Essentials of Oneness Theology
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Theodore Brooks, New Haven, CT — A guy goes through four years of college and four years of medical school to get his doctoral degree to practice medicine. What he has to do is continue to work under someone. Every year doctors have to do something to demonstrate that their skill level has risen with the technology. If anyone is going to a doctor who is not going through a rigorous testing once a year, they need to run for their life. Periodically, there has to be something taught that identifies with the Oneness. Not only should we teach it, but we should preach it. The worse thing we can do is have saints that are ill-equipped to deal with the variables that come against them because we failed to teach them and put the Word into them.
You can infuse Oneness teaching into your course study in many different ways. In order to teach it, you have to show why what others believe and where they went wrong. We have an elective class in our Sunday school that utilizes Dr. I also have a new book coming on what the Trinitarians believe and what we believe. The problem we have today is that people believe anything, but we are not the same as Trinitarians.
Unless a person is baptized in Jesus name, filled with the Holy Ghost and living a holy life, we are not the same. Rather than confronting the faultiness of the Trinitarian doctrine, I simply focus on teaching the Oneness so clearly that people see the flaws in the Trinity for themselves.
These can be individual messages, but I lean toward a series on the subject. A church with a strong understanding of its doctrines contributes to it being a confident church. Churches that are effective at evangelizing and discipling are growing churches. Tenney, J. Pugh and James Kilgore are among the mentors and authors I hold in high Apostolic regard. I follow their holistic stance against being inclusive to modern-day Pentecost.
A strong Oneness stance will keep us from having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, having fellowship with charismatic preachers with no convictions, keep us from engaging with preachers who are not of the faith and guide us away from weak preachers who yield to the secular outlet. It keeps us from easy believism that Christ is more impressed with a crowd and not a real move of God.
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I see Oneness throughout the Bible — all 66 books. That the Holy Spirit is also eternal and has always been in existence is shown by Hebrews This simple but clear revelation of Scripture shows all three have always been in existence and all three are in existence at the same time.
Not to accept that this is the revelation of Scripture is to deny much of the Word of God. The only explanation is of course the revelation of the Trinity that whereas the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, all three are seen to be eternal God with no beginning and no end. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ vital for salvation. Oneness teaches that salvation depends upon being baptised solely in the name of Jesus.
They would refer to Acts as evidence for this. The website of the United Pentecostal Church International argues that,. If it is not important in the plan of God, why did Jesus command it in Matthew ? We must remember two points about the importance of water baptism. First, whatever Christ definitely established and ordained cannot be unimportant, whether we understand its significance or not. Second, Christ and the apostles showed the importance of this ordinance by observing it. That baptism is important is not in dispute but we have two issues to look at; first is it vital for salvation and second must it be in the name of Jesus only.
First, there are some verses in the Bible that give a positive declaration of salvation without baptism and Oneness has problems in explaining them. Luke records the repentance of the thief on the cross. He is told that he will be with the Lord that day and yet he never received baptism. Baptism was certainly not essential to the salvation of that man.
Essentials of Reformed Doctrine
This also highlights the teaching of Jesus concerning salvation and baptism. We have declarations such as John , where a clear promise of salvation and deliverance is made providing there is an acting on what the person has heard.
No mention is made at all of baptism and yet the Word of God says this person will not perish but have everlasting life. We can see a similar incident in Romans , Here Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that if we call on the Lord we will be saved. If we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart we shall be saved. This same situation is found in 1 Corinthians where Paul makes known the essentials of the gospel. These were the things that were of first importance. In a chapter where he was going to use an illustration of those who baptised for the dead, I am sure he would have not left out baptism if it was essential.
However, the definition is all about the person of Christ and not about baptism. Christ died, He was buried, He rose again and He appeared. This is the gospel, centred in the person and the work of Jesus Christ, not what I can do. Such a presentation should lay the foundation for talking about verses in Scripture that may appear to show that baptism is essential for salvation.
If this verse is taken out of context it could possibly mean that you need to be baptised to be saved. Peter was talking to Jews in whose mind actions always followed faith. In such a context it would be natural therefore for Peter to talk about the action as well as the faith. However, what is also very instructive is to note that on other occasions, for instance Acts and , he did not mention baptism. The common factors, always mentioned, are the repenting and calling on the Lord. These are shown to be the essentials of the gospel. We must always consider the whole of Scripture and does that mean that John and Ephesians along with the other Scriptures mentioned are only half truths?
No, God does not make such mistakes. He ensures that the essential elements of the gospel are always preached. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. There are several baptisms mentioned in the Scriptures and each has three elements. The person doing the baptising. The person being baptised. The medium into which they are baptised. These verses are not talking about an outward act that takes place in water but rather an inward act that takes place when you receive Jesus Christ.
This Scripture, at first glance, may appear to say that baptism now saves you, but note in the previous verses what it is corresponding to. Baptism saving you corresponds to the flood. We need to discover two things; what actually saved the people from the flood and what was the salvation from and what was it to. If this was to teach us that New Testament baptism saves, then we would need to see that it was the water that saved Noah and his family. However, the water did not save them; rather the opposite — it nearly destroyed them.
What actually saved them was the ark. We need to discover in New Testament terms what or whom the Old Testament picture of the ark represents, and the answer is not baptism but Jesus Christ. Being put into water does not save us; our safety comes from being in Christ and having a sure relationship with Him. What sort of salvation was this? Are we talking about the salvation of receiving Christ into the life?
No, in Old Testament terms, they needed that relationship before they got into the ark. This was a salvation that would take them out of one world system into another. Salvation is not being used here in the sense of being born again. Note in this verse that condemnation does not come because of lack of baptism but because of not believing.
There is no evidence, from this verse, to show that baptism is essential for salvation, but it does show that believing is essential. This verse also needs to be compared with Matthew Paul explains here that he was sent by the Lord to preach the gospel, to bring the message of true salvation to the Gentiles. However, he also clearly says that he was not sent to baptise!
I believe that this verse shows beyond any doubt that baptism is not essential for salvation. The way Paul speaks about the two acts shows that baptism is not included in the good news of the gospel. This as we have already seen fits in with his definition of the main declaration of the gospel in 1 Corinthians The above makes it clear that Scripture does not teach that baptism is essential for salvation but what about using the name of Jesus only?
Matthew seems to be the heart of the matter because here Jesus commands us to go with His authority and baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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Oneness followers would reject this and would draw our attention to such verses as Acts , , and which talk about being baptised in the name of Jesus. What, however, needs to be understood is that none of these passages are a command of what to say when baptising someone, but rather a description of what happened to people who were baptised. Indeed, there is no passage in the New Testament that records what was actually said over someone as they were baptised. In Matthew 28 we see that all authority was given to Jesus and it was in the authority of that name that baptism was commanded.
There were other baptisms in the world in which the Apostles lived, and using the phrase, in the name of Jesus, showed the hearers and the readers just which baptism this was. The website of the United Pentecostal Church International states that,. The initial, outward evidence is speaking with tongues, which means speaking miraculously in languages the speaker does not know.