This set of mental pictures in the words image and likeness are only found in two verses within the bible.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Genesis 1:26
When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. Genesis 5:3
The only difference is in the use of plural versus singular pronuns. The recreation of Genesis 5:3 takes place every time a child is born in human society. In fact, if the child did not resemble the human likeness of its mother and father, what is born would be considered a freak of nature. Since we understand the image and likeness in human terms shouldnít we be able to understand that we are the image and likeness of God. In addition, Godís divine nature has been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made