What I am about to say may sound heretical to some of you, but let me
assure you that it isnít.
To help explain what I am about to say, let me explain to you what I
believe the phrase "in the name of Jesus" means. First of all
"in the name of Jesus" is more than a few words that you attach
to the end of a prayer. It is much more than a few words or a formula you
use when you baptize someone. There is great significance to this phrase.
When someone is doing something in the name of Jesus, they are
representing Jesus because He cannot be there in human form. The person is
acting on behalf of Jesus.
Here is an analogy from daily life. If you are a sales person working
for Joe Smith, then when you go out to sell, you are representing Joe
Smith. You are selling Joeís product, not your own. You must act and
sell the way Joe wants you to act and sell, or else you are in danger of
being fired. You represent Joe, so you follow his rules. You sell in his
This is what "in the name of Jesus" is all about. We
represent Jesus in all we do. We bare His name as we go about doing His
work. Therefore, when Jesus tells His disciples to baptize in the name of
the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, He is not giving them some kind of
formula to use. He is not suggesting that they say certain words like,
"I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit",
or as some say, "I baptize you in the name of Jesus".
In fact what Jesus means is this. When you baptize people, you
represent me, the Father and the Spirit. Since Christians were not the
only ones baptizing in those days, Jesus wanted everyone to know that His
followers were baptizing as His representatives. They werenít baptizing
in someoneís name, or some other religion. They represented Jesus when
they placed someone under the water.
So the key point to this is that those who watch you water baptize
should understand that you are doing this in Jesusí name, as His
representative, because He is not present in human form. This means that
you donít necessarily have to attach a particular formula, or particular
words to the baptism. You donít have to say, "in the name of the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit". You could just as easily say,
"because I represent Jesus, I now baptize you". Whatever you say
should convey the idea that you represent Jesus as you baptize. We donít
need to get caught up in discussions about words and formulas.
If a non-Christian is watching you baptize someone, they will have no
clue what the phrase "in the name of Jesus means". My guess is
that many Christians really donít understand what that phrase means. Everyone
will understand what you are doing if you say something like, "I am
baptizing my friend Jim because I represent Jesus, and Jim has just given
his life to Jesus".
Consider what I say, and the Lord give you the understanding in all