by Bob Thompson
“And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses,
the same commit thou to faithful men who shall
be able to teach others also.” 2 Tim. 2:2
Matthew 28:19, and its parallel reference, Mark 16:15-16, are generally regarded as “the Great Commission.”
First, a question: Why did Christ say in vs. 18 of Matt. 28: - “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, go ye therefore…”? Was it not because the fulfillment of this commission would require His power, not that of mere mortals? I think so. (Zech. 4:6)
“…and teach all nations…” (but teach them what?) Mark’s record of the commission tells us that it is to teach all nations the gospel. Why? Because the gospel, we’re told in Rom. 1:16,” is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”
In effect, then, Matt. 28:19 commanded the apostles to “…Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them [immersing the nations in the teaching of the gospel] in the name (or by the authority of) the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
“But wait just a minute,” someone may be saying, “Is it not a fact that most, if not all, of the seminaries in this country, as well as preachers, teachers, and Bible scholars of all Catholic and protestant persuasions, believe it’s water? Who do you think you are telling the rest of us that Matt. 28:19 and Mark 15:16 are not water?
RESPONSE: First let me kindly say that I don’t think who I am has any bearing on this matter. Secondly, surely you don’t believe that just because the majority of “preachers, teachers and Bible scholars of all Catholic and Protestant persuasions” believe that Matt. 28:19 and Mk. 16:16 are water baptism that that automatically makes it so. Besides, you’re changing the subject.
We’re talking about the so-called “great commission,” where Christ instructed his disciples to teach all nations, baptizing them [immersing them in the gospel of Christ] in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” If you have a problem with that, please let me hear from you, and explain why?
Through the years, Mark 16:16 has also been a bone of contention, creating confusion in the minds of many. It reads: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Two conditions for salvation: (1) believe the gospel (2) and be baptized.
Whatever we may think the word baptism means in this case, it seems quite conclusive that this baptism is for salvation – “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” If it is, then, of course, water baptism is ruled out because sinners are saved by grace, not works. One cancels out the other. Or, as Paul wrote, “If it is of grace it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace.” (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 2:11)
In any case, UNLESS one is baptized into Christ, (Gal. 3:27), is baptized into His death (Romans 6:4) and is baptized by one Spirit into the body of Christ, the church (1 Cor. 12:13), which all takes place the moment a sinner believes the gospel, he remains “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1)
“Oh,” says the skeptic, “so now you have three baptisms.” This mindless logic is not unlike the Watchtower Society’s silly argument that those who accept the teaching of the trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) have three Gods.
The Lord went on to say, “he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mk. 15:16) Why didn’t He say, “He that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned”? It’s because God is not in the business of baptizing His enemies – those who have not believed the record of His Son. (1 John 5:13).
In closing, allow me to add a brief word relative to Mk. 16:15, “…GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD, AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE.” This was fulfilled in Paul’s day, as Paul himself wrote, “…THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL…WAS PREACHED TO EVERY CREATURE WHICH IS UNDER HEAVEN…” [Col. 1:23 see also 1:6)
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