William Arnold III
We wonder if you might find this site of any interest. God bless you in Jesus Christ our Lord.
I have looked over your site and I first would like to say that I appreciate the attitude you maintain while disagreeing with our position. Often, there is more emotion involved in this topic than intelligent discussion or compassion for one another. I have written in defense of the Oneness position as well as speaking in tongues being the normative experience for believers. The articles are: "Is Jesus God the Father" and "Why I Speak in Tongues" on our website, OnenessPentecostal.com. If you would be willing to show me where I am wrong in my position, I would be willing to change.
God bless you in our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank-you for your kind, mature answer. Brother, to make sure we have an understanding please let me start with this: I believe that you are a true, saved, believer in Jesus Christ, and my brother in the Lord unless you tell me otherwise. My only purpose in writing to you or anyone else is to warn my brothers and sisters concerning "salvation by works" based doctrines that are repeatedly warned of in scripture. In response to your response, I would pose questions to you due to the possibility that I do not understand your doctrine.
1. There have only been two legitimate forms of water baptism-John's baptism and Jesus baptism. I submit to you that John's baptism was replaced by Jesus baptism in ancient times. Jesus baptism is all that remains today for a believer in Jesus Christ. Due to this occurrence every person that is dunked in water (sincerely believing in Jesus Christ as the reason for their salvation) is baptized with Jesus baptism (or in both "Jesus Name" and "the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost"-since these are the same) no matter what the man that dunks them utters with his lips. We are not saved by another man's utterances. Is not what is in the heart of the baptized man (faith) that saves him and not the baptiser? (of course the blood and the resurrection is the ultimate life giver).
2.We do not understand the concept that a person must repeat some but not all of the acts of the original church to be saved- example- we must speak in tongues, be baptized in Jesus name, tarry, but we do not have to experience the sound as of a mighty rushing wind, we do not have to see the cloven tongues of fire, we do not have to return to Jerusalem, we do not have to be saved on the day of Pentecost, be Jews, and we do not have to have visions, dreams etc.(if you read our site you know that we don't recognize any requirement for salvation except belief in Jesus Christ).
3.How is it that your doctrines are not salvation by works doctrines if a man (according to oneness theology) must do several specific works that take much effort and knowledge to be saved-specific baptism, speaking in tongues, tarrying (sometimes for months, we know that much effort and even sweat can be involved in "tarrying" because we have done it).
4. If a man that believes that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that he is personally saved comes to your church and says that he has not "tarried", spoken in tongues, etc.- we assume you would tell him that he is not saved yet. You should realize that telling this to anyone is a very serious action because if that man is saved (only he, God, and Jesus actually know) you have denied the work of God on that man. This is a very fearful thing.
Here is my response to your questions.
1. My position on baptism as reflected in my article "Baptism in Jesus' Name," is merely that this is the way that the apostles baptized. If I talked with someone who was not baptized in Jesus' name I would encourage them that this is the correct way to be baptized. I would not tell them that they were not saved. Just like any Baptist would try to tell a Presbyterian that sprinkling is not correct and that they need to be baptized by immersion. How far can you deviate from the Biblical method and still be ok? I don't know, but I wouldn't take any chances myself.
2. My position on tongues, as reflected in my article "Why I Speak in Tongues" is that this seems to be the normative experience for those who are filled with the spirit in the Bible. The wind and the fire were not repeated each time. The idea of "initial evidence" is not unique to Oneness Pentecostals, but has traditionally been the position of Pentecostals in general. This term was actually coined by Charles Parham himself. Even the Assemblies of God have a statement of "initial evidence" in their official statement of faith.
3. Paul told Titus, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). First I would like to point out that the works he has in view are "works of righteousness." Baptism is not a "good deed" which earns us the right to go to heaven; rather it is the means by which we are connected with Christ. In fact, if the "washing of regeneration" is not here a reference to baptism then I don't know what is. Jesus said you must be born of water and Spirit (John 3:5). Peter said that baptism was for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and even says that baptism saves us (1 Peter 3:21). And Aninias told Paul to "wash away his sins" by baptism (Acts 22:16). As far as speaking in tongues, I would not say that you speak in tongues to "get" saved. I would however say that scripture seems to indicate that this is the evidence of one being filled with the Spirit.
4. As far as "tarrying," I must say that only God knows the heart. I will agree with you that I have seen instances where a person seems sincere (to me) and they do not receive the evidence of tongues, which the rest of us have received. I only tell them to keep trying. I know people who kept seeking for the Spirit and eventually they were filled. When Jesus talked about asking, seeking and knocking (we often hear this taken out of context) he concluded by saying, "how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13). Some people simply ask, others must seek and others must continue to knock, but the promise is that God will fill them with the Spirit.
This is where I am at now on these issues. If you have any further questions, let me know.
The maturity in the manner in which you answer is refreshing. More questions come to mind:
1. You apparently do not believe exactly like the United Pentecostal Church (oneness). I am almost sure that they believe that if you haven't been baptized in Jesus name (with this spoken over your baptism), or have not spoken in tongues that you are not saved. I know there are probably variances among "oneness" or "Jesus name" Pentecostals.
2.Who is the "initial evidence" intended for, since only God, Christ, and the saved person truly know if they are saved? I assume the "evidence" is to prove or make manifest to a certain party that one is saved. The above three parties know without any evidence, and others should consider a person saved if they say they are (believe in Jesus) as you pointed out.
3. Do you believe that a person must do any action besides belief in Christ to be saved? I believe this is the critical question. I would suggest this scripture to shed light on the question of "the washing of regeneration":
Ephesians 5: 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
The people that were added to the church in acts were saved by hearing the word only:
Acts 2: 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Acts 4: 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
Acts 5: 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
Acts 8: 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
1 Corinthians 1: 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Acts 10: 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
Acts 11: 14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
Acts 13: 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Acts 16: 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
Acts 18: 8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
Acts 19: 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 28: 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
Acts 11: 1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
Galatians 3: 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
I would also suggest (I could be wrong as I am not infallible as some claim to be) that being born of the water refers to being born in the flesh - as all men are.
I believe the following concept is applicable to the discussion of the effect water baptism has on salvation: The O.T. Jews had the law with circumcision (the type or symbol of our water baptism) and the blood sacrifice. What actually saved them? Did the law or circumcision "help" save them? I believe the answer is that, on the contrary, the law killed them, as it did all flesh. This is because they were weak in the flesh and could not obey the whole law. It was the blood sacrifice (ultimately fulfilled by Christ), and the power of the Spirit that was wrought by God through the resurrection of Christ that saved them - only. Of course they were to obey the law, just as we should be water baptized. I believe water baptism is a type or symbol of the law. We are buried in baptism (or killed by the law) and raised by, and in the Spirit. This involves the working of our free gift of faith rather than our obedience to the law or obedience to the command to be water baptized. We believe new Christians must be water baptized, but reject that this plays a part in salvation. It sounds as if we agree on this most critical point which give me much joy. It sounds like you believe that we are saved by grace alone. You probably also know that many Churches do not teach grace but teach salvation by works or "grace plus works".
The concern that we have with some Pentecostal practices is that we fear that an impression could be given (accidentally) that a person is not "complete", "whole", "right", or even saved by faith in the cross and the resurrection only, before they have done the "works" (our word) of "tarrying for the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues", or receiving a specific type of baptism that they believe is instrumental in salvation. Assurance of salvation is critical in the true faith:
1 John 5: 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Hebrews 3: 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
Hebrews 3: 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
Revelation 2: 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Revelation 12: 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Hebrews 4: 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Romans 10: 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Romans 10: 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Hebrews 6: 11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
Hebrews 10: 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10: 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
Hebrews 10: 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
I'm sorry for the delay in responding. The reason is because I was trying to get a hold of an official statement of the UPC in response to your first question. If I remember correctly, I believe it is the official position "not to make pronouncements as to the eternal destiny of those who have not had the full new birth experience as we know it" but instead only "to make the positive declaration of the gospel" as we understand it to be taught in scripture. In other words, their position is: obey Acts 2:38 and you will be saved. If I can get a hold of the statement itself I will send it to as it reads exactly. [note: This statement can be found at: http://www.clc.edu/askdr/Archive/oneness.htm.]
On the evidence of tongues, I would say that it is for the one who receives the Spirit as well as for the others. In Acts 8 we see that they believed (v. 12) and had great joy (v. 8) but they still had not received the Spirit (v. 16). So from their perspective, it was not just a feeling. From the other's perspective, how was it that Philip knew for certain that none of them had received the Spirit? If it is possible to believe in the Lord and experience great joy but not have the Spirit, then in what way can one know for certain that they do indeed have the Holy Spirit? There must be some type of evidence. The way that Peter knew that Cornelius received the Spirit is because he spoke in tongues (Acts 10:45,46). As I mentioned before, this just seems to be the sign which the scripture gives us to identify the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
On the question of whether or not baptism is essential, this question is much larger than just Oneness Pentecostals. Lutherans to this day hold that baptism is essential to salvation, and if anyone believed in justification by faith it was Martin Luther himself. I believe that there are clear passages which affirm this. The "washing of water by the word" is said to cleanse and sanctify the church. This is the sanctification of those who are already saved. The "washing of regeneration" (or "washing of the new birth," NET Bible) is the means by which we are saved according to Titus 3:5. 1 Peter 3:21 plainly states that baptism saves us. Acts 2:38 says to be baptized for (eis) the remission of sins. This Greek word can only mean "for the purpose of" in this passage and never means "because of." In Romans 6, Paul indicates that baptism is the means by which we are united with Christ (see also Gal. 3:27). I think you may find my outline "The Process of Salvation" helpful. It is located under Soteriology and deals with the question, "At what point are we saved?"
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