Tag Archive | David A. Huston

God Manifested: In the Flame and in the Flesh

God Manifested: In the Flame and in the Flesh
by David A. Huston

This article is presented to show that the biblical God is the One who has
manifested Himself in the flesh.

AS MOSES WAS LEADING HIS FLOCK through the desert, he came to Horeb, the
mountain of God. The Bible tells us that the Angel of the LORD appeared to him
“in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush” (Exodus 3:2). Having noticed that
the bush was not being consumed by the fire, Moses turned to investigate. When
the Angel saw that he had turned aside to look, He called to Moses from the
midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” Then, after beckoning to Moses to
draw near, the One in the flame identified Himself saying, “I am the God of your
father” the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. “The Bible
says, “And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus
3:3-6).

We see in this passage a burning bush, a man named Moses, and God Himself,
speaking to Moses out of a flame in the midst of the bush. What exactly was this
flame of fire? It was certainly a supernatural phenomenon, since the bush burned
without being consumed. But it was more than a phenomenon. The flame was a
manifestation of God. How do we know this? Because the Bible says that Moses was
afraid to look, not upon the flame, but upon God; yet the flame was the only
thing visible in the bush.

There are many passages in the Bible that teach that God is invisible. John
1:17, 1 Timothy 1:17, and Hebrews 11:27 are a few. Yet, this passage says that
Moses, having realized who this was speaking to him, was afraid to look upon
God. This is because God has the ability to manifest Himself. In the Old
Testament, a manifestation of God was any kind of visible appearance of God,
often called by scholars a theophany. In this case, God appeared as a flame of
fire in the midst of a burning bush to speak to Moses. Jesus confirmed this when
He said, “Have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage,
how God spoke to him” (Mark 12:26). He did not say the flame spoke; He said God
did. What Moses saw was the flame; yet seeing the flame was considered to be
equal to looking upon God Himself.

This means that we could say that God was manifested in the flame. We could also
say that the flame was an image, a visible representation, of the invisible God.
Clearly, God was in the flame; therefore, to see the flame was to see God.
Since no one struck a match to ignite this fire, it is clear that the flame came
from God in the sense that God originated it. As the originator, God was the
father of the flame” He brought it forth. Yet, God and the flame were one. We can
make a distinction between them, but we cannot separate them into two. The flame
was the manifestation of the One who originated it.

The God who was in the flame was the same God Jesus referred to as His Father.
In John 17:3, Jesus identified His Father as “the only true God.” In 1
Corinthians 8:6, Paul affirmed that “for us there is one God, the Father.” And
in Jeremiah 10:10, the prophet declared, “The LORD is the true God.” The One in
the burning bush called Himself “The LORD God of your fathers”(Exodus 3:15). He
is therefore the true God, the only true God.

In the burning bush account, we see that there was but one mediator between God
and Moses: the flame. This means that to come to God, Moses had to come through
the flame. In this sense, to receive the flame was to receive the God who was in
the flame. Conversely, to deny (or reject) the flame was to not have the God who
was in the flame. In other words, to reject the manifestation of God was to
reject the God who was being manifested. Yet, when Moses believed in the flame,
he was in fact believing in the God who was in the flame.

When we discuss this story, we can speak of the flame, we can speak of God in
the flame, or we can speak of God apart from the flame. While at times it may be
important to make distinctions between God and His manifestation in the flame,
we should never think of the flame as an entity that is separate from God.
Neither should we think of it as a separate divine being from the God who
originated it. The fire was God, manifested in the flame.

From Flame to Flesh

In 1 Timothy 3:16, Paul wrote, “And without controversy great is the mystery of
godliness: God was manifested in the flesh….” The word “flesh” means humanity,
or specifically a human being. In the encounter with Moses, God was manifested
in the flame, but when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, God was manifested in
a human being. The same God, only a different manifestation.

When the Spirit gave Peter the revelation, He confessed this Man as “the Christ,
the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Paul described Him as “the image of
the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Just as the flame was a visible image of
the invisible Deity in the Old Testament, in the New Testament the only-begotten
Son was the image. In 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Paul wrote, “All things are of God,
who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ [just as God brought Moses
to Himself through the flame], and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
that is, that God was in Christ [just as God was in the flame] reconciling the
world to Himself….”

Moses beheld a fiery image in a bush; the apostles beheld a human image on a
cross. This is why Jesus said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the
Father…” (John 14:9). The flame could have said the same thing to Moses, since
he who was seeing the flame was seeing the Father.

In John 8:42 Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I
proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.”
The Man, Jesus, had His origin God. It was God who conceived the idea of
manifesting Himself in the flesh and then brought forth the conception in the
womb of Mary (1 Peter 1:19-20; Luke 1:35). Yet in John 10:30 Jesus stated, “I
and My Father are one,” just as the flame and the God in the flame were one.

The Bible goes on to say, “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.
Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which
of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work
we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make
Yourself God” (John 10:31-33). Of course, the flame had not made itself God;
God had made Himself a flame. Likewise with Jesus, God had made Himself a Man.
In 1 Timothy 2:5 Paul wrote, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God
and men, the Man Christ Jesus….” Moses came to God through the flame; in the
same way Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is the Man, Christ Jesus, who is the
Mediator between God and man. As Peter wrote, “For Christ also suffered once for
sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Yet, the Man is God Himself manifested in flesh, which means that God is His own
Mediator. He did not assign this role to another, but took it upon Himself. For
God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself “not to another but to
Himself.

In John 13:20 Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives
whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

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Seeing the Invisible God

Seeing the Invisible God
A Brief Explanation of the Incarnation
By David A. Huston

This paper was written as a response to those who say that the Father and Jesus are two distinct divine beings or persons.

In The Midst Of His Trial, suffering Job declared, This I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:26).

But surely Job was mistaken. Doesn’t the Bible teach that the Eternal God is invisible to mortal man? Didn’t John plainly state, No one has seen God at any time (1 John 4:12)? According to the Bible, the reason God cannot be seen is because God is Spirit (John 4:24). And as Jesus Himself said, A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have (Luke 24:39).

There is nothing about the Divine Spirit that is visible to the eyes of man. This is why Paul declares: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen (1 Timothy 1:17). Clearly the one true and living God described in the Bible is a Spirit which cannot be seen.

Having established this truth, we must now consider what the Bible also says. Jesus Himself made the statement, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). If you are wondering how both of these declarations can be true, how God can be simultaneously visible and invisible, then you must understand that the explanation can only be found by examining the Scriptures. In his letter to the Romans, Paul has provided the key to reconciling these two seemingly contradictory ideas. The apostle writes, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead (Romans 1:20).

In other words, Paul says that even though God cannot be seen through direct observation, He can be seen, even clearly seen, by that which He has made. This is because by faith we understand that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:3). That is to say, when God brought the material world into existence, that which could not be seen became visible. What then has God made that makes it possible for us to see His invisible Spirit, His eternal power and Godhead?

The answer is, His Son. You see, nearly two thousand years ago an angel appeared to a young maiden in Israel and told her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). The reason this Child was to be called the Son of God was because His fathering was being done by the Holy Spirit, which is the manifested presence of the same God Jesus referred to as His Father.

This Son to be born was the One spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, who declared, Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). This word Immanuel is translated God with us (Matthew 1:23). The prophet also foretold, For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). How was it that the Son, this Child who was to be born of a virgin, could be called Mighty God and Everlasting Father? It was because the invisible God had determined to make Himself visible so that we, along with Job, could see Him.

The Incarnation

What we now call the Incarnation (the taking on of human flesh) did not actually occur until over seven hundred years after the prophecies of Isaiah had been published. But finally, when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman…(Galatians 4:4).

This One who was sent forth by God was the Child who was born, the Man we know
as Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As the Son, He was made like all the descendants of Adam of the dust of the earth. He was part of the things that were made. Yet in Him the invisible God could be clearly seen, for Paul writes, Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). The Amplified Bible says that God was made visible in human flesh. This is the Incarnation.

The reason God can be clearly seen in this Man named Jesus is because in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). What’s more, He is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3), the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). An image is something that can be seen, either in the mind’s eye as a mental image or through physical eyes as a material image.

Idolaters of every generation have been proficient at making images out of wood and stone to represent the gods they have vainly imagined in their minds. But the invisible God has no such image, for we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising (Acts 17:29). No, the true God has a living image, one fearfully and wonderfully made in the womb of a woman by divine hands. This image is the Man called by Peter the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16).

Not only does this Man reveal God in a visible form, but He also serves as the Mediator between the invisible Holy God and sinful humanity, for Paul has also written, There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6). In Him we can find peace with God, for God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them (2 Corinthians 5:19). And you, Paul proclaims, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight (Colossians 1:21-22).

The Plan Fulfilled

Some have mistakenly suggested that prior to His birth, the Son of God existed as a separate Divine Being along with the invisible God. But this idea finds no support in the Scriptures, for the Bible teaches that the Son preexisted His birth only in prophetic anticipation; that is, the Bible tells us that even before He laid the foundations of the world, God planned that He would one day walk the earth as a Man, the Son, and would sacrifice His own body and shed His own blood for the sins of man (Acts 20:28). He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1 Peter 1:20).

This plan, which the Bible calls the Word, was in God’s heart and mind from the beginning, for in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). The Word was God’s own image of Himself; it was His plan for revealing Himself to His creation. He thought this plan out in advance. He purposed it in His heart. He anticipated it. He could foresee it happening. Then, when the time was right, He put His plan into action.

As He declared in days of old, Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it (Isaiah 46:11). The Eternal Spirit, the unique Divine Being who created all things, the invisible God we call the Father, entered into His own creation as a visible human being. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him (John 1:10-11). Very few were able to see the God who dwelled in the Man, Jesus Christ. When Philip asked, Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us, Jesus answered, Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9). The only way anyone will ever see God the Father is by seeing the Man.

According to John, No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who
is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18). The Amplified
Bible says that the Son has brought Him out where He can be seen. It is the
Son, the Man, who enables us to see the invisible God. Whoever denies the Son
does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father
also (1 John 2:23).

Understanding the relationship between the Father and the Son, that is, between the invisible Spirit and the visible Man, is the key to developing keen spiritual eyesight. The Father and the Son are not two distinct Divine Beings at all, for the Bible states plainly that “GOD IS ONE” (Galatians 3:20). The Eternal Spirit is a single Divine Being who indwells and manifests Himself through a uniquely conceived human being called the Son. We see here two distinct natures, one human and one divine, but not two distinct Divine Beings. If you can grasp this marvelous truth, you will ultimately be able to rightly divide the entire Word of God.

Eyes of Faith
The Bible suggests that Moses grasped this truth even though during His lifetime the Son had not as yet been born. The Bible says, By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). What was it that enabled Moses to see the invisible God? The Bible teaches that it was His faith, for faith is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Moses acted upon what he believed to be true. When God instructed him to do something, Moses did it. When God told him to slay a lamb for the Passover, by the hand of Moses the lamb was slain.

Perhaps Moses was able to see in that sacrificial lamb a faint glimmer of the glorious plan that God had yet to bring forth. Perhaps he realized that this lamb was but the shadow of better things to come, Jesus Christ Himself being the very substance; for when Jesus presented Himself to Israel, John the Baptist declared, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29). And after His death and resurrection, Paul wrote, Indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). And in the Revelation, John describes Christ as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Obviously Christ was not literally slain until He died on Calvary, but in the heart of God He had been slain since the worlds were created because that was the plan.

Those of us alive today, though we may have a burning desire to feast our eyes upon Him, have not been granted the same privilege granted the disciples. We have not actually seen Jesus in the flesh. Though John, looking back, could describe Him as the One which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon (1 John 1:1), we can see Him only through eyes of faith, as we look ahead in eager anticipation of the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). On that day, like John, we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

But before that day arrives, we must endeavor to behold our invisible God in His Word, for the Bible says, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). This flesh, which the apostle goes on to describe as the only begotten of the Father, is clearly referring to the Son, the Word of God incarnate. Today, though the Son of God is no longer with us in the flesh, the Bible says that God has in due time manifested His Word through preaching (Titus 1:3). In other words, though we may not have the Son to feast our eyes upon, we do have a bountiful banquet of the Word set before us. To see the Son and thereby see the invisible God, we must endeavor to hear and receive the truths of God’s Word with a pure heart, ready and eager to do the will of God. By acting on what we hear and believe, we too will be able to see the same God the disciples saw, albeit through spiritual eyes.
But which is really more important: that we see God through natural eyes or that we see Him through eyes of faith? There were many who saw Jesus in the flesh yet did not acknowledge Him as God. They were the ones of whom He said, Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive
(Matthew 13:14). But to those who did acknowledge Him He said, Blessed are your eyes for they see…for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous
men desired to see what you see, and did not see it (vv.16-17). The truly important thing is that we acknowledge the Man, Jesus, as the invisible God who has become manifest in the flesh that we may see Him.

In spite of what we might sometimes think, the disciples who saw Jesus in the flesh were not more blessed than we are, even though the best we can do is strive to see Him through the eyes of our understanding; for Jesus told Thomas, Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29). Paul declared that as New Testament believers, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). This, he explained, is because we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The people in ancient Israel saw Jesus in the flesh only temporarily, but if our faith is genuine and our spiritual eyesight clear, we shall see Him both now and for eternity. We are therefore exhorted to run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus began our faith and we must look to Him to complete it. There ought to be something deep within every one of us that cries out like Job, In my flesh I shall see God. How my heart yearns within me! The Bible assures us that to those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation (Hebrews 9:28).

Dear reader, I pray that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:7-9).

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Note to the reader:
If you would like to comment on the contents of this paper, please contact us through our website at www.GloriousChurch.com. We welcome and appreciate all honest comments, questions, and criticisms.
Copyright 2003 David Huston
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or author; EXCEPT THAT PERMISSION IS GRANTED to reprint all or part of this document for personal study and research provided that reprints are not offered for sale.
All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN, unless otherwise indicated.
Published by
Rosh Pinnah Publications
PO Box 337, Carlisle, PA 17013 717-249-2059

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Questions and Answers about The Doctrine of the Oneness of God

Questions and Answers about The Doctrine of the Oneness of God
by David A. Huston

This paper is presented as a response to those who believe that God is either
two or three divine persons or beings.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

The Bible teaches plainly and without ambiguity that God is one! It never says that God is two or three or any other number. It simply says that God is one! Yet many believers today have been taught that God is not one. They have learned that God is two, which is called Arianism or binitarianism. Or that God is three, which is called trinitarianism.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia states, When one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma one God in three Persons became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought. The formula itself does not reflect the immediate consciousness of the period of origins; it was the product of three centuries of doctrinal development (Vol.XIV, p.295).

If the doctrine of the trinity was not in the immediate consciousness of either Jesus or His apostles, then what doctrine did they teach? The answer is, they taught they same doctrine Moses taught: that God is one! In Mark 12:29, Jesus said, The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

Yet in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 Paul wrote, For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.If God is one, then why does Paul make this distinction between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? This sounds like at least two.

What we are talking about here is how we are to describe God and how to understand Jesus. But because of verses such as this one, many people have a difficult time understanding the Bible teachings about God and Jesus. So, in an attempt to be better able to describe God, let’s look at some of the questions people have asked concerning the teaching that God is one!

In the Old Testament:

1. Isn’t the Hebrew word for God is plural?
The Hebrew Word translated God throughout the Old Testament is the word Elohim. This word appears 2570 times. Some have said that because this word is a plural noun, it indicates that God is a plural being, that He is one God, yet simultaneously three distinct divine persons the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…the trinity. But in Hebrew, plurality not only indicates more than one, it also indicate bigness or greatness or vastness. For example, the word mayim meaning water is also a plural form. So is shamayim meaning heaven. Heaven is big!

Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning God created….The verb created is in the singular form, proving that Elohim is intended to be taken as a singular noun. When Elohim was first translated into Greek by Jewish scholars, they selected the word Theos, which is a singular noun. They never used Theoi, the plural form, which is translated gods. To say that the fact that Elohim is plural proves that God is a plural being is to read into this word a meaning that simply isn’t there.

Galatians 3:20 says, Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one [Theos eis esti]. James 2:19 says, You believe that there is one God [Theos eis esti]. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble! Even the demons know that God is ONE!

2. What about, Let us make man in our image…?
Genesis 1:26 says, Then God (Elohim) said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…What did God mean when He said Us? Some say this was the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit speaking together as one God. But Job 38:4-7 tells us, Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

In the OT the term sons of God always refers to angels. Throughout the life of Jesus we see angels in action at His birth, in the wilderness, at Gethsemane, at the resurrection and the ascension. Throughout the book of Acts we also see angels involved with the people of God. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are sent to minister to the heirs of salvation. Clearly angels are involved in the ongoing process of making man into the image of God. Similar language is found in Genesis 11:7 and Isaiah 6 where God is clearly speaking to angels.

Genesis 1:27 says, So God [Elohim] created man in His own image…Through the new birth each of us can be made into the image of God; yet none of us have plural identities or personalities. Each of us is only ONE PERSON! Genesis 3:22 says, Then the LORD God said, Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. 2 Samuel 14:17 says, The word of my lord the king will now be comforting; for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king in discerning good and evil. Is it really so unreasonable to believe that the Creator spoke with angels?

3. Isn’t Jesus the wisdom of Proverbs 8?

Proverbs 8:1 says, Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her
voice? Proverbs 8:22-23 says, The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His
way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the
beginning, before there was ever an earth.

And Proverbs 8:29-31 says, When He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.

The idea that the wisdom being spoken of in this passage is a second divine person was first suggested by a Jewish philosopher named Philo who lived at the time of Christ. Philo tried to explain the Old Testament using the philosophical ideas of Plato. His ideas about the wisdom of Proverbs was later picked up by so-called Christian philosophers, who identified this wisdom with the Son of God. But notice what the Bible says, Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? Throughout the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman. The wisdom of God is the wise woman. The wisdom of the world is the deceitful, lustful woman. To say that the wise woman of Proverbs is the pre-existent second person of the trinity is to read into the Scripture what is clearly not there.

In the New Testament

1. What about the baptism of Jesus?

Matthew 3:16-17 says, When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Here we see the man, Jesus, standing in the baptismal waters of the Jordan river, the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and a voice speaking from heaven. Is this a portrait of the trinity, three distinct divine persons in one God? If it is not, then how are we to understand this scene?

To understand it correctly, we must remember that Jesus did not cease being the omnipresent God when He took on flesh. The entire time He walked the earth as man, He simultaneously ruled the universe as God. Even though the fullness of God’s character and moral attributes dwelled bodily in Christ, the fullness of His Spirit was not so confined. God was in Christ; yet God was also everywhere else!

Understanding this, it is easy to see that the omnipresent Spirit of God spoke from heaven and sent a manifestation of Himself in the form of a dove, even as His human body stood in the muddy waters of the Jordan river. What then was the purpose of these manifestations? In John 1:31, John the Baptist said that he came baptizing to reveal the Messiah to Israel. In other words, the purpose of the baptism of Jesus was to serve as the starting point of His ministry and the public declaration of His Messiahship to the people of Israel. John 1:32-34 states that the dove was to be a sign to John. Since Isaiah 40:3 said that John would be the forerunner of Jehovah (the LORD), John needed to know that Jesus was indeed Jehovah come in the flesh.

John knew it would be the one the Spirit descended upon, but you can’t see a Spirit; therefore, God sent this special manifestation in the likeness of a dove. Furthermore, the descent of the Spirit was a type of anointing. Jesus had come to fulfill the roles of prophet, priest, and king, so He had to be anointed into those roles. But since Jesus was a sinless man and was God Himself, being anointed by a sinful man with symbolic oil was not enough. Instead, Jesus was anointed directly by the Spirit of God.

The voice from heaven was for the benefit of the people. A similar incident took place in John 12:28-30. This manifestation of a voice served as a divine introduction of Jesus to Israel as the Son of God and their Messiah. Since there were many people present at the baptismal site, the Spirit singled out the man Jesus and identified Him by the voice. This was certainly much more effective that if Jesus had simply announced Himself as a man.

2. If Jesus was God, why did He have to pray?

Hebrews 5:7 says that Jesus prayed in the days of His flesh. Psalms 65:2 says,
O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come. When Jesus prayed, it was not one divine person praying to another; it was flesh praying to Spirit, humanity praying to Deity, Son praying to Father, man praying to God. Why would one diving person need to pray to another? If that were what was happening, then we would have to say that the second divine person was inferior to the first divine person. That would mean that they are not coequal. But when we understand that God was manifest in the flesh, then we realize that while He was in the days of His flesh, Jesus had to do what all flesh must do: pray to the One who hears prayer. Furthermore, He was being an example to us in how we ought to live for God.

3. Didn’t God forsake Jesus on the cross?

MATTHEW 27:46 SAYS, And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loudvoice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

What was happening here? Was the first person of the trinity forsaking the second person in the midst of His greatest trial? No! This passage cannot be describing an actual separation between the Father and the Son, because the Son IS the Father manifested in the flesh. Jesus Himself said, I and my Father are one (John 10:30). Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 5:19 says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. It never states that God left Christ on the cross. What then does the cry of Jesus mean? It does not mean that the Spirit of God departed from Christ’s body, only that it provided no help to the body. In other words, the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh does not mean that His flesh didn’t feel the pain of the nails just as our flesh would. There was no lessening of the physical pain by the Spirit.

Hebrews 9:14 says that Christ offered Himself to God through the eternal Spirit. If the Spirit had left Him on the cross He would have ceased to be the Christ the Anointed One.

The Spirit was with Christ throughout the ordeal. Jesus was not literally God-forsaken, but He did feel God-forsaken. Remember, He was bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. He felt what it feels like to be a sinner. He felt the fiery pain of the nails. He felt the humiliating sting of the insults. He felt the awful horror of divine judgment.

In addition, Jesus was pointing the people to Psalms 22, a riveting first-person account of the agony of the crucifixion, which begins, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? It goes on to say, I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me (Psalms 22:1, 14-17).

When did the Spirit actually depart from the body? Matthew 27:50 says, And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. The Spirit departed when Jesus died.

4. What about the stoning of Stephen?

When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! (Acts 7:54-56).

What did Stephen actually see? The Bible says he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. How did he describe what he saw? He said, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! The glory of God seems to be equal to the heavens opened.

We see something similar when a short time later Paul saw Jesus. The Bible says, As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? And he said, Who are You, Lord? Then the Lord said, I am Jesus….(Acts 9:3-5).

Later on Paul said, I could not see for the glory of that light (Acts 22:11). So the light from heaven is the glory of God. Stephen saw heaven opened and a glorious light shining forth. And He saw Jesus, the Son of Man, (ben Adam) standing at the right hand of God. Did Stephen see two distinct divine persons?

Did he see the man Jesus and a large hand belonging to God? Does God actually have a literal right hand? Didn’t Jesus say, God is a Spirit (John 4:24)? Does a Spirit have a literal hand? What does the Bible means when it speaks of the right hand of God?

Exodus15:6-7 says, Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces. And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You….

Psalms 20:6 says, Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.

Psalms 89:13 says, You have a mighty arm; strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand. The right hand of God is an Hebraic figure of speech referring to the power and strength of the Almighty God.

In Matthew 26:64, Jesus said, Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. Mark 16:19-20 says, So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.

After His resurrection and ascension into heaven, the man Jesus took up His seat upon the throne of heaven. No longer is He acting in His role of the suffering Savior, now He is acting in His role as the Lord God Almighty.

Hebrews 1:2 says, When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…..Hebrews 8:1 says, We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens…..And Hebrews 10:12 says, But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…

1 Peter 3:22 says of Jesus, Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. What Stephen actually saw was the man Jesus who had ascended into heaven standing in the place of divine power and glory. He did not see two distinct divine persons. Acts 7:57-59 says, Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

What name did Stephen use when He called upon God? He said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. What was the answer Paul received when He asked, Who are You,
Lord? Then the Lord said, I am Jesus….

5. What about the Advocate in 1 John 2:1?

1 JOHN 2:1-2 SAYS, My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. What do we see in this passage? Do we see one divine person continuously pleading with another divine person to grant us forgiveness when we sin? Didn’t Jesus say, The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6)?

Why would He need to be continuously pleading with the Father to forgive us?

1 Timothy 2:5 says, For there is one God and one Mediator between God andmen, the Man Christ Jesus….What we actually see in 1 John 2 is the role of the man, Christ Jesus, who has once for all time become the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

The word propitiation means the place where mercy can be found. When we have sinned, Jesus is the place where we can find mercy. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Our High Priest, our Mediator, is the One who sits on the throne of grace. When we come to Jesus for forgiveness, we have come to the Father.

Hebrews 7:25-27 says, Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

During the days of the tabernacle, the high priest had to continually intercede for the people by offering up sacrifices for their sins. But Jesus has interceded once for all when He offered up Himself.

Hebrews 10:11-14 says, And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

The advocacy of Jesus Christ took place in the days of His flesh when He hung on Calvary’s cross and shed His own blood for the forgiveness of our sins. There are not two divine persons in this passage, but one God who has come in the flesh to save us from our sins.

5. What about Matthew 28:19?

MATTHEW 28:18-20 READS, 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. What name did Jesus have in view? Did He tell His apostles that He possessed all authority in heaven and on earth, therefore, go baptize in my name plus two others? As a companion passage, Mark 16:15-17 says, And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues…..

Moreover, Luke 24:46-47 says, Then He said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

How did the apostles understand Jesus instruction about baptism? Speaking to a crowd immediately after the resurrection of Christ, Peter told the people, 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).

Jesus was not giving His apostles a baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19, He was giving them a revelation. They knew that the name of the Son was Jesus. But Jesus wanted them to understand that Jesus was also the name of the Father, for Jesus said in John 5:43, I have come in My Father’s name….In John 17:6 He said to the Father, I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me….What is the only name Jesus manifested? The name Jesus!

The name of the Father is Jesus. Why? Because the Father and the Son are not two distinct divine persons. The Son IS the Father manifested in the flesh. In John 14:9, Jesus said, He who has seen Me has seen the Father….So how could the Father have a name different from the Son?

But what about the name of the Holy Spirit? John 14:26 says, The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things….The Holy Spirit is not a third divine person distinct from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is the Father’s Spirit. He is the Spirit of God.

John 4:24 says that God is a Spirit. 1 Peter 1:16 says that God is holy. Therefore, God is the Holy Spirit. In Philippians 1:19 He is called the Spirit of Jesus Christ….The spirit of a man doesn’t have a name different from the man. Therefore, the name of the Holy Spirit is Jesus. So when Jesus told His apostles to baptize in the (one) name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He
was telling them to baptize in the name of Jesus!

Concerning the name that is to be used in water baptism, consider the following references:

Hastings Dictionary of the Bible

It must be acknowledged that the threefold name of Matthew 28:19 does not appear to have been used by the primitive church, but rather in the name of Jesus (p.83).

Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (1951)

The formula used was in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ or some synonymous phrase; there is no evidence for the use of the trine[threefold] name…The earliest form, represented in Acts, was simple immersion…in water, the use of the name of the Lord, and the laying on of hands (Vol.2, p.384).

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Unlike John’s baptism, Christian baptism was from the first administered in the name of Jesus. It is clear that, from the first, baptism in the name of Jesus functioned as the rite of entry or initiation into the new sect of those who called upon the name of Jesus(p.173)

Canney’s Encyclopedia of Religions (1970)

Persons were baptized first in the name of Jesus Christ…or in the name of the Lord Jesus….Afterwards, with the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, they were baptized ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (p.53).

Encyclopedia Biblica (1899)

It is natural to conclude that baptism was administered in the earliest times in thename of Jesus Christ, or in that of the Lord Jesus. This view is confirmed by the fact that the earliest forms of baptismal confession appear to have been single not triple, as was the later creed (Vol.1, p.473).

The New Catholic Encyclopedia

There is the difficulty that although Matthew 28:19 speaks of the Trinitarian formula, which is now used, the Acts of the Apostles and Paul speak only of Baptism in the name of Jesus. An explicit reference to the Trinitarian formula of Baptism cannot be found in the first centuries (Vol. 2, p.59).
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1957)

The New Testament knows only baptism in the name of Jesus…(Vol.1, p.435).

Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed. (1910)

The Trinitarian formula and trine immersion were not uniformly used from the
beginning…Bapti[sm] into the name of the Lord [was] the normal formula of
the New Testament” (Vol.2, p.365).

Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion

[In Christian baptism there was an] identification between the baptized and Him in whose name baptism took place. The one became thereby the personal property of the other, as part of the people of peculiar possession (Vol.2, p.377).

6. What about the salutations?

Paul Introduced His Letter to the Romans with these words, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:7). By referring to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the writers of the New Testament were not teaching that God is more than one divine being. What they were doing was emphasizing the two primary roles of God in salvation and the importance of accepting Him in both roles. We must not only believe in God as Creator and Father, but we must also believe in Him as the one who was manifested in the flesh as Jesus the Messiah.

The salutations not only emphasize belief in God, which the Jews and many pagans accepted, but also in God as revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ. In John 14:1, Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me [the manifestation of God in the flesh]. In John 14:6 He said, No one comes  to the Father except through Me [the manifestation of the Father]. 1 John 2:22-23 says, Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. To deny that Jesus is the Christ is to deny both the Father and the Son. We must believe in one God, who is Creator, Father, and Eternal Spirit…AND, we must believe that He has come in the flesh as the Son, the man Jesus Christ. What does the Bible mean when it speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

The Father, Son, And Holy Spirit are not three divine persons in one God; they are three descriptive titles of God that show us how God has brought us
salvation. First of all, we know that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). And, as Jesus said, A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have (Luke 24:39). As Spirit, God is said to be invisible. John 1:18 says that No one has seen God at any time. As Spirit, God is said to be eternal. Hebrews 9:14 speaks of the eternal Spirit. So as Spirit, God has no flesh and bones, cannot be seen, and cannot die.

But after man sinned, it became necessary that a proper blood sacrifice be offered as an atonement for sin. This is called salvation. Ezekiel 22:30 says, So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Isaiah 63:5 says, I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me….

There was no man who could qualify as a sufficient sacrifice, for all had sinned and come short of the glory of God. So God’s own arm brought salvation. In other words, God did it Himself. He became the sacrifice. But to do this He had to become man, since as Spirit He had no blood and He couldn’t die. This is the essence of God’s plan for man from eternity.

John 1:1says, In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word [logos] was with God, and the Word [logos] was God. The word logos can have two meanings which are different yet closely related. It can mean a thought or idea, but it can also mean the expression of a thought or idea.

The Greeks used the term Interior Logos, which means an idea, a concept, a mental image, and the term Exterior Logos, which refers to the expression or  actualization of an idea or concept. In the Bible, the Logos was God’s plan. In the beginning was the Plan, and the Plan was with God [in His mind], and the Plan was God [that He would make Himself known].

What did God plan? 1 Peter 1:18-21describes His plan this way: Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world [Interior Logos], but was manifest [Exterior Logos] in these last times for you.

God foreordained [planned in advance] the shedding of Christ’s blood before the beginning. In other words, He planned to come into His creation as a man and shed His own blood. This is how Paul can say in Acts 20:28 that God purchased the Church with His own blood.

Galatians 4:4-5 says, But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. At the exact time He planned, the Son came forth. Ephesians 1:3-4 tells us that God chose us in Christ before the beginning. Romans 8:29-30 tells us that God foresaw the whole company of believers in Him. 2 Timothy 1:8-10 reveals that God gave us grace before the beginning. Titus 1:1-3 says that God promised us eternal life before the beginning. And John 17:5,24 tells us that God loved His plan before the beginning.

Nothing is more important to God than the accomplishment of His plan. So in the beginning God had a plan. And that plan was with God. It was in His heart. It was in His mind. He was thinking about it, considering it, envisaging it. And that plan was God. The plan was that God would reveal Himself to man that the invisible God would make Himself known, that the Interior Logos would be transformed into Exterior Logos. The interior is the mystery concealed. The exterior is the mystery revealed. Therefore John 1:14 says, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

According to 1 Timothy 3:16, the mystery is that God [the invisible Father of the Christ] was manifested [rendered visible] in the flesh [not just in a body, but in a human being]. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, God [the invisible Father of Christ] was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. God’s own image of Himself became flesh and bone and dwelt among us. We call this the Incarnation.  This is Jesus of Nazareth, the uniquely begotten Son of God.

This is why the Son is called the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). He is that aspect of God, which can be seen. So we can see that to bring us salvation, there had to be a Son. The term Son always relates to the Incarnation. It always refers to one who was born. Speaking as the Son, Jesus never said, I am the Father. Why? It’s because He was more than the Father. He was the Father in the Son. He was God manifested in the flesh.

Who was the Father of the Son of God? Luke 1:35 says, And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One [holy thing] who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Matthew 1:20 says, That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of God brought forth the conception of the Son in Mary, God became the literal Father of Christ.

The Three Terms, Not Three Persons

Father is a term of relationship. When we speak of God as the Father, we are speaking to Him in terms of our relationship to Him as His born again children. When we pray, we may speak to God as our Father. But we wouldn’t usually say, The Father is really moving in this service. Or, He was filled with the Father. Instead we would say, The Spirit is moving. Or, He was filled with the Spirit.

The Spirit is not a third divine person, distinct from the Father and the Son.
The Spirit is God is action. Think of these terms this way:

The Father is God in relationship.
The Son is God in flesh
The Holy Spirit is God is spiritual action.

As Father, God is the One who gives anointing. As Son, God is the Anointed One, the Christ. As Spirit, God is the anointing. These are not three distinct divine  persons; they are simply three descriptive titles showing us the way God works in our lives to bring salvation.

For salvation to come to man, there had to be a sinless man for the sacrifice.
For the Son to be a genuine man, He had to be born of a woman. But for the Son
to be sinless man, He had to be conceived by God. Therefore, to bring salvation
God had to become the Father. But once the Son had died and been raised, God had
to begin operating in the world as Spirit. Therefore, to bring salvation the Spirit had begin moving, just as it did when God brought order to His creation in Genesis 1:2.

As the Spirit, God is able to be all places at the same time. 1 Corinthians 15:45 says, “And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” It is perfectly correct to say that Jesus is the Spirit, Jesus is the Son, or that Jesus is the Father. As Acts 4:12 affirms, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

When a person is filled with the Spirit, who comes to dwell within him? 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Do you not know  yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” And Ephesians 4:6 says, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Are there three divine persons living in us? No. Jesus is in us by His Spirit. God is not three distinct divine persons. Neither does He have three identities, three personalities, or three centers of consciousness. God is not three at all, GOD IS ONE!

The doctrine of the trinity was developed by philosophers attempting to explain the God of the Bible using the ideas of Greek philosophy. But in Colossians 2:8-9 Paul warns, Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty  deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of  the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of  the Godhead bodily….

Making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him…. Ephesians 1:16-17

Note to the reader:
If you would like to comment on the contents of this paper, please contact us through our website at www.GloriousChurch.com. We welcome and appreciate all honest comments, questions, and criticisms.
Copyright 2003 David Huston
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or author; EXCEPT THAT PERMISSION IS GRANTED to reprint all or part of this document for personal study and research provided that reprints are not offered for sale.
All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible,
copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN, unless otherwise
indicated.
Published by
Rosh Pinnah Publications
PO Box 337, Carlisle, PA 17013 717-249-2059

 

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, AIS File Library0 Comments

The Water and the Tree

The Water and the Tree
A look at the connection between the humanity of Jesus and water baptism
by David A. Huston

This paper was written as a response to two groups: the first is those who say that water baptism is not part of New Testament salvation, and the second is those who say that Jesus Christ had divine flesh.

THREE DAYS AFTER THE ISRAELITE’S passed through the waters of the Red Sea, they came to a place called Marah. But they could not drink the water there because it was bitter. When the people complained to Moses, the Lord showed him a tree, which he cast into the waters and the waters were instantly made sweet.

The tree of Marah points directly to the cross of Jesus Christ, for the New Testament describes Jesus as having borne our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). Moreover, it is the cross that transforms the bitterness of life into sweetness. As Paul declared, the message of the cross is the power of God to those who are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). But just as the tree of Marah had no power at all until Moses cast it into the water, the cross of Jesus has no power until it is applied to a person’s life.

The Mediator

The Bible tells us that ever since the rebellion of Adam and Eve, all human beings have been born outside of Paradise. Because of this, we are all acquainted with the bitterness of life, though to differing degrees. But the Man Christ Jesus has the power to transform every bitter life into sweetness by bringing us to God, having died for our sins to remove them as a barrier between us and our Creator.

The power of God is delivered to us through mediation, for the Bible tells us that there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time… (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus has done His part by giving Himself on the cross as our ransom, but we must do our part by testifying about it. This testimony is what Paul referred to as the gospel or the message of the cross. But for the power of this message to be released, it must be declared, received, and believed on an individual basis, for the gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

The message of the cross is the testimony of all that Jesus accomplished for the redemption of man, not in the realms of His glory, but in the days of His flesh (Hebrews 5:7). The cross, therefore, stands as an emblem for the humanity of Jesus, including all that He endured as a Man. When we speak of the cross, we are speaking of His agony, His intercession, His sorrows, His humiliation, His obedience, His suffering, His bleeding, and finally His death. The message of the cross encompasses all that Jesus was and all that He did as one of us.Speaking to His apostles as the Mediator between God and men, Jesus declared, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6). Throughout the ages, people have attempted to come to God through many pathways, but according to the Bible, a person can only come to God by way of the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus. As Peter explained, Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…(1 Peter 3:18).

It is important to recognize that the flesh of Jesus was fully human. When He suffered and was put to death in the flesh, He experienced real pain; He bled real blood; He tasted real death. It is also important to recognize that the word flesh pertains to more than just His physical body. Jesus was more than God in a body: He was God in a Man. The flesh of Jesus pertains to everything that made Him a human being: His physical body plus His thoughts, His emotions, His longings, His limitations, His expressions, His heartaches, and even His fears. This is why the cross is sometimes called His agony. When we contemplate the reality of His humanity, we must conclude that the death of Jesus was the same as it would have been for any one of us…or, considering His sinless life, perhaps even worse.

The Mediation is Forgiveness

How does Jesus fulfill His role as the Mediator, the Ransom, and the Way? How is the power of the cross manifested? The answer is forgiveness. Having borne our sins in His own body on the tree, He brings us to God by means of forgiving our sins. As He declared, The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). The word forgive means to cancel a debt, to do away with
completely, to fully remove. The tree does a thorough work.

Notice Jesus’ assertion that on the earth, it is the Son of Man who exercises the power of forgiveness. Yet in the Old Testament David cried out to God, Against You, You only, have I sinned (Psalms 51:4). According to the Bible, all sin is ultimately against God, which is why the people said to Jesus, Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Mark 2:7).

What then did Jesus mean when He referred to Himself as the Son of Man? In Hebrew this title means literally the Son of Adam. As a direct descendent of Adam, yet simultaneously God Himself, Jesus was telling us that the authority to forgive sins, which belongs exclusively to God, is divinely ordained to be administered on earth by a Man. In other words, God has brought His forgiveness into the lives of men by means of a Man.

As the One the Bible calls the last Adam, the Man Christ Jesus inaugurated God’s New Testament plan to bring forgiveness and salvation to man (1 Corinthians 15:45). At the Last Supper He told His apostles, For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28). The word remission is the same word that is frequently translated forgiveness. In other words, the purpose of the shedding of Jesus’ blood was that our sins could be forgiven, for without shedding of blood there is no remission (Hebrews 9:22).

The connection between the shedding of blood and the forgiveness (or remission) of sins was well established in the Old Testament. The Levitical Law decreed, The priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin which he has committed. And the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him (Leviticus 19:22). In the tabernacle system, the priest was the mediator between God and the Israelites. He was the one who shed the ram’s blood and offered up the sacrifice to God.

But under the New Covenant, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10). As the writer explained, Every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…(Hebrews 10:11-12). The Man Christ Jesus was both the priest and the sacrifice, the Offerer and the Offering.

Jesus had to be a true Son of Adam to serve as the ultimate High Priest: for in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest…(Hebrews 2:17). Moreover, He had to be a true Son of Adam to be offered up as the ultimate sacrifice for sins: for inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). To serve as the priest and to die as the sacrifice, Jesus had to be a genuine partaker of flesh and blood.

All of mankind can now receive forgiveness of sins and stand unashamed before the presence of God by means of the mediatorial work of the Man Christ Jesus. Everything pertaining to our redemption was accomplished by this Man. It was His pain, His blood, His cross, and His death that provided us with access to the glory of God. It was the Man who suffered, the Man who bled, the Man who died and was buried.

The Bible tells us that we are justified by His blood (Romans 5:9); we have redemption through His blood (Ephesians 1:7); we have been brought near by the blood (Ephesians 2:13); we have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood (Hebrews 10:19); and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). All of our hope for salvation rests entirely on what Jesus did for us on the tree.

Forgiveness in the Hands of Man

After His resurrection, Jesus began the process of casting His tree into the water; that is, He placed the power of forgiveness in water baptism in His name. Appearing to His apostles He said, As the Father has sent Me, I also send you (John 20:21). He then commissioned them to continue the work He had begun by authorizing them to forgive sins, saying, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (John 20:23). The basis of this forgiveness was His own blood, His own cross, His own sacrificial death; but they, His followers, were to serve as His earthly instruments to deliver it to the people.

How were the apostles to actually impart the forgiveness of sins? In the book of Luke, Jesus told His apostles that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations (Luke 24:47). Matthew records these instructions: All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…(Matthew 28:18-19). The mission of making disciples was to begin with water baptism. In the Book of Mark Jesus instructed: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved… (Mark 16:15-16). The apostles were to exercise their authority by declaring the gospel and baptizing those who believed. From a biblical perspective, believing cannot be divorced from water baptism.

We find that the apostles did exactly as Jesus instructed, for on the inaugural day of the New Testament plan of salvation, Peter preached, 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). The authority to forgive (or remit) sins was applied by water baptism in the name of the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus.

When the Bible speaks of the Son of Man, it is clearly speaking of the Man, the human being born of Mary; but when it speaks of the Holy Spirit, it is speaking of the Divine Being, the eternal God. As Jesus stated, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). We know from Matthew 1:20 that the Holy Spirit was literally the Father of the Man Christ Jesus, for the angel told Joseph that the child conceived in her [Mary] is of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when Jesus said that no one can come to the Father except through Him, He was saying that to receive the Holy Spirit a person must come through water baptism in His name. Hence Peter’s command to repent and be baptized as a prerequisite to receiving the Holy Spirit.

This is not to say that God will never give His Spirit to a person prior to water baptism. He clearly did so in the case of the Roman centurion Cornelius. Notice, however, that the Holy Spirit fell immediately after Peter told Cornelius that through the name of Jesus, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43). In other words, it was right as Peter was telling him that the forgiving power of the tree is in the water that the Spirit fell. We know that this is what Peter meant because immediately after they began to speak in tongues, he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48).

As a minister of the gospel, Peter understood his responsibility to preach the message exactly the way Jesus had instructed. But on this occasion he learned that sometimes God, on His own initiative, comes to man in His own way, which of course is His prerogative. This, however, in no way alters the settled truth that Jesus has left us water baptism in His name as a replacement for His human presence. What He did on earth as the Son of Man, He now does by means of His human representatives baptizing people in His name. He has cast His tree into the water!

Baptism Relates to Humanity

When the Bible says that God was manifested in the flesh, it is saying that the invisible Deity was made visible in the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 3:16). This is confirmed by Jesus’ statement, He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9). This concept is further explained by Paul, who wrote that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are
made, even His eternal power and Godhead (Romans 1:20). This is why he can also declare that in the Man Christ Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). To look upon the Man is to look upon the Godhead. In Jesus Christ we have at once the eternal God and begotten Man, the invisible Father and His visible Son, the omnipresent Spirit and His fleshly manifestation.

To come to God, we must have our sins forgiven by repenting and being baptized in water in the name of Jesus. This is how we come to the Father through the Son. Jesus said, No one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me… (Matthew 11:27-28). We can only come to God by coming to His human manifestation, the Man Christ Jesus.

Throughout the New Testament, water baptism is associated exclusively with things that pertain to the humanity of Jesus, not His Deity. For example, Romans 6:3 says, �As many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?� Clearly the death of Christ pertains to His humanity. Romans 6:4 says, �Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism.� Just as clearly the burial of Christ pertains to His humanity. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, �We were all baptized into one body.� The word �body� always pertains to humanity, since a Spirit does not have bodily components.

Water baptism in the name of Jesus is the means of mediation through which we come to God. To repent and submit to baptism is to be brought to God through the Man Christ Jesus. We know we have made contact with God when we receive the gift of His Spirit and speak in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. Through this experience �the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God� (Romans 8:16). Speaking in tongues is Deity and humanity joining together in an earthly manifestation of heavenly power.

The Water and the Tree

When a person speaks in tongues, it may be evidence that he has made contact with the Deity of Jesus, but it does not guarantee he has made contact with the humanity. Simply repenting and receiving the Holy Spirit does not connect a person to the power of what Jesus accomplished on the cross as Man. Forgiveness of sins can only be secured through immersion in water in the name of the Savior.

Water baptism is God’s solution for the human condition. In baptism our weak humanity is immersed into the death of the Man Christ Jesus and the power of the cross is applied to our lives (Romans 6:3). We then rise, as Christ rose from the dead, empowered to walk in newness of life by the glory of the Father, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:4; Acts 2:38). We connect with the Spirit, which is the Father of the Man Christ Jesus, through repentance, believing, and water baptism in His glorious name.

Just as Moses had to cast the tree into the water before the bitter waters could be made sweet, so must we be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the power of the tree operates only in the waters of New Testament baptism. The tree and all that it represents the shedding of blood, the death of Christ for our sins all become effectual in the life of a believer only as he is plunged into the waters of baptism. As Peter affirmed, it is baptism that now saves us (1 Peter 3:21). We must not attempt to bring people to God without affirming to them the necessity of repentance and baptism in the name of the only Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus.

The tree is in the water!

Note to the reader:
If you would like to comment on the contents of this paper, please contact us through our website at www.GloriousChurch.com. We welcome and appreciate all honest comments, questions, and criticisms.
Copyright 2003 David Huston
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or author; EXCEPT THAT PERMISSION IS GRANTED to reprint all or part of this document for personal study and research provided that reprints are not offered for sale.
All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN, unless otherwise indicated.
Published by
Rosh Pinnah Publications
PO Box 337, Carlisle, PA 17013 717-249-2059

Posted in ADBA - Baptism, AIS File Library0 Comments

Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

The Bible says Yes!

by David A. Huston

Many have asked this question over the years and many have attempted to answer it. But before this question can be answered fully and properly, we must first establish from Scripture the biblical concept of salvation. What is it? Why do we need to be saved? And what do we need to be saved from? The answer to this last question can be summed up in one word: SIN. We need to be saved from sin. As Paul wrote, This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

Sin is not a particularly popular subject in the day we live and most people don’t like to be thought of as sinners; but popularity has never been a reliable way of discerning truth. And the truth of the matter is: sin exists whether anyone wants to call it that or not. In fact, the word sin or sins is found 647 times in the King James Bible, which is more than enough to qualify as a major biblical doctrine.

What is sin?

Some see sin as not much more than a human failing or an inadvertent slip-up. But the Bible depicts sin as a hostile rejection of divine authority. In fact, the biblical concept of sin cannot be comprehended apart from an acceptance of the reality of divine law. Today, many do not want to believe that there are absolute standards of right and wrong established by God Himself. But if we ignore this reality, then sin can be defined anyway one chooses. If we stay in the Bible, however, then we must define sin as any violation of God’s law it is doing what God has said not to do or failing to do what God has told us to do.

For example, the Bible says that by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12). This man was Adam, the first man. God had told Adam what he was free to do and what he was not free to do. He then cautioned him by saying that should he ever decide to do what he has been clearly told not to do, in that day thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:17). This shows that the ultimate penalty for sin is death. This idea is reiterated by the prophet Ezekiel, who wrote, The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). It is further confirmed by Paul in the New Testament when he writes, For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Some might say, Well I haven’t done anything so bad. Maybe a few white lies. Maybe a couple of occasions of immorality. But the Bible says, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10). How many murders must a person commit to be a murderer? How may thefts must he commit to be a thief? How many lies must he tell to be a liar? How many laws must he break to be a law-breaker? How many sins must he commit to be a sinner? If we break the speed limit on only one occasion, we are nevertheless subject to a citation and fine, regardless of whether we have kept it perfectly on every other occasion. God’s law works exactly the same way; hence the Bible declares, All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Sin is therefore any violation of God’s law, whether by commission or omission, and the ultimate penalty for all such violations is death.

Why do we need salvation from sin?

Most people think of death as the termination of physical life that moment when a person stops breathing and his heart stops beating. But according to the Bible there is also a second death. The book of Revelation says that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ and continue to practice various sins will be raised from the dead and will stand before God to be judged, after which they will be cast into a place called the lake of fire. It then concludes with these words: This is the second death (Revelation 20:14). So we see that the penalty for sin is not merely that we will one day die; it is that we will one day be raised, judged, and cast into the lake of fire. Jesus called it a furnace of fire (Matthew 13:42).

Now we see why sin is so serious and why we stand in need of salvation. We need to be saved from our sins so we can avoid being cast into the lake of fire.Some people believe that human beings are born guilty and under the judgment of Adam’s sin. This is called the doctrine of original sin. It is this belief that forms the rationale for infant baptism. According to this view, the penalty of Adam’s sin has been transmitted to all human beings, and therefore all who are not saved will be judged as sinners. But the truth is, the only human being who will be judged for the sin of Adam is Adam. The rest of us will be judged for our own sins, our own disobedience, our own open rebellion against the authority of God. The Bible says, The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father…the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Ezekiel 18:20). God holds every human being responsible individually for his own actions and decisions.

Where is salvation found?

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul summarized what we have seen so far when he wrote, The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:56-57). This victory over sin and its penalty is God’s great gift to mankind. For the wages of sin may indeed be death, even the second death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

The only place where salvation can be found is in Jesus Christ. He alone is the Savior of the world (John 4:42). While walking the earth He said, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out (Matthew 11:28; John 6:37). Notice that not only is Jesus the source of salvation, but He earnestly invites all of mankind to come to Him. He offers us salvation as a free gift, which means that there is nothing we can do to earn it or deserve it. It is given to us, apart from good works or religious practices, without cost. He paid the price, we receive the gift.

How does Jesus save us?

Since the ultimate penalty for our sins is the second death, the only hope we have is that God would somehow be willing to not count our sins against us and would help us to stop adding additional sins to our account. This is what salvation is all about. The Bible teaches that God Himself entered into His creation as one of us and died for our sins. He suffered a torturous physical death so that everyone of us could escape the horror of the second death. This is the hope of salvation.

But how does God provide us with this escape? How does He remove our personal sins as an obstacle to everlasting life? How does He not judge us for our wrong-doing yet maintain His standards of justice? The answer is: the remission of sins.

At the Last Supper, Jesus took the cup, offered thanks, and gave it to His disciples telling them, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:27-28). A short while later He told them, I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2). The place Jesus was going to prepare can be understood in several ways. It can be thought of as the eternal dwelling place of the saved. It can be understood as a reference to the glorious immortal bodies of the saved. But within the context of the Last Supper, it can also be thought of in terms of the spiritual place Jesus has prepared for us during this present life. Let me explain. Jesus knew that He would be leaving the Last Supper to go to Gethsemane where He would be arrested, taken for trial, beaten, and crucified. The impending shedding of His blood was to be for the remission of sins. The word translated remission is aphesis (ah-feys-ees), a Greek word that means literally a sending away. In its common usage during New Testament times, it meant pardon,deliverance, or forgiveness. Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words says that aphesis means a dismissal or release. According to Mr. Vine, it is used of the forgiveness of sins and is translated remission in Matthew 26:28.

The fact that aphesis can be translated either remission or forgiveness is reflected in the New International Version’s account of the Last Supper, which reads, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. It could also be translated for the pardon of sins, for the dismissal of sins, or for the release from sins.

Since the purpose of Jesus shedding His blood was for the forgiveness of sins, it is on the basis of His sacrificial death that He has acquired and set in place the forgiveness of sins for every human being, offering Himself once for all (Hebrews 7:27). This means that forgiving sins is not something God decides arbitrarily from person to person or incident by incident. It is a spiritual reality He has established and which every human being may partake of by exercising the appropriate faith. In this sense, it is a spiritual place. When He left the Upper Room, Jesus went to prepare a place for us called, among other things, the forgiveness of sins. This is God’s grace toward man. Saved by grace through faith. The question then arises: What is the appropriate faith that brings us into this place of forgiveness? Some have suggested that the answer is found in 1 John 1:9, which says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins….But this was written to those who had already entered into the place of forgiveness (ref. 1 John 2:12). This verse is teaching us how to maintain a forgiven state, not how to acquire it. Others point to Romans 10:9, which states, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Again, this instruction was written to those who had already experienced the salvation of Jesus Christ (ref. Romans 1:7). It is not telling us how to become saved, but how to live as a saved person. Beyond that, the verse does not specifically mention the forgiveness of sins.

There is, however, a verse in the book of Romans that does provide insight into how a person enters the place of forgiveness. In Romans 6:3 Paul wrote, Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? This verse is referencing a past experience of the believers at Rome: their water baptism. Since Jesus told His disciples that a fundamental purpose of His death on the Cross was to provide the forgiveness of sins, it follows that the way we enter into this provision is by being baptized into His death. Through water baptism we acquire all that the death of Jesus accomplished for us.

This idea is confirmed in Acts 2:38, where Peter declared, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins….This verse specifically states that water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for the remission (aphesis) of sins. The NIV says for the forgiveness of your sins.

The key word in the English translation of Acts 2:38 is for. It is the Greek word eis (ice), which Strong’s Dictionary defines as a primary preposition meaning to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (NT1915). Thayer’s Lexicon says, Used metaphorically, eis retains the force of entering into anything, 1. where one thing is said to be changed into another, 2. after verbs of going, coming, leading, etc., eis is joined to nouns designating the conditional state into which one passes, falls, etc. Thayer goes on to say that eis is used after words indicating motion or direction or end.

Baptism is a word of motion. According to Act 2:38, a person is baptized into the forgiveness of sins, as though stepping out of one place and entering into another. Since eis always looks ahead to the place reached or entered into,forgiveness of sins is the result of baptism, not something that precedes it as some people teach. This is confirmed by the exhortation to Paul where Ananias said, Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16). In the New Testament, we call upon the name of the Lord by being baptized. And through this act of faith we receive God’s gift of grace:our sins are forgiven, remitted, and washed away. In this way we are saved by grace…through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

Baptism means immersion

The word baptize is derived from the Greek word baptizo, which means to dip,to submerge, or to immerse. This definition precludes sprinkling or pouring as a mode of Christian baptism. The Greek word for sprinkle is rhantizo and is never used to refer to baptism in the New Testament. Three Greek words are translated pour and none of them are ever used for baptism. In the Bible, baptism is always a complete immersion.

Vine’s Dictionary says this about the word baptizo: Used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another. Thayer’s Lexicon says, A rite of sacred immersion, commanded by Christ, by which men confessing their sins and professing their faith in Christ are born anew by the Holy Spirit unto a new life, come into the fellowship of Christ and the Church, and are made partakers of eternal salvation.

It is clear from biblical descriptions that New Testament baptism involves a complete immersion in water. John 3:23 says that John baptized in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. There would have been no need for much water if sprinkling or pouring had been sufficient. Acts 8:36 says that as Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch were riding down the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? Upon confessing his faith in Jesus Christ, the chariot stopped and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him (Acts 8:38). Clearly this baptism was a complete immersion in water. Had it been anything other, there would have been no need for them to go down into the water.

The reformer John Calvin wrote, The word baptize signifies immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the primitive Church. Methodist leader John Wesley wrote, The biblical term buried with Him by baptism alludes to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion. This is important because baptism is described as both a burial (Romans 6:3) and a washing (Acts 22:16). Sprinkling or pouring dirt does not constitute a burial and sprinkling or pouring water is no way to wash a garment.

On one occasion, Jesus asked some men who were questioning the source of His authority, The baptism of John was it from heaven or from men? (Mark 11:30). The obvious implication was that John’s baptism had been ordained by God Himself; and if John’s baptism was of heavenly origin, how much more the baptism of Jesus Christ? Therefore the following conclusions can be drawn:

We ought to be baptized exactly as the Bible describes. Since Jesus was immersed and He is our example, we also ought to be immersed. Other modes of baptism come out of non-biblical traditions, which are a poor substitute for the plain teachings of the Word of God. The only advantage other modes offer, such as sprinkling or pouring, is convenience, which is also a poor excuse for not following the Bible. What right do we have to insist on a more convenient method than the one used by Jesus and the original Christians? Immersion demonstrates obedience to God and respect for His Word. Why invent an arbitrary mode and then try to justify it? Only by immersion do we retain the significance of baptism as a burial with Christ and a washing away of sins.

One further example is the baptism of Jesus. The Bible says, When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water (Matthew 3:16). A literal reading of this verse would be, When Jesus had been fully immersed, He immediately arose out of the water. In His baptism Jesus was foreshadowing His own death, burial, and resurrection. He was also showing His willingness to identify with those He came to save. But most importantly, He was demonstrating by personal example the way that sinners were to come to Him to find salvation from their sins.

Identification or participation?

The blood of Jesus Christ was shed for all, but it is not automatically applied to everyone simply because it is now available. The blood must be personally received by each human being on an individual basis. Each of us must enter into the remission of sins for ourselves. This is why Peter declared, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you….All must repent, which means to take personal responsibility for your sins. And all must be baptized, for this is the step of faith that brings us to salvation. As Jesus Himself said, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16).

Some teach that water baptism is an identification with the death and burial of Jesus Christ. To support this view they cite Romans 6:3-8 as their proof text. But let us look objectively at what this passage actually says. First of all, it says nothing about identification. Consider the terminology the apostle used: He wrote that we were baptized into Jesus Christ (v.3); buried with him by baptism into death (v.4); planted together in the likeness of his death (v.5); crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed (v.6); and dead with Christ (v.8).

These phrases describe an experience that is far more than merely identifying with the death and burial of Christ; they indicate a full participation. For example, the single Greek word translated crucified with him actually means to be impaled together. It suggests two people being crucified together. Similarly, the phrase planted together means to grow along side with or to be formed together. In the mind of God, through repentance and baptism we actually become participants in the death and burial of Jesus. His death becomes our death; His burial becomes our burial. This is what enables us to rise from the waters of baptism to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

Writing in the book Hard Sayings of the Bible, Peter H. Davids explains that Christian baptism results in the forgiveness of sins. He describes the call of the gospel as to turn from one’s own way, align oneself with God’s way, pledge oneself to this in baptism and so receive forgiveness of sins. He goes on to say, In the modern church this is often forgotten. Many modern churches connect baptism to forgiveness of sins, but do not seek repentance first. Others call for repentance and faith, but ask people to pledge themselves to it through praying a sinner’s prayer or signing a decision card. Baptism then becomes an extra and its connection to forgiveness of sins is forgotten (page 406). It is a grave error to view baptism as an extra.  As the renowned Bible commentator F. F. Bruce has written concerning Romans 6, From this and other references to baptism in Paul’s writings, it is certain that he did not regard baptism as an optional extra in the Christian life, and that he would not have contemplated the phenomenon of an unbaptized believer (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries). Proper Christian baptism is a spiritual act whereby we are immersed into Jesus Christ and all that He provided for us on the cruel cross of Calvary.

What do we receive when we receive forgiveness of sins?

According to Peter’s pronouncement on the day of Pentecost, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for the forgiveness of your sins (NIV). This means that through proper baptism we can be legally acquitted for our sins. Because of this forgiveness, which only the Judge of all men can grant, we are able to stand before God not guilty, fully justified by His blood. This means that we are released from the penalty of sin and no longer in line to be cast into the lake of fire. As Jesus said, He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11).

This change in legal status from guilty to not guilty is emphasized in 1 Peter 3:21, where the apostle compares Christian baptism with the salvation of Noah through water. He says, The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  How does baptism save us? By uniting us with the risen and living Savior, Jesus Christ. And what does baptism do for us that enables us to be united with Christ? It is the answer of a good conscience toward God. One of the meanings of the word translated answer is a legal appeal. When we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, we are making a legal appeal for a good conscience toward God.

In a similar vein, the writer of Hebrews contrasts the cleansing of the conscience with the washing of the flesh. He writes, For if the blood of bulls mand of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14). Only the blood of Jesus can purge a conscience and make it good. And the blood is applied only through Christian baptism.

Peter H. Davids agrees that this is a reasonable way of interpreting this passage, writing, For some scholars this means a request made to God for a good conscience; in other words, it is a request made in baptism that God would purify one and forgive one’s sins. Another way of interpreting this verse is to see the phrase the answer of a good conscience as meaning a pledge made in good conscience to God. In other words, a solemn and sincere commitment to God. As Mr. Davids explains, A hypocritical response will have no effect (Hard Sayings of the Bible, page 717). This is certainly correct, for the promise of forgiveness is only granted to those whose baptism is an honest and sincere faith-response to God.

Regardless of which way we interpret 1 Peter 3:21, it is clear that baptism is a necessary part of the salvation process and is the channel through which we are united to the Savior.

In addition to the legal benefits we receive through baptism, there is also a spiritual benefit. As we have seen, Romans 6:3 describes baptism as a burial into the death of Jesus. The apostle wrote that we are buried with Him through baptism and have therefore been united together in the likeness of His death (vs.4-5). Through repentance and baptism, our old man was crucified with Him and the body of sin has been done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin (v.6). Going even further, he wrote that through repentance and baptism, we have been freed from sin. and are dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord(vs.7,11). Writing to the Colossians, Paul explained that through repentance and baptism we were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, which means that we have put off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ. (Colossians 2:11-12). These passages show that through baptism, we are not only released from the penalty of sin but also from its power. Paul tells us that the body of sin is done away with, which means it is reduced to inactivity, rendered entirely useless. This does not mean that once we are baptized we cannot or will not sin, only that we are no longer under the power of sin, like a slave being set free from its master. Sin is no longer irresistible. Now we can freely choose not to sin.

Remission and Uniting
Before Jesus was born, an angel appeared to Joseph and said, Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Notice that Jesus was to save us from our sins, not in our sins. This is an important distinction. Many people today are only willing to see Jesus in His role as Redeemer; but as the Savior of man, Jesus also comes to us in His role as Ruler. On one occasion Jesus described salvation as a new birth. When asked how a person could be born again, He responded, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). The birth of water represents water baptism for the remission of sins. This is Jesus acting in His role as our Redeemer. The birth of the Spirit represents the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is God’s Spirit uniting with our spirit. This powerful experience is Jesus connecting to us as our Ruler, for as many as are led (governed) by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). Salvation involves both remission and uniting. Remission removes the penalty for our sins and strips sin of its power. Uniting empowers us to live righteously apart from sin. Jesus deals with our past by remitting our sins; He deals with our present by preventing them. He is both or Redeemer and our Master.

Baptism in the name of Jesus

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left us His name as a replacement for His physical presence. This is because a person’s name is a term that represents the presence of that person. This is why baptism must be in the name of Jesus. In Colossians 3:17, Paul instructed that whatever we do in word or deed, we should do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Baptism involves both word and deed. This is why the Bible says that when Paul was baptized, he was told, Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16). This was both a word and a deed. And when the people of Ephesus heard Paul’s message about baptism, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5).

This is why when the people asked Peter what they should do, he said, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:38-39, NIV).

Some churches baptize by repeating the words that Jesus spoke in Matthew 28:19. In this passage He told His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. But the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not names, they are titles that describe how God has brought salvation to man. As the Father, God originated and brought forth the plan of salvation. As the Son, God lived on earth as a human being. It was this humanity that suffered and died for our sins. As the Holy Spirit, God fills us with His presence and governs our lives. The Father, Son, and Spirit are not three gods or three persons in one God. The Bibles plainly states that God is one!

Colossians 2:9 tells us that all the fullness of the Godhead is embodied in the Lord Jesus. This means that the Father’s, the Son’s and the Holy Spirit’s name is Jesus.

Jesus never said to baptize in the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He said to baptize in the name singular meaning His own name. This one name the name Jesus represents God in all of His saving work among men. As Peter said, There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

The only name ever used in the Bible in connection with water baptism is the name Jesus, the name that is above all other names. When a person is baptized and calls on the name of Jesus, Jesus Himself is present to forgive all his sins and to fill him with His heavenly Spirit.

The evidence of history

The testimony of virtually every church historian, regardless of denomination, confirms the truth of baptism in the name of Jesus. Here are a few examples: The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1957) The New Testament knows only baptism in the name of Jesus… (Vol.1, p.435).

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Unlike John’s baptism, Christian baptism was from the first administered in the name of Jesus. It is clear that, from the first, baptism in the name of Jesus functioned as the rite of entry or initiation into the new sect of those who called upon the name of Jesus (p.173).

Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (1951)
The formula used was in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ� or some synonymous phrase; there is no evidence for the use of the trine [threefold] name…The earliest form, represented in Acts, was simple immersion…in water, the use of the name of the Lord, and the laying on of hands� (Vol.2, p.384). Encyclopedia Biblica (1899)

It is natural to conclude that baptism was administered in the earliest times in the name of Jesus Christ, or in that of the Lord Jesus. This view is confirmed by the fact that the earliest forms of baptismal confession appear to have been single not triple, as was the later creed (Vol.1, p.473). Canney’s Encyclopedia of Religions (1970)

Persons were baptized first in the name of Jesus Christ…or in the name of the Lord Jesus…Afterwards, with the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, they were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. (p.53).

Hastings Dictionary of the Bible

It must be acknowledged that the threefold name of Matthew 28:19 does not appear to have been used by the primitive church, but rather in the name of Jesus (p.83).

The New Catholic Encyclopedia

There is the difficulty that although Matthew 28:19 speaks of the Trinitarian formula, which is now used, the Acts of the Apostles and Paul speak only of Baptism in the name of Jesus. An explicit reference to the Trinitarian formula of Baptism cannot be found in the first centuries (Vol. 2, p.59). Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed. (1910)

The trinitarian formula and trine immersion were not uniformly used from the beginning…Bapti[sm] into the name of the Lord [was] the normal formula of the New Testament  (Vol.2, p.365).

The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible (1962)
The evidence of Acts 2:38; 10:48 (cf. 8:16; 19:5), supported by Galatians 3:27,Romans 6:3, suggests that baptism in early Christianity was administered, not i the threefold name, but in the name of Jesus Christ or in the name of the Lord Jesus (Vol.1, p.351).

As with John’s baptism, so earliest Christian baptism was an expression of repentance and faith…forgiveness of sins was thought to be mediated through baptism from the first.

[Concerning 1 Cor.1:13-17] Paul obviously takes for granted that baptism was performed in (eis) the name of Jesus. Here he probably uses a formula familiar of that time, where in/into the name of meant to the account of. That is, baptism was seen as a deed of transfer, an act whereby the baptist and [the one being baptized] handed himself over to be the property or disciple of the one named (Vol.1, p.173).

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 2nd edition
Through baptism…the one who is baptized becomes the possession of and comes
under the protection of the one whose name he bears; he is under the control of
the effective power of the name and the One who bears the name, i.e., he is
dedicated to them.

Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion

[In Christian baptism there was an] identification between the baptized and Him in whose name baptism took place. The one became thereby the personal property of the other, as part of the people of peculiar possession (Vol.2, p.377).Remarkable Biblical Discovery, by William Phillips Hall (President of the American Tract Society: 1929)

[The words of Matthew 28:19] were never used in baptism by the original apostles, or by the Church during the early days of its existence and all baptisms of those early days were commanded to be, or stated to have been performed in, or with the invocation of, the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though Martin Luther apparently used the three titles in baptism, he defended the people in his day who used the words, I baptize you in the name of Jesus Christ, maintaining, It is certain the apostles used this formula in baptizing, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (Luther’s Works, Word and Sacrament II, vol. 36).

Does it really matter?

Some might ask, Does it really matter how a person is baptized? But this is like asking, Does it really matter whether or not a person does what God tells him to do? The answer is, Yes, it matters very much. There is no place in the Bible where we are told that we are free to choose our own way of being saved. Jesus said we must come to God His way. He said we must come through Him. And since His name represents Him in the earth, we must come to God through the name JESUS.

He also said that we must come through the birth of water and Spirit (John 3:5). This means that we must not neglect water baptism as a fundamental part of the salvation process. He also said that He alone has the power to forgive sins on the earth. Therefore, since water baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, we must be baptized in the name of the Forgiver, and His name is JESUS! Does it matter how we are baptized? You better believe it does!

What can we say about baptism?

If we are committed to using only the Scriptures as our guide, then we can make the following definitive statements about Christian baptism:

Baptism is the will of God (Luke 7:30).
Baptism must follow repentance (Acts 2:38)
Baptism must be an act of faith (Mark 16:16; Acts 18:8).
Baptism is a burial in water (Matthew 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38-39; Romans 6:3).
Baptism must be in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10;47-48;19:4-5).
Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
Baptism is a washing away of sins (Acts 22:16).
Baptism prepares the way of the Lord (Matthew 3:1-11).
Baptism fulfills all righteousness (Matthew 3:15).
Baptism places us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Baptism now saves us (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
Baptism is ordained by God (Mark 11:30).

Baptism is necessary for salvation. But it must be preceded by genuine repentance, it must be a response of faith, it must be a full immersion, it must be in the name of Jesus Christ, and it must be for the forgiveness of sins. Anything less is not true biblical baptism and amounts to nothing more than
getting wet.

What about the thief on the cross?

Some might ask, If baptism in an essential part of salvation, then what about the thief on the cross? He didn’t have to be baptized to be saved, so why do I? The answer is this: While Jesus walked the earth as a man, He acted in a manner befitting His sovereignty as the Lord of heaven and earth. He determined who would be healed or delivered or saved on whatever basis He deemed appropriate at that particular time, for that particular person. Keep in mind that Jesus primary purpose was not to save as many people as He possibly could, but to teach and establish principles that others could learn and follow, thus making possible the salvation of many more after He had departed. Therefore, the healings and salvations described in the Gospels were recorded primarily to teach principles concerning salvation, not to serve as examples of New Testament salvation.

Furthermore, Jesus came to inaugurate, not to demonstrate, the New Testament, which He said at the Last Supper was in His blood (Luke 22:20). One aspect of the New Testament He came to establish was water baptism in His name. Clearly this is why He told His disciples after His resurrection to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He then stated, He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16). He did not say, He who is saved will be baptized but he who is baptized will be saved. The New Testament plan was that after His departure, He would forgive sins based upon each person’s response to the gospel message. The response necessary for salvation included both believing and being baptized. Therefore, we understand that baptism was exclusively a New Testament requirement.

But why didn’t the thief have to be baptized? Obviously it was because he was
saved before the New Testament went into effect, for Hebrews 9:16-17 says, Where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no powerat all while the testator lives.

It is evident that Jesus Christ is the Testator of the New Testament. So I ask you: was Jesus still alive when He said to the thief, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise? Unquestionably He was still alive. Therefore, we must conclude that the New Testament was not yet in force and baptism in water for the forgiveness of sins was not as yet binding upon all men. It is not until three verses later that the Bible records, He breathed His last and died (Luke 23:46). Only after the Testator had died and the last of His blood had been shed was the New Testament officially inaugurated.

Why not be baptized?

No one can be saved without the forgiveness of sins, and no one can enter into the place of forgiveness without being baptized into it. This is why the Bible writers put forward that we are saved through water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. They understood that we are baptized into the spiritual reality that Jesus provided through His death; namely, the forgiveness of sins. There is no other New Testament means for partaking of this inestimable gift. Never once are we told that all a person must do is ask Jesus to forgive him and enter into his heart. This is what the apostles would have called another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4).

Once a person has been baptized, he must then only confess his sins, that is, honestly admit his failures, and God, who is faithful and just, will keep him in that place which is free from sin, that spiritual place called forgiveness. Let me conclude this article by quoting once more from Peter H. Davids, who asks, What about people who are never baptized and yet make a commitment to Christ in another setting? Mr. Davids answer is this: For Peter this would be a strange question…for after adequate instruction in the faith, baptism in the name of Jesus was the first thing done to all converts in the New Testament period. The idea that a person would confess Christ and yet would not be baptized would be absurd to Peter. Therefore he does not consider it a question needing an answer…The normal point of salvation for Christians in the early church was baptism. Even here it is not the ritual itself or the water that saves, but the commitment that one makes to Jesus as Lord. As in Paul, salvation is a relationship. Baptism in Christianity, just as a wedding in marriage, is simply the way of entering into that relationship (Hard Sayings of the Bible, page 717-718). Clearly water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is a necessary part of the way God saves us from our sins.

To those who are looking for a reason not to be baptized in the lovely name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, I say, why resist the obvious and indisputable teaching of the Bible? Instead, come to the Lord repenting and believing, and be baptized, washing away your sins in the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved; for it is in Jesus Christ that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden and you are complete in Him.

Is baptism necessary for salvation?

The Bible says Yes! Clearly, definitively, indisputably, unequivocally, absolutely YES!

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Note to the reader:
If you would like to comment on the contents of this paper, please contact us through our website at www.GloriousChurch.com. We welcome and appreciate all honest comments, questions, and criticisms.
Copyright � 2008 David Huston
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or author; EXCEPT THAT PERMISSION IS GRANTED to reprint all or part of this document for personal study and research provided that reprints are not
offered for sale.
All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible,
copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN, unless otherwise
indicated.
Published by
Rosh Pinnah Publications
PO Box 337, Carlisle, PA 17013 717-249-2059

Posted in ADBA - Baptism, AIS File Library0 Comments

Into Forgiveness of Sins

Into Forgiveness of Sins
by David A. Huston

This paper is presented to assert and explain the biblical truth that forgiveness of sins comes through biblical water baptism.

Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christfor the remission of sins…. Acts 2:38

AT THE LAST SUPPER, Jesus took the cup, offered thanks, and gave it to His disciples telling them, Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:27-28). A short while later He told them, I am going there to prepare a place for you (John 14:2). The place Jesus was going to prepare can be understood in several ways. It can be thought of as the eternal dwelling place of the saved. It can be understood as a reference to the glorious immortal bodies of the saved. But within the context of the Last Supper, it can also be thought of in terms of the spiritual place Jesus has prepared for us to dwell in during this present life. Let me explain.

Jesus knew that He would be leaving the Last Supper to go to Gethsemane where He would be arrested, taken for trial, beaten, and crucified. The impending shedding of His blood was to be for the remission of sins The word translated remission is aphesis (ah-feys-ees), a Greek word that means literally a sending away. In its common usage during New Testament times, it meant pardon, deliverance, or forgiveness. W.E. Vine writes that aphesis means a dismissal or release, is used of the forgiveness of sins, and is translated remission in Matthew 26:28. The fact that aphesis can be translated either remission or forgiveness is reflected in the New International Version’s account of the Last Supper, which reads, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (emphasis mine). It could also be translated for the pardon of sins, the dismissal of sins, or for the release from sins.

Since the purpose of Jesus shedding His blood was for the forgiveness of sins, it is on the basis of His sacrificial death that He has acquired and set in place the forgiveness of sins for every human being, offering Himself once for all (Hebrews 7:27). This means that forgiving sins is not something God decides on arbitrarily from person to person or incident by incident. It is a spiritual reality He has established and which every human being may partake of by exercising the appropriate faith. In this sense, it is a spiritual place. When He left the Upper Room, Jesus went to prepare a place for us called, among other things, the forgiveness of sins.

The question then arises: what is the appropriate faith that brings us into this place of forgiveness? Some have suggested that the answer is found in 1 John 1:9, which says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins….But this was written to those who had already entered into the place of forgiveness (ref. 1 John 2:12). This verse is teaching us how to maintain a forgiven state, not how to acquire it. Others point to Romans 10:9, which states that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Again, this instruction is written to those who have already experienced the salvation of Jesus Christ (ref. Romans 1:7). It is not telling us how to become saved, but how to live as a saved person. Beyond that, the verse does not specifically mention the forgiveness of sins.

There is, however, a verse in the book of Romans that does provide insight into how a person enters the place of forgiveness. In Romans 6:3 Paul wrote, Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? This verse is referencing a past experience of the believers at Rome: their water baptism. Since Jesus told His disciples that a fundamental purpose of His death on the Cross was to provide the forgiveness of sins, it follows that the way we enter into this provision is by being baptized into His death. Through water baptism we acquire all that the death of Jesus accomplished for us. This idea is confirmed in Acts 2:38 where Peter declared, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins….This verse specifically states that water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for the remission (aphesis) of sins. The N.I.V. says for the forgiveness of your sins.

The key word in the English translation of Acts 2:38 is for. It is the Greek word eis (ice), which Strong’s Dictionary defines as a primary preposition meaning to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (NT1915). Thayer’s Dictionary says, Used metaphorically, eis retains the force of entering into anything, 1. where one thing is said to be changed into another, 2. after verbs of going, coming, leading, etc., eis is joined to nouns designating the conditional state into which one passes, falls, etc. Thayer goes on to say that eis is used after words indicating motion or direction or end.

Baptism is a word of motion (i.e. be baptized). According to Act 2:38, a person is baptized for or into the forgiveness of sins, as though entering into a building or room. Since eis is always looking ahead to the place reached or entered into, forgiveness of sins has to be the result of baptism, not something that precedes it as some people teach. This is confirmed by Ananias’ exhortation to Paul in Acts 22:16, where he said, Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. In the New Testament, we call upon the name of the Lord by being baptized. And through this act of faith our sins are forgiven, or remitted, or washed away.

An essential element in receiving salvation is receiving the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, Jesus sent out His disciples to preach the gospel to every creature, telling them, He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16). Not he who is saved will be baptized, but he who is baptized will be saved. This harmonizes with Paul’s statement in Romans 10:12-13, which says, For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. This does not contradict what Paul wrote in Romans 10:9, but rather complements and amplifies it. Since to call on the name of the Lord is equal in the New Testament to being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, what Paul wrote in Romans 10 agrees perfectly with what Jesus said in Mark 16. This also explains why Peter would compare New Testament salvation to Noah’s salvation in the ark, writing, There is also an antitype which now saves us  baptism (1 Peter 3:21). No one can be saved without forgiveness of sins, and no one can enter into the place of forgiveness without being baptized into it.

The reason these Bible writers would put forward that we are saved through water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is because they understood that we are baptized into the spiritual reality that Jesus provided through His death, namely, the forgiveness of sins. There is no other New Testament means for partaking of this inestimable gift. Once a person has been baptized, he must then only confess his sins, that is, honestly admit his failures, and God, who is faithful and just, will keep him in that place which is free from sin, that spiritual place called forgiveness.

Note to the reader:
If you would like to comment on the contents of this paper, please contact us through our website at www.GloriousChurch.com. We welcome and appreciate all honest comments, questions, and criticisms.Copyright � 2005 David Huston & Jim McKinley ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or author; EXCEPT THAT PERMISSION IS GRANTED to reprint all or part of this document for personal study and research provided that reprints are not offered for sale.
All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN, unless otherwise indicated.
Published by
Rosh Pinnah Publications
PO Box 337, Carlisle, PA 17013 717-249-2059

Posted in ADBA - Baptism, AIS File Library0 Comments

The Fracture of the Apostles’ Doctrine

The Fracture of the Apostles’ Doctrine
by David A. Huston

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine….”- 1 Timothy 1:3

Immediately after Pentecost, the apostles began teaching the doctrine they had learned directly from Jesus. This doctrine came to be called “the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Later, Paul told the leaders of the church in Ephesus, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). The apostles’ doctrine and the whole counsel of God are one and the same. Both terms describe the entirety of the teachings that Jesus entrusted to His apostles. In those early years of the New Testament church, everyone who was taught by Paul or one of the Twelve believed the same doctrine. This resulted in a genuine unity of the faith.

It did not take long, however, for false teachers to come along teaching doctrines that were not in harmony with the apostles’ doctrine. This began a gradual fracturing of the apostolic church into various factions, which eventually led to the huge divisions we see in Christendom today. As apostolic believers, we like to think we have unity of the faith, but the truth is, we are nearly as fractured as the denominational world. And whenever any elements of the apostles’ doctrine are ignored, minimized, watered down, or otherwise not set clearly before the people, the effect is to fail to declare the whole counsel of God and to not have the apostles’ doctrine at all, which makes the unity of the faith an impossible objective.

The following list describes twenty areas of doctrine where profound disagreement exists within the modern-day apostolic movement.

Bible Versions: While all apostolic people believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, there is disagreement as to which English versions are acceptable for use in teaching and study.

The Oneness of God: While all apostolic people would say that they believe in the Oneness of God, there is disagreement concerning the nature of the Son’s humanity and the precise relationship between the Father and the Son.

Forgiveness of Sins: While all apostolic people would say that they believe in the Acts 2:38 plan of salvation, there is disagreement as to what is necessary to obtain forgiveness of sins.

Response to the Gospel: While all apostolic people would say that they believe Acts 2:38 is the proper response to the gospel, there is disagreement as to how a person should be instructed to respond and the relative importance of water baptism.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: While all apostolic people would say that the gift of the Holy Spirit is available to everyone, there is disagreement as to whether or not it is essential that a person speak in tongues.

Walking in the Spirit: While all apostolic people would say that believers are expected to walk according the Spirit (as described in Romans 8), there is disagreement as to what this means in comparison to walking according to the flesh.

Tithing: While all apostolic people would agree that believers should support the work of ministry with their financial giving, there is disagreement as to whether or not the New Testament requires that all believers tithe. There is also disagreement as to who has oversight concerning how tithes are used.

The Timing of the Rapture: While all apostolic people believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, there is disagreement as to when this event will happen in relationship to other prophetic events.

Women in Ministry: While all apostolic people agree that women can receive the Holy Spirit and be saved, there is disagreement as to what ministries a women should be allowed to function in.

Spiritual Gifts: While all apostolic people believe that the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to believers, there is disagreement as to what gifts are available today and who should be allowed to operate these gifts.

Life After Death: While all apostolic people believe that life does not end forever at death, there is disagreement as to what happens to believers and unbelievers after they die.

Law-keeping: While all apostolic people agree that Jesus came to fulfill the law and not to destroy it, there is disagreement as to precisely what this means to believers today.

Music: While all apostolic people believe that music is an integral part of worship, there is disagreement as to what kind of music is appropriate for believers.

Hair: While all apostolic people believe that women should have long hair and men should not, there is disagreement as to how “long hair” should be defined. There is also disagreement on the appropriateness of dying and perming hair, and on men having facial hair.

Make-up and Jewelry: While all apostolic people would agree that godly men and women should be moderate and modest in their appearance, there is disagreement as to precisely what this means concerning the use of make-up and the wearing of jewelry.

Clothing: While all apostolic people would agree that godly men and women should be moderate and modest in their appearance, there is disagreement as to precisely what this means concerning the length of skirts, dresses, and pants.

Media, Entertainment, and Sports: While all apostolic people would agree that believers should avoid carnality and worldliness, there is disagreement as to precisely what this means concerning various forms of entertainment.

The Plan of Salvation: While all apostolic people believe in the Acts 2:38 plan of salvation, there is disagreement as to whether is this the only way a person can obtain eternal life.

Leadership Structure: While all apostolic people would agree that spiritual leadership is part of God’s plan for caring for His people, there is disagreement as to how leadership should be structured in a local assembly.

Autonomy of the Local Assembly: While all apostolic people would agree that each local assembly has wide-ranging autonomy, there is disagreement over the degree of authority an organization or individuals from outside the assembly should have over an assembly.

May the Lord give us genuine apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, until we all come together unto the unity of the faith.

Note to the reader:
If you would like to comment on the contents of this paper, please contact us through our website at www.GloriousChurch.com. We welcome and appreciate all honest comments, questions, and criticisms.

Copyright � 2007 David Huston
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or author; EXCEPT THAT PERMISSION IS GRANTED to reprint all or part of this document for personal study and research provided that reprints are not offered for sale.

All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN, unless otherwise indicated.

Published by
Rosh Pinnah Publications
PO Box 337, Carlisle, PA 17013 717-249-2059

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADAM - Apostolic Ministry, AIS File Library0 Comments

Turning the World Right-Side Up

Turning the World Right-side Up

by David A. Huston

This article is presented to challenge Christian men to assume their role as the leaders of their homes.

WHEN THE APOSTLES CAME to Thessalonica, they were declared to be the men who had “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). But this was the perspective of those who were opposing the gospel of Christ. From God’s perspective, the apostles were not turning the world upside down; they were turning it right-side up. And this is the mission of every apostolic man today.

From the beginning of time there has been a divinely established order, which Paul described when he wrote, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). In this order, God is the head of Christ (meaning that the Spirit is the head of God’s manifestation in flesh); Christ is the head of man; and man is the head of woman.

This divine order was not established arbitrarily but was based on the principle of origination. It begins with God because He alone is without origination. He has always been. If we could go back before the beginning, we would find that there was nothing but God. Christ, however, has not always been. He originated in God and, according to Revelation 3:14, is “the Beginning of the creation of God.” This does not mean that Christ existed with God as a separate divine being. It only means that before God did anything else, He determined that He would one day come in the flesh.

In describing Jesus Christ, Paul wrote, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). This tells us that everything that God created was based on His initial plan to become a Man. As Peter wrote, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20). Since the Man, Christ Jesus, originated in the mind of the eternal God before creation began, God is the head of Christ.

Based on His predetermined plan to one day come in the flesh, God made mankind. The Bible says that the first man was made in God’s “own image” (Genesis 1:27). In other words, he was made according to the pattern God had already determined for His own humanity. As Paul explained, Adam was a figure of “Him who was to come” (Romans 5:14). Since Adam’s origin was based on the Christ who was to come, Christ is the head of Adam and therefore the head of all men, since all came from Adam.

Finally we read, “Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman” (Genesis 2:22). Since the first woman originated in man, man is the head of woman. This means that in every family, the divinely ordained order is God, Christ, the husband, and then the wife. Some have said that man was not made the head of women until after they had sinned and that in the church, men and women are entirely equal. But Paul confirmed that the order of headship is based on the origin of the first woman when he explained, “For man is not from woman, but woman from man” (1 Corinthians 11:8). This means that the headship of man preceded the introduction of sin.

The divine principle is that the originator always has authority over whatever it originates. This is true in many aspects of life. For example, an author has authority over his book, an architect has authority over his building, a painter has authority over his painting, and parents have authority over their children. In the same way, God has authority over Christ, Christ has authority over man, and man has authority over woman.

The world we live in is currently operating under a different principle. In many households, the divine order has been turned on its head with the wife being the head of her husband. Isaiah prophesied that this would be the case even in the church when he said, “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isaiah 3:12). Whenever the divine order is reversed, Jesus is effectively toppled from His role as the head of the man. A man cannot be under the headship of Jesus and his wife at the same time.

It seems today that nearly every family coming into the church must be reordered. This is because many men today are passive in their home life and are perfectly content to let their wives be in charge. But this has never been God’s plan. In His order of things, men have been selected to be the leaders. This does not mean women do not have any say or should be treated like second-class citizens. It only means that men are to lead the way, carry the load, and make the final decisions.

Some men think that being the head gives them the authority to order their wives around. They see headship as a position of power rather than a ministry of leadership. But we should keep in mind that even though it was Eve who first disobeyed God, the Bible says, “Through one man sin entered the world” (Romans 5:12). This means that even though the woman sinned first, God considered her husband to be the responsible party.

It was after Adam and Eve sinned that God told the woman that her husband would “rule over” her (Genesis 3:16). But the Hebrew word He used for “rule over” implies connectedness and ministry, not domination. In fact, within its meaning is the idea of two things being parallel to each other. This kind of leadership suggests two people walking together, side-by-side, one leading the way for the benefit and blessing of the other. It suggests the yoking together of the leader with the led.

The same Hebrew word is applied to Jesus Christ in the prophecy of Micah 5:2, which speaks of Him as the “one to be Ruler in Israel.” Jesus confirmed that this was His style of leadership when He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

Headship is simply another word for leadership, but it is a special kind of leadership. It is leadership based on relationship that exists for the benefit of the one being led, not the one leading. Christ is the head of man for man’s benefit, not His own. And in the same way, Adam was to be the head of His wife for her protection and care, not just so he could tell her what to do. As the weaker vessel, she needed someone stronger than herself helping her to navigate through life without being snared by the devil.

Every Holy Ghost filled man has been given the Spirit of the greatest Leader who ever lived. This means that every apostolic man is called to some form of leadership, whether as the leader of his family or some area of leadership within the local assembly. We should note that family leadership pre-existed church leadership by many centuries. According to Paul, no man is qualified to lead in the church until he first demonstrates the quality of his leadership at home: “If a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5).

The key to being a strong leader, whether in the home or the church, is following the leadership of the Holy Spirit. But this in not a passive endeavor. It requires seeking God in prayer, studying God’s Word, and taking the initiative in spiritual activities, such as worship, fellowship, ministry, and evangelism.

The Bible says that Eve gave the fruit to her husband and he ate. This was the first and greatest leadership failure in human history. Adam’s passive compliance has affected everyone of us. The very moment he ate, the divine order was turned on its head. By yielding to his wife, Adam placed Satan at the top and crowned him the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). Now the order was Satan, then woman, then man, with God at the bottom. And that is the current state of things.

This is why every apostolic man must cast off the spirit of this world and stand firm for the ways of the Lord. Our charge in these last days is to turn our world right-side up, restoring every Christian home to the proper divine order and putting Satan under our feet where he belongs. Apostolic men must take the lead in this great task, because from the beginning God has chosen men to be the leaders of His people.

Note to the reader:
If you would like to comment on the contents of this paper, please contact us through our website at www.GloriousChurch.com. We welcome and appreciate all honest comments, questions, and criticisms.
Copyright © 2005 David Huston ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or author; EXCEPT THAT PERMISSION IS GRANTED to reprint all or part of this document for personal study and research provided that reprints are not offered for sale.
All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible,
copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN, unless otherwise indicated.
Published byRosh Pinnah Publications
PO Box 337, Carlisle, PA 17013 717-249-2059

Posted in AIS File Library, BSFM - Family and Marriage0 Comments


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