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Seeing God in the Face of Jesus Christ (Newsletter 3-4)

by Mike Conn

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7).

“For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15-16 NLT).

The fear of seeing two in heaven has troubled many who believe in the Oneness of God. This confusion has even caused some to fail to acknowledge the resurrected Christ. Some have even surmised that the Son was swallowed by the deity and or that He no longer exists. Yet the Bible is clear that there will be “one” on the throne in heaven (Revelation 4:2). According to Revelation 3:21 that “one” on the throne will be the Son of God, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.

In a display of divine handiwork where Christ and God are still one, we will see the “glory” of the Father in and on the Son. We will see the resurrected “man Christ Jesus” surrounded by the “glory of his Father” (Matthew 16:27, Mark 8:38), This “glory” or bright light was what Stephen saw (Acts 7:55). He saw the same glory that Moses was unable to look upon, that glory will be mediated through the image of the glorified Son of God. Paul also saw that “light” and was blind for three days (Acts 9:3), and John saw it and said  “his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength (Revelation 1:16). This brilliant light is described by Paul as ”light so brilliant that no human can approach him,” and “No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will.”

“Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:2).

That light was a great comfort to Stephen and John, but will do damage to unbelievers. It blinded Saul of Tarshes and will “destroy” the anti-christ at the Second Coming (II Thessalonians 2:8).

Technically the Father will never be seen, yet, Jesus the Son of God will not only be seen, but will be seen by “every eye.” John’s description is given.

1. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest.
2.  His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow.
3. And his eyes were like flames of fire.
4. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace,
5. his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves.
6. He held seven stars in his right hand,
7. and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth.
8. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

Therefore, dear brothers who are afraid of “dualism,” and who feel it necessary to suppress or deny the resurrected Christ. Cease from your unbiblical speculation and rest easy. It would not be in your best interest to deny the existence of the risen Christ in heaven. Nor would it be in your best interest to think that you will be able to see the Father someday. You will only see God in the manner He has decided. That is, you will see God in the “face” of Jesus Christ. You will not see two God’s but you will see only one. So in your efforts to prove the Oneness of God, don’t deny the Son!
Mike Conn is the pastor at The Apostolic Church of Topeka, Kansas.

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Jehovah Is One (Entire Article)

By Gordon G. Mallory

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The devout Jewish home is identified at the door by the “Mezuzah” fastened to the doorpost. This is a small case of metal or wood, which contains a parchment roll called the “Shema,” written in Hebrew script. The Shema contains the verses of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (Old Testament), affirming that God is One. Upon leaving or entering his house, the pious Jew touches his fingers to the Mezuzah and then to his lips. He then repeats the words, “Hear, 0 Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah” (American Standard Version).

 

We would particularly note that Jehovah’s injunction to love Him “with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might” is preceded by the revelation of: (1) His Name; and, (2) the revelation that He is One Jehovah. Thus God establishes the foundation of man’s relationship to his Creator upon his knowledge and understanding of The One True God, as contrasted with the many gods of the heathen people and nations whose names were called upon by their worshippers.

 

The “incomprehensible” Trinity

For 2000 years Jesus has been the most controversial figure in the history of the human race. After three and a half years of earthly ministry, the religious leaders of His day demanded that He be crucified. Pilate testified to the Jews, “I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:3 8). Though Pilate “knew that for envy they had delivered him” (Matthew 27:18), his greater concern for his own political prestige caused him to appeal to the mob with the question, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22). That ringing question has called every person within hearing of the Gospel message.

 

History records that the Church moved steadily toward apostasy and confusion after the passing of the original Apostles. Typical of that confusion was the controversy regarding baptism, which manifested itself in baptism being administered with one dip or three dips in water, in still or running water, face first or back first into the water, by immersion or sprinkling, and finally as infant baptism. This controversy remains with us today.

 

The most critical and significant issue of that day centered upon the historic question, “What shall we do with Jesus?” The importance of the issue lies in the fact that Jesus is the ‘key’ to the understanding and acceptance of the message of The Name of The One True God.

As is true today, there were those who accepted Jesus only as a man. Those who reject Jesus as God are not involved with the plural – God teaching, such as the Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jews who all have two things in common: (1) they reject Jesus’ divinity; and, (2) they worship one God.

 

A major obstacle to the conversion of the Jews is the doctrine of the Trinity, which the Jewish people treat as plural-God worship. it is unfortunate that many Christians believe that a Jew must be converted to the Trinity to be saved. Rather, a Jew, as is true of all men, must believe that Jesus was “God manifest in the flesh.” When Jesus asked the Jews, “For which of those works do ye stone me?” they answered, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God”. (John 10:3 33).

 

A second thought made Jesus to be a kind of intermediary between God and man — a demi-god. This position was known as “Arianism.” To them Jesus was neither very God nor very man.

 

Then there were the fundamentalists of that day who acknowledged Jesus as God. Within that body of believers were those who could not reconcile the Deity of Christ with the truth of The One God. To break through that barrier and to refute the Arian philosophy, the Nicene Creed was put forth in its earliest form by what was known as the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.

 

A significant problem of the Nicene Creed was that its proponents could not state their conclusions in Scriptural terms or language.

 

That difficulty was resolved by the formulation of a peculiar vocabulary, which was ordained to be used by the churches that adopted the Creed.

 

It is apparent that the Creed was conceived as a means to better understand The One True God. That its purpose was not achieved is evidenced by the confession that the Trinity is incomprehensible and cannot be explained. Prominent religious leaders have asserted that God is a Trinity, while admitting they cannot explain it. Supporters of the historic Creed have commonly described it as the “Incomprehensible Trinity.”

 

The Creed presents its followers with the following unsolvable riddle: Is the Trinity one Divinity with three heads, three Divinities or Persons with one head, or three Spirits or Divinities with three heads? The contradictory nature of the doctrine is attributed to the premise that it is a Divine mystery and therefore cannot be humanly explained.

 

A Split Decision Is No Decision

The amazing phenomenon of the Trinitarian Creed is that it cannot be used successfully to answer any question or solve any problem. This is true because the attempt on the part of the fourth Century Church to harmonize the truth of the Divinity of Christ with the message of The One God resulted in a split decision. However, a split decision is, in fact, no decision.

 

To illustrate, we shall cite a case in which one party, the plaintiff, brings suit against another party, the defendant, to recover damages sustained in an automobile accident. At the conclusion of the court trial, the jury has decided for the plaintiff, while the remaining part of the jury has decided for the defendant. The administrators of the law have no alternative but to treat the split decision as no decision. In such cases the trial judge declares a ‘hung jury’, and the case may be dropped from further consideration, or the plaintiff may elect to have the case tried a second time.

 

No attempt is made to implement a split decision, for it is impossible to do so. To apply one part of the divided verdict is to ignore or violate the other part. Such a decision solves nothing because only one-half of such a decision can be applied to the particular case being considered.

 

It must, of course, be acknowledged that man cannot fully comprehend the profound nature and attributes of an omniscient God whose presence fills the universe, a God Whose wisdom is so great that He knows the end from the beginning, and a God who had no birth or origin because He is Eternal. Yet these are not the qualities of The One True God that confuse a trinitarian.

 

This frustration is the result of one’s attempt to reconcile the two contrary poles of a split decision, which the human intellect is incapable of doing. Thus, the mind of the trinitarian vacillates between the premise of worshipping three Divine Beings; and, the sincere desire to uphold Him as The One Supreme God. So, out of confusion and frustration he testifies that “God is a Trinity, but don’t ask me to explain it,” or, “I must confess to you that I cannot understand the Trinity.

 

Water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen. Remove either of these or separate one from the other, and we no longer have water. Water’s two components, whether oxygen or hydrogen, may be separated from the other and used for a specific purpose, but that substance alone is not water, nor can it be used as water.

 

Similarly, the traditional Trinity consists of two affirmations, which together are declared to be the triune or three-in-one God. When one of the two parts of the Creed is separated from the other, in order to be applied to a particular portion of Scripture or a specific situation, there is no longer a Trinity. Therefore, by the process of taking the one without the others, either we have One God or we have a plurality of persons or beings.

 

The Creed of the Trinity is incomprehensible, not because it is a Divine mystery, as commonly supposed, but because it is a contradiction, and therefore cannot be successfully implemented to shed light on any scripture. Let us cite illustrations.

 

We have earlier referred to the text from Deuteronomy 6:4 (ASV), “Hear 0 Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” Turning to the basic trinitarian statement of the ‘one God consisting of three Persons,’ only the first part of the split verdict agrees with this text. No application can be made of the latter part of this traditional tenet of faith.

 

If we cite the verse in Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after Our likeness:” the trinitarian applies the latter part of the split decision to the plural pronouns of the text, which he affirms as ‘evidence’ that God is plural, while he ignores the first part of the statement which declares God is One.

 

When the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River is presented as evidence of a plural God, the latter part of the divided verdict is applied, while the opposite or first part of the trinitarian statement is disregarded.

 

A hit of serious thinking in this area reveals the fact that by trinitarian logic the same kind of split decision could be devised to solve every situation in the Bible where various and conflicting views exist among scholars concerning the correct understanding and interpretation of scripture.

A unique kind of split decision was pronounced by King Solomon (I Kings 3:16-28) to determine the true mother of the child who was claimed by two women. The decision was declared by the King because he did not know the solution of the case brought before him.

Solomon’s edict, that a sword be used to divide the child in two parts, would have destroyed the child and solved nothing. Solomon, however, wisely assumed that his proposed edict would reveal the true mother and his verdict would never be implemented.

 

Students of the Bible are aware that there are seeming or apparent contradictions in the scriptures, some of which we shall note later in this study. Generally, Bible scholars have studied to bring harmony into their teaching from the Scriptures. Many of the comments by Dr. C. E. Scofield in the well-known Scofield Bible are directed toward harmonizing and cleaning up apparent or seeming inconsistencies.

 

What Does The Creed Say.

A further obstacle in applying the Creed of the Trinity is in the inability of proponents of the Creed to adhere to the several claims which comprise the trinitarian dogma, consisting of a series of affirmations intended to reconcile the two opposite poles of the split decision. We cite some examples.

 

It is taught that man is a Trinity because he consists of body, soul and spirit. What does the Creed say? The Creed of the Trinity affirms that God is three divinities or persons. A person represents a center of intelligence. A rock is not a person because it has no center of intelligence. Since the Creed in question teaches God as three Divine Persons, three centers of intelligence are presumed to comprise the Trinity. Further, the three persons are claimed to be of the same substance or essence.

 

Three centers of intelligence do not reside in a man, nor is a man’s soul of the same substance as his body; and, neither is a man’s body of the same essence as his spirit. Man therefore is not a trinity. Moreover, no form of life throughout the universe corresponds to the theory of the Trinity.

 

The incident of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan is cited as a manifestation of the Trinity. What does the Creed say?

 

The Trinity is taught as consisting of three ‘inseparable’ or ‘indivisible’ persons. By locating the Father in heaven, the Son in the water, and the Spirit as coming down from heaven to earth, the trinitarian has unwittingly divided the three ‘inseparable’ persons into three separate and distinct beings.

 

Here we shall digress briefly to note that nowhere was God seen during Jesus’ baptism, for “No man path seen God at any time; ” (John 1:18). The Son standing in the Jordan River was “God manifest in the flesh.” The “bodily shape like a dove” likewise was God in a visible manifestation, while the “voice from heaven” was an audible manifestation of the One True God. (The manifestations of God are dealt with further in Chapter 7 under the title  God Is Spirit.)

Prayer by the Son to the Father is often cited as evidence of a plural God. What does the Creed say?

 

The traditional Creed teaches God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. So then, does the prayer of the Son represent God the Son praying to God the Father, and therefore Deity praying to Deity? An omniscient., omnipotent and eternal God does not pray, for He is complete and all sufficient in Himself. Only man prays to seek aid and direction from a Higher Power than himself.

 

Thus, it is seen that the controversial and fanciful nature of the tenets of the Creed in question prevents men from adhering to its claims when the attempt is made to apply the dogma to any given situation, biblical or otherwise.

 

Why This Strange Language?

It is sad that the ‘trinitarian language’ has been adopted when it has no biblical or historic significance. Years ago we faced the stark realization that the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be spoken of or taught in biblical terms or language. It is evident, therefore, that the trinitarian vocabulary was created, not as an option, nor for reasons of convenience, but as a matter of pure necessity. The vocabulary is the lifeline of the doctrine, without which the doctrine cannot survive. Undoubtedly this explains the fierce loyalty to the irinitarian’ term, which is placed, practically speaking, on an equal plane with the Bible itself

 

It is not surprising then that trinitarians seriously question the capacity or capability of non-trinitarians to correctly interpret Scripture without the use of this non-biblical terminology. It is, however, an historical fact that both the Old and the New Testament prophets proclaimed the truths concerning The One True God and His Name with unction, with clarity, and without compromise. Certainly the apostles and prophets of the Early Church did very well for themselves in articulating the great doctrines of the gospel message without relying upon the trinitarian vocabulary, which was created in the pitfalls and confusion of after years.

 

We choose to abide by the rule that if a message cannot be told in biblical words, the message is obviously false. Since words are the vehicle whereby God’s Word is communicated. this then is our next logical objection to the Creed of the Trinity

 

We recall from the past a biblical translation, which was widely criticized with the charge, that the language of the Virgin Birth was improperly rendered to compromise the message. We have not had occasion to examine this particular version to prove nor disprove the charges. However, it is a matter of common knowledge that the Virgin Birth of God’s Son is rejected by the unbelieving world, and has even been under attack by some of the liberal clergy. We submit that the message of the Virgin Birth would be unsupportable if the language of the Bible did not death declare the supernatural birth of the Christ Child,

 

Our confidence in the message of the Virgin Birth rests upon such clear and unmistakable texts as these: “A virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son,” (Matthew 1:23) and, “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost,” (Matthew 1:20) and, “The virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:27). In the face of all attacks upon this truth, we declare this message with a firm and unshakable “Thus saith the Lord”

 

Traditional Church authorities have commonly required acceptance of the trinitarian language as a necessary qualification for recognition as a member of the Body of Christ. Such a standard would have disqualified the Apostles of the Church from membership! Why have Church leaders imposed this vocabulary upon their followers? We suggest the answer is not hard to find.

A study of the terminology of the Trinity reveals that the various trinitarian terms used are for the purpose of emphasizing the numeral ‘three.’ Such words as — trinity, triune, tri-unity, compound unity, plurality in unity, and unity in plurality, three persons, first, second and third person, three-in-one — all were designed to teach a plural God, none of which are found anywhere in the Holy Bible.

 

In contrast, the language of the Bible is confined to the numeral ‘One’ when speaking of God. ‘One’ is the only numeral authentically associated with the True God of the Bible. The message of the Trinity is therefore totally dependent upon a vocabulary that is foreign to the Scriptures.

 

One verse is found in the Authorized Version using the numeral -three” in relation to God, which reads, “there are three that hear record in heaven.., and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)

 

The Scofield Reference Bible offers this comment on the verse in question: “it is generally agreed that verse 7 has no real authority, and has been inserted.” Adam. Clark’s Commentary concurs:” “It is likely that this verse is not genuine. It is wanting in every M.S.,” (manuscript) “one excepted.” The text is omitted from the following versions: The American Standard, Moffat’s Bible, The New International Version and The New American Standard. The Amplified Bible give the verse in italics, thus signifying it is in the Authorized Version, but is not accepted as valid by scholars. And so with this verse removed from consideration, the Bible is unanimous in declaring God is One.

 

It should further be noted that every Scripture that deals particularly or specifically with the question of whether God is One or plural affirms God to be One. This is to say then, that every text used to teach God as plural is centered on another subject and is therefore taken out of context to support the concept of the Trinity.

 

To illustrate: The account of Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8), the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, Stephen’s vision of heaven, and Jesus standing on the right hand (Acts 7:55-56), and Jesus’ promise to send “another Comforter” (John 14:16) – all these and other incidents are often taught as ‘suggesting’ or ‘intimating’ the existence of the Trinity. in fact, these Scriptures are not recorded to provide answers to the question of whether God is one or plural. Nevertheless, these are typical of the kind of evidence offered to support the concept of a plural God.

 

It is not the strange language of the Trinity, but rather it is the simple word ‘One’ that is the universal language of the Bible when related to God.

 

 

 

The above article, “Jehovah Is One” was written by Gordon G. Mallory. The article was excerpted from Mallory’s book, Jesus.

 

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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Jesus is God

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By David K. Bernard

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

The fact that Jesus is God is as firmly established in Scripture as the fact that God is one. The Bible teaches that Jesus is fully God and fully man. In this chapter we will discuss the former; in Chapter V the latter.

In the next few sections we will present and discuss scriptural proofs that Jesus is God, numbering them for the reader’s convenience.

The Old Testament Testifies That Jesus Is God

1. Isaiah 9:6 is one of the most powerful proofs that Jesus is God: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
The terms child and son refer to the Incarnation or manifestation of “The mighty God” and “The everlasting Father.”

2. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be called Immanuel, that is, God with us (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23).

3. Isaiah described the Messiah as both a branch out of Jesse (the father of David) and as the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1, 10; see also Revelation 22:16). According to the flesh He was a descendant (branch) of Jesse and David, but according to His Spirit He was their Creator and source of life (root). Jesus used this concept to confound the Pharisees when He quoted Psalm 110:1 and asked, in essence, “How could David call the Messiah Lord when the Messiah was to be the son (descendant) of David?” (Matthew 22:41-46).

4. Isaiah 35:4-6 shows that Jesus is God: “Behold, your God. . .he will come and save you.” This passage goes on to say that when God comes the eyes of the blind would be opened, the ears of the deaf would be unstopped, the lame would leap, and the tongue of the dumb would speak. Jesus applied this passage of Scripture to Himself (Luke 7:22) and, of course, His ministry did produce all of these things.

5. Isaiah 40:3 declares that one would cry in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy when he prepared the way for Jesus (Matthew 3:3); so Jesus is the LORD (Jehovah) and our God.

6. Micah 5:2 proves that the Messiah is God. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah. . .out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Thus the Old Testament clearly states that the Messiah and Savior to come would be God Himself.

The New Testament Proclaims That Jesus is God

1. Thomas confessed Jesus as both Lord and God (John 20:28).

2. According to Acts 20:28, the church was purchased with God’s own blood, namely the blood of Jesus.

3. Paul described Jesus as “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13; NIV has “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”).

4. Peter described Him as “God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:1; NIV and TAB both have “our God and Savior Jesus Christ”).

5. Our bodies are the temples of God (I Corinthians 3:16-17), yet we know Christ dwells in our hearts (Ephesians 3:17).

6. The Book of Colossians strongly emphasizes the deity of Christ. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9; see also 1:19). According to these verses of Scripture, Jesus is not just a part of God, but all of God is resident in Him. If there were several persons in the Godhead, according to Colossians 2:9 they would all be resident in the bodily form of Jesus. We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). Whatever we need from God we can find in Jesus Christ alone. (For further discussion of Colossians 2:9 and other proofs of Christ’s deity in Colossians, see Chapter IX.)

We conclude that the New Testament testifies to the full deity of Jesus Christ.

God Was Manifest in the Flesh as Jesus

The statement that Jesus is God necessarily implies that God took on human flesh. This is in fact what the Bible says.

1. “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Timothy 3:16; see verse 15 for further confirmation that God is the subject of verse 16). God was manifest (made visible) in flesh; God was justified (shown to be right) in the Spirit; God was seen of angels; God was believed on in the world; and God was received up into glory. How and when did all of this happen? In Jesus Christ.

2. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . .And the Word was made flesh. . .” (John 1:1, 14). Literally, the Word (God) was tabernacled or tented in flesh. When did God tabernacle or robe Himself in flesh? In Jesus Christ. Both verses of Scripture prove that Jesus is God—that He is God manifest (revealed, made known, made evident, displayed, shown) in flesh.

God is a Spirit—without flesh and blood and invisible to man. In order to make Himself visible to man and in order to shed innocent blood for our sins, He had to put on flesh. (For more on the purposes of the Son, see Chapter V.) Jesus is not another God or a part of God, but He is the God of the Old Testament robed in flesh. He is the Father; He is Jehovah who came in flesh to bridge the gap between man and God that man’s sin had created. He put on flesh as a man puts on a coat.

Many verses of Scripture declare Jesus Christ to be the God of the Old Testament robed in flesh for the purpose of self-revelation and reconciliation.

3. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (II Corinthians 5:19).

4. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [spoken, revealed] him” (John 1:18).

5. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son. . .the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. . .” (Hebrew 1:1-3).

6. Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15; II Corinthians 4:4).

7. He is God veiled in flesh (Hebrews 10:20). As Abraham prophesied, probably without understanding the full meaning of his own words, “God will provide himself a lamb” (Genesis 22:8). God indeed provided a body for Himself: “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me” (Hebrews 10:5).

8. Jesus was the builder of the house (God the Father and Creator) and also a son over his own house (Hebrews 3:3-6).

9. He came to His own creation and to His own chosen people but they did not recognize Him or receive Him (John 1:10-11).

The Word

John 1 beautifully teaches the concept of God manifest in flesh. In the beginning was the Word (Greek, Logos). The Word was not a separate person or a separate god any more than a man’s word is a separate person from him. Rather the Word was the thought, plan, or mind of God. The Word was with God in the beginning and actually was God Himself (John 1:1). The Incarnation existed in the mind of God before the world began. Indeed, in the mind of God the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (I Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8).

In Greek usage, logos can mean the expression or plan as it exists in the mind of the proclaimer—as a play in the mind of a playwright—or it can mean the thought as uttered or otherwise physically expressed—as a play that is enacted on stage. John 1 says the Logos existed in the mind of God from the beginning of time. When the fulness of time was come, God put that plan in action. He put flesh on that plan in the form of the man Jesus Christ. The Logos is God expressed. As John Miller says, the Logos is “God uttering Himself.”‘ In fact, TAB translates the last phrase of John 1:1 as, “The Word was God Himself.” Flanders and Cresson say, “The Word was God’s means of self disclosure.” This thought is further brought out by verse 14, which says the incarnated Word had the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, and by verse 18, which says that the Son has declared the Father.

In Greek philosophy, the Logos came to mean reason or wisdom as the controlling principle of the universe. In John’s day, some Greek philosophers and Jewish theologians influenced by Greek thought (especially the Jewish thinker, Philo of Alexandria) regarded the Logos as an inferior, secondary deity or as an emanation from God in time. Some Christian heresies, including an emerging form of Gnosticism, were already incorporating these theories into their doctrines, and therefore relegating Jesus to an inferior role. John deliberately used their own terminology to refute these doctrines and to declare the truth. The Word was not inferior to God; it was God (John 1:1). The Word did not emanate from God over a period of time; it was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was none other than the Word, or God, revealed in flesh. Note also that the Greek word pros, translated “with” in verse 1, is the same word translated “pertaining to” in Hebrews 2:17 and 5:1. John 1:1 could include in its meanings, therefore, the following: “The Word pertained to God and the Word was God,” or, “The Word belonged to God and was God.”

Jesus Was God From the Beginning Of His Human Life

God was manifest in the flesh through Jesus Christ, but at what point in His life did God indwell the Son? The Bible unequivocally declares that the fulness of God was in Jesus from the moment when Jesus’ human life began.

1. Matthew 1:23 says, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” He was “God with us” even at his birth.

2. The angels worshiped Him at His birth (Hebrews 1:6), Simeon recognized the infant as the Christ (Luke 2:26), Anna saw the babe as the redeemer of Israel (Luke 2:38), and the wise men worshiped the young child (Matthew 2:11).

3. Micah 5:2 ascribed deity to the Messiah at His birth in Bethlehem, not just after His life in Nazareth or His baptism in Jordan.

4. Luke 1:35 explains why Jesus was God at the beginning of His human life. The angel told Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Jesus was born of a virgin, His conception being effected by the Holy Ghost. Because of this (“therefore”), He was the Son of God. In other words, Jesus is the Son of God because God, and not a man, caused His conception. God was literally His Father. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. . .” (John 3:16). To beget means to father, sire, procreate, or cause. Jesus was begotten by God in the womb of the virgin Mary.

Isaiah 7:14 also links the virgin conception with the recognition that the Son thus born would be God.

In other words, at the moment of conception, God placed His divine nature in the seed of the woman. The child to be born received its life and the fatherly side of its nature from God at this time. From the mother’s side it received the human nature of Mary; from the father’s side (God, not Joseph) it received the nature of God. Jesus obtained His divine nature through the conception process; He did not become divine by some later act of God. The virgin birth of Jesus establishes His deity.

Some believe that Jesus received the fulness of God at some later time in His life, such as at His baptism. However, in light of the virgin birth and Luke 1:35 this cannot be so. Jesus received His nature of deity as well as the nature of humanity at conception. The descent of the Holy Ghost like a dove at the baptism of Jesus was not a baptism of the Holy Ghost; Jesus already had all the fulness of God within Him (Colossians 2:9). Rather, His baptism, among other things, occurred as a symbolic anointing for the beginning of His earthly ministry and as a confirmation to John the Baptist of His deity (John 1:32-34). (For more on the baptism of Jesus see Chapter VIII.)

The Mystery of Godliness

The fact that God became flesh is one of the most wonderful and yet one of the most incomprehensible things about God. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh. . .” (I Timothy 3:16). Jesus is like no other man that ever has been or will be. He has two natures; He is fully God and fully man. (See Chapter V.) Most problems in people’s minds concerning the Godhead come from this great mystery. They cannot understand the dual nature of Christ and cannot correctly separate his two roles. They cannot comprehend how God could take on the form of a baby and live among men.

It is true that we cannot comprehend fully how the miraculous conception—the union of God and man—took place in the womb of Mary, but we can accept it by faith. In fact, if we do not believe that Jesus is come in the flesh we have an antichrist spirit (II John 7), but if we do accept this doctrine of Christ we will have both the Father and the Son (II John 9). Both Father and Son are revealed in Christ (John 10:30; 14:6-11).

The mystery of God in flesh was a great stumbling block to the Jews. They never could understand how Jesus, being a man, could also be God (John 10:33). Because He claimed to be God they rejected Him and sought to kill Him (John 5:18; 10:33).

Even today, many Jews cannot accept Jesus for this reason. In a conversation, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi told us he could never accept Jesus as God.4 He felt that since God is an omnipresent, invisible Spirit He can never be seen by man and cannot be visible in flesh. His reasoning reminded us of the Jews in Jesus’ day. Like this rabbi, they tried to limit God by their own preconceived ideas of how God should act. Furthermore, they did not have a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures that proclaim the deity of the Messiah.

While it is humanly difficult to understand how the infinite God could dwell in flesh, yet the Scriptures declare it to be so. We reminded the rabbi of God’s appearance in the form of a man to Abraham in Genesis 18. He admitted this was a problem for him, but he tried to explain it in terms of an anthropomorphism or figurative language. Then we referred to other verses of Scripture such as Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, Jeremiah 23:6, and Micah 5:2 to show that the Messiah would be Jehovah God. The rabbi had no answer except to say that our translations of these verses of Scripture were possibly incorrect. He promised to study them further.

There never has been a mystery as to “persons” in the Godhead. The Bible clearly states that there is only one God, and this is easy for all to understand. The only mystery about the Godhead is how God could come in flesh, how Jesus could be both God and man. But the truth of this mystery has been revealed to those who will believe. The mystery of Jesus Christ has been kept secret since the world began, but was revealed in the New Testament age (Romans 16:25-26; Colossians 1:25-27). A mystery in the New Testament is simply a plan of God that was not understood in the Old Testament but which has been made known to us. We “may understand. . .the mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:45).

We can know the mystery of God and the Father, which is Christ (Colossians 2:2; see also the NIV and TAB). In fact, Paul explained this mystery by saying that in Jesus Christ dwells all the wisdom, knowledge, and fulness of God (Colossians 2:3, 9). The mystery of God has been revealed to us by God’s Spirit (I Corinthians 2:7-10). This revelation comes to us through God’s Word, which is illuminated by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:7-10). The light of Christ, who is the image of God, has shined in our hearts (II Corinthians 4:3-4). There is therefore no biblical mystery about the Godhead and certainly no mystery about the number of persons in the Godhead. The only mystery is Christ, and He has been revealed to us! The mystery of God and the mystery of Christ converge in the Incarnation. It is simply that the one God of Israel came to the earth in flesh. This mystery has been revealed and God’s Word declares that it has been made known to us today.

Jesus is the Father

If there is only one God and that God is the Father (Malachi 2:10), and if Jesus is God, then it logically follows that Jesus is the Father. For those who somehow think that Jesus can be God and still not be the Father, we will offer additional biblical proof that Jesus is the Father. This will serve as more evidence that Jesus is God. Actually two verses of Scripture are sufficient to prove this point.

1. Isaiah 9:6 calls the Son the everlasting Father. Jesus is the Son prophesied about and there is only one Father (Malachi 2:10; Ephesians 4:6), so Jesus must be God the Father.

2. Colossians 2:9 proclaims that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus. The Godhead includes the role of Father, so the Father must dwell in Jesus.

3. In addition to these two verses, Jesus Himself taught that He was the Father. Once, when Jesus was talking about the Father, the Pharisees asked, “Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also” (John 8:19). Jesus went on to say, “I said therefore unto you, if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

We should note that he in the verse is in italics, which indicates that it is not in the original Greek, being added by the translators. Jesus was really identifying Himself with the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. The Jews, who did not understand His meaning, asked, “Who art thou?” Jesus answered, “Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning” (John 8:25). However, “they understood not that he spake to them of the Father” (John 8:27). In other words, Jesus tried to tell them that He was the Father and the I AM, and that if they did not accept Him as God they would die in their sins.

4. In another place Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Some try to say that He was one with the Father much as a husband and wife are one or as two men can be one in agreement. This interpretation attempts to weaken the force of the assertion Jesus made. However, other verses fully support that Jesus was not only the Son in His humanity but also the Father in His deity.

5. For example, Jesus stated in John 12:45, “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.” In other words, if a person sees Jesus as to His deity, he sees the Father.

6. In John 14:7 Jesus told His disciples, “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” Upon hearing this statement, Philip requested, “Lord, shew us the Father, arid it sufficeth us” (John 14:8). In other words, he asked that Jesus show them the Father and then they would be satisfied. Jesus’ answer was, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake” (John 14:911). This statement goes far beyond a relationship of agreement; it can be viewed as nothing less that the claim of Christ to be the Father manifested in flesh. Like many people today, Philip had not comprehended that the Father is an invisible Spirit and that the only way a person could ever see Him would be through the person of Jesus Christ.

7. Jesus said, “The Father is in me, and I in him”(John 10:38),

8. Jesus promised to be the Father of all over-corners (Revelation 21:6-7).

9. In John 14:18 Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” The Greek word translated “comfortless” is orphanos, which Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines as “bereaved (`orphans’), i.e. parentless.” Jesus was saying, “I will not leave you as orphans” (NIV and TAB), or “I will not leave you fatherless: I will come to you.” Jesus, speaking as the Father, promised that He would not leave His disciples fatherless.

Below are some comparisons which provide additional proof that Jesus is the Father.

10. Jesus prophesied that He would resurrect His own body from the dead in three days (John 2:19-21), yet Peter preached that God raised up Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:24).

11. Jesus said He would send the Comforter to us (John 16:7), but He also said the Father would send the Comforter (John 14:26).

12. The Father alone can draw men to God (John 6:44), yet Jesus said He would draw all men (John 12:32).

13. Jesus will raise up all believers at the last day (John 6:40), yet God the Father quickens (gives life to) the dead and will raise us up (Romans 4:17; I Corinthians 6:14).

14. Jesus promised to answer the believer’s prayer (John 14:14), yet He said the Father would answer prayer (John 16:23).

15. Christ is our sanctifier (Ephesians 5:26), yet the Father sanctifies us (Jude 1).

16. First John 3:1, 5 states that the Father loved us and was manifested to take away our sins, yet we know it was Christ who was manifested in the world to take away sin (John 1:29-31).

We can easily understand all of this if we realize that Jesus has a dual nature. He is both Spirit and flesh, God and man, Father and Son. On His human side He is the Son of man; on His divine side He is the Son of God and is the Father dwelling in flesh. (See Chapter V for more on the Son and Chapter VI for more on Father, Son, and Spirit.)

Jesus is Jehovah

The verses of Scripture demonstrating that Jesus is the Father do not exhaust our proof that Jesus is the one God. Below are twelve verses of Scripture specifically proving that Jesus is Jehovah—the one God of the Old Testament.

1. Isaiah 40:3 prophesied that a voice in the wilderness would cry, “Prepare ye the way of the LORD” (Jehovah); Matthew 3:3 says John the Baptist is the fulfillment of this prophecy. Of course, we know that John prepared the way of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the name Jehovah was the sacred name for the one God, the Bible would not apply it to anyone other than the Holy One of Israel; here it is applied to Jesus.

2. Malachi 3:1 says, “The LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant.” This was fulfilled by Jesus, whether the literal Temple or the temple of Jesus’ body is meant (John 2:21).

3. Jeremiah 23:5-6 speaks of a righteous Branch from David—a clear reference to the Messiah—and names Him “The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (See also Jeremiah 33:15-16.) In other words, Jesus is “Jehovah Our Righteousness.”

4. Isaiah says, speaking of Jehovah, “His arm brought salvation” (Isaiah 59:16), and “his arm shall rule for him” (Isaiah 40:10). Isaiah 53:1-2 describes the Messiah as the revelation of the arm of the LORD. Therefore, Jesus the Savior is not another God, but an extension of Jehovah in human flesh to bring salvation to the world.

5. Isaiah prophesied that the glory of the LORD would be revealed to all flesh (Isaiah 40:5). Since Jehovah said He would not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11), we know He could only fulfill this prophecy by revealing Himself. Indeed, we find in the New Testament that Jesus had the glory of the Father (John 1:14; 17:5). He is the Lord of glory (I Corinthians 2:8). When Jesus comes again, He will come in the glory of the Father (Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:38). Since Jesus has Jehovah’s glory, He must be Jehovah.

6. Jehovah said, “Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak; behold, it is I” (Isaiah 52:6). Yet we know that Jesus is the One that declared the Father, manifested the Father’s name, and declared the Father’s name (John 1:18; 17:6; 17:26). Jesus declared the LORD’s name (Psalm 22:22; Hebrews 2:12). Thus, He must be Jehovah.

7. The LORD said, “That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isaiah 45:23). Paul quoted this verse of Scripture to prove that all shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-11). Paul also wrote, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:10).

8. Zechariah offers convincing proof that Jesus is
Jehovah. In the passage beginning with Zechariah 11:4, “the LORD my God” said, “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.” In Zechariah 12:10 Jehovah stated, “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” Of course, it was Jesus who was sold for thirty pieces of silver and who was pierced (Matthew 26:14-16; John 19:34). Zechariah 12:8 says with reference to the Messiah, “the house of David shall be as God.” Zechariah also wrote, “The LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” and describes Him battling against many nations and stepping foot on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:35). Of course, we know Jesus is the One coming back to the Mount of Olives as King of kings and Lord of lords to war against the nations (Acts 1:9-12; I Timothy 6:14.16; Revelation 19:11-16).

9. When Paul, the educated Jew, the Pharisee of Pharisees, the fanatic persecutor of Christianity, was stricken on the road to Damascus by a blinding light from God, he asked, “Who art thou, Lord?” As a Jew, he knew there was only one God and Lord, and he was asking, “Who are you, Jehovah?” The Lord answered, “I am Jesus” (Acts 9:5).

10. Although Moses dealt with Jehovah God, Hebrews 11:26 says that Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ to be greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. So Moses’ God was Jesus Christ.

11. Psalm 68:18 depicts a scene in which Jehovah ascends on high and leads captivity captive, yet we know Jesus ascended and led captivity captive. In fact Ephesians 4:7-10 applies this prophecy to Jesus.

12. Revelation 22:6 says, “the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel” to John, but verse 16 says, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you.”

There are yet many more passages of Scripture identifying Jesus with the one Jehovah God. Below is a list of verses that describe Jehovah in certain ways paired with verses that describe Jesus in the same ways. Thus, these verses of Scripture all prove that Jesus is Jehovah.
Jesus is Jehovah (I)

The Jews Understood

That Jesus Claimed to be God

The Jews did not understand how God could come in flesh. They did not understand Jesus on one occasion when He told them He was the Father (John 8:19-27). However, on many other occasions they did understand His claim to be God. Once when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and credited the work to His Father, the Jews sought to kill Him—not only because He had broken the Sabbath but because He said God was His Father, making Himself equal with God (John 5:17-18). Another time Jesus said Abraham slain (Jesus) is worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing (Revelation 5:12). Revelation 20:11-12 tells us the One on the throne is the Judge, and we know Jesus is the Judge of all (John 5:22, 27; Romans 2:16; 14:10-11). We conclude that Jesus must be the One on the throne in Revelation 4.
Revelation 22:3-4 speaks of the throne of God and of the Lamb. These verses speak of one throne, one face, and one name. Therefore, God and the Lamb must be one Being who has one face and one name and who sits on one throne. The only person who is both God and the Lamb is Jesus Christ. (For discussion of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7 see Chapter VII. For discussion of the Lamb in Revelation 5 see Chapter IX.) In short, the Book of Revelation tells us that when we get to heaven we will see Jesus alone on the throne. Jesus is the only visible manifestation of God we will ever see in heaven.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

The Book of Revelation contains many other powerful statements concerning the deity of Jesus. God’s purpose in having John to write the book was to reveal or unveil Jesus Christ, not merely to reveal future events. In fact, all of John’s writings strongly emphasize the oneness of God, the deity of Christ, and the dual nature of Christ. John wrote the Gospel of John so that we would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31). Accepting Jesus as the Son of God means accepting Him as God, because the title “Son of God” simply means God manifested in the flesh. (See Chapter V for further discussion.) John identified Jesus as God, the Word, the Father, and Jehovah (the I am). All of John’s writings elevate the deity of Jesus; the Book of Revelation is no exception.

Revelation 1:1 tells us the book is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Greek for revelation is apokalupsis, from which we get the word apocalypse. It literally means an unveiling or an uncovering. Certainly the book is a prophecy of things to come, but one of the main reasons for this prophecy is to reveal Christ—to show who He really is. The serious Bible student should seek to understand the predictions in the book; but, more importantly, he should seek to understand the reason for these predictions. He should seek to understand the revealing of Jesus Christ in these future events.

The Book of Revelation presents Jesus both in His humanity and in His deity. He is the Lamb slain for our sins but He is also the Almighty God on the throne. Below is a list of some of the ways in which the book presents Christ.

Jesus in the Book of Revelation

Jesus, the omnipresent Spirit of Jesus could not be so confined. While Jesus walked this earth as a man, His Spirit was still everywhere at the same time.

Jesus is also omniscient; for He could read thoughts (Mark 2:6-12). He knew Nathanael before He met him (John 1:47-50). He knows all things (John 21:17), and all wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him (Colossians 2:3).

Jesus is omnipotent; He has all power, is the head of all principality and power, and is the Almighty (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 2:10; Revelation 1:8).

Jesus is immutable and unchanging (Hebrews 13:8). He is also eternal and immortal (Hebrews 1:812; Revelation 1:8, 18).

Only God should receive worship (Exodus 20:1-5; 34:14), yet Jesus received worship on many occasions and will receive worship from all creation (Luke 24:52; Philippians 2:10; Hebrews 1:6). Only God can forgive sin (Isaiah 43:25), yet Jesus has power to forgive sin (Mark 2:5). God receives the spirits of men (Ecclesiastes 12:7), yet Jesus received the spirit of Stephen (Acts 7:59). God is the preparer of heaven (Hebrews 11:10), yet Jesus is the preparer of heaven (John 14:3). Therefore, we find that Jesus has all the attributes and prerogatives that belong to God alone.

Moreover, Jesus displays all the other characteristics God has. For example, while on earth Jesus displayed godly emotions such as joy, compassion, and sorrow (Luke 10:21; Mark 6:34; John 11:35). The Bible also testifies that He has the moral attributes of God. Below is a list of some moral attributes of Jesus which correspond to those of God.

Jesus Has the Moral Nature of God

1. love Ephesians 5:25
2. light John 1:3-9
3. holiness Luke 1:35
4. mercy Hebrews 2:17
5. gentleness II Corinthians 10:1
6. righteousness II Timothy 4:8
7. goodness Matthew 19:16
8. perfection Ephesians 4:13
9. justice Acts 3:14
10. faithfulness Revelation 19:11
11. truth John 14:6
12. grace John 1:16-17

Conclusion

Jesus is everything that the Bible describes God to be. He has all the attributes, prerogatives, and characteristics of God Himself. To put it simply, everything that God is Jesus is. Jesus is the one God. There is no better way to sum it all up than to say with the inspired Apostle Paul, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:9-10).

The above article, “Jesus is God” is written by David K. Bernard. The article was excerpted from chapter four of Bernard’s book The Oneness of God.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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The Reason for the Rise of the Pentecostal Movement

The Reason for the Rise of the Pentecostal Movement

Thomas F. Zimmerman

Late in 1969, Jessyca Russell Gaver received a clipping from the September 6, 1969, edition of the New York Times sent by her publisher, Arnold Abramson. The headline read, “Pentecostal Movement Finding New Adherents.”

Abramson wanted Mrs. Gaver to write a book about this phenomenon, and to encourage her to accept the assignment, he included the story of the growth of Pentecostals. She accepted, and the result was an almost 300-page paperback entitled Pentecostalism.

While there were certainly other considerations which caused Mrs. Gaver to take the assignment, a prominent motivating factor was one sentence in the newspaper article:

Pentecostalism has developed into the world’s fastest-growing denomination at a time when membership in most other churches is declining as a proportion of the population.

Like the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Pentecostal movement today has received widespread attention. It has been referred to by various designations-both kind and unkind. Possibly one of the most appropriate descriptions from a biblical point of view is the term “revival.” The rise of the Pentecostal movement came under conditions which existed prior to revivals both in Bible times and in later Church history. The rise of the present-day move of the Spirit is directly attributable to believers who fulfill God’s conditions for revival.

Great revivals have often begun in times of spiritual and moral darkness. Conditions of gross darkness prevailed before revivals under such leaders as Asa (2 Chronicles 15: 1-15), Joash (2 Kings 11, 12), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29-31), Josiah (2 Kings 22, 23), Zerubbabel (Ezra 5, 6), and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:9; 12:44-47). The people and leaders were guilty of idolatry, neglect of and in some cases contempt for the house of God, unjust and sometimes cruel treatment of fellow Israelites, entangling alliances and associations with heathen nations, and the practice of spiritualism and other forms of the occult.

Against this backdrop of ungodliness, there were always those who were earnestly looking to the Lord for His intervention. These people were never disappointed, for when God’s people sought the Lord with the whole heart, a spiritual and moral revival always followed.

A quick perusal of history books makes it very evident that conditions  prior to the present Pentecostal revival were deplorable. Post-Civil War America was fraught with sectional hostility and financial turmoil. Increasing population movements into the cities were accompanied by the usual moral decay-crime, gambling, alcoholism, and prostitution grew rampant. Corruption reached high levels of federal and state governments, and many became rich quickly at the expense of the taxpayers. In the business world, those who became wealthy through stock manipulations, oil speculations, and other fraudulent means often outnumbered those who succeeded through honesty.

Nor was the church exempt from the spirit of the times. American seminaries exchanged professors with the German universities where liberal theology and higher criticism of the Bible were in vogue. It wasn’t long until pulpits were being populated by literal apostles of unbelief. They ridiculed the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and the substitutionary atonement. The social gospel was supplanting the supernatural Gospel, and the theory of Christian nurture preempted the necessity of repentance.

But still there were many devout believers in every denomination who continued to “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” As these people began to pray more earnestly because of deteriorating world conditions, it was not long until God began to pour out His Spirit and to restore to the remnant Church the gifts of His Spirit, notably speaking in tongues.

Not all these people upon whom the Spirit fell realized, at first, the biblical precedent for the experiences they were having. But soon, from many different places, they began to declare that the Holy Spirit was being outpoured as during the first days of the Church age. Once again God had honored His ancient promise in a time of deep darkness.

This, then, is the explanation for the remarkable growth of the pentecostal movement. Men have tried to adduce all kinds of reasons for it in terms of sociology, psychology, ecology, and economics. But nothing short of the almighty power of God responding to the contrition of His faithful remnant could have produced such results.

Let us then review the essential elements in the lives of these people on whom the Spirit fell.

1. First, they revered the Word of God, the Bible. And so it always was. The revivals under Asa (2 Chronicles 15:8-19), Joash (2 Chronicles 24:6), and Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:6), as well as those under Josiah, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah, were attributable largely to the fact that these Old Testament leaders insisted on a renewed commitment to the Mosaic documents, especially to Deuteronomy.

Evan Roberts, leader of the famous Welsh revival at the turn of this century, exemplified this same dedication to the priority of Scripture. A contemporary observer said of him, “He is no orator, he is not widely read. The only book he knows from cover to cover is the Bible.” George T. B. Davis, in his book, When the fire fell, reported that a religious paper in Chicago made this observation of Evan Roberts: “First he worked in a coal mine, then became an apprentice in a forge, then a student for the ministry. But all his life he has yearned to preach.”

The Bible was given priority in Bethel College, Topeka, Kansas, where about forty students came together primarily to study the Word of God. It was after exhaustive study of the Bible that the students unanimously agreed that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of the Baptism in the Spirit. What they believed the Word of God taught, they soon began to experience, and so the modern Pentecostal movement was launched.

2. Secondly, these people on whom the Spirit fell lived holy lives. They studied to avoid sin and to shun the very appearance of evil.

Since the pentecostal movement is strongly biblical, emphasis on holiness is not surprising. It might have seemed that such an emphasis would inhibit its growth, but the opposite has been true. The committed life with all its attendant blessings came to be appreciated by people who recognized the greater price which had to be paid for selfish and sinful living. Holiness was not to them a cross to be borne, but a cherished delight.

While there have been different doctrinal positions on the matter of sanctification, all Pentecostal fellowships have emphasized holiness. A careful study of the past seventy years would show that this has certainly been a factor in the growth of these bodies.

3. A third prominent feature of all revivals of Bible and church history has been a strong emphasis on the truth of substitutionary atonement. Sin is a reality which can only be taken care of through
the transfer of the offender’s guilt to Christ, and the transfer of Christ’s righteousness to the believer.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ (John 16: 14). This is why, when Pentecostal believers have emphasized the atoning work of Christ, lost souls have responded with joy. Persuasive human eloquence did not produce these many conversions, but the convicting power of the Holy Spirit who honored the cross-centered preaching of the Pentecostals.

4. Perhaps one of the most significant and widely observed phenomena of the Pentecostal revival is its emphasis upon free and exuberant worship. Man is a worshiping creature. He will worship something. If he doesn’t worship God, he is surely an idolater.

When people are filled with the Holy Spirit, they are indwelt by the one who glorified Christ and who also empowers authentic worship. This Spirit of worship which has attracted so many in the past will certainly continue to do so.

Dr. Leland R. Keys, a retired minister who has served many years with distinction both as a pastor and educator, was introduced to Pentecost in a mission in an eastern city in the early years of this century. He said there was one custom of that mission which attracted his attention most: a lady would play the pump organ before the service and sometimes would sing familiar choruses and hymns. Without waiting for the service to commence formally, the people as they gathered would join in, and God’s presence would become wonderfully real.
Dr. Keys continued, “A Spirit-baptized body of believers, loving the Lord with all their hearts, singing and making melody to the Lord, expressing their joy in the public assembly, prepared the way for what
was called a ‘Holy Ghost meeting.’ The gifts of the Spirit were manifested, and the Word of God was proclaimed with power. The result was that the altars were filled with those who were hungry for God.”

Much more could be said about the numerous features which attracted People into the Pentecostal ranks from every walk of life. The joy of salvation, their irrepressible happiness, miraculous healing and deliverances, transformed homes-all had great appeal.

Less appealing was the persecution. It happened in the home, in the community, in the schoolhouse. Wary onlookers quickly coined epithets to describe these people whose behavior they considered bizarre. As in the early church, however, persecution didn’t hinder the work of God-it helped.

5. The final characteristic of the early Pentecostals which accounts for much of their success was their consuming evangelistic zeal. In spite of charges to the contrary, Pentecostals do not spend all their
time talking in or about tongues. They have instead consistently sought to bring people to Christ. Like the people described in the Book of Acts, they have gone everywhere, earnestly proclaiming the message of salvation.

A.W. Orwig, who attended some of the Azusa Street meetings in Los Angeles, later wrote:

One thing that somewhat surprised me was the presence of so many from different churches. Some were pastors, evangelists, or foreign missionaries. Persons of many nationalities were present. Sometimes these, many of them unsaved, would be seized with deep conviction of sin under the burning testimony of one of their own nationality, and at once heartily turn to the Lord. Occasionally some foreigner would hear a testimony or earnest exhortation in his native tongue from a person not at all acquainted with that language, and thereby be pungently convicted that it was a call from God to repent of sin.

W.J. Seymour, a leader in the Azusa Street mission, was often heard to say, “Now, do not go from this meeting and talk about tongues, but try to get people saved.”

In conclusion, we must not overlook the prophetic and eschatological implication of the Pentecostal movement. When the multitude gathered at the first Pentecostal outpouring, some were angered, some were in doubt, and some mocked. It was then Peter who offered an explanation in terms of the prophecy of Joel:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:17-21)

The Pentecostal revival is a fulfillment of prophecy-a sign of the last days.
Paul made a less buoyant forecast about those days: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1). He followed that with a dreary catalog of evils which would characterize the last days-a list that convinces believers more than ever of the imminence of the end of the age. But Pentecostals know that where sin abounds, grace is even more plentiful, and they are optimistic. They expect an outpouring of the Spirit greater than ever.

Thank God for what happened on the day of Pentecost! Thank God for the rise of the twentieth-century Pentecostal movement. But let us especially thank God that the best days are not in the past. They are in the future.

Convinced of this, we will continue to sensitively follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit; we will continue in dedicated service to Christ; and we shall continue to pray, “Even so, come Lord Jesus! Maranatha!”

From Azusa Street and Beyond, L.G. McClung, Jr., Editor; Bridge Publishers, 1986.

A foremost leader is world Pentecostalism, Thomas F. Zimmerman is the former General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1960-1985). Since 1964 he has served as the Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the World Pentecostal Conference.

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADAH - Apostolic History, AIS File Library0 Comments

Was the Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?

WAS THE EARLY CHURCH ONENESS OR TRINITARIAN?

By Thomas Weisser

Thomas Weisser is pastor of Independence United Pentecostal Church in  Monmouth, Oregon and has served on the youth committee of the Oregon  and has served on the youth committee of the Oregon District. A  graduate of Apostolic Bible Institute, he has written three books. He  has also conducted Oneness Heritage seminars in a number of churches in  Oregon and California.

Was the Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?

What was the Early Church like? The answer varies from church to  church. To a Catholic, the answer is Catholic-with Peter sitting in the Pontiff’s chair. To a Protestant, Peter was a Luther-like figure  preaching justification by faith alone. Some concepts of the Early  Church are ridiculous. It is important for us to have a clear picture.

Just as the Law was instituted at Sinai and remained the unchanging  ideal for Jews, so with Pentecost (Acts 2) and the Church. Early  Christianity rather than being primitive presents to us an ideal to be  sought after.

Many conceptualize the church of the first century as unorganized  charismatic groups with myriad variations in doctrines. The New  Testament strongly disagrees with this assessment. An objective reader will conclude the Early Church was organized and had a developed faith.
The question we are primarily concerned with is: What was this faith in  regards to God? Historical evidence points to a conclusion that the  Early Church was not Trinitarian. What was it then? Significant facts  point to it being Modalist.

Baptismal Formulas

“There is little doubt that baptism was practiced by the first  Christians as a kind of initiatory rite, when they received new  believers into their community. Also, we can be quite certain that this  baptism was given `into the name of Jesus’ or, at least, that it was  referred to as `into the name of Jesus'” This is a quote from a recent  issue of Studia Theologica by Lars Hartman. He goes on to say this belief “implied a rather `high’ Christology” on the part of early Christians.

E. C. Whitaker writes, “Similarly, in the Acts of Paul and Thecla,  written in the middle of the second century, Thecla is represented as  baptizing herself and saying, `In the name of Jesus Christ do I baptize myself for the last day.’ If we may assume that we have here a case of  the formula in ordinary use adapted to extraordinary circumstances,  then it appears that the formula in ordinary use must have been `I  baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ.’ This not only brings our  evidence for a baptismal formula of this type to a very early date; it  also strengthens the view, suggested in the Acts of the Apostles, that  an invocation of Jesus Christ had a place in the baptismal practice of  the Early Church.

A modern Oneness or Modalist believer welcomes the above statements  from the theological community. The records of the Acts of the Apostles  clearly point to baptism in Jesus’ name as the universal practice of  the Early Church.

This not only implies an advanced Christology as Hartman supposes. It  also strongly implies something that most theologians and historians  have missed: the Early Church was Modalist. Instead of attaching three  personalities to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost they recognized them as  three modes, or manifestations, of the One God. The saving name they gave to Father, Son and Holy Ghost was Jesus. Indeed, this idea is not foreign to the New Testament for Jesus identified Himself with all
three titles.

The next question that comes to mind is: What about Matthew 28:19? This  verse of Scripture simply says to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. This really does no more than  strengthen the Modalist stand. For it is obvious that, if these words  did indeed come from Christ, the Apostles interpreted them the way a  Modalist would; i.e. to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. The only  reasonable and logical explanation for the difference between Matthew  28:19 and Acts is that the Early Church was Modalist.

What About The Didache?

The Didache is an ancient writing attributed to the Apostles. Since the  discovery of an eleventh-century copy of it in 1875, it has been the  subject of great controversy. Various dates have been ascribed to it  and authorities have yet to agree on a date. The problem that we must  consider is that some say it was written in the first century.

The particular part we are concerned with is Didache 7:

But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all  these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of  the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living  water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold  then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head  thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Many Trinitarians claim this proves the Early Church was Trinitarian.  Let us first consider that we are dealing with a forgery. Although it is ascribed to the Apostles they probably never saw it.

Secondly, the internal evidence points to Didache 7 as an  interpolation, or later addition. In Didache 9, which deals with  communion, the writer says, “But let no one eat or drink of this  eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the  name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not  that which is holy to the dogs.”

Shortly after saying baptism should be performed in the titles Father,  Son and Holy Spirit he states the absolute necessity of being baptized  in the name of the Lord (i.e., Jesus-the same Greek word as in Acts
10:48). This represents an obvious contradiction and gives validity to  the argument Didache 7 is an interpolation.

Thirdly, the writer’s approval of baptism by pouring presents a problem  with dating it in the first century. Bigg points out that this must  have been written after A.D. 250. He argues that pouring was generally  unacceptable in baptism as late as Cyprian (c.250). Therefore, Didache  7 could be no earlier than the late third century.

Conclusion-Baptism

Baptism in the Early Church (first century) was in the name of Jesus  Christ. The apparent contradiction of Matthew 28:19 is clarified when  we consider that the Early Church was Modalist.

Didache 7 is an interpolation written no earlier than the late third  century.

First Century Church-Primitive?

A popular term for the Early Church is primitive. The implication is  that it was destined to become sophisticated as time passed. This does not agree with New Testament writings.

We read there was an established, recognized faith. This faith was  established “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus  Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” And this faith once  delivered to the saints should be sought after.

The general idea of an evolving or formulating faith holds no credence  with the New Testament.

The Godhead

Harold 0. J. Brown in his recent book Heresies says, “It is a simple  and undeniable historical fact that. . .the doctrine of the Trinity. . .was not present in a full and well defined, generally accepted form  until the fourth or fifth centuries.” The written evidence points to a  gradual development of Trinitarianism from the descending triad of  Tertullian to the three co-equal, co-eternal persons of the Athanasian
Creed.

Even Fortman states, “There is no formal doctrine of the Trinity in the  New Testament writers, if this means an explicit teaching that in one  God there are three co-equal divine persons.” The question comes to  mind, “If the first century Church did not give us written evidence  they were Trinitarian how can we assume they were?” Certainly any one  of the New Testament writers were capable of expressing basic  Trinitarian dogma. If they were not, then God, whose thoughts are above  ours, could have inspired them to articulate it.

A casual reader of the New Testament is able to conclude no real  problem existed concerning the Godhead. John warned about those who  denied Jesus is the Christ and Jude warned about men who denied the  Lord, but these men had obviously left the Church. Even the strong  language of the first three chapters of Revelation does not reveal a  problem with first century belief concerning the Godhead. It appears  that belief in One Lord had been established and that the titles  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit presented no problem.

On the other hand, if the New Testament is inspired and prophetic as  any fundamentalist trinitarian would agree, something is missing. Where  is there any indication that a greater understanding of the Godhead  would follow? I find none, and certainly this presents a tremendous  obstacle for the fundamental trinitarian.

While the Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles [New  Testament] and prophets [Old Testament] and not Chalcedon, it is  amazing how freely Trinitarians lean on this post-apostolic creed. Whenever we read in the New Testament about the future it is a gloomy  picture.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the  latter [following] times some shall depart from the faith giving heed  to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” Immediately before this  Paul emphasized that “God was manifest in the flesh”. Again he said,  “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after  their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching  ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be  turned unto fables.”

Jude tells us of “mockers” (deriders) who have separated themselves and  given themselves to their natural senses. A perfect example of this  deriding carnal behavior can be seen in Tertullina. His Against Praxeas  fulfils Jude’s prophecy. We are talking about the father of the  Trinity.

The problem a Trinitarian faces is that there is no indication of  developed Trinitarianism in the New Testament. Many try to overcome  this by saying Trinitarianism was implicitly believed. This cannot be proved or disproved but there is no reason, if it is true, why God  would keep it a secret for decades, especially if its belief is a  prerequisite to salvation as the Athanasian Creed brazenly says.

Philosophy

Beware lest any man spoil you [take you captive] through philosophy and  vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the  world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth [keeps dwelling] all  the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Paul here explicitly mentioned philosophy as something that would take  a believer away from Christ. The philosophy Paul was talking about here  is the philosophy of men as opposed to the truth of God. Apparently, he  was warning that the philosophy of men could rob the church of an  understanding that the fulness of the Godhead is in Christ.

The predominant philosophy of the third and fourth centuries in the  Roman Empire was Neoplatonic. It was begun by Plotinus, who was not a  Christian. In the early third century this philosophy grew tremendously  throughout the Empire. At first it was the greatest antagonist to  Christianity. Later, it actually became assimilated into the Catholic  Church, and a union shown in the creeds of the fourth and fifth  centuries was the result. That this philosophy had a tremendous impact  on the formulation of Trinitarian thinking is supported by many  sources.

Platonism had a marked influence on Christianity. It entered from many  channels, among them the Hellenistic Jew Philo, who was utilized by  some early Christian writers, and through Justin Martyr, Clement of  Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, and the writings which bore the name of  Dionysius the Areopagite. The term Logos, which was extensively employed by Christians as they thought about the relationship of Christ to God, came from Greek philosophy, perhaps by way of both Stoicism and
Platonism.

From the middle of the fourth century onward, however, Christian thought was strongly influenced by Neo-Platonic philosophy and mysticism. In the East Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Synesius of Cyrene, and Nenesius of Emesa and, in the West, Marius Victorinus, Ambrose, and Augustine made abundant use of Plotinus or Porphory, frequently without citing them. . . .The encounter between Neoplatonism and Christianity thus conditions the entire history of Western
philosophy.

The dogma of the Trinity and the drama of the redemption must be interpreted in a manner that would be consistent with this priori definition of the deity of God [one essence, three persons]. Neoplatonic elements were unmistakably present in this definition, but in setting it forth Augustine believed himself to be-and he was-expressing the Catholic creed.

The Catholic creed of the Trinity is not the belief of the Early Church. The Logos Christology of the philosophers (most of the Fathers fit under this description) fell far short of early Christian Christology.

Weaknesses in Trinitarian Historiography

Many Trinitarians agree with the historical fact that Trinitarianism evolved or was formulated. The irony is that, after admitting this, they continue to say that Trinitarianism is a Bible doctrine. Both these could not be true. Either the Trinity was developed or it was there all the time.

The fact is that it appeared after the New Testament was written. Another fact is that Jude exhorted us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude was written c.
A.D. 80 and he was telling us to look back to the beginning of the Church (i.e. Acts). Trinitarians are telling us to look ahead from Early Christianity to the Creeds of Nicea, Chalcedon, and so on. Which voice will we heed?

Canonizers

Some Trinitarians claim that because the canonizers were Trinitarian the writers of the New Testament were also. They assume the approval placed upon the New Testament by Trinitarians implies strongly that the first century Church was Trinitarian. I imagine the implication is that had the writers not been Trinitarian the canonizers would have disapproved.

This may sound good to someone trying to prove the Early Church was Trinitarian. Before we jump to conclusions, let us see what a few Trinitarians say about the canon:

The church councils only acted at a later time, when the decisions had already been made in a practical way.

The Church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity. God gave us gravity, by His work of creation, and similarly He gave us the New Testament canon, by inspiring the individual books that make it up.

We never find a church council saying in effect, “We have reviewed this writing and found it to be good; henceforth, it will be considered part of the canon.” Instead of conferring canonicity on a book, the pronouncements were always statements of recognizing what the scattered congregations already considered canonical.

The Catholics, of course, conceive the canonizers as a special breed on a par with the Apostles. The general Protestant position is that the canonizers approved books already accepted as divinely inspired (except when attacking the Oneness position). The latter is a more accurate assumption. But even though the canonizers were Trinitarian what does it prove? It certainly does not necessitate the New Testament being Trinitarian. It is hard to prove anything by association. Any prosecutor who tries to prove a man guilty simply because he was in the vicinity of the crime is going to lose his case.

Considering the canonizers, an interesting comparison can be seen in Scripture.

The main duty of scribes in Jesus’ day was to copy and therefore preserve the Old Testament. Jesus said, “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not.” Jesus continued His discourse on scribes by saying they were “hypocrites, fools, blind, whited sepulchres, full of iniquity.” He ended by asking the question, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

Clearly, just because the scribes were preserving Scripture did not make them holy or even good judges of holiness for themselves. If this was true for the scribes it could also be true of the canonizers.

Conclusion

In conclusion let us examine our reasons for the Early Church being Oneness or Modalist as opposed to Trinitarian.

1. Early baptism was in Jesus Name. The difference between Matthew 28:19 and the record of Acts presented no problem and the only logical explanation for the difference is that the Early Church was Oneness or Modalist.

2. In the First Century a basic faith was established. lt was not to be changed but rather sought after (Jude 3).

3. Trinitarians have not come to grips with the contradictory statement that Trinitarianism evolved while it was always present in the Church.

4. Colossians 2:8-9 explicitly warns about philosophy taking Christians away from an understanding that the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. The concept of Trinitarianism was drawn largely from the philosophy of its day.

5. There is no indication of an evolving faith but warnings of apostasy in the New Testament.

6. The assumption the Early Church was Trinitarian because the canonizers of later years were is based on no verifiable historical facts.

Oneness believers, as well as many fundamentalist trinitarians, agree that it is an absolute miracle of God that the Bible has been preserved and remains infallible. We do not agree that this implies any inherent virtue in the dogma of the Trinity.

Notes

1. Hartman, Lars, “Baptism into the name of Jesus and early Christology” Studia Theologica, Vol 28 no. 1 (1974), p.21 [hereafter cited as Hartman].

2. Hartman, p. 48.

3. Whitaker, E.C., “The History of the Baptismal Formula,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 16 (April 1965), pp. 5-6.

4. Yadon, C.H., Birth of Confusion (Hazelwood, Mo.:Pentecostal Publishing House), tract no. 106.

5. See John 5:43 and John 14:9, 16-18, 26.

6. Matthew 28:19.

7. Vokes, F.E., “The Didache – Still Debated,” Church Quarterly, Vol. 3 (July 1970), pp. 57-62.

8. Lightfoot, p. 232.

10. Bigg, Charles, The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1898), p. 58.

11. Cyprian, Epistles LXXV no. 12, 13.

12. Ephesians 4:5.

13. Ephesians 2:20.

14. Jude 3.

15. Brown, Harold O.J., Heresies (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1984), p. 20.

16. Fortman, E.J., The Triune God (Philadelphia, Westminster, 1972), p.32.

17. I John 2:22.

18. Jude 4

19. Ephesians 2:20.

20. I Timothy 4:1.

21. I Timothy 3:16.

22. II Timothy 4:3-4.

23. Jude 18-19.

24. Colossians 2:8-9.

25. Latourette, Kenneth Scott, A History of Christianity (New York: Harper and Row, 1953), Vol. 1, pp. 260-261.

26. The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 14th edition Edited by William J. McDonald (New York: McGraw, 1967), Vol. 10, pp. 335-336.

27. Pelikan, Jaroslav, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), pp. 296-297.

28. Jude 3.

29. Harrop, Clayton, History of the New Testament in Plain Language (Wave, TX: Word Books, 1984), p. 136.

30. Packer, J.I., God Speaks to Man (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1965), p. 81.

31. Saucy, R.L., Is the Bible Reliable? (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1973), p. 94.

32. Matthew 23:1-3.

33. Matthew 23:13-17, 19, 23-29.

34. Matthew 23:33.

RESPONSE

by Richard M. Davis

In fulfilling the duty of a respondent, it is necessary to play the role of “devil’s advocate.” It is a challenge indeed not to allow one’s bias and intense love for the Oneness message to override the effort to look at the paper as a Trinitarian might consider it. In scrutinizing each point, we will attempt to consider four areas of reasoning: scriptural, historical, logical, and practical.

Overall the discussion was very well organized and presented. The paper contains several well documented arguments and suggestions which add credence to our beloved message of the fulness of the Godhead which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

First, the point is well made that the Early Church was not primitive, but highly developed in its organization and in its doctrine. This is evidenced by a close examination of the New Testament writings. This is an important aspect of the paper inasmuch as it pressures the Trinitarian to document his Trinitarian philosophy in the Scriptures, and not primarily in history as is his custom. As the author has noted, many Trinitarians have themselves admitted the Trinity is not highly developed in the New Testament, but was later refined. They attribute this to the church being primitive and unorganized, but this simply is not evident in Scripture.
Secondly, concerning the Didache, it is probably wise to recognize the points made indicating that the writing was spurious or at the least an interpolation. If written in the first century as most claim, then why was it not included in the canon of the Bible? Again the author pointed out that the canon was not selected by men, but only recognized. God gave the inspiration and hence formed the canon.

It is evident that parts of the Didache are not congruent with the Scriptures; therefore, one or the other must be rejected. The author brought out well the fact that the concept of the Didache allowing pouring water on the head for baptism did not appear until much later than the first century and is at least not apostolic. It is nowhere to be found nor implied in the Scriptures.

Thirdly, a strong point in the treatise involves the differences of perspective between the Apostles and Trinitarians. Namely, Jude and other writers encouraged believers to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints – that it is the ideal; whereas Trinitarians constantly appeal to second and third century history to identify ideal doctrine regarding the Godhead. Who is correct?

This is a common mistake of trinitarians. They fail to remember that history records the failures of mankind as well as the achievements. It is to the Scriptures we must look and solely depend upon to find our concept of God in Christ.

Yet another outstanding point is made regarding the scribes of Jesus’ time. Though they kept the Scriptures and preserved them yet they were personally condemned and rebuked by our Lord Himself. This confirms the truth of the message Brother J. T. Pugh has shared with us that although a man may be anointed to accomplish a task he may yet not be blessed or approved of God.

The author pointed out that because the canonizers were Trinitarian in philosophy and because they approved the canon does not even by implication prove that the apostles were Trinitarians. Such reasoning on the part of the Trinitarian segment of society is, of course, absurd.

Quite honestly, this paper has been very well prepared and presented for the time allowed. There are perhaps areas which were not as documented, or at least developed as completely as would be necessary to dissuade a Trinitarian from following his doctrine of error. In the time allotted, however, the author has done a commendable job of covering a good scope of his assigned subject.

There are perhaps three cautions that should be shared:

(1) From the viewpoint of a Trinitarian the subject of baptism was probably not adequately dealt with. Of course this was not the author’s subject and thus he probably did not have time to fully develop that aspect. The conclusion that the Early Church was modalist in theology was based solely upon the difference of the modes of water baptism. To convince a Trinitarian, we need to develop that argument more fully. This could be done by delving further into the area of water baptism and by further Oneness theology from the Scriptures.

In addition, we must bear in mind that some who were called modalist in early church history did not have a pureness of total doctrinal thought. We should be careful what areas of modalism with which we identify ourselves.

(2) A brief comment regarding the Logos concept of John 1 would be in order. Although most Trinitarians will caution that we must consider the historical aspects of the Greek Logos as well as the grammatical aspects, we must realize these men write from a biased point of view. Of course they must mix history with grammar because the simple grammar of the Greek word Logos allows for a development of Oneness theology.

Regardless of the origin of the word Logos we should not hastily set aside the concept John endeavored to present. John 1 is a beautiful Oneness exposition by Greek grammar. It is no wonder each Trinitarian appeals to the historical aspects of the word. Let us accept the simplicity of John’s intentions.

(3) Finally a Trinitarian would question the apparent contradiction inherent in the following statements: “A casual reader of the New Testament is able to conclude no real problem existed concerning the Godhead. . . . Whenever we read in the New Testament about the future it is a gloomy picture.” If there were no real problem in the church at that time concerning the Godhead, and if the apostles believed and taught the imminent return of Christ, then when did they expect this falling away to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils to occur? Could there have been evidence of doctrinal division even during this time of the first century?

Richard Davis is the Editor of Word Aflame Publications.

RESPONSE

by David 0. Walters

The paper was very good. It went into the historical aspect, which was excellent. One important thing was the simplicity of the language. It was easy to understand. It was easy to know where the author was coming from and where he was headed. It is important to have that kind of writing in our fellowship. Sometimes our clarifications only muddy the water. We should appreciate the approach taken in this paper, its simplicity, the excellent work, and the research into areas unfamiliar to most of us. We do not all have available to us the resources used by those who have worked so hard to bring this information to us.

Several points should be made about this presentation:

First, the strong scriptural appeal is to be appreciated. That is still the United Pentecostal Church’s strongest point. We stand on the Word regardless of whatever history may bring to us-distorted or otherwise. The Word of God still must be the foundation of the church.

Second, the author did a good job of appealing to Trinitarian writers who state and often deal a death blow to their own cause. He appealed to their writings and pointed out areas where they themselves are not sure that what they believe is correct.

There is an inconsistency in the paper’s use of the example of Thecla, when the author quotes E. C. Whitaker:

Similarly, in the Acts of Paul and Thecla, written in the middle of the second century, Thecla is represented as baptizing herself and saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ do I baptize myself for the last day.” If we may assume that we have here a case of the formula in ordinary use adapted to extraordinary circumstances, then it appears that the formula in the ordinary use must have been “I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ.”

The author concludes that a modern modalist would welcome the above statement from the theological standpoint. He later does an excellent job in dealing with the Didache, discrediting it because of the reference to baptism by pouring.

The problem is that we do not approve of people baptizing themselves. Moreover, Thecla baptized herself in the name of Jesus Christ for the last day, and our position is that we baptize for the remission of sin. To take a questionable reference such as this and include it in such a fine paper could serve to discredit the paper in the eyes of a Trinitarian, especially when we use the same reasoning to discredit the Didache. There are many authentic historical references to baptism in the name of Jesus. We do not need something as questionable as this. To toss out the Didache and then use this example weakens the author’s position.

Finally, a stronger scriptural development would have been helpful, particularly on our position that the early church was not primitive. The Apostle Paul was a Jew and a scholar. He knew the only Scripture at their disposal at that time and he knew it well. Jesus Himself said to the woman at the well, “We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” They certainly did not have an undeveloped position. The Early church knew whom they worshiped. They knew what they believed and they knew why they believed it. We can have the same understanding and confidence today.

David 0. Walters is the Superintendent of the North Dakota District and pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church of Bismarck.
(The above information was published by SYMPOSIUM, 1986)

Christian Information Network

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Oneness Pentecostal Origins by David Reed

                ONENESS PENTECOSTAL ORIGINS   by  David Reed
 In the history of our world many new movements have been born In the womb of expectancy. The worldwide Pentecostal Camp meeting set in Los Angeles April 15, 1913 was no expectation. It had been advertised for months and the crowds were overwhelming. A well known powerful Evangelist Mrs. Woodruff Utter was the leading preacher for the month long revival. Hundreds were receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and many were being healed.
The anticipation was being high lighted by the fact this meeting was the high water mark in the early Pentecostal Revival. Increasing at a phenomenal rate and within a year an organization was being planned. The efforts during the revival that had historical import is recorded by men who is present and who later became one of the oneness position Frank Utter, who was centered in Los Angeles in fact was the Pastor, worked under Durhum and became Pastor of Durhum’s church in OA.
With hearts prepared the movement of expectancy was heighted by a sermon from Jeremiah 31;22 assuring the listeners that God was going to perform a new thing in their midst. The moment came at a baptismal service during which Canadian Evangelist R.E. McCalister in a sermon ,pointed out that the Apostles baptized not in the trinity formula, but in the name of Jesus Christ.
The congregation was visibly startled. Not with standing McCalister’s immediate effort to qualify a statement publicly was too late. Many were provoked to thought as one man did, Chef, who was inspired to study and to pray through out the night during the early morning hours coming back to the Camp meeting telling the congregation that the Lord had revealed the truth. The Lord revealed to him baptism in the name of Jesus many listened to him that day, not long after many believed.
While Chef left account on his revelation and his name appears to be only on later oneness organizations in the later teens. The one to reap the future benefit of McCalisters observation was Frank Uert he reported to have spent many hours with McCalister after the revival. Following the study on baptism he preached his first sermon on Acts 2:38, on April 15, 1914, Acts 2:38 being the pattern of repentance “Be baptized everyone of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remissions of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Just how much of the doctrine Uert and McCalister shared is yet to be determined, but we do know after the camp meeting McCalister shared with Uert the insight that the Lord Jesus Christ is the counterpart of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Matt 28:19. The formula there of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was one of our Lord’s parabolic truth in was interrupted by the disciples and apostles Acts 2:38.
Such revelation at the Camp meeting also must have concentrated on the name of Jesus, Harry Morris one of the later oneness leaders was there had made mention of it and though there may have been some of the oneness doctrine of God of the Godhead it is more probable that the revelation dealt with the name of Jesus as carrying the full power and authority of that Godhead.
Frank Uert admits sometime later before he had received the full revelation of the Godhead of Jesus Christ. So in other words I believe that oneness revelation was primarily a discovery of the name of God as it was used in Christian baptism. It was early after Uert preached his first sermon on a new message on that baptism formula received its full theological justification in a unity concept of God. The length between the two was developed by harmonizing Matt 28:19 and Acts 2:38 were by name Jesus was interpreted to be singularly revealed name Jater, Son and Holy Spirit from this point onward, the movement spread rapidly in the Pentecostal ranks.
This new revelation eventually became one-forth of Pentecostals once calling the Camp meeting 1913 a historical event.
The name teaching as it amidst certain on the name of Jesus, the desperation revelation of the name of God the singular word name in Matt 28:19 baptizing in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This singular word used of the word name is the key to understanding the baptism formula in the name of Jesus Christ.
For if you observe, Matt 28:19 is the one passage of scripture that embodies the trinity formula that was later used for the doctrine trinity. But more important than to the protestors, the Trinitarian  actually seems to minimize the full revelation of God in Christ. If only one person in the Godhead became implanted, the conclusion conflicts with Paul’s clear teaching that in him or in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead body. On such a Trinitarian sceme Jesus is neither the full revelation nor the deity, nor the revelation of the full deity.
The truth about God and Christ for oneness Pentecostals is rooted in the Old Testament doctrine of the name of God, and carnality in the nature of God, is straightly rejected. Rejected on the ground of radical monotheism that is in the Old Testament and the two concepts of nature and name and person of, and his name are linked together by the ancient notion that a person and his name are inseparable the name serves to reveal a person in fact all the power that a person poses can be taken out and demonstrated through his name thus God was known to his covenant people through the revealing of his name. Nature was so bound up with his name to reveal the name of God itself.
The radical unity of God and the related doctrine of his name gives the oneness the traditional interpretation of the name Jesus is that refers to the human person and the title Christ, Lord and Son for God. Oneness teachers interpret the name Jesus as a divine application. Just as yellow as the name God in the Old Testament, so Jesus is the divine name in the new.
Recalling Isaiah’s prophecy, his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, son of begotten Mary. Oneness writers frequently express their doctrine of thought in thermology of the father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The distinct oneness doctrine reaches its full expression in the sacrament of water baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps more than anything else was the issue of re-baptism that hit on the early oneness disciples, and today it is still an issue.
One must be buried in that name to receive power. Some say you must obey Acts 2:38 to become the child of the Kingdom. Water is not what washes away sins. For instance Andrew Urshan, one of the early leaders of the oneness doctrine, said that the water is related to the name while water is the true mold of baptism, the essence of baptism is in the name not in the water and the name of Jesus is the saving name of God our savior..

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADAH - Apostolic History, AIS File Library0 Comments

Oneness Pentecostal Origins by Thomas Weisser

                  ONENESS PENTECOSTAL ORIGINS

                       By: Thomas Weisser

                            Article 1

Four hundred prophets chanted in one accord, "Go up; for
the Lord shall deliver Ramoth-gilead into the hand of the King"
(I Kg. 22:6). Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, couldn't be convinced
even by this elaborate display. "Is there not here a prophet of
the Lord besides, that we might enquire of Him?" (I Kg. 22:7). Ahab
regretfully nodded and sent for his enemy Micaiah.

After being prompted to give a good answer Micaiah glibly answered the
same as the four hundred. "Go up; for the Lord shall deliver
Ramothgilead into the hand of the King." But when adjured to tell the
truth, he described Ahab losing his life in this encounter with Syria.
"I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills. as sheep that have not a
shepherd" (I Kg. 22:17). Ahab died even though he tried to disguise
himself in battle.

This story illustrates an important principle. Not always is the
majority opinion true. Though many support a theory, that theory is
not necessarily right. In Church History there have been many
Micaiahs. They have, for the most part, constituted the minority, but
that doesn't make them heretics.

In this volume we will look at general Church History and something
else. This other element is the Micaiahs of Church History-individuals
and groups who rejected the general trends of the Church-men who
looked to Scripture and God for direction rather than to other men.
True , they were the minority, but that does not make them wrong-
though the majority labelled them heretics and still does today.




Humanism and the Church

Philosophical bases are very important. Looking at historical events
is much more meaningful when we perceive the philosophical bases
behind them. To simplify things, we can say there have been two basic
philosophical bases in the history of mankind. These are very
important when we consider them in our study of Church History.

The first of these can probably best be represented by
the Philosophy of Plato. Plato emphasized the importance of
ideals or universals in his understanding of world existence.
The greatest achievement of man was his ability to align himself
with these changeless ideals (eg. courage, honesty, patience,
etc.). He thereby would better himself and identify himself with
concepts immortal. This philosophy, though not Christian, can be
favorably compared to Christianity. In Christianity we find a
book spelling out ideals or absolutes for man to live by. We
also see a definite affirmation of the existence of an Almighty
Being who created the material realm.

The second philosophical base we will consider is one that has been
followed by the majority of mankind. Aristotle's ideas can be used to
describe this one, as Aristotle emphasized the material realm. The
apex of the world's beings was man. Man was the ultimate creation.
Aristotle held some belief of a divine mover, but his God was
impersonal and could best be described as pantheistic.

Looking at history and present day developments we see a general trend
towards Aristotle's way of thinking. We refer to it today as Humanism.
The emphasis is on the abilities and achievements of man. God is
either ignored (doesn't exist) or is put in the background. The sad
result of this philosophical base is that one who espouses it finds
himself groping for answers to some basic questions. He can find no
real reason for his existence.

When man thinks he is autonomous he has to look to himself and/or
other men for meaning. But when he is confined to the material realm
he runs into a brick wall, so to speak, when considering his meaning
for existence. Even the pagan with his idols is simply accepting a
manmade solution to his existence and the world about him. Humanism
with its accompanying theory of evolution is doing much the same
thing.

The important thing we must recognize when considering
all this in the light of Church History, is this: In the Church
the trend of the majority, after the first two or three
centuries, was that of going outside of the Bible for ultimate
authority. Church Councils and Popes' decisions were placed
above the Bible in importance. Consequently, with the
intervention of man, Humanism bullied its way into the Church.
Men blindly accepted the dictates of man when they conformed to
the decisions of Church Councils. Of course, the Church claimed
these dogmas came from God, but did they really?


Consider this:

The average young person today grows up in a humanistic
environment. He is taught in public school from the standpoint
that there is no God. Even if he attends Church it probably is
one that doesn't mention anything about a real, personal
experience with Jesus Christ like the early church had. He
becomes disillusioned when he looks for absolute values to live
by. He is told it is up to him to develop his own values. He may
turn to drugs, the occult, immorality, lying, stealing, eastern
religion, etc. This is exactly what we have today. People in
authority cannot understand what has gone wrong. They could
understand if they would look objectively at the philosophical
base behind almost every influence upon our young people. It is
a base devoid of God and meaning. Rules of conduct are arbitrarily
based on man's own whims and fancies. There are no absolutes.




What is the Solution?

If humanism can be found in the Church what alternatives
are left? Do we just resign ourselves to apathy? Or, worse
yet, do we become suicidal? No! We still have the Bible and
there are still churches that stand up for the truth. The
greatest commandment in the Bible relates that there is one God
and it our obligation and privilege to love him with all our mind,
soul and strength. Jesus said, "Come unto me all ye that are
weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The Kingdom
of God has remained in tact since the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2),
and its adherents have obtained righteousness, peace and joy in the
Holy Ghost in every generation since then. Don't be overwhelmed by
this depressing world. Turn to the living God and our Saviour Jesus
Christ.


The Trinitarian Dogma

The Church has suffered many setbacks but the worst have
consistently been when men went outside of the Word of God. This
is exactly what Satan did in the Garden. He enticed Eve outside
of the safety of God's Word and into the realm of sin. The
Church needs nothing outside of the Bible to substantiate creeds
or dogmas. The Holy Scripture is all we need because it was and
is inspired by God.

The great in justice of the Fourth Century and subsequent
centuries was that the Church leaders went outside of the Bible
for their authority. They said that decisions of Church Councils
had just as much authority as the Bible. What they did not
realize is that the very same thing that Satan did, they were
doing. Damnable heresies started entering in. The greatest of
these is the Trinitarian Doctrine. This doctrine is not found in
Scripture ! It is found in a creed established by men with
almost total disregard for Scripture. Its wording was borrowed
from paganism.

The point is, that man looking to man ends up in confusion. Man
looking to God and His Word ends up in harmony and with
 direction. The Trinitarian doctrine was formulated by men.

Since the formulation of the Trinitarian dogma in 381 A.D. the
Catholic Church has persecuted and condemned any who would question
it. It didn't matter that the dogma came from man. Pretending to be
the representatives of God the Church claimed authority to condemn
people for simply rejecting their manmade dogma. Making the denial of
the Trinitarian dogma a capital offense, they revealed their hearts.
The New Testament never gives license to kill. Neither does it
sanction torture. The Early Church knew nothing but persecution. After
the Third Century the tables turned. The Catholic Church became the
persecutor and true believers were forced underground and
declared heretics. If Peter and Paul had lived in the fourth or
fifth centuries they would have been labelled heretics.

The doctrines of the Trinity, Mariolotry, Veneration of Saints, etc.
came not from God but from man. They could, therefore, be considered
Humanistic.


Who was Jesus Christ?

Certainly the undisputed central character of the Bible is Jesus
Christ. There are numerous prophecies concerning Him in the Old
Testament and He definitely dominates the New. Because of the
importance of Jesus Christ, it is essential for us to have a proper
understanding of who He is.

There are three basic schools of thought concerning the
person of Jesus Christ. Only one of these is Scripturally
correct. The other two consist of misconceptions. This volume
supports the one true conception of Christ and proves beyond a
shadow of a doubt its pre-dating of the other two within the
ranks of historical Christianity.

The first conception of Christ can be simply stated. The Apostle
Paul put it very fittingly when he wrote: `in him dwelleth all
the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). With this brief portion
of Scripture, let us open our eyes and see the folly of representing
Christ as anything less than God Himself in flesh.

Secondly, we have the school that makes Christ a mere man adopted by
God to bring about redemption. This supposedly upholds Jewish
Monotheism, and not only destroys the significance of God Himself
coming to earth, but also lowers the atonement to the act of a man.

Thirdly, we have the theory which has been adopted by
the majority of the Church world today. This theory is very
confusing. It states that the second person of a triune God came
to earth and carried out the work of redeeming the human race.
This language cannot be found in Scripture. It is found in the
Athanasian creed. It has been supported by the Catholic Church
since its formulation (probably sixth century) and claims to
offer eternal life to its believers and eternal damnation to its
deniers.

It is my position that the first of these three is the
only one Scripturally correct. Through history it has been
labelled Modalistic Monarchianism, Patripassianism, Sabellianism,
 etc. In this book we will study courageous men and women who defended
their Scriptural beliefs in the face of severe persecution. There have
always been at least a few in every century since the Church began.


More on the Person of Christ

When asked what was the most important commandment, Jesus answered:
"The first of all the commandments is, Hear, 0 Israel; the Lord our
God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy
strength." Mk. 12:29,30.

The most important thing for us to understand about God
is that He robed Himself in flesh to bring us salvation. The
invisible God took on visible flesh in the person of Jesus
Christ. Jesus was none other than the Father in flesh. "Philip
saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you and yet
hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen
the Father; and how sayest thou, shew us the Father?" Jn. 14:8,9.

To say that Jesus Christ is someone besides the God of the Old
Testament is to deny the authority of Scripture.

-Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God
with us. Isa. 7:14 and Mt. 1:23

-For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the
government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be
called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting
Father, the Prince of Peace. Isa. 9:6

"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the
way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our
God. Isa. 40:3

To say that the `Eternal Son' descended and took on flesh rather than
God Himself is ludicrous. Nowhere in Scripture can such terminology be
found. What is found in Scripture allows no separation between Jehovah
and our Saviour.

-Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know
not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy
Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall
overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be
born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Lk. 1:34, 35

"Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel
together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath
told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God
else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside
me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:
for I am God and there is none else. Isa. 45:21 , 22

-I, even I, am the Lord: and beside me there is no saviour. Isa.
43:11

-Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou
shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.
Hos. 13:4

So-called wise men shun away from the simplicity of
this. They desire to confuse the issue, making it a subject of
intellectual debate. Claiming to be wise, they prove themselves
fools by going outside the safe perimeter of Scriptural
language.

Jesus did not attack the iniquities of Roman rule, nor
the major social issues of the day. But He had much to say about
the Scribes and Pharisees (religious leaders.) In stinging
rebuke He said to them: "Thus have ye made the commandment of
God of none effect by your tradition...But in vain they do
worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mt.
15:6,9.)

Isn't it justifiable to say that those who hold to the
Athanasian Creed are making the commandments of God of none
effect by their tradition? Isn't it true that the majority of
Christendom teaches for doctrines the commandments of men? If
the answer to the above two questions is `yes,' I ask you with
all honesty, has Jesus Christ changed? Does Christ still feel
the same way about such hypocrisy? If He does, we need to lay
aside these weights of tradition and doctrines of men and
acknowledge Jesus Christ as our God and our Redeemer.


Testimony of Peter and Paul

To prove that the Early Church was not humanistic and
exalted Jesus Christ above all, let us direct our attention to
two of the greatest apostles.


Peter

As any who have applied for a job know, the prospective
employer invariably looks at an applicant's past experience.
When we consider the position of Apostle we must admit that it
required an exceptional person. Yet, when we look at Peter's
qualifications I think we are confronted with obvious
inconsistencies. First of all, his previous employment, that of
a fisherman, gives little indication of ability to be a great
Christian leader. He was not a well-educated man. His character
could probably best be described as boisterous and a bit too
conceited.

You say, forget about this applicant and on to the next.
But wait; we aren't through. Probably the greatest action of
Peter that would disqualify him as an Apostle was his denial of
Christ. After he conceitedly said that he would stick with Jesus
until the end (Mt. 26:33) he shortly thereafter denied any
relationship with Christ at all (Jn. 18:25). You would think
that this man would never make a great leader.

Yet, with all his weaknesses and inabilities Peter
became the `Revival Speaker' on the Day of Pentecost recorded
in Acts, chapters one and two. How could this man who had no
past experience stand in front of thousands and boldly proclaim
that they were responsible for the death of Christ? How could he
with great boldness exhort the people there, after they had
asked, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) to "Repent, and be
baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the
remission of sins , and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost" (Acts 2:38)?

The only conclusion we can come to is that Peter was
inspired by an outside force. One cannot honestly say that he
had it in him to be a great Apostle. He became a flaming evangel
only after he was filled with God's Spirit (Acts 2:4.) The
Spirit of Christ worked through him to bring thousands to a like
experience. This completely topples the tower of assumptions put
forth by the secular humanist of today. If the Apostle Peter
needed the Holy Ghost infilling to live for God, who are we to
say we can be Christian without it? If there is no such thing as
a new-birth experience, how can we explain Peter's change
Humanistically? How do we explain his fearless proclamation of
the Deity of Jesus Christ in the face of harsh persecution? The
only explanation is the power of God working through Peter.


Paul

Paul is another example of a most unlikely person to
fill the shoes of an Apostle of Jesus Christ. For one thing, he
didn't want to be associated in any way or form with the
followers of Christ. He saw this new `cult' as a dangerous force
to undermine the Hebrew religion of his day. Consequently he
persecuted these early followers of Christ severely (Acts
8:1-3.) He approved the death of Stephen, the first Christian
martyr, and sent many to prison for simply believing in Christ.

His vehement hatred of Christians was so great that,
after finding out about a group of them in Damascus, he obtained
authority from the high priest in Jerusalem to go there and
arrest them. This man would appear to be the least likely to
ever become a follower of Christ as he purposefully approaches
Damascus. But, on the way, Paul is knocked down after a light
shone round about him. He hears a voice saying: "Why
persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:4.) Paul, having been humbled and
realizing that only God could do such a thing asks: Who are thou
Lord?" Jesus answers and Paul is, in a very short time, totally
convinced that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. He is convinced Jesus
is God. Shortly thereafter Paul is baptized and receives the gift of
the Holy Ghost (Acts 9:17, 18.) He confounds the Jews of Damascus when
he begins to preach Christ in their synagogues.

How could Paul make a complete turnaround from being
persecutor to persecuted (Acts 9:1, 23)? This cannot be
explained humanistically. Man does not change that fast without
an outside influence. Paul, just as Peter, needed the Holy Ghost
in his life (Acts 9:17.) Without God they were evil, but with
God they had power to do much good. If these great men of the
Bible needed the Acts 2:38 experience, who are we to say we
don't?

Neither Peter nor Paul wrote anything about the Trinitarian doctrine
in their epistles.


                         Article 2

                    The Second Century


After the death of John the Revelator (c. 100 A.D.) the
church was strong but not without its problems. Heresies were
arising from within. A growing antagonism from without was
brewing as the Romans saw that Christianity wasn't just an
offshoot of Judaism. This was a whole new religion with
practices that were antagonistic to Roman culture and religion.

The twelve apostles had died and with this the church
saw a slight diminishing of enthusiasm. I certainly don't
believe this diminishing was as great as many historians say.
The enthusiasm of the Holy Ghost infilling and the Biblical
worship of God was still present.


Rome and the Christians

The religion of Rome was polytheistic. Its gods constituted
what could be termed an inflated image of mankind.
These gods could manifest all the actions and thoughts common to
man. They could be good and they could be evil. In Roman culture
there were no real absolutes. There was hardly any real
conception of right and wrong. Man was ruled by his own
finiteness and the gods simply represented expanded humanity.

The greatest desire of Rome in the Second Century and
until its fall (c. 500 A.D.) was to keep the empire in tact. This
became more and more difficult with different factions arising
and the consequent confusion this created. As this occurred the
people, by necessity, gave the Emperor more and more power. Even
though authoritarian rule was not desirable it temporarily brought
unity to the endangered empire.

With totalitarian rule came a disgust for anything that
appeared hostile to it. This is where the Christians enter the
picture. The Emperor was given so much power that the people
were forced to acknowledge him as a god. This, of course, was
considered idolatrous by the Christians who worshipped one God
in Jesus Christ. Even though there was no general persecution
before 250 A.D. we can see in the Second Century the conflict
that would naturally result.

Christianity, with its absolutes of the existence of one
true God and its definite distinction between right and wrong,
was diametrically opposed to the Roman culture. The Christians
would have never been considered criminal had they worshipped
both Christ and the Emperor. But because they would not bow to
any but Christ they were considered atheists and anarchists.

Rome fell while Christianity lives on even to this
present day.


Gnosticism

Heretical teachings and false prophets are nothing new.
History's picture is marred repeatedly by their presence.
Gnosticism represented probably the first major deviation within
the Christian community. It was widely prevalent in Asia Minor
in the opening years of the second century and reached the
height of its influence between 135 and 160 A.D.

The word, "Gnosticism" means Knowledge. The Knowledge,
the Gnostics claimed was mystical or supernatural and they
claimed a corner on the market. Everyone else was in darkness.
By saying they understood a mystery that others could not , the
Gnostics held themselves aloof and really made themselves equal
with God. Dt. 29:29 says, "The secret things belong unto the
Lord our God: but those things which are revealed, belong unto us and
to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."
The mystery of living for God is revealed totally in the person of
Jesus Christ and in the Holy Scriptures. "And without
controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest
in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached
unto Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into
glory." I Tim. 3:16.

Another characteristic of this group was that they
thought anything material was evil. The world of matter
constituted only evil and the only good was spiritual or that
which is not seen. This is very unorthodox especially in light
of the scripture that says a Christian is the temple of the Holy
Ghost (I Cor. 6:19.) They propagated extreme asceticism and
required celibacy (see I Tim. 4:1-3) on the part of initiates.
This abhorrance for matter probably brought on the next and most
important doctrine of the Gnostics.

They preached that Christ did not actually take on flesh
while He lived on earth. They probably reasoned that since
Christ was perfect or sinless and flesh (matter) is inherently
sinful Christ couldn't have taken on flesh. This belief is
referred to as Docetic Christology. The Scripture is not silent
concerning this doctrine but speaks strongly against it. "For
many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that
Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an
anti-christ." 2 Jn. 7 (see also I Jn. 4:2,3)


Montanism

Another movement that invaded the church of the Second
Century was Montanism. It spread quite rapidly in Asia Minor. So
much so that the pastors of that area got together and held
synods denouncing the new heresy.

Montanus, of Phrygia in Asia Minor, about 156 A.D.
declared himself to be the mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost. It
appears that he may have put himself on equal footing with God.
He proclaimed that the Second Coming of Christ was at hand and
required strict asceticism from his followers. His adherents
were encouraged to practice celibacy (see I Tim. 4:1-3,) fasting
and abstinence from meat.

The Bible plainly states that no man knows when Christ
will return (Mt. 25:13.) Montanus placed himself above the
authority of scripture by saying that the Second Coming was
immediately at hand.

To sum up, we will simply quote I Tim. 4:1-3 to show
that true believers were given prophecy of this movement and
Gnosticism before they were prevalent:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter
times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy:
having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to
marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath
created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe
and know the truth.

Input of Church Leaders

In studying the writings of church Leaders of the Second
Century we are confronted with a major difficulty. Many of the
writings attributed to men such as Polycarp, Clement of Rome and
Ignatius were spurious. They were written by other people at a
later date than is attributed.

Many people have used Ignatius to support a Trinitarian
viewpoint. They were forced to stop when they found out the very
writings they used to support the Trinity and Mariolatry were
not written by Ignatius or anyone else in the Second Century.

I do believe that some of the writings attributed to the
Apostolic Fathers were genuine. The ones that are do not support
the major Catholic doctrines. Rather, they support the Holy
Scripture.

Clement speaks of "the sufferings of God" when referring
to Christ's death on the cross. According to him, the church is
Christ's flock, and He is its Lord. He greatly exalts Jesus
Christ.

Ignatius asserts the importance of the church's obligation to properly
represent Christ to the world. About the incarnation he says, "Our
God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived in the womb of Mary according to
a dispensation." He speaks of "the passion of my god," "the blood of
God," and "Jesus Christ our God." "There is one God who manifested
Himself through Jesus Christ."

The writer of The Second Epistle of Clement says that;
"Christ being originally spirit became flesh."

Polycarp, in his epistle, tells us of "the coming of our
Lord in flesh."

During the Second Century there was little controversy
over the person of Christ. Among true Christians rested a common
belief in the divinity of Christ. Exaltation of Christ was
rampant, and the church grew greatly.


Conclusion

The Romans, Gnostics and Montanists presented real
threats to the Christian church of the second century. But
generally speaking the church was able to overcome these
onslaughts. The greatest test was yet to come.

Godly leaders proclaimed basically the same message as
the Apostles. Towards the end of the second century most of the
New Testament as we know it today was cannonized.

Certainly the tools were present for a strong church but
opposition to the faith once delivered to the saints was
mounting.

We see also in this century the growing importance of
Rome. "Irenaeus of Lyons , writing about 185, represented
the general Western feeling of his time, when he not only
pictures the Roman church as founded by Peter and Paul, but
declares `it is a matter of necessity that every church should
agree with this church." It was opinions like this and the
diminishing influence of the other great Christian cities of the
Empire (Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Alexandria) that set the
groundwork for the excesses that we see in later centuries and
even today. Unwarranted exaltation of Rome and the Bishop of
Rome was a keystone in the aposticising of the church.


                           Article 3

                       The Third Century


The church of the Third Century experienced widespread
growth. Organization put more and more power into the hands of
its leaders. Unfortunately, with the growth came an increasing
tendency towards worldliness.

This led to a compromise of many teachings of the early
church. The workings of the Spirit of God within congregations
had become a tradition. The format for worship was increasingly
being drawn from mystery religions. Things such as infant
baptism were coming into the church (this practice wasn't
universal until the sixth century.) The Lord hadn't returned
and the urgency of getting right with God wasn't felt as at
first.

Although persecution brought many faithful martyrs the
church as a whole was heading for a fateful union with
worldliness and the state.


Church and State

The third century saw great growth for the church. Every
major language group of the Roman Empire had Christian
adherents. A Christian traveling in any area of the great empire
would be sure to find friends. Although evangelism was
successful and the church had much to rejoice over this was a
century of severe persecution.

Christianity was, on the books, illegal although some
Emperors were tolerant. The Emperors, such as Decius (249-251,)
who persecuted the church did so with great severity. This manifest
hatred of Christianity continued on and off until the "Edict of Milan"
in 313 where Constantine and Licinius agreed to stop all persecution
of Christians. "


Origen

Receiving a life-changing spiritual experience and being
intellectual can make any man a strong force for good. But
having intelligence without a spiritual revolution can be
destructive. The latter is the case with Origen.

He studied the Bible as well as philosophy. The fruits
of his learning place him as one of the most important men of
his age. In trying to harmonize Scripture with Grecian
philosophy he accomplished a great injustice. His emphasis did
not rest on the necessity of a life-changing experience with God
but rather a carnal reasoning of what God is saying.

     Although he may be renowned as a great intellect his
teachings did little to help the true church of the third
century. His expertise would have been very valuable had he
emphasized the spiritual rebirth that the Apostle Peter did.

By mixing philosophy (man's wisdom) with Scripture Origen revealed
himself as one who Paul warns about in Col. 2:8. "Beware lest any man
spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of
men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

He taught that everyone will eventually be saved. Those
who are sinners will be punished but only in a way that will
bring them to a place of restoration. This is contrary to
Scripture and presents no incentive to live a godly life.

Origen became the first of many theologians that have
depended on man's wisdom rather than the spiritual understanding
that Christ imparts. The command, "You must be born again,"
echoes down through the ages. All too often it falls on deaf
ears and men continue in a futile attempt to serve God without
the help of the indwelling Christ.


Tertullian

Born probably in Carthage in 160 A.D., Tertullian died
sometime after 200 A.D. The son of a centurion serving the
proconsul of Africa, he received a good education, becoming a
lawyer. He is said to have converted to Christianity in 195 A.D.,
but it seems improbable that his attitude, which can best be
depicted as rebellious, was ever properly Christian. "A 20th
century analyst, Bernard Nisters, refers to schizoid features in
Tertullian's temperament and suggests that his rigorims, his
intolerance, his disputatious nonconfirmity, and his violent
reaction to opposition approach paranoia."

The amazing thing about this man is that his theories of
the Godhead were to a great extent adopted by the later church.
Thus, the Trinity doctrine, which is the fundamental doctrine of
most of the church world today, traces its history to a
rebellious extremist named Tertullian.

Having been brought up in Northern Africa, he probably
was familiar with Egyptian paganism. Milne's book, A History of Egypt,
says this: "And it is not improbable that the development of the
doctrine of the Trinity, which formed no part of the original Jewish
Christianity, may be traced to Egyptian influence; as the whole of the
older Egyptian theology was permeated with the idea of triple
divinity, as seen by both in the triads of gods which the various
cities worshipped, and in the threefold names, representing three
differing aspects of the same personality, under which each god might
be addressed." Whether Egyptian paganism influenced Tertullian or not
is speculation. The above statement, however, is worthy of
consideration.

Tertullian's treatise, Against Praxeas, sets forth his
own unorthodox theory of the Godhead. Praxeas was a leader in
the true church of his day (the end of the second and the
beginning of the third centuries.) He moved from Asia Minor to
Rome about 200 A.D. and enjoyed the friendship of the bishop
(either Eleutherus or Victor.) at the turn of the third century,
the majority of the church believed in the oneness of the
Godhead, as Tertullian himself admits. The official doctrine at Rome,
according to Harnack, was that which Praxeas taught: Jesus was God in
a human body. Tertullian refers disparagingly to Latins in Against
Praxeas. After visiting Rome, Praxeas travelled to Carthage, where he
defended the orthodoxy of God in Christ.

In reading Tertullian's Against Praxeas, we conclude
that he saw the Godhead as a descending triad: The Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost. The Son he compares with the word or wisdom of
God; and the Holy Ghost, which leads into truth, proceeds from
the Son. Here are some statements from this treatise:

Now, observe, my assertion is that the Father is one
and the Son is one, and the Spirit one, and that they
are distinct from each other ...

Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the
Son, inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is
another.

Still, in these quotations the distinction (personism) of the
Trinity is clearly set forth. "For there is the Spirit
Himself who speaks, and the Father to whom He speaks, and the
Son of whom He speaks."

In explaining (actually confusing) the many Scriptures
in the Old Testament expressing God's ONENESS, Tertullian adds
to the Scripture saying, " 'I am God, and there is none other
beside me,' who shows us that He is the only God, but in company with
His Son, with whom `He stretcheth out the heavens alone.' "

Being rebellious to the truth of Scripture, Tertullian
twists the truth that Jesus expressed to Philip: " `He that
hath seen me hath seen the Father,' even in the same in which it
was said in a previous passage, `I and my Father are one.'
Wherefore? Because `I came forth from the Father, and am come
(into the world);' and, `I am the way: no man cometh unto the
Father, but by me;' and `No man can come to me, except the
Father draw him;' and, `All things are delivered unto me by the
Father;' and, `As the Father quickeneth (the dead), so also doth the
Son; ' and again, `If ye had known me, ye would have known the Father
also; for in all these passages He had shown Himself to be the
Father's Commissioner..."

Tertullian formally broke away from the church and
joined forces with Montanism in 212 or 213 A.D. He started a
sect known as Tertullianists. He left proof of his sad spiritual
condition through his many writings.

Praxeas

Since he is one of the great men of Christian history,
it is sad that the only record we have of Praxeas is from his
enemies.

We first meet this man in Asia Minor, where he taught
the Word of God and was put in prison for a time. He wrote
quite a bit, but none of his writings are left today.

Praxeas journeyed to Rome at a date earlier than
Epigonus and before Hippolytus's earliest recollections. It is
probable that he resided in Rome during the bishopric of Victor
(189-199), and possibly as early as Eleutherus, the predecessor
of Victor. His stay at Rome was short and without opposition to
his teaching. He did not start a school but probably taught and
preached a great deal while there. He warned the bishop about
the heresy of Montanism, and the bishop in turn retracted his
letters of peace to that sect.

Praxeas's teachings gave Christ His proper degree of
divinity by making Him one with the Father. He taught that the
Father was the Spirit which is God (Jn. 4:24) and that the Son
designated the flesh or human element of Christ.  He
represented the views of the majority of Christians of his day.
This becomes apparent when we recognize that he met with no
opposition at Rome.

From Rome Praxeas travelled to Carthage in North Africa.
There we find him teaching the Word of God and warning against
the heresy of Montanism.


Noetus, Epigonus, Cleomenes

Noetus of Smyrna (in Asia Minor) taught that Father and
Son were different aspects of the same being. He said that the
Father took flesh of Mary and became Son. The Son was the
Manhood, the Father, the Godhead.

Asia Minor was greatly blessed by the teaching of
Noetus. From 180-200 he taught the truth of the Gospel,
glorifying Christ in his teaching.

A disciple of Noetus, Epigonus came to Rome in the
beginning of the third century and, with the favor of Zephyrinus
(bishop of Rome 198-217,) expounded the truth of Scripture. A
school was formed and no doubt, many came and feasted on the
Word of God.

Cleomenes was the successor of Epigonus and continued
teaching the marvellous truth that Noetus and Epigonus preached.
Zephyrinus, who was likeminded, gave happy approval to the
teaching of the truth.

Sabellius

Sabellius was a presbyter of the Pentapolis in North
Africa. He influenced this area greatly by teaching the truth of
one person in the Godhead. He took this truth to Rome in 215
A.D., while the Pentapolis continued to be a stronghold for the
truth. In 260 A.D., Dionysius of Alexandria tried to refute
the followers of Sabellius. In doing this, he introduced
tritheism for which he was reprimanded by Dionysius of Rome
(bishop of Rome.)

Sabellius became the successor of Cleomenes in Rome. He
asserted that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were not distinct
persons but modes of one divine person (hence the term
modalistic monarchianism.) God was Father in creation, Son in
redemption, and Holy Ghost in regeneration.

In the following generations the doctrine of one person
in the Godhead became associated with this man (Sabellianism.)
The men of later times that were condemned for believing
in one person in the Godhead were referred to as Sabellians.


Hippolytus

Hippolytus was born in 170 A.D., probably somewhere in
the East, and died in Sardinia in 235 or 236. He is referred
to as the first anti-pope because of his attacks upon Callistus
(bishop of Rome, 217-222.) The Catholic Encyclopedia says
about him that "His vehemence, intransigence, and
rigorism led him to make attacks on strictly orthodox
positions in theology, church organization, and discipline."

Hippolytus attacked the modalism of Sabellius and
Callistus while presenting Christ as subordinate to the
Father. He seems to have taken on the same spirit of
rebellion that was so characteristic of the heretic Tertullian.
I assert that this spirit of rebellion brought the doctrine of the
Trinity into the church.

In his writing Against Noetus, Hippolytus says, "I shall
not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two Persons
however, and of a third economy (disposition,) viz. the grace
of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One, but there
are two Persons, because there is also the Son; and then
there is the Third, the Holy Spirit ... It is the Father who
commands, and the Son who obeys, and the Holy Spirit who
gives understanding: the Father who is above all, and the
Son who is through all, and the Holy Spirit who is in all."

In commenting on the statement that Jesus made to
Philip, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,"
Hippolytus says, "By which He means if thou hast seen me,
thou mayest know the Father through me. For through the
image, which is like (original), the Father is made readily
known."

Hippolytus (like Tertullian) perverts the truth of Scripture
by denying that Jesus Christ was the Father in flesh as the
Scripture plainly attests. (Mt. 1:23; Jn. 10:38, 14:10-11, and
17:21.)


The Bishops of Rome

Eleutherus, Victor (189-199), Zephrinus (199-217), and
Callistus (217-222)


According to Harnack, four bishops of Rome in succession
(Eleutherus, Victor, Zephyrinus, Callistus) were in favor of
Modalistic Christology (Christ was Father in flesh.)

It was either Eleutherus or Victor that Praxeas warned
about false prophets and their communities in Asia Minor
(Montanists.) As a result of the righteous intervention of
Praxeas, the bishop retracted his letters of peace to the false
prophets.

Victor supported the school of Epigonus and favored a
modalistic view of the Godhead.

Zephryinus was called by Hippolytus an out-and-out
modalist. Hippolytus quotes Zephyrinus: "I know only one God,
Christ Jesus, and none other who was born and suffered." He
viewed talk of "Persons" with suspicion. He held the tradition
of belief that existed before any form of Trinitarianism.

Callistus, after becoming bishop of Rome, was treated
sharply by Hippolytus, who attacked the character of this bishop
and went as far as saying Callistus permitted adulterous
practices on the part of his followers.

Hippolytus, caught up in an evil spirit of rebellion,
cannot be trusted as being honest concerning the slander he
placed upon Callistus. Hippolytus outlines Callistus's orthodox
creed:

The Logos Himself is Son, and that Himself is Father;
and that though denominated by (a different) title, yet that in
reality He is one indivisible spirit. (And he maintains) that
the Father is not one person and the Son another, but that they
are one and the same; and that all things are full of the Divine
Spirit, both those above and (those) below. (And he affirms)
that the Spirit, which became incarnate in the virgin ('s womb),
is not different from the Father, but one and the same.
And (he adds), that this is what has been declared(by the
Saviour):"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father
in me?" For that which is seen, which is man, (he considers) to be the
Son; whereas the Spirit, which was contained in the Son, to be the
Father! For, says (Callistus), "I will not profess belief in two Gods,
Father and Son, but in one. For the Father, who subsisted in (the Son)
Himself, after He had taken unto Himself our flesh, raised it to the
nature of Deity, by bringing it into union with Himself and made it
one; so that Father and Son must be styled one God, and that this
Person being one, cannot be two." And in this way (Callistus
contends) that the Father suffered along with the Son; for he
does not wish to assert that the Father suffered, and is one
Person, being careful to avoid blasphemy against the Father.

We can assume that the doctrine of one Person in the
Godhead predominated in the thinking of Christians of the third
century. The bishop of Rome from 259 to 268, Dionysius, pointed
out about those who opposed Sabellius that many "divide and cut
to pieces and destory that most sacred doctrine of the Church of
God, the Divine Monarchy, making it as it were three powers and
partitive substances and godheads three."

The significance of this century has certainly been
underplayed by a majority of church historians. The teachings of
the Apostles were being mercilessly tampered with. A gradual
incursion of worldliness was choking the Church of its
spirituality. Many ignore the fact that this 'falling away' led
to mass apostasy. More and more the leaders of the church were
not depending on the unadulterated Word of God but were
introducing damnable heresies not originating from Jesus Christ; the
most destructive of these doctrines being the one that states that God
is divided into three distinct persons. The door for gross idolatry
and open worldliness was gradually being opened causing irreparable
damage. Evil influences in many forms thronged into this open
door and the church found itself becoming assimilated by the
powers Peter exhorted for us to be separated from. (Acts 2:41)


The above article is an excerpt from the book "After the Way called
Heresy" by Thomas Weisser.

Christian Information Network
1981

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADAH - Apostolic History, AIS File Library0 Comments


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