How can We Overcome Satan’s Lies?

The Bible tells us that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). His goal is to make believers focus on their sin and shame so they will forget their true identity in Christ and behave in a way that is inconsistent with who they really are. As a deceiver Satan seeks to trick believers into believing his lies in order to rob them of the abundant life that Christ wants them to have. But God has provided a way for His children to overcome Satan’s lies. 

 “3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”   2 Corinthians 10:3-5

1. Realize you cannot overcome Satan’s lies in your own strength. This battle is not “according to the flesh (v. 3). Nothing in our own flesh will help us to live victoriously or draw us closer to the Lord. Since the weapons of our warfare are “mighty in God,” then we must rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome Satan’s lies (v. 4).

2. Recognize the erroneous thoughts.This battle is located in our minds because it involves “strongholds,” “arguments,” “knowledge,” and “every thought” (vv. 4-5). The word “strongholds” pictures a fortress with high walls and towers surrounded by a moat. God says these strongholds must be destroyed which means that God did not build them. A “stronghold” then, is a negative, destructive pattern of thinking that Satan has built in our minds through repetition, trauma, or circumstances. Satan does not put thoughts in our minds. He uses other people’s voices to insert thoughts in our mind. Ungodly thoughts come from us. Christ lives inside us and He does not give us these ungodly thoughts. We will not get very far in this battle for our minds until we acknowledge these satanic strongholds. 

For example, a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol has believed Satan’s lie that he is a drug addict or an alcoholic by nature and will never be anything else. When a person begins to believe that lie, he will act in a way that is consistent with who he believes he is. Often times Satan uses hopelessness to build his strongholds in our minds. When you come to the point of believing the battle is hopeless, you will stop trying to overcome the wrong way of thinking. But as long as you believe there is hope to overcome the stronghold in your mind, you will keep fighting to overcome it. 

You can tell when an individual is being ruled by a satanic stronghold. He or she says things like, “I can’t help myself,” “It’s not my fault,” “I was born this way,” “I’m just a victim,” or “This is hopeless.” When these intrusive thoughts occur acknowledge them and say, “This is what I am telling myself and I do not need these thoughts.”

3. Release the lie.“casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (v. 5a). Dismiss the lie and say, “This is not true, therefore, it is a lie and I am not going to pay attention to this. I am not going to entertain these thoughts.” 

4. Reprogram your mind with the truth.“bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”(v. 5b). How do we bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ? Jesus told us: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The devil is a liar by nature and he cannot handle the truth. This is why the devil tries to distract us from the truth so that it never gets deep down into the areas where he has a stronghold in our lives. True reality for us is located in the heavenly places, not on the earth. This is why the Bible says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). 

The solution to our problems is not on this earth, but in heaven. Once we change the location of our thinking from earth to heaven, we will start experiencing freedom from Satan’s lies which have enslaved us to sin.

For example, you may battle a lie that says, “You are an angry person who cannot help exploding when someone crosses you.” The first thing you do is realize you cannot overcome this lie in your own strength. Ask the Lord to help you overcome this. Secondly, admit that you are struggling with this lie. Do not fight it or deny it. Acknowledge this stronghold in your life, and then release it. Tell your subconscious the truth, “This is not true, therefore, it is a lie and I am not going to pay attention to this.” Then reprogram your mind with the truth: “As a child of God I no longer have to be enslaved by my anger.”

Dr. Don Gilbert has observed that it takes six weeks to develop a new habit. But it takes three years for the brain to create a new pathway physiologically (see diagram above).  Old physiological pathways in our brain were established by childhood teachings. The more we told ourselves lies, the stronger the pathway became between brain cells. But, now as believers, we can block the old pathways by telling ourselves, “This is not true. I am not going to pay attention to these lies.” We can then build a new pathway by telling ourselves the truth. This process of building a new pathway in the brain takes about three years. So even if we do not believe or feel the truth, we are to keep persevering in the truth. Keep telling yourself the truth even when you don’t feel or see it so you can create and strengthen the new pathway in your brain. Our bodies create new brain cells the more we tell ourselves the truth. The more we tell ourselves the truth, the stronger the pathway becomes between brain cells. When we ignore the lie, the old pathway weakens – those brain cells containing Satan’s lies have less power and strength. You can continue to create new brain cells throughout your life by speaking the truth to yourself. When Paul said, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), perhaps he not only had a spiritual transformation in mind, but a physiological transformation in mind as well. 

Consider these observations:

1.  Christ spent over three years preparing His disciples to carry on His mission. 

2.  The Apostle Paul spent three years in Arabia and Damascus alone with the Lord before beginning his ministry (Galatians 1:17-18). 

3.  The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, reeducated Daniel and his friends for three years before they could serve in his kingdom (Daniel 1:4-5). 

Could it be that these observations confirm that it takes approximately three years to create new physiological pathways in the brain to replace deeply seeded patterns of thinking with new ones?

The church would be wise to train new believers for three years to overcome deeply ingrained lies so they can be all that God created them to be. Is it any wonder that Jesus says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)?!!

How to Reach those Steeped in Tradition

“Then all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to other gods… answered Jeremiah, saying: ‘As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you!’” Jeremiah 44:15-16

After God declared through Jeremiah that He would punish the Jews who fled to Egypt for refuge instead of to God (44:1-14), those Jews defiantly declared, “We will not listen to you!” (44:16). These men listened to “their wives” who “had burned incense to other gods” in Egypt (44:15) instead of to God. Their idolatrous traditions kept them from hearing and seeing the truth of God’s Word.

How can we effectively reach people with the gospel who are deeply entrenched in religious traditions whose customs and practices keep them from hearing and interpreting the gospel in the way God intended?

1. Take them to the Lord in prayer because only the Holy Spirit can convict them of their sinfulness and their need to believe in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life (John 16:7-11). 
2. Express appreciation for their commitment to glorify God by following traditions. Although their traditions may be wrong or unnecessary, they may be very sincere about doing what they think is right. 
3. Encourage them to study the Bible for themselves, reading out of the text what it says in comparison to what they were taught about their traditions (cf. John 5:39). 
4. Ask the Lord to bring one or two people who were saved out of the same tradition who can effectively share their testimonies with them (cf. Acts 18:24-28). 
5. Build them up with the hope that God could use them to reach others from the same tradition. They do not have to abandon their loved ones, but they can return to them with the life-changing message of the gospel of grace (cf. John 1:40-51)! 

(Adapted from EvanTell’s 2014 The Evangelism Study Bible, p. 864).

How can a Loving God Allow Pain and Suffering?

This is a question asked by many in the wake of Hurricane Florence in the USA and Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines as they see innocent children swept away in a landslide or drowned during a hurricane. While I cannot claim to know all of God’s reasons for allowing tragedies to take place in our world, I do want to provide some biblical answers to some basic questions about the topic of pain and suffering. 

Q1: Did God create the world with sin and suffering in it?

A1: No, God created the heavens (universe) and earth without sin as He concluded that what He originally made was “good” and “very good” (Genesis 1:3, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). This includes all the angels created by God (Colossians 1:16). However, Lucifer, God’s highest-ranking angel, rebelled and sinned against God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:11-19) prior to tempting Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-6). Lucifer, or Satan, also led one third of God’s angels to join him in his rebellion so that they (fallen angels and/or demons) now oppose God and His people (Ezekiel 28:16, 18; Revelation 12:4, 7-10).

Q2: When did sin and suffering begin on the earth?

A2: When Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12). Their decision to sin also adversely effected creation (Genesis 3:14-19) which now “groans  and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:18-22).

Q3: Does God cause sin and suffering in the world today?

A3: No, the Bible says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). Temptations come from our own sinful flesh, the world, or from Satan (cf. Matthew 4:1-11; James 1:14; I John 2:16). God’s love gives each human being the ability to choose. If people could not choose between good and evil, that would not be love. Much suffering takes place in the world today because of circumstances beyond our control. Some suffering is because of our own sinful decisions or the decisions of others.

Q4: When people suffer, how do they know that God is in control?

A4: When Job suffered greatly, he asked God why He had even allowed him to be born (Job 3:11). Job cried out to God. “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, I have no rest, for trouble comes”(Job 3:25-26). God chose not to reveal His motives for allowing Job to suffer. He never told him why, but He did answer him. He answered Job by describing Himself as all powerful and in control (Job 38:1-41:34). So, we know that God is in control in the midst of suffering because He has told us in His Word (cf. Romans 8:28). 

Q5: How does God feel about those who do suffer?

A5: When people suffer, God wants them to know that He cares. He is concerned about every pain and tear. He encourages us to “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”(I Peter 5:7). Sometimes God demonstrates His care by not removing our suffering but by comforting us in the midst of it (2 Corinthians 1:3-11). God will help us through whatever suffering we face, if we look to Him. It is with this kind of suffering that God helps us through but He does not necessarily remove it.  However, there is a kind of suffering that God wants to eliminate which is eternal. 

Q6: How can God love people if He sends them to hell to suffer forever?

A6: First of all, God does not send anyone to hell. People send themselves to hell when they refuse to believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16-19; Revelation 20:15) who suffered and died in our place on the cross and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1-6). After all, God is holy and hates sin, and must punish it (Psalm 5:4; Isaiah 6:1-5; 59:2; Romans 3:23; 6:23b). The Bible tells us that all people must face God as their Judge – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”(Hebrews 9:27). So, whether we have sinned once or a thousand times, sin’s consequences are forever. 

Q7: How can people escape eternal suffering?

A7: Their eternal suffering can be removed, not by any works or words they do or speak (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), but by accepting what God did for them on the cross. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”(Romans 5:8). God now invites all people to believe or trust in His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, for His free gift of everlasting life. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Our good works and religious efforts will not save us because they are all like “filthy garments”in the sight of a holy God (Isaiah 64:6). We must trust in Christ alone as our only way to heaven. The moment we do, God gives us eternal life as a gift and we are His forever (John 10:28-29). 

A day is coming when all those who have believed or trusted in Jesus alone for His gift of everlasting life will be with Him in heaven where there will be no more suffering. The Bible says, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying…”(Revelation 21:4). Those who have believed in Christ recognize that there is suffering in this life, but they take comfort in God’s promise that one day all suffering will be gone forever. Those people will not suffer eternally. 

If you have never understood and believed this, why not trust in Jesus Christ alone right now as your only way to heaven? Here is how you could tell God in prayer what you are doing.

Dear God, I come to you now as a sinner. I know my sins deserve to be punished forever. But I now understand that Jesus Christ died for me and rose from the dead. I am now placing my trust in Christ alone as my only way to heaven. Thank You for the gift of forgiveness and eternal life I just received. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

When you believed in Jesus, the Bible says you now have everlasting life (John 3:16) and you can “know” it. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life”(I John 5:13). God now wants to use you to tell others this good news. As you learn to follow Jesus, He can show you how to tell others how to escape eternal suffering before it is too late for them (Matthew 4:19).

How to Witness to those who do not Believe the Bible

I was recently asked the question, “How do you tell a person about Jesus if he/she does not believe in the Bible?”

A mentor of mine, Larry Moyer, has effectively witnessed to many non-Christians who did not believe the Bible. He taught me the following: 

I would recommend you start with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The truth about Jesus does not stand or fall with the Bible. It stands or falls with Jesus’ resurrection. Even if there was no Bible, every person on earth would still have to deal with the Person of Jesus Christ because of His empty tomb. So challenge the non-Christian by asking, “Has anyone disproved Jesus’ empty tomb?” The empty tomb is based upon well documented historical facts apart from the Bible. Challenge them to read former skeptics’ books containing evidence that persuaded them to believe in Jesus such as Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands A Verdict,” or “The Resurrection Factor,” and Lee Strobel’s “The Case For Christ,” or “The Case For Easter.” No one has succeeded in proving that Jesus did not rise from the dead. If Jesus did rise from the dead (and He did), then they must deal with what Jesus said in the Bible. 

For example, many skeptics have a difficult time believing the supernatural events of the Old Testament such as the creation of the first man and woman, Noah and the worldwide flood, or Jonah and the great fish. Jesus taught that such events were historically true (Matthew 12:39-41; 19:4-5; 24:37-38; Mark 10:6-7; Luke 11:29-32; 17:26-27).  Have them start with the Gospel of John which is written to non-Christians to tell them how to get to heaven (John 20:31). When they eventually believe in Christ for everlasting life (John 3:15-16), His Holy Spirit will help them understand and apply the Bible to their life (John 14:26; 16:7-14; I John 2:20-21, 27).

What happens when you believe in Jesus for everlasting life?

Every month thousands of Filipinos are coming to faith in Christ. What happens the moment you believe in Jesus for everlasting life?

1. God became your Father in Heaven and you became His child forever (John 1:12).

2. You were saved forever from Hell (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9).

3. Jesus gave you everlasting life which can never be lost (John 3:16; 10:28-29).

4. You are guaranteed never to be judged for your sins in the future (John 5:24).

5. Rivers of living water (the Holy Spirit) now flow out of your heart to be a blessing to others (John 7:38-39).

6. Jesus and God the Father now hold you in their hands and no one is strong enough to snatch you out of their hands (John 10:28-29).

7. You now have never ending life and are guaranteed a future resurrection when you will receive a glorified body that is free from sin and death (John 11:25-26; I Corinthians 15:35-57). 

8. God forgave all of your sins – past, present, and future sins (Acts 10:43; Colossians 2:13-14).

9. You were declared totally righteous before a holy God (Romans 3:22-26; 4:5).

10. You now have peace with God (Romans 5:1).

11. You are now under grace, not the Old Testament Law, so that you can trust Christ to give you victory over sin (Romans 6:14).

12. You are Christ’s bride, not His hostage (Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2). 

13. Jesus now lives inside of you through His Holy Spirit and He promises never to leave you (Romans 8:11; Hebrews 13:5).

14. Your physical body is now a temple of the Holy Spirit and is to be used to glorify God (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

15. God gave you one or more spiritual gifts to be used to serve Him and others in His body, the Church (Romans 12:4-8; I Corinthians 12:1-14:40; Ephesians 4:11-13; I Peter 4:7-11).

16. You were placed in the Body of Christ, the Church, by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13).

17. You have a new motivation to live for Christ now, not for yourself (2 Corinthians 5:15).

18. You have a new mindset now to see others as Christ see them – as people whom Jesus loves and wants to save (2 Corinthians 5:16; cf. I Timothy 2:3-5).

19. You have a new ministry now to preach the gospel of Christ to the lost so they can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

20. You are now an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

21. You were crucified with Christ so that He can live His life through you (Galatians 2:20).

22. You are now a “saint” (set apart from your sin and shame to serve God) at the core of your being, not a sinner (Ephesians 1:1; cf. Romans 1:7; 8:27; I Corinthians 1:2; 14:33; Ephesians 1:15; 3:8, 18; 4:12; 5:3, 6:18; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2; I Thessalonians 3:13).

23. You are totally accepted by God in Christ (Ephesians 1:6).

24. You were “redeemed” or “purchased” off the slave market of sin so that now you do not have to sin (Ephesians 1:7).

25. You were “sealed” by the Holy Spirit who will safely and securely deliver you to heaven when you die or when Jesus removes the church from the earth (Ephesians 1:13-14).

26. You are now the “inheritance” of God the Father (Ephesians 1:18).

27. You are seated next to the exalted Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenly places above all enemies of God, including the devil (Ephesians 1:20-21; 2:5-6).

28. You are now God’s masterpiece, not a mistake (Ephesians 2:10). 

29. You now have direct access to God’s throne of grace (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:15-16).

30. You are now a citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). 

31. You have been delivered from the power of darkness to one day reside in the future kingdom of God’s Son on earth (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 20:4-6).

32. You have been reconciled to God through Christ (Colossians 1:20).

33. You are now complete in Christ, lacking nothing before God (Colossians 2:9-10).

34. You have been made perfect forever in the sight of a holy God according to Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the Cross, not your own performance (Hebrews 10:14). 

How do you know when you have a true mission from God?

7And the Lord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows… 10Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’ ” Exodus 3, 7, 10 

While Moses is shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep in the back of the Midian desert at Mount Horeb, God gets Moses’ attention through a burning bush (3:1-2). Then God tells Moses that He has a mission for him: “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (3:10).

How do we know when we have a true mission from God? There are three marks of a true mission from God in these verses:

1. A TRUE MISSION FROM GOD IS PASSIONATE. When you want to know God’s mission for your life it is based on God’s love. It’s not motivated by more money, fame, or pleasure. A true mission from God is motivated by God’s love for other people. God told Moses, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows” (3:7). God’s love for His people motivated Him to send Moses to deliver them from their “oppression” and “sorrows.” When God gives you a mission it is going to involve caring about other people. It is passionate.  

2. A TRUE MISSION FROM GOD IS PERSONAL. God told Moses, “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh…” (3:10a). A true mission from God is specifically for you. God did not say “I hope somebody will go set them free.” He didn’t say “I’m sending a group.” He said, “I want you to go, Moses.” It is a personal mission.

3. A TRUE MISSION FROM GOD IS PRACTICAL. God said to Moses, “I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (3:10b). He said you are going to go set them free. You are going to relieve their suffering. A true mission from God benefits other people. 

That is what our ministry in the Philippines is all about. It is about being concerned about people not having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is being concerned about new believers growing in their relationship with Christ through discipleship.  

God’s mission is about hearing the needs of other people, and then saying let us do something about it. It is based on the love of God for others. What is God’s mission for your life? Based on Exodus 3:7 and 10, it is passionate, personal, and practical. Will you join God on His mission to reach a lost world with the gospel of grace (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 20:24)? He is waiting for you to respond.

God’s Only Plan to Reach the World

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He gave His followers His one and only plan to reach the world for God’s glory (Matthew 28:19-20). The central command is to “make disciples” of Christ. A “disciple” is a learner or pupil of Jesus Christ. Jesus gives us three steps to make a disciple. 

1. “Go.” Before we can make a disciple, we need first a believer in Jesus. Jesus commands us to “go” to “all the nations” (Matt. 28:19a), and as we go, we are to “preach the gospel” of His death and resurrection to a lost world (Mark 16:15; I Cor. 15:1-6) and invite our listeners to believe in Christ alone for His gift of salvation (John 3:16; Rom. 1:16). 

2. “Baptizing them…” After a person believes the gospel, we are to baptize him or her in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (28:19b). Water baptism initiates the new believer into the discipleship process and expresses their desire to follow Jesus and never turn back. 

3. “Teaching them…” Baptized believers are to be taught more than the commands of Christ. They are to be taught to “observe” or obey all of Christ’s commands (28:20a). God wants His disciples to be “doers of His word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). 

The command to “make disciples of all the nations” may seem overwhelming. However, as we go to make disciples, baptizing them and striving to teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded, we can go with confidence. We are assured of our ultimate success, because Christ now has “all authority” (28:18) and has promised to be with us in a special way (“lo, I am with you always”) to the end of the age if we obey Him (28:20b). This is referring to more than Jesus’ personal presence which is guaranteed for all believers (Heb. 13:5). Christ guarantees to back us up with everything we need to make disciples (i.e. boldness, people, protection, strength, resources, wisdom, etc.) as we learn to trust and obey Him.

Are Christians to baptize in the name of Jesus only?

Why are some believers baptized in the name of Jesus only in the book of Acts (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5) instead of “in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” as Christ commanded (Matt. 28:19)?

1.  Because the purpose of the Holy Spirit in coming to earth was to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-15). When Jesus Christ, the true God (I John 5:20) is glorified, so is God the Father because Jesus Christ is a perfect reflection of God the Father in human flesh (John 1:14, 18; 5:23-24; 10:30; 12:44-45; 14:7-13; 17:1-5, 21-22). To honor Jesus Christ also includes the Holy Spirit who is “one” with the Lord Jesus in essence and function (Ephes. 4:4-6). The three Persons of the Godhead (“Father…Son…Holy Spirit” – Matt. 28:19) operate in complete unity with one another. This is why Jesus commanded to baptize “in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” because God is one (Deut. 6:4), yet eternally exists in Three Persons (“Father…Son…Holy Spirit”). These three Persons of the Godhead are equal in every way, yet distinct in their tasks and relations to humanity (Ephes. 2:18; 2 Corinthians 13:14). This can be seen in Ephesian 1:3-14 regarding the role each Person of the Godhead had in our eternal salvation. For example:

a. God the Father planned our eternal salvation when He chose us before foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him to the praise of the glory of His grace (Ephes. 1:3-6).

b. God the Son provided for our eternal salvation through His death on the Cross (Ephes. 1:7-12).

c. God the Holy Spirit produced and protects our eternal salvation by sealing us the moment we hear and believe the gospel of truth (Ephes. 1:13-14). 

So when they baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus in the book of Acts they were “baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” who are one in essence and purpose. 

2. The phrase “in the name of the Lord Jesus” is not a reference to a baptismal formula, but is a reference to authority. This is like hearing someone say, “Stop in the name of the Law!” It means to stop by means of the authority of the Law.” To baptize “in the name” of Jesus means to baptize by means of Jesus’ authority (Matt. 28:18-19). We see this understanding in the book of Acts which emphasizes the authority of Jesus in the use of His name to…

a. Heal people (Acts 4:7-10).

b. Save people from hell (Acts 4:12; 16:31).

c. Teach and preach (Acts 4:17-18; 5:28, 40; 9:27-28).

d. Cast out demons (Acts 16:18).

So to baptize “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” means to baptize by means of the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ who represents “the name” of “the Father…Son…and Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). “The name” represents all of the divine attributes of the Person named. To be baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” is an expression of the sum total of God’s being which includes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because all three Persons of the Godhead are “one” with one another in essence and purpose (John 1:14, 18; 5:23-24; 10:30; 12:44-45; 14:7-13; 17:1-5, 21-22; I Cor. 12:3-7; Ephes. 1:3-14; 4:4-6).

One acts in the name of another only when his acts are authorized. So to baptize in the name of Jesus is to baptize in the manner that Jesus authorized. Those who baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit as authorized and commanded by the Lord Jesus (Matt. 28:19) are therefore, baptizing in the name of Jesus. Those who baptize in any other way do not, no matter what they may say.

Those who baptize in the name of Jesus only either fail to recognize or else simply ignore that vital and significant difference between the statements “in the name of Jesus” and “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” 

Evidence that baptizing “in the name of Jesus” only is not a baptismal formula is the fact that there are many variations among those biblical references in the book of Acts: 

Acts 2:38 – “Baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Acts 8:16 – “Baptized in the name of Christ Jesus.”

Acts 10:48 – “Baptized in the name of the Lord.”

Acts 19:5 – “Baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” 

If this is a baptismal formula, then which formula does one use? There are four different ways to do this. 

These variations are even more pronounced in the original Greek language of the New Testament:

Acts 2:38 – “Baptistheto…epi to anomati Jesou Christou.”

Acts 8:16 – “Bebaptismenoi…eis to onoma tou Christou Jesou.”

Acts 10:48 – “Baptisthenai en to onomati tou Kuriou.”

Acts 19:5 – “Ebaptisthesan eis to onoma tou kuriou Jesou.” 

Notice that there is no uniformity in the name of Jesus:

Acts 2:38 – “Jesus Christ”

Acts 8:16 – literally “The Christ Jesus”

Acts 10:48 – “The Lord”

Acts 19:5 – “The Lord Jesus”

There is also variation in the prepositions used to show the relation between the name and the act of baptism:

Acts 2:38 – epi to onomati Jesou Christou (literally “upon the name”)

Acts 8:16 – eis to onoma tou Christou Jesou (“into the name”)

Acts 10:48 – en to onomati tou Kuriou (“in the name”)

Acts 19:5 – eis to onoma tou Kuriou Jesou (“into the name”)

Because of the several differences among the references in Acts to baptism in Jesus name only, it is best not to see this as a baptismal formula. So the book of Acts does not change the baptismal formula. It simply clarifies Who authorized water baptism. 

Conclusion: Baptism in the name of Jesus only in the book of Acts (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5) means to baptize by means of the authority of Jesus (Matt. 28:18) and is done by saying what Jesus commanded us to say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19) because Jesus Christ is “one” in essence and purpose with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (John 1:14, 18; 5:23-24; 10:30; 12:44-45; 14:7-13; 17:1-5, 21-22; I Cor. 12:3-7; Ephes. 1:3-14; 4:4-6). The only baptismal formula commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ who has “all authority” in heaven and on earth, includes all three Persons of the Godhead (Matt. 28:18-19). To use a different formula than what Jesus commanded is an act of disobedience and dishonors the Lord Jesus Christ. 

God’s Grace in the Garden

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings… Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:7, 21

When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they tried to remedy their sense of fear and shame by covering themselves with “fig leaves” (3:7). But this covering did not remove the effects of their sin. Since that first attempt to remove the consequences of sin through human effort, people have been trying to remove their own guilt and shame through their own accomplishments. Various religions have been created by people trying to remedy their sin problem. But all man-made religions fall short of God’s solution to our sin problem. 

In Genesis 3:21, God graciously provided the proper covering for Adam and Eve. He “made tunics of skin” through the death of an innocent animal. Blood must be shed. Imagine how Adam must have felt to see one of the animals he had named and cared for being killed on his account! Never had Adam and Eve known death. This was serious business and this was to be God’s way of dealing with sin throughout the ages. By providing a covering with animal skins, God provided forgiveness through the “shedding of blood” (Hebrews 9:22). God later provided forgiveness through the Old Testament sacrificial system. 

Those animals were shadows of the Babe who was born on that first Christmas morning. He would be called “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). Like that first animal that was sacrificed for Adam and Eve, Jesus Christ would also be innocent and without sin because He was and is God (John 1:1, 14, 17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 3:18). And like that first sacrificial animal, Jesus was born to die for the sins of others (John 1:29; Romans 5:8; I John 4:9), that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Like Adam and Eve, our human efforts or works cannot remove our sin and shame (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9). Religion cannot take away our sins. Only Jesus Christ can take away our sins (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). This is called grace. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve. We do not deserve forgiveness or everlasting life. But because of God’s grace, He offers us His forgiveness and everlasting life freely. Will you trust in Him alone to do for you would you could never do on your own? He is waiting for you to come to Him in faith just as You are and then He will forgive all your sins and give you everlasting life (Acts 10:43; John 3:15-16). Praise God for His magnificent grace!

Multigenerational Vision for Discipleship

God wants every individual Christian and local church to have a multigenerational vision for discipleship as seen in 2 Timothy 2:2. The first generation in this verse is represented by the apostle Paul (“me”) who discipled Timothy (“you”) “among many witnesses” – a reference to the second generation of disciples. Timothy was to disciple the third generation consisting of “faithful men.” They are to be “faithful” so they can teach the fourth generation consisting of “others.” If they are not faithful, there will be no future disciples of Jesus Christ and the local church will become extinct. Like any living organism, the church will no longer exist if we do not reproduce (spiritually) through the discipleship process. 

While it is important to focus on the people we are currently preaching the gospel to and discipling, it is equally important to focus on the people they will witness to and train in discipleship, and the people they will witness to and train, and the people they will witness to and train (cf. John 17:20-26). Failure to have a multigenerational vision for discipleship is likely to result in a lack of intentionality, motivation, and strategy for making disciples of Jesus Christ in the future.