Tag Archive | J. L. Hall

The Unity of God

The Unity of God
By: J.L. Hall

Did Jesus pray to himself?

Jesus’ prayers open our understanding to the majesty of the Incarnation, for through them we grasp the divine-human relationship between God and His Son.

Trinitarians often refer to the statements Jesus made about His rather, including those in His prayers, in an effort to prove that two persons were involved-whom they identify as God the Son and God the Father. Since they reason that only persons and not natures communicate with each other, they regard the prayers as clear evidence that Jesus is a separate person from the Father. Moreover, they cite Jesus’ remarks about the rather as scriptural support for the trinitarian theory. But the prayers and remarks by Jesus destroy any concept of God as being a trinity of co-equal, co-eternal, and coexistent persons.

The Bible clearly distinguishes God the Father from His Son. The Son was born in Bethlehem, but the eternal God does not know a beginning. The Son grew into maturity, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. He became tired, hungry, weary, sleepy-just as other men. Although He did not commit sin, He was tempted in all points as other men are tempted. He suffered from the trials in Jerusalem and died on the cross-just as the two thieves also died. God does not grow, nor can He die. These facts alone clearly distinguish the Son from the Father.

The Bible tells us that the man Christ Jesus is the mediator between God and men (II Timothy 2:5). God is one, but a mediator serves more than one-He stood between God and mankind, effecting reconciliation. Only as a man could Jesus be our sacrifice, mediator, advocate, and high priest, acting on our behalf for our justification.

Jesus offered Himself as a spotless lamb to God. Having lived as a human being, He offered the blood from His own body as the basis for our forgiveness of sins. God did not die on the cross, nor did a divine eternal person offer blood from a divine eternal body. As the Son of God Jesus offered His own human body and His own earthly blood to God.

The distinction between God and His Son can also be seen in the events after the crucifixion. God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9; Ephesians 1:20), gave Him all power in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18), made Him Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), and exalted His name to be above every name in heaven, on earth, and beneath the earth (Philippians 2:9). If the Son had been a co-equal person in the Godhead, this exaltation would not have been possible, for He would have had these positions and attributes from eternity. It is evident, therefore, that the Son of God was not a second divine person in the Godhead.

Biblical facts reveal that Jesus lived as an authentic human being, that He did not merely assume the appearance of flesh. Therefore we should not be surprised that He prayed to God, seeking strength, guidance, and assurance. Moreover, we should not be surprised that Jesus had a will distinct from God, that He was truly human in spirit and soul, that He possessed a self-awareness of His humanity.

We are not to suppose, however, that the human Jesus was not different from other people, for only He was born by the Holy Ghost. God was His immediate Father. He is rightfully called the “only begotten of the Father:’ His miraculous birth meant that His humanity was not tainted with the inherited sinful nature of the Fall, and through Him God could reveal Himself to us in redemptive love.

Jesus’ prayers to God the Father came from His human life, from the Incarnation. His prayers were not those of one divine person of God praying to another divine person of God, but those of an authentic human praying to the one true God. Prayer is based on an inferior person praying to a superior being. If the one praying is equal in power and authority to the one to whom he is praying, there is no genuine prayer. A conversation can be held between equals, but an omnipotent person does not need to pray for help from an equal. Even intercessory prayers are meaningless unless the one praying is inferior to the one to whom he prays. If he were of equal power, knowledge, and wisdom, he could take care of the needs of those for whom he prays without asking help from another. If Jesus prayed as “God the Son;’ then “God the Son” is inferior to God the Father. But such an inferiority destroys the trinitarian theory.

In submitting His will to the Father, Jesus confessed that His will was inferior: “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). He also stated that He did not seek His own will, but the will of the Father (John 5:30). If the Son had been an eternal divine person sharing equal power, knowledge, and wisdom with the other two persons in the trinity, His will could not have been inferior to theirs.

Jesus also stated that the Father was greater than He was: “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). It is absurd to say that this statement was made by a co-equal, eternal person in a trinity. Jesus was not speaking as God but as the Son of God. Moreover, Jesus said, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). He credits the Father as the source of His works, the power to give life, and the authority to execute judgment (John 5:19-30). If the Son were an equal person in a trinity, He would have these abilities innately within Himself; He could not derive them from the Father.

But we should not suppose that His humanity detracted from His deity. Jesus was not the incarnation of one person of a trinity, but He was the incarnation of the fullness of God-everything that God is was in Him. Thus the Bible says that “God was manifest in flesh” (I Timothy 3:16) and that “in him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). As God incarnate, He identified Himself as the Father: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30; 31-33); “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. . . . he that hast seen me hath seen the rather” (John 14-:7-9). As God with us, Jesus revealed His deity, identifying Himself as the God of Abraham and the One who revealed Himself to Moses as the I AM (John 8:24,58).

Jesus was both God and man. Although this union is sometimes referred to as God-man, this term could be misleading, for it may lead some people to thing of Him as a demigod. On the other hand, it is equally incorrect to refer to Him as an anointed man. Although quantitatively God cannot be confined to a body, qualitatively He could reside in a body. Neither was Jesus a part human, but He was a man in the full sense. He was fully God and fully man. He possessed both the nature of God and the nature of man. He was aware that He was God and that He was a man. He could and did speak and act as a man, and He could and did speak and act as God. As a man, He did not know the day or hour when the Son would come in power and glory (Mark 13:32); as God He forgave sins (Mark 2:5). Both His humanity and deity, although fused into His one being, remained distinct within His one personality. Admittedly, the Incarnation is a mystery beyond the comprehension of
the human mind.

Did Jesus pray to Himself? No, not when we understand that Jesus was both God and man. In His deity, Jesus did not pray, for God does not need to pray to anyone. As a man, Jesus prayed to God, not to His humanity. He did not pray to Himself as a man, but He prayed to God, to the same God who dwelled in His humanity and who also inhabits the universe. No further explanation is given, and none is needed.

Does Jesus pray now since His exaltation? The answer is no. He prayed in the days of His flesh (Hebrews 5:7). The work of mediation was finished through His death on the cross at Calvary (Hebrews 9:14-15). There is no more I sacrifice for sins, for once and for all time His blood was shed for the remission of sins (Hebrews 10:12). Unlike the Old Testament priests, He does not continually offer sacrifices for sins. There is no more offering, but there remains remission of sins for those who repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:18; Acts 2:38). His present role as intercessor consists not of daily prayers by the application of the benefits of the cross to our lives (Romans 8:34; I John 1:7-9; 2:1-2).

Jesus said, “At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have love me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:26-28). Jesus does not pray now, but as God He hears and answers the prayers prayed in His name.

(The above material appeared in a September, 1989 issue of Pentecostal Herald.)


Recently an article in a major Christian magazine referred to the United Pentecostal Church as “the third-largest psuedo-Christian sect” in the world. It is not the first time that the author, Robert M. Bowman, Jr., has tried to depict the Oneness Pentecostals as less than Christians.” On what basis does he make his claim? That Oneness Pentecostals do not accept the doctrine that God is a threefold being that we believe as the Bible states that God is one (1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20).

Since the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Bible, it should follow that belief in it is not a requirement to be a Christian. No one in the Bible was told, “Believe in the Trinity and you shall be saved.” On the contrary, we are told that we are to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). United Pentecostals believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that we have life through His name-just as Jesus and the gospel are presented in the Bible.

It is also true that the United Pentecostal Church believes in one God, and that this one God is known to us as rather (both the father of the Son and our spiritual Father), who came to earth in His Son (born of the virgin Mary by the Holy Ghost), and who now fills us with His Spirit (by whom we are made children of God). We believe that the Son of God was the sinless human in whom the one true God manifested Himself in redemptive love.

It should be emphasized that the United Pentecostal Church is not aunitarian movement (although some opponents have erroneously referred to us by this name), for unlike the Unitarians, we believe in the full deity as well as the full humanity of Jesus Christ. We also affirm that not only His sin-less humanity but also His full deity is a necessary element in the atonement for our sins.

With Protestants in general, we believe that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by works; we further hold that salvation is not limited to a supposed predestined group, but that salvation is available to anyone, to whosoever will; we believe that sinners are commanded to repent of their sins and to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; we believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all believers; we believe that Christians are to live a holy lifestyle according to the teachings in the Bible; we believe that Jesus Christ will return for His church; and we believe that every person will one day stand before the judgment of God. All of these beliefs are clearly supported by the Bible.

The Bible does not, however, support Bowman’s contention that a person has to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity in order to be a Christian. It is not necessary to accept a trinitarian explanation of God to believe that God has revealed Himself in redemptive grace as Father, in the Son, and as the Holy Ghost. Indeed, as Christian scholars agree, the doctrine of the Trinity did not originate until the
third and fourth centuries, it therefore follows that the early Christians did not know or believe in the Trinity.” Rather they believed in God the Father, in Jesus the Son of God, and in the presence of the Holy Ghost in the lives of Christians.

There is not one reference in the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, that calls God a threefold being, or even states that God exists in three persons. Not only is the word Trinity absent from the Bible but the concept is missing. On the other hand, even a casual reader cannot miss the strict monotheism expounded in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. (For example, Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 4-3:10-12; 44-:6,8; 1 Corinthians 8:4-; 1 Timothy 2:5.) God is always a single being, a single mind, a single personality.

While trinitarians profess in one breath that they believe that God is one, in the next breath they say that He is three. Bowman writes: “The first plank in the trinitarian platform is the indivisible oneness of God. However, nowhere in Scripture are we ever told that God is one person:'” He apparently sees no contradiction between the “indivisible oneness” and three distinct persons. This doublethink is common in trinitarian language.

William Evans, in his book The Great Doctrines of the Bible, states that God is a living person. A few pages later, he writes: “A multiplication of gods is a contradiction; there can be but one God. There can be but one absolutely perfect, supreme, and almighty Being. Such a Being cannot be multiplied, nor pluralized. There can be but one ultimate, but one all-inclusive, but one God. Monotheism, then, not Tritheism, is the doctrine set forth in the Scriptures: “Oneness Pentecostals agree with him that God is a person and that He cannot be multiplied or pluralized.

But Evans quickly contradicts his own words for in the next paragraph he states: “The doctrine of the unity of God does not exclude the idea of a plurality of persons in the Godhead . . . .We believe, therefore, that there are three persons in the Godhead, but one God.”‘ One moment Evans states that God is a (one) person, that He cannot be pluralized, but the next moment he says that this unity of God includes a plurality and three persons. No wonder he confesses on the next page that “the doctrine of the Trinity is, in its last analysis, a deep mystery that cannot be fathomed by the finite mind.”

Trinitarians also have difficulty explaining that the doctrine of Trinity is not tritheism. Evans sounds the familiar defense: “Anti-trinitarians represent the evangelical church as believing in three Gods, but this is not true; it believes in one God, but three persons in the Godhead.” But Evans, as do other trinitarians, leans toward tritheism in spite of decrying it. In his attempt to contrast the unity of God with the concept of a plurality of gods, with a minor change his correct definition of tritheism given below would also be the definition of the Trinity: “The doctrine of the unity of God is held in contradistinction to polytheism, which is belief in a multiplicity of gods; to Tri-theism, which teaches that there are three Gods-that is that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are, specifically, three distinct Gods.” If at the end of this quote he had used persons for Gods he would have stated the trinitarian theory instead of the beliefin tritheism, and the distinction is less than a hairbreath.

But we should not be surprised at the problem trinitarians have in trying to distinguish between the doctrine of the Trinity and tritheism, for the concept of tritheism was held by some, if not the majority, of those who formulated the doctrine of the Trinity in AD 381.

Basil of Caesarea, one of the Cappadocian Fathers who were most influential at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381, explained what they meant by stating that God is one substance in three persons (hypotheses): “Substance relates to hypothesis as universal relates to particular. Each of us shares in existence through the common substance and yet is a specific individual because of his own characteristics. So also with God, substance refers to that which is common, like goodness, deity, or other attributes, while hypothesis is seen in the special characteristics of fatherhood, sonship, or sanctifying power.” Tony Lane remarks that this explanation used by the Cappodician Fathers “lays them open to the charge of tritheism (belief in three Gods).”

Today many trinitarians, in an effort to avoid the heresy of tritheism, attempt to reconcile the tritheistic language in the Nicene Creed to monotheism by defining the term person to mean something other than personality. John M. Krumm, a trinitarian, admits the problems of tritheism in the use of persons: “To say that there is One God in Three Persons is misleading to many people, who at once leap to the
conclusion that Christianity imagines three distinct personalities joined together in a sort of heavenly executive committee all the time. ‘Persons’ is probably a poor word to us for the modern readers or listeners because it has come to mean an individual personality, an intensely self-conscious center of will and purpose and desire. If there are three such personalities in the Godhead, then Christianity has apparently abandoned the faith in One God and gone in for tritheism.”

Georgia Harkness, a prolific Methodist writer, states: ‘It was when the Trinity began to be defined as una substantia tres personae, and the personae came to be thought of, not as three manifestations of one God, but as three persons in the ordinary sense, that tritheism crept into the thinking of the Church.”

The attempt to differentiate person from either personality or being is indeed an unending task. It is not only beyond the Scriptures but it is also beyond reason to suppose that three persons could be as distinct as trinitarians claim for the Trinity and still the three persons not be three beings or three Gods.

Trinitarians tell us that the three persons in the Trinity have different self-consciousness, different wills, different perceptions, different relations to each other and to mankind, different acts to perform, and different personalities; they inform us that these persons love each other, converse with each other, and in every sense of the word act as two individuals such as a Mr. Smith and a Mr. Jones.

If it is correct to call a person a pseudo-Christian if he does not hold to the trinitarian beliefs expressed in the Nicene Creed, then trinitarians themselves may be found at fault, for often they deviate in some measure or interpretation from this creed. As we have seen, trinitarians do not all agree on the meaning of such vital words as persons.

Walter Martin, while accepting the trinitarian principle expressed in the Nicene Creed, argues with the thought that the Son is eternally begotten. He states that the Son is not eternal but that the “person” in the Godhead that later was begotten as the Son is eternal. He therefore believes that the term Son can only refer to the “second person” in the Godhead after the birth of Jesus by Mary.

That Martin’s view on this matter conflicts with the orthodox interpretation of the Nicene Creed is evident. Of course, he feels that he is orthodox and that the “eternal Son” is an error based on a theory proposed by Origen and later adopted by the Roman Catholic Church. He acknowledges, however, that the “eternal Son” interpretation has carried over to “some aspects of Protestant theology:”” The Nicene Creed states: “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds. . .”

Although Martin’s deviation is acceptable by his associates such as Bowman, it is still a departure, although minor, from historic orthodoxy, and by Bowman’s criterion, Martin could be called a pseudo-Christian. Indeed, Bowman calls anyone who disagrees with what he supposes to be vital in Christianity a pseudo-Christian or even a cult.”

What do Christians believe about Jesus Christ? First, they believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He was born of the virgin Mary by the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:18-23), that as human He increased physically, mentally, and socially (Luke 2:52). As the Son of God, Jesus stated that He was limited as to His knowledge (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7), as to His abilities to perform mighty works and miracles without the Father (John 5:19, 30; 8:28; 14-:10) and as to His personal spiritual strength (John 12:27). In all of His reference to His role as the Son of God, He attributes His mission, His miracles, and His doctrine to God His Father.

As the Son of God He was born after the seed of Abraham and David and He lived as other men, even to being tempted in all points like we are (Hebrews 2:18; 4-:15). As the Son of God, He ate, prayed, became weary, and eventually died on the cross. As the Son of God He became our sacrificial substitute on the cross, bearing our sins, dying for us. As the Son of God, He was raised from the dead by God, and He was exalted: God made Him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).

Jesus, however, was more than the Son of God; He was also the one true God manifested in the flesh (I Timothy 31:16). He was not “God the Son;’ as trinitarians like to think, and He was not a second person of the Trinity incarnate in the Son of man, but He was the fullness of God-the same God who revealed Himself to Abraham, to Moses, to the prophets, and to the Israelite nation (Colossians 2:9; John 8:24, 58). Jesus was the God of the Old Testament manifested in the man Christ Jesus. (See Isaiah 40:3 and Matthew 3:3.)

While Jesus was anointed by God (Acts 10:38), we must not suppose Him to be just an anointed man. Instead, we must also see Him in His deity as God manifesting Himself in redemptive love: To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (11 Corinthians 5:19). When we behold Him, we behold the mystery of the incarnation; He is Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23).

If our belief in Jesus as both human and deity is wrong, then the belief of the apostles and the New Testament writers is wrong. While we must proclaim the Christ of the Bible and hold to the absolute unity of God, we must guard our hearts that we do not become arrogant with our message or disdainful in our attitude. It is not for us to unjustly criticize those who disagree with us, but we must reach out to them with truth in love.

Our plea is that all Christians return to the simple language of the Bible, believing all things written about Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. And may we remember that no one can come to the Father except through Him, neither can we know the Father without knowing Him John 14:6-9).

Perhaps the attempt to label the Oneness Pentecostal movement as a pseudo-Christian sect was prompted by a rigid, exclusive, and dogmatic attitude. Perhaps other motives lurk behind the scene. We only know that the attempt to discredit the Oneness movement in the eyes of others cannot destroy the truth that God is one. If the United Pentecostal Church would disappear from the earth, the truth of the oneness of God and that the one true God came in Jesus Christ will remain. This truth is in the Word of God, and the Word shall not pass away.

No one can destroy truth, but we can all pray that God will enable all of us to understand more of the truth about Him through the Word, and that He would lead us to a greater commitment of our lives to the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed us from sin and its horrible consequences.

(The above material appeared in a December, 1987 issue of Pentecostal Herald.)
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Characteristics of Pentecostals

Characteristics of Pentecostals
By J. L. Hall, Editor

In the fall of 1900, Charles F. Parham opened a Bible college in a large mansion in Topeka, Kansas. After the first term, Parham asked the forty students to search the Bible to determine the evidence of a person receiving the Holy Ghost. It is not certain what his prior thinking on this subject was, but he states that he was surprised when the entire student body agreed that speaking in tongues is the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.

On January 1, 1901, one of the students, Agnes Ozman, asked Parham to lay hands on her that she might receive the Holy Ghost. Reluctantly, Parham complied. As he prayed, Ozman began speaking in tongues. On January 3, Parham and twelve others received the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues, and the experience quickly spread among the entire student body.

Parham soon moved his students to Kansas City for revival services, but it was not until they arrived in Galena, Kansas, in the fall of 1903 to hold services that significant new converts were added to the group. In Galena, more than five hundred were baptized and hundreds received the Holy Ghost. Next, the Pentecostals went to Texas; beginning in the spring of 1905 in the small community of Orchard, located

Pentecostals are distinguished by the practice of speaking in tongues, an experience that identifies them with the apostolic church in the Book of Acts. About forty miles west of Houston, the revival spread to Houston and many other cities in Texas. The success in Texas brought thousands of
new converts into the movement, and by the summer of 1906 they could
count more than thirteen thousand Pentecostals. But the revival had
only begun.

One of Parham’s students in Houston, W. J. Seymour, a black Holiness minister, took the news to Los Angeles, California, where he opened the famous Azusa Street Mission in the spring of 1906. From this mission the Pentecostal message reached across North America and around the world. From these early beginnings, the Pentecostal movement has continued its phenomenal growth, and today the number of Pentecostals worldwide is estimated to be more than 250 million.

Speaking in Tongues

Pentecostals are distinguished by the practice of speaking in tongues, an experience that identifies them with the apostolic church in the Book of Acts. The record of the birth of the church reveals that
when the Holy Ghost came upon the disciples they spoke with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). Moreover, the Gentile converts in Caesarea and the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus spoke in tongues when they were filled with the Spirit.

Although speaking in tongues is not specifically mentioned in the revival Philip held among the Samaritans, it appears certain that tongues was the expected sign and the evidence accepted by the two
apostles, Peter and John, who prayed for the converts to receive the Spirit (Acts 8:1-16). There can belittle doubt that speaking in tongues was common among Christians in the New Testament (I

by J. L. Hall, Editor in Chief

Corinthians 12, 14).

At some point in time after the days of the apostles, speaking in tongues faded from the experience of those in the Roman Catholic Church, but history reveals that tongues did not cease. On the contrary, through the centuries many individuals and groups experienced speaking in tongues; recorded incidents exist from the Montanists in the third century to the Irvingites in the nineteenth century. Many groups since the Reformation reported speaking in tongues among them. For example, many followers of John Wesley and George Whitefield spoke in tongues. Moreover, from 1850 to 1900 at least eleven separate accounts of speaking in tongues are recorded. What made the event in Topeka, Kansas, so important is that it began a chain of revivals that has grown into the most significant movement in Christendom since the Reformation.

While speaking in tongues is the primary distinguishing characteristic of Pentecostals, other characteristics such as divine healing, fervent praying, jubilant worship, diligent Bible study, holy lifestyle, anointed preaching, and devotion to biblical doctrine also define the movement. Unfortunately, many groups have altered their historical Pentecostal practices. For example, many Pentecostals no longer ascribe to the holy lifestyle of their pioneers. Neither do many groups contend for a move of the Spirit in their services.

Finished Work of Calvary

For the first decade of the revival, from 1901 to 1911,Pentecostalswere not concerned about doctrinal differences among them, and they did

not confine their fellowship to denominational boundaries. But their stress on unity did not survive the next decade.

With the rapid spread of the Pentecostal experience among ministers and congregations of different doctrinal persuasions, it is not surprising that doctrinal disputes would soon come to the movement. Growth demanded organization and doctrinal discussion.

The first doctrinal division came with the preaching of William Durham, pastor of the influential mission on North Avenue in Chicago. Durham preached the “Finished Work of Calvary” to refute the Holiness doctrine of sanctification as a definite and separate work of grace. The Holiness Pentecostals held a three-stage gospel: saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost. Durham preached a two-stage gospel: saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. He preached that sanctification is experienced both as a part of salvation and as a continuous grace as Christians grow in Christ.

By 1912, a majority of Pentecostals had embraced Durham’s message and made a clear departure from the Holiness theology of sanctification that had dominated the early years of the Pentecostal movement, but a large minority continued to hold to the belief that sanctification is a separate work of grace.

Baptism in the

Name of Jesus Christ

The second doctrinal division began during the worldwide Pentecostal camp meeting in Los Angeles in the summer of 1913. R. E. McAlister, preaching at a baptismal service, pointed out that the apostles did not use the traditional formula of baptizing “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” but that they always baptized in the name of Jesus Christ or in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 22:16). His remarks created an immediate interest, and several ministers began to study the Bible to make sure he was correct.

One prominent Pentecostal leader, Frank J. Ewart, spent several months intensely searching the Bible for an answer to the meaning of Matthew 28:19 and the accounts in the Book of Acts. In the early months of 1914, he came to understand that the name in Matthew 28:19 is not the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but Jesus.

After discussing his findings with other ministers, Ewart announced his decision to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and that henceforth he would preach and practice water baptism in the name of Jesus as did the apostles. He soon opened a tent revival in the Los Angeles area, and on April 15, 1915, he baptized Glenn Cook, an evangelist who had been with the Azusa Street Mission, in the name of Jesus Christ, and Cook baptized him. During the next several months, he rebaptized thousands of Pentecostals in the name of Jesus Christ.

With the baptismal formula in the name of Jesus Christ came the understanding of the Oneness of God. Ewart recognized that in Jesus the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9). He stressed that Jesus was not only the Son of God but that He was also the one true God manifested in flesh (I Timothy 3:16). The Oneness teaching also presented a one-stage gospel; faith, repentance, water baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost are all elements of New Testament salvation.

The message of one God and baptism in the name of Jesus quickly spread across the United States, through Canada, and around the world. By the fall of 1916, many prominent leaders among the Pentecostals had been rebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ, including E. N. Bell, Howard A. Goss, and D. C. O. Opperman, three of the founders of the of God. Other leaders rebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ included G. T. Haywood, L. C. Hall, Frank Bartleman, Harry Morse, H. G. Rodgers, B. F. Lawrence, R. E. McAlister, W. E. Booth Clibborn, A. H. Argue, Frank Small, A. D. Urshan, Harvey Shearer, George T. Studd, and

Elmer K Fisher.

In the fall of 1916, the General Council of the Assemblies of God adopted the Statement of Fundamental Truths, which embraced a trinitarian view of God and water baptism in the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The passing of the Statement effectively pushed the Oneness believers out of the Assemblies of God. Believing that they should obey God and not man, the Oneness believers refused to bow to any creed that violated the clear teaching of the Bible.

Standards of Behavior and Appearance

Although the major doctrinal divisions were formed before 1920, other changes have occurred among many Pentecostals, especially among the trinitarian wing of the movement. In matters of holiness, they came to view the rigorist standards of behavior and appearance as legalistic and therefore spiritually unhealthy.

Although all Pentecostals originally preached that women were not to cut their hair or use make-up or wear immodest clothing, many have altered these standards to allow a more worldly lifestyle. They also took a more accommodating stand on worldly sports, movies, smoking, and other similar activities that were once forbidden.

With the change in standards came changes in public worship. By the 1970s, many churches had ruled out fervent praying around the altar, anointed preaching in the pulpit, and spiritual worship in the pews. This was especially true of urban churches, which tended to be more formal and performance oriented than churches in smaller cities and towns.

Oneness Pentecostals Today

While many Pentecostal churches moved away from their roots of the demonstration of the Spirit and the need for standards of conduct, Oneness churches have remained closer to the characteristics of their pioneers. They still stress the power of believing the Bible and the need of living by its precepts.
During the church service, a person can expect to witness fervent praying, biblical preaching under the anointing of the Spirit, congregational participation in worship that relies on the operation of God’s Spirit, divine healings, waterbaptisms, and people receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Oneness Pentecostals still stress the reliability of the Bible, declaring that it is the inerrant Word of God and the only infallible guide for salvation in Jesus Christ. They do not view standards of conduct or codes of dress as evidence of legalism, but they do not teach that a person can be saved by his good conduct or godly appearance. A person who is truly saved will not love the world or the things in the world, but his
affection is directed toward things above, and his hope is anchored in
the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Someone asked, “Will the real Pentecostals stand up?” Some of them will be found not only standing up but standing tall in the United Pentecostal Church International.

This article is a reprint from the August 1988 issue of the Pentecostal Herald.

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGE - General Apostolic Theology, AIS File Library0 Comments

Water Baptism/ In Jesus Name

By J.L. Hall

When the apostle Paul arrived in Ephesus, he met twelve men who appeared to be Christians. However, when he discovered that they had not received the Holy Ghost, he asked them, “Unto what then were ye baptized?” (Acts 19:3). With this question, he probed their experience and understanding of God’s plan. When they answered that they had been baptized with the baptism of John the Baptist, he immediately taught them of Jesus Christ and then baptized them in Christian baptism.

The question Paul asked the Ephesian believers is still pertinent today, for a person’s baptism may be the best indicator of his concept of God and his level of experience in Christ. Water baptism is one of the foundational stones of the church (Hebrews 6:1-2), and it relates to the doctrinal structure and spiritual experience of its members. (See Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:10-13; Titus 3:5; I Peter 3:21.)

The Bible does not present water baptism as optional. Jesus gave the command of baptism in the great commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). At the least, this command of Jesus requires the church to make disciples by baptizing believers in the name of God. Thus water baptism here and throughout the New Testament is associated with Christian initiation. This commission from the Lord leaves us no option or alternative. We must baptize believers or disobey God’s plan of salvation.

The numerous references to baptism in the Book of Acts reveal that the disciples diligently obeyed Jesus’ commission. There are at east nine separate baptismal services recorded in Acts, and baptism is mentioned in the conversion experience of Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. (See Acts 2:38-41; 8:12-16; 8:36-39; 9:18 and 22:16; 10:47-48; 16:15; 16:33; 18:8; 19:3-5.) Wherever people believed the preaching of the gospel, they were baptized.

The record in Acts therefore establishes the apostles’ commitment to the commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples through water baptism. It is recorded in Acts that they baptized Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles, an Ethiopian, Philippians, Corinthians, and followers of John the Baptist. No believer was excluded, and there is no record of any believer refusing to be baptized. As the disciples preached Jesus Christ they proclaimed that through repentance and water baptism a person can receive forgiveness of sins and the Holy Ghost. (See Acts 2:38.)

The scriptural foundation of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4). In our regeneration, we are to identify with Christ in each of these aspects. Repentance and water baptism identify with Christ’s death and burial, and the infilling of the Spirit identifies with His resurrection (See Romans 6:4.) Thus water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is one way we identify with Jesus and His work of our redemption.

It should be noted that in the Old Testament God assigned an important role to water in delivering His people and in dealing with sin. While Israel was still in Egypt, the Passover Lamb was slain, its blood placed on the houses, and its flesh eaten, but what finally separated the Israelites from Egyptian bondage was their crossing the Red Sea. Israel was “baptized” unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (I Corinthians 10:2).

In the Tabernacle service, the priests were instructed to wash at laver of water before they went before the Lord in the sanctuary. So important was washing at the laver that the priest who neglected to do so would die (Exodus 30:20). If God would not allow Moses, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, to enter the Promised Land because he broke the typoloy of Calvary by smiting the rock the second time, can anyone expect God to save those who break the gospel pattern on this side of Calvary by ignoring baptism and denying its place in God’s plan to save lost humanity?

Some people suppose that Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth taught that water baptism was optional, but this supposition is an error. In dealing with the internal strife and division that entered around the ministries of Paul, Peter, and Apollos, the apostle used the argument that he had not baptized in his name and that he had baptized only a few of them. It is evident from Acts 18:8 that all the Corinthian believers were baptized. Apparently Paul baptized the leaders and they in turn baptized others.

We only need to look at two events in Paul’s ministry to determine his commitment to water baptism. Late at night, after midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises in spite of their chains and the darkness of the dungeon in the prison. Earlier, they had been beaten by orders of the city authorities, who then had them cast into the prison. But while they sang, a miracle occurred. An earthquake shook the prison, the doors opened, and the chains fell from them. They witnessed to the jailer, who heard and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some people end the story at this point because they do not want to admit how the jailer expressed his faith. Paul and Silas told him about God’s plan of salvation, and upon the jailer’s confession of faith in Jesus, they ignored their pains, set aside needed rest, and did not wait for the morning sun to shine to baptize this Philippian jailer and those of his household (Acts 16:25-34).

The second event happened in Ephesus, where Paul felt that Christian baptism was so necessary that he baptized twelve disciples of John the Baptist (Acts 19:1-5). In this passage Paul clearly linked Christian faith with water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and with receiving the Holy Ghost.

Paul’s teaching on baptism reveals its central role in the salvation experience. (See Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; Titus 3:5.) Galatians 3:27 is an example of his belief that baptism is essential to salvation: “For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. ”

We must not think, however, that water baptism is synonymous with salvation. A person could be baptized and still be lost. (See Acts 8:13-23.) But neither should a person think he can be saved without obeying the command of baptism. It is presumptuous for anyone to reject God’s commandment in the matter of baptism, especially for someone who claims to be a believer of the gospel.

In the New Testament, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). If “born of water” refers to water baptism, there is no mistake about its necessity. But some people attempt to evade the necessity of baptism by interpreting “born of water” as “born of the Word.” The Word is important in the salvation experience, for it is the source of our faith (Romans 10:17). However, to be born of the Word a person must believe and obey the Word.

Since the Word points us to the cross, to repentance, to water baptism, and the infilling of the Spirit, the only way to be born of the Word is to believe, repent, be baptized, and receive the Spirit. It is significant that the apostles interpreted Jesus’ teaching of being born again to mean water baptism and Spirit reception. (See Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:44-48; 19:1-6.)

We should notice that the Bible speaks of baptism “for the remission of sins.” (See Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38.) On the cross Jesus shed His blood for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22), and later He gave His disciples the authority to remit sins John 20:23). Jesus’ sacrificial death is the only means of remission of sin; He died once, and there is no other offering for sins. We do not offer sacrifices at altars today, but God gave us a way to receive remission of sins. (See Hebrews 10:18.) And that way is Water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. (See Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 22:16.)

Faith, repentance, the name of Jesus in water baptism and the infilling of the Spirit flow together to wash away our sins, sanctify our sinful nature, and justify us before a holy God. (See I Corinthians 6:11; Romans 6:1-7; Ephesians 5:26-27; Romans 15:16; Luke 24:47.)

We receive remission of sins through His name (Acts 10:43; Luke 24:47), which is enjoined in the baptismal formula. Ananias said to Paul, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” Acts 22:16). At baptism, the blood and water agree (I John 5:8). It is not the blood without the water or the water without the blood, but the blood and the water. By faith in His shed blood for the remission of sins, we repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to receive remission of our sins.
It does not matter if the water is dirty or fresh, muddy or clear, still or running, in a pond, lake, or river. But what does matter is the person’s faith, his repentance, and the name of Jesus Christ. , the name of Jesus is vital, for only through the name of Jesus can a person experience salvation, including the remission of his sins John 20:31; Acts 4:12; 10:43; Luke 24:47).

The Biblical Formula
The great commission as recorded in Matthew 28:19 states that baptism is to be administered “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” We must notice that the word name is singular and that the name is not even in this text. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not proper names but titles of relationship. If Son were the name of the One born of Mary, why was she instructed to name Him Jesus? (Matthew 1:21). While it is true that when we refer to the Son of God we know of whom we are speaking, it is equally true that Jesus and not “Son of God” is His name. Moreover, Jesus indicated that His name was associated with the Father and the Holy Ghost, for He said that He came in His Father’s name and that the Holy Ghost would come in His name (John 5:43; 14:26).

Every reference to a baptismal formula in the Book of Acts and the references in the Epistles either explicitly state or indicate that the name of Jesus and not the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost was used in the baptismal formula. (See Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:37; Colossians 2:14.) It is evident that the apostles did not repeat the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the commission but interpreted Jesus’ instructions as baptism in the name of Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus. Neither did they require a confession of belief of God as three distinct, eternal persons. But they did expect a confession of faith in Jesus as the Son of God, Christ, and Lord. (See Acts 8:12,35-38; 10:43-48; 16:30-33; 19:5; 22:16.)

The use of the trinitarian formula began after the apostolic era, probably in conjunction with the development of the doctrine of the trinity. It is ironic that most trinitarians find their strongest doctrinal support in a formula that was not used by the apostles. Although trinitarians are without a single biblical example to support their trinitarian interpretation of Matthew 28:19, the trinitarian formula is so vital to their doctrine of the trinity that they oppose anyone who uses the apostolic formula. They apparently view the Jesus Name formula as a serious threat to the belief that God eternally exists as three distinct persons.

Oneness theology does not see a conflict between Matthew 28:19 and the many examples and references to water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus in the Book of Acts and the Epistles. On the contrary, it views Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as how God revealed Himself to us in redemption and regeneration. It recognizes that Jesus used the singular word name, indicating that there is only one salvation name for the three titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That one name was clearly understood by the disciples to be Jesus (Acts 4:12), for without a single exception the only name they used in baptism was Jesus, which they used with Lord or Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5, 22:16). The name of Jesus is important in our salvation experience, for it is the only name “under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

While there is not one hint or suggestion in the Book of Acts that the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were ever used in water baptism, there is abundant evidence to support the formula of baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus. Let us notice five recorded examples of evidence.

* “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” Acts 2:38).

* “Only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16).

* “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). Modern versions such as the NIV read “Lord JESUS” or “Jesus Christ.”

* “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5).

* “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). This verse reveals that the name of Jesus was invoked during baptism. Just as the disciples fulfilled Jesus’ similar command to heal the sick and cast out demons in His name by actually invoking the name of Jesus (Acts 3:6; Acts 6:18) they fulfilled Jesus’ command to baptize in the name by actually calling on the name of Jesus in water baptism.

Why is the formula used in water baptism significant? By repeating the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, trinitarian believers affirm the doctrine of the trinity, that God eternally exists in three distinct persons. For Oneness believers, baptism in the name of Jesus allows the apostolic pattern, affirms their faith that God is one, that He was incarnate in His Son Jesus Christ, and that He now wells in us by His Spirit. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ expresses faith in the Incarnation, the authentic human life of Jesus, the death of the Son of God on the cross for our sins, and the remission of sins through the name of Jesus.

No proof other than the Bible is necessary to convince a believer that he should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. We do not need secular records to embrace and follow this formula, but for the benefit of confirmation we refer to a few historical sources that affirm that baptism in the primitive church was in the name of Jesus Christ and that the trinitarian formula was not known among the Christians until after the apostolic era. The quotes below come from reputable, scholarly works concerning water baptism:

* “The evidence of Acts 2:38; 10:48 (cf. 8:16; 19:5), supportedby Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3, suggests that baptism in earlyChristianity was administered , not in the three-fold name, but in the name of Jesus Christ’ or `in the name of the Lord Jesus’.” (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962], 1:351)

* “Different from the post-apostolic and later Christian liturgical praxis, which is marked by the trinitarian formula of Matthew 8:19, the primitive church baptized ‘in’ or ‘into the name of Jesus’ (or ‘Jesus Christ,’ or ‘the Lord Jesus’; See I Corinthians 1:13,15; Acts 8:16; 19:5).” (Dictionary of the Bible, James Hastings, ed. [New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1963], 88)

* “The earliest known formula is in the name of the Lord Jesus,’ or some similar phrase; this is found in the Acts, and was perhaps still used by Hermas, but by the time of Justin Martyr the trine formula had become general. It is possible hat the older formula survived in isolated communities, but there is to decisive contemporary evidence.” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings, ed., [New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951], 2:389)

In baptism, our faith in Christ, our repentance of sins, the blood shed for the remission of sins, and the name of Jesus come together in a holy moment to wash away sin. We are saved by “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” by which we become spotless, without wrinkle, a glorious bride for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. (See Titus 1:5; I Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:26-27.)

(The above material was published by the PENTECOSTAL HERALD, August 1993)
Christian Information Network

By David K. Bernard

The Book of Acts establishes that the apostles and the early church consistently baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. This pattern is the norm for the church today.

It is our responsibility to obey the commands and examples in Bible regardless of whether we understand the reasons for this practice or the importance of it. Obedience is the only course open to us if we truly accept the Bible as our sole authority for faith and practice and if we truly desire to make Jesus the Lord of all of our life, including our thoughts, values, beliefs, and practices.

Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is not an arbitrary practice, however. Using the name of Jesus in baptism is inextricably linked with the very purpose of baptism itself. All the reasons for being baptized in water are also reasons for invoking the name of Jesus at baptism. If someone wishes to be baptized but refuses the invocation of the name of Jesus, he has not fully grasped the reasons why he should be baptized. Let us examine these reasons.

1. As a minimum, all groups in Christendom agree that the purpose of water baptism is to express faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. When the listeners on the Day of Pentecost accepted Jesus as Lord and Messiah, they were baptized (Acts 2:36-38,41). When the Samaritans “believed Philip preaching . . . concerning the kingdom of God, and the name ofJesus Christ, they were baptized” Acts 8:12). When the disciples of John at Ephesus heard that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecy of John the Baptist, they were baptized (Acts 19:4-5). When the Corinthians “believed on the Lord,” they were baptized (Acts 8:8).

The proper way to express faith in Jesus is to confess His name. In each of the cases just cited, the candidates expressed their faith in Jesus by being baptized in the name of Jesus. (See Acts 2:38; 8:16; 19:5; I Corinthians 1:13.)

2. Baptism is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), or to “wash away . . . sins” (Acts 22:16), and the name of Jesus is the only name given for remission of sins. “Through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). Thus the proper way to seek remission of sins at baptism is to invoke the name of Jesus in faith. Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16 not only connect remission of sins with water baptism, but they specifically connect remission of sins with water baptism in the name of Jesus.

3. Baptism is part of our salvation experience (Mark 16:16; I Peter 3:21), and the name of Jesus is the only name given for salvation. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” Acts 4:12). (See also Acts 2:21; Romans 10:9,13.) Thus the proper way to integrate water baptism with New Testament salvation is to invoke the name of Jesus.

4. Baptism is a burial with Jesus Christ (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2: 12). The Spirit of God did not die for us; only Jesus the man died for us and was buried in the tomb. To be buried with Jesus Christ, we should be baptized in His name.

5. Baptism is part of our personal identification with Jesus Christ. “So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3). “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). If we seek to be identified with Him, we should take on His name.

6. Baptism is part of the new birth by which we are born into the spiritual family of God (John 1:5; Titus 3:5). We can also view the conversion experience, of which baptism is a part, as an adoption into the spiritual family of God (Romans 8:15-16). A newly born or adopted child always takes on the name of his new family. Since we seek to enter into the church of Jesus Christ, which is called His body and His bride, we should take on His name. (See Ephesians 5:23, 29-32.)

7. Baptism is part of our spiritual circumcision, or initiation into the new covenant (Colossians 2:11-13) . Under the old covenant a male child officially received his name at his physical circumcision. (See Luke 2:21.) Water baptism is the time when our new family name is invoked upon us at our spiritual circumcision.

In connection with the last two points, we know that the identifying name of our new spiritual family is Jesus, for at least two reasons. First, it is the only name in which we can receive salvation. (See John 14:6; Acts 4:12.) Second, it is the supreme name by which God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” This verse does not require us to pronounce the name of Jesus orally before every activity, but it deals with the attitude in which we conduct every activity.

All our words and actions should be consistent with the invocationof Jesus as Lord. When there is cause to invoke God’s name formally, such as at water baptism, which is both word and deed, this verse applies in a specific way, telling us to approach God in the name of the Lord Jesus. Just as we pray, lay hands on the sick, and cast out demons in the name Jesus, so we should baptize in the name of Jesus.

Using the name of Jesus in the baptismal formula expresses faith
* in the person of Christ (who he really is);
* the work of Christ (His death, burial, and resurrection for our salvation); and
* the power and authority of Christ (His ability to save us by Himself).

In short, baptism in the name of Jesus signifies that we trust in Jesus alone as our Savior, and thus it expresses the essence of saving faith. Since the only one who can take away sins is Jesus-not us by our deeds, not the water, and not the preacher-we call upon Him in faith, depending on Him to do the work.

The Bible teaches that everyone should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and it reveals that every reason for baptism is specifically a reason for baptism in the name of Jesus. Thus baptism in the name of Jesus demonstrates reverence for and obedience to the Word of God over and above human tradition, convenience, or peer pressure.

In view of the scriptural significance of the name of Jesus, why should anyone refuse to be baptized in Jesus’ name? Why would anyone hesitate to take on the name of the One who died for us and to identify publicly with Him? Why would anyone reject the only saving name, the name that is above every name?

(The above material was published by the PENTECOSTAL HERALD, August 1993)
Christian Information Network

Posted in ADBA - Baptism, AIS File Library0 Comments

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