by Tad Lindley
Did you ever see an ircinrraq (known in other parts as leprechauns or gnomes)? There are two possible ways to answer that, “Yes”, or “No.” If you said, “Yes”, then you certainly believe in them. Some people who said, “No”, might still believe that they are real, but some might not believe it until they see it.
A friend sees a little person
Can I be honest? When I first heard about ircinrrat, I thought to myself, “Yeah, right! There’s no such thing.” Then later on a friend of mine told me about an encounter he had with an ircinrraq. Either he was lying, or I was completely wrong. Something broke within my pride. I had to admit, it would be pompous and condescending for me to tell him, “Look, I know I wasn’t there, but you didn’t see an ircinrraq.” I wasn’t there, how could I speak to the truth of it?
Now let’s suppose that I was arrogant enough to say, “No you didn’t. It was just your imagination.” And my friend said, “Well, ask Peter, he was there too. He also saw it.” The more witnesses there are the harder it becomes for me, a person who wasn’t there, to believe their reports. If you’re with me on that, write, “Amen.”
What Matthew saw
Almost 2,000 years ago now, a man named Matthew saw Jesus ascend up into heaven. He was there. Not only did he witness it, but he recorded these words spoken by the Lord before it happened, And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV). Many people call this statement, The Great Commission.
There were some others that also heard Jesus’ last words. Among them were Peter, John, and the other 8 disciples (Judas was dead). If anybody was able to correctly understand Jesus, it would have been those men and women who were standing around Jesus as he spoke? Do you agree with that?
Disciples obey the Great Commission
Within ten days of Jesus ascending into heaven, the disciples were in Jerusalem (including Matthew). The Holy Ghost was poured out, it was the Day of Pentecost. Peter (who had been there at the Great Commission) got up and preached. About 3,000 people indicated they wanted to be saved. They asked Peter what they should do. Here is his response: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Other cases of obedience
In fact look at Phillip in Samaria: They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:16 NKJV) How about this one, Peter at Cornelius’ house: So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:48 NIV) Even Paul in Ephesus: On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:5 NIV) Look at Ananias in Damascus: And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16 NKJV)
Did the disciples make a mistake?
Compare the underlined portion from Acts with the underlined portion in Matthew 28:19. Were the disciples wrong when they baptized people in Jesus name? A group of men 300 years later in the Roman city of Nicea decided that the disciples were wrong. At the Council of Nicea in 325AD decided that they had a better understanding of what Jesus said before he ascended into heaven than the eyewitnesses who were actually there! They literally changed the way baptisms happened so that Roman church had to baptize using the word for word translation, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” When the Roman church fractured to form the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches, they carried on with this belief. And as people like Martin Luther and Jan Hus left those churches, they carried it with them. If you’ve ever wondered why your church doesn’t baptize the way people in the Bible were baptized, that is why.
So who was right?
Who do you believe, a council of bishops 300 years after the fact, or the men that actually were eyewitnesses and earwitnesses? Although I was sprinkled with water as an infant while the pastor recited the words in Matthew 28:19, when I became a man and was studying the Bible with a hunger to be obedient to God, I decided, “You know what, Peter and the other disciples were there, if anybody knew what Jesus meant, it was them.” Who was I to say what they did or didn’t see and hear, and so I found a pastor that would baptize me in the Biblical fashion, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of my sins. Have you experienced Biblical baptism? If not, why not?
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.