Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How are we saved?

I am posting on the Plan of Salvation today. It's a huge point of contention between Orthodox Pentecostal standard, and modern day Oneness Pentecostal "revelation".

Oneness Pentecostals hold to a rigorous standard of Repentance (complete turning away from) of sin, Baptism in Jesus name only (e.g. "I baptize you John Brown in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins", but " I baptize you Suzy Smith in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost by the authority of Jesus Christ" is completely wrong apparently) by full immersion in water, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the mandatory evidence of speaking in Heavenly tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance to the believer.

Orthodox Pentecostals have believed for 2000 years that the Plan of Salvation according to Jesus and the Apostles was Repentance (commitment to avoid sin henceforward), Confession (audible) of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost by promise. Baptism is taught as a work one should do, but not as a mandatory necessity for Salvation. Orthodox Pentecostals urge everyone to be baptized, and it is considered to be a sin not to be if you have ever been shown the Biblical commandment for it, but it is not the unforgiveable sin and will not send you to hell. After all, Jesus died for the sins of the world, His sacrifice is efficacious on the believer, and not dependant on water baptism.

I believe that is an accurate summary of the statements each "camp" would give for their beliefs. If someone in a position of authority (Full Pastor of a congregation at the very least) wishes to offer a different definition, or to modify the current one, please email me at
themanlepage@gmail.com, and I will include it either as a footnote, or add it to the definition as a whole.

I personally am fully and completely in the Orthodox camp as it is the traditional one, and not the product of 20th century "revelation". As such, I intend to show the issues in the "Oneness" or "Modalist" viewpoint from a salvational perspective. Before I begin, I issue the following disclaimer: NOT ALL ONENESS/MODALIST PEOPLE BELIEVE THIS WAY. It is the most common system and statement of the movement, but not completely accepted.

I start with a statement of Salvation as made by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:8-11 which gives us the necessary requirements that Paul taught. They are: Confession of Christ as Lord, and Belief that He rose from the dead by God's power (verse 9). Then in verse 10, he expounds upon these principals by saying that it is in the heart that we believe or have faith unto righteousness, and with the mouth we confess or testify of Jesus and His Gospel unto Salvation or Eternal Life. In verse 11 we read that when we believe in Jesus we will never be embarassed or ashamed because He CANNOT fail. Paul taught very accurate theology and Salvational doctrines. To question him would be foolish in the extreme. The importance of this statement is high as it goes to the root of the Modalist viewpoint that baptism is an absolute requirement for Salvation.

Baptism is important and to be taught, but is not a Biblically necessary requirement to go to Heaven. Here's why: in Romans 8 we read statements that precisely define the relationship between the Spirit and Salvation. In verse 9 we see that "..ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." This statement is very clear that the Holy Ghost inside of you is absolute proof that you are saved. Verse 11 says that if the Spirit of God dwells "..in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." Lastly, in verse 16, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." followed by 17 "and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs WITH Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together." Taken together and in the context that Paul is teaching the Romans what Salvation is and what they should be teaching the lost, we see that the Holy Ghost in a person is absolute proof that they are saved. It doesn't matter how or through what process the Holy Ghost got there, only that it IS there. The reason this is significant as far as Baptism by water is concerned, is that in Acts 2 we read of the Holy Ghost being poured out on a group of people in the Upper Room. This group most likely was the approximately 120 that were present for Matthias' selection to succeed Judas, but certainly included the 12 Apostles at a minimum. The people present are nowhere in scripture as being baptized by anyone. They did have their feet washed by Jesus, but that is not full immersion in water. The argument has been made that since they were baptizing people in John 4:1-2, they must have been baptized already themselves, but this is not backed up by scripture as we do not have a record of John the Baptist having been baptized at any point of his life either. If the people in Acts 2 received the Holy Ghost and were saved without a recorded baptism, then the earliest and first outpouring of God into man's soul was not dependant on or accompanied by Baptism as a sacramental ordinance. If the first is always the true, then that is the model we should be observing. Of course, while we are in Acts 2, we may as well deal with verse 38. In this verse the greek says something very different than what we read in the english. In english, according to our grammar, it says that Baptism is what gives remission of sins. But in the greek, there are multiple clauses. First we have Peter saying Repent (metanoew = to change one's mind {for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins}) to them in the plural, then he says and be baptized every one of you (umwn) in the singular, then goes back to the plural with for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The reason the greek is so important here is that in greek, clauses are related by the group spoken of. A greek sentence could have 15 clauses describing 4 groups of people, and they would be linked by how many were in the clauses specifically. So in Acts 2:38, we have 3 clauses: 2 plural as a group whole (repent, remission) and 1 singular (baptized). So in the greek, it is the repentance that brings the remission or washing of our sins by faith in Jesus Christ, which is far different than the grammar and word plays employed by the english. In this light, it is far easier to suppose that Peter was requiring them to be baptized by the authority and under the name of Jesus Christ because after having crucified Jesus, they needed to publicly state that they accepted in and believed in Christ as Lord. Under OT law, this would be blasphemy punishable by death, so Peter was requiring them to proclaim to the world that they were transferring their allegiance from the Law and rules of the OT to the Grace and liberty of Jesus Christ. We do, of course, read multiple times throughout the book of Acts and in the Gospels where Baptism is linked to Salvation. But not in a causative way. It's always in a occasioned way: the Salvation occasioned the Baptism. This is supported by scripture that states we are not saved by works, but rather works are the fruit of our Salvation. Where we do read the NT saying that "Baptism doth also now save us.." (1 Peter 3:21), there is no evidence that it refers to water specifically. We read in Ephesians 4:5 that there is "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" but the word baptism again isn't tied to water directly. Both of these scriptures can be just as easily (and actually more accurately in light of other scriptures like Romans 8) be read to speak of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Having said all that, the commandment to be baptized in water IS found in the scripture, and is therefore one that should be obeyed. It is not, however, absolutely necessary to go to Heaven. For example, a question that is asked repeatedly to people that require water immersion baptisms for salvation is thus: If someone gets filled with the Holy Ghost, but dies before they can make it to water to be baptized, do they go to Heaven or Hell? The blase answer given by these people is: It's between them and God. They abdicate all responsibility to stand by their creed and affirmation of faith. But then the same people will get in a pulpit and preach that if you aren't baptized in Jesus name only (sorry people, apparently you can't be baptized in "the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, by the authority of Jesus Christ" because there's apparently too many words in it or something...) you are not saved and going to hell. They refuse to answer it to your face, but they will preach it from a pulpit where they refuse to let anyone challenge them. Hypocritical. I answer it thus: Heck yeah they're going to Heaven! If they repented of their sin, made a heartfelt commitment to spend their life trying to be more like Jesus, and believe on Jesus and His Resurrection, they are going to Heaven. If they sin, well guess what?, they have an advocate and are still saved. In fact, I will go further to state that the only way to lose Salvation is if they willfully state that "I know Jesus is true, but I am going to live my life how I see fit and without any regard for Christ and His suffering." This could be by actions OR words, but I believe it can be Biblically shown that actions are more important using the parable of the man with two sons.

The next thing that Modalist's teach is that Heavenly Tongues WILL accompany the infilling of the Holy Ghost. Orthodox Pentecostals hold the opposite viewpoint, and exegite the scriptures as traditionally understood in that Tongues are NOT a requirement of salvation. There is nowhere in the Gospels where Jesus said anything about tongues being linked to His plan and commandments of Salvation. In fact, Jesus taught repentance, faith, obedience to God, and even taught Baptism (with far less import attached than the other three), but never mentions tongues. The reason tongues are considered as required evidence is because of the experience on the Day of Pentecost by the Apostles. It's silly though how that becomes an absolute without being taught ANYWHERE. What we have is an example or occurence becoming a doctrine. This is devastatingly poor Biblical exegesis. If you look at the original texts, you find that the "tongues" spoken of in Acts 2 were very specifically human languages understood and known to the people that were present...Verse 5-12. The Bible is INCREDIBLY clear that the Apostles were speaking to these people fluently in their own languages; languages the Apostles had never learned before. It wasn't just a few words here and there couched in gobbledygook. It wasn't simply babbling with the occasional Persian word thrown in for fun. Verse 11 states that "...we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." But in modern day churches that teach and practice Glossalalia, the people are said to be speaking some "Heavenly language as God speaks through them", and with "groanings that cannot be uttered". Two problems with that: first, Heavenly language? Which is that precisely? French? Russian? Ancient Aramaic? In all seriousness, the Bible clearly shows they were speaking known languages and MINISTERING in those languages as God saw a need to show His works to Jews of every nation. That's as plain as day if you actually read your Bible. Second, if they are groanings that cannot be uttered, then how do you propose to explain that they ARE uttered? It makes no sense. If they cannot be uttered, then no amount of influence from God will change that. The word "cannot" states an absolute, not a variable. What that scripture states is that the Spirit makes intercession FOR the saint, not THROUGH the saint. In that case, where can you exegetically show that the saint makes the groaning that they couldn't utter in the first place. The teaching breaks down completely in the face of logic and proper hermeneutics. Because of all this, there is no way to show that tongues are a required sign of Salvation. They are a gift that will manifest itself when there is a need. I was recently at a conference where a man was "praying people through" to the Holy Ghost. I was close enough to hear him tell a seeker that while she was praying, she would hear weird sounds in her head and that when she heard them she should speak them as that was God telling her what to say. LOL. I have yet to find that in the Bible. It sounded so much like the Charismatics that these people claim to eschew that I wanted to laugh right there. I think these people should rewrite Acts 2:38 to say "Then Peter said unto them (in a heavenly language), Repent, and be Baptized in Jesus name only for the remission of your sins (beware those that teach any deviation as they send you straight to hell!!!), and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost which will make you babble like a 3 year old again." What is interesting to note is that in 1 Corinthians 12 we read of the gifts of the Spirit as Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment, Divers (divers = diverse or many) Tongues, and Interpretation of Tongues. In Mark 16:17-18 lists the following signs: They'll cast out devils, Speak with New (the word "new" here translates properly as "previously unknown to the speaker") Tongues, they'll take up serpents (presumably without harm), they will not be harmed by deadly drink, and they will heal the sick through the laying on of hands. Ephesians 4:8-11 states that Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers are gifts, not callings or positions. With all these different gifts and signs, why do organizations put such an emphasis on one sign/gift such as tongues only? I guarantee that if you walked into a church where the entire population was babbling away, and threw 300 texas rattlesnakes on the floor, then handed out pitchers of cyanide laced koolaid, everyone would stampede each other to death trying to get to the door. I wonder how many of the survivors would actually brave the snakes to go lay hands on the people dying from the snake venom and heal them? You simply cannot take one sign out of one or two verses and state that it is the penultimate sign of Salvation when the scripture doesn't state that anywhere. I don't believe speaking in tongues is necessary for Salvation any more than playing with Cottonmouths or King Cobras is. I don't think there's a need to check someone's salvation by giving them Drano to drink when they claim they have prayed through. What the scripture shows is that, when necessary, these signs shall FOLLOW the believer. It doesn't state they should be sought after to prove you're saved. If you pick up a snake thinking it's a twig, then, Biblically (if you're a believer) it won't kill you...bite or no. Same for drinks: if you happen to drink some bleach thinking it's water (that actually happened to my brother when we were kids lol) then you aren't going to kick the bucket. If you happen to end up in company that doesn't understand english and you are full of the Holy Ghost and Faith, then by Biblical standard God will speak through you to those people...Just start talking and let Him work.

I hope this clarifies for you what the Bible says about Salvation in the New Testament. Salvation is based on Faith and Grace. It's liberating!

God Bless you

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