Dear Esther :: May 9, 2016

Dear Esther,

I have two questions: The first one is this: How is someone supposed to be baptized? In the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit or in the name of Jesus Christ? And second, if you have wronged someone before you became a Christian do you have to tell that person and ask for forgiveness?

The person does not know that I made a mistake and I’m afraid I may be a stumbling block for her if I tell her. Do I just ask for the Lord to forgive me or do I also have to tell her and ask for her forgiveness?

I know that if she knew I had behaved wrongly that I would need to ask for forgiveness. But will bringing up my wrongdoing seven years later cause unnecessary problems?

Thank you ~ Chris

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Dear Chris,

I can sense your burdened heart. Let’s cover the baptismal question first. The Lord Jesus came right out and told us to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

The book of Acts shows us that new believers were baptized in the name of Jesus. Acts 2:38 gives us such an example. Baptizing has been done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and also in the name of Jesus.

Generally, Christians today are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Keep in mind that Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit, are One (John 10:30 and Acts 16:7). Since Jesus came right out and said we should be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that is what is done most often. But as the book of Acts shows us, baptism is also done in the name of Jesus.

The most important issue here is to realize that baptism is an outward symbolic recognition of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as our Lord and Savior, and that we are buried with Him through salvation in Christ; that we have a newness of life by which we now live.

Regarding confession, each sin is essentially committed against the Lord (Psalm 51:4). The Scriptures teach we need to confess our sins directly to Him (Psalm 41:4; 130:4. Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). The only straightforward command to confess to someone else is in the context of church leaders, elders when praying for those who are ill (James 5:16).

But that does not mean we should not ask for the forgiveness of others under certain circumstances. One-on-one confession is shown in Genesis 50:17-18 and a few other passages in the New Testament imply that we should do so.

But what about your situation; when a person who was wronged but does not know she has been wronged? Considering seven-years have passed concerning your personal transgression, does it make sense that you should dredge up old sins with every painful detail now?

We are all sinners and have wronged others, and God at some point in time. What would be the benefit to the relationship for you to you speak up now and bring up old sinful behavior?

It is best to confess your sins directly to the Lord and then walk in faith with Him and treat others with love and respect. It would not be a loving gesture to reach far into the past and rehash old issues. Every believer who reads this has at least one thing that he or she would like to change from the past—but regurgitating painful details could do more harm than good.

We must be wise when we make our decisions. We could all go on endlessly day after day reliving and confessing past sins to others, and that is not at all what we are to do as renewed creatures in Christ.

If the situation you are concerned about happened recently and it was a betrayal of some sort, then that would change things. Considering the circumstances it is best to rely on the Lord and let the distant past stay in the past. Person to person confession is implied in some passages but in this case it could be very problematic (Luke 17:3-4; Ephesians 4:32).

Considering the time lapse it would be best to confess your transgression wholeheartedly directly to the Lord with a repentant heart. He is the Holy Redeemer and through Him we are made righteous. Through our faithful commitment to Him we will live more fruitful lives and the chances of offending the Lord and others is significantly decreased.

I encourage you to seek God’s leading in making your decision—whether confession to others is appropriate in any given situation. The ultimate goal is to leave that sin behind at the cross and live your life in harmony with the will of God (1 Peter 4:2).

Chris, leave the past in the past and move forward as a strongly committed believer. The devil loves to remind us of our past mistakes to slow us down and discourage us—but as the Lord Jesus said on the Cross: “It is finished.”

In God’s love,

Esther

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-15).