Set for the Defense -- Review of the "Jesus Only" Doctrine
A copy of a tract published by the United Pentecostal Church, P.O. Box 879, Makati Rizal D-708, Republic of the Philippines, entitled, "Mystery of All Mysteries God in Christ," has been sent to me by a Christian in the Philippines with the request that I review it. The tract teaches that there is only one person in the Godhead, namely, Jesus Christ. This is a basic doctrine of the United Pentecostal Church.
The word of God commands us to "try" or test those who claim to be teachers of God (I In. 4: 1). We must "prove all things" (I Thess. 5:21). Therefore this review is written to determine the truth. Does the Bible teach the one person or "Jesus only" doctrine of the United Pentecostal Church? Let us examine their evidence.
I. "When God Became Man"
The afore-mentioned tract argues under the above heading that, "Since both Old and the New Testament emphatically declare that there is only one Lord, then it is evident that the Lord Jesus of the New Testament and the Lord God of the Old Testament is the same Lord" (p. 2). Numerous Scriptures are then listed which attempt to show "that the Lord God of the Old Testament is the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament" (p. 2).
No one denies that there is one Lord (Deut. 6:4; Eph. 4:5). The Godhead, Deity, is one in Lordship, in authority, but this does not affirm that there is only one person in the Godhead. "But to us there is but one God, the Father ... and one Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 8:6). "Grace ... mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father" (2 Jn. 3).
David said, "The Lord said unto my Lord" (Psa. 110:1; Acts 2:34). This prophesies of Pentecost when "God ... made ... Jesus ... both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:34-36). Two persons are mentioned in these verses as in Luke 1: 32 where the "Lord God gave unto him (Jesus) the throne (power, authority) of his father David. . ." The Godhead, Deity, is one Lord, but this does not say that God is one person.
The tract argues from Isa. 9:6, Micah 5:2, and Jno. 20:28 that since Jesus is the Everlasting Father, the Everlasting God, there is only one person in the Godhead (p. 2). Jesus has seed or children (Isa. 53: 10; Heb. 2:13). He is "The everlasting Father," but He also has a Father (2 Jn. 3). 1 am called "Father" by my children, and I am a son, but I am not my own Father, nor my own son. Jesus is Father to His children, but He is not His own Father. Romans 15:6 refer to "God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:3).
Truly, Deity, God, is everlasting, but this does not say that Jesus is the only person in the Godhead. The Son had glory with the Father before the world was (Jno. 17:5). The Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world (Jno. 17:24). "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jno. 1: 1). That Word is the Son (Jno. 1: 14). So, the Son was with Deity in the beginning, "before the foundation of the world." Jesus could not be the, same person as His Father because He said, "my Father is greater than I" (Jno. 14:28).
II. "When Did The Sonship Begin?"
The tract under review declares that "the Sonship began, when God became a man ... There was no Son before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. . . ." The argument is that "In eternity God as an invisible spirit without flesh and bones ... who came in the form of man to become mans salvation." While it is true that God, Deity, was made flesh and dwelt among men (in. 1: 14), it does not prove that there is only one person in the Godhead.
The implication is that Sonship could not exist without the human body, the flesh. But this proves too much. If there was no Son before Christ came in the flesh, then there could be no Son of God after he departed from the flesh. Jesus is not now in His fleshly body (Phil. 3:20, 21). If He were, we would be like Him (Cf. Heb. 5:7; 1 in. 3:2). If Sonship does not exist without "the body of his flesh" (Col. 1:22), then He is not presently the Son of God. Thus, the argument denies the Sonship of Jesus. It forces the Pentecostal Church to affirm that Jesus is not now the Son of God since He is not in His fleshly body. Their doctrine makes them "anti-christs." "He is anti-christ that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father" (I Jno. 3:22, 23).
Jesus was the Son of God before He was manifest in the flesh, "For God ... gave his only begotten Son" (in. 3:16), and "the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world" 0 in. 4:14). And now "he is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20; 2 Cor. 1: 19).
III. "Jesus Was Both God And Man."
The tract under consideration scripturally affirms the humanity and Deity of Jesus, but this does not prove that there is one person in die Godhead. The Word (Christ) was God and the Word was with God and the Word was made flesh (Jno. 1:1, 14). This certainly does not say that Jesus is the only person in the Godhead.
John 10:30 and 14:9 are cited as evidence that Jesus is God the Father. God and Christ are one, but they are not said to be one person. Die Father and the Son are one in work (Jno. 4:34), creation (Eph. 3:9), word (in. 12:49; 17:8), name (authority - jn. 5:43), love (in. 14:23), protection (Jno. 10: 27-30), witness (Jno. 8:18), doctrine (Jno. 7:16), will (Jno. 6:38), and judgment (in. 5:22), but they are not said to be one in person.
Next, the tract states, "At the same time God was manifest in the flesh on earth he remained Spirit in heaven. For that reason Jesus could speak of the Father that dwelleth in me, and also speak of the Father in heaven." (p. 4). The apostle Paul spoke of Christ that "liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20) and of Christ that was in heaven (Cf. Phil. 3:20, 21; 2 Thess. 1:7). Are Paul and Christ one person?
IV. "Right Hand."
The tract attempts to explain the statements about Jesus being at the tight hand of God. It says, "The right hand is a symbolic term which means power and authority ... Therefore Jesus at the right hand of God, means Jesus has all the power" (p. 4). Jesus has all power, but it was, given" to Him (Matt. 28:18). Who gave it? In Hebrews 1: 3-8, the Father says to the Son, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever It was the Father who said unto the Son, "Sit thou at my right hand" (Psa. 110: 1). Paul says that God, the Father, "set him (His Son) at his own right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3).
Stephen saw "Jesus standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55, 56). Grant that the "right hand" is figurative; it still does not alter the fact that Stephen saw two persons, the Father and the Son.
V. "The Holy Spirit."
In this section it is affirmed that (1) "God is Spirit." (2) "God is Holy." (3) "Therefore God is the Holy Spirit" (p. 5). By this same "logic" one could prove that there are many Holy Spirits. (1) Angels are spirits. (2) Angels are holy. (3) Therefore, angels are Holy Spirits. This would prove that any angel is the Holy Spirit just as quickly as it would prove that God is the Holy Spirit. Christians are to be holy (I Pet. 1: 15). Christians have spirits (2 Cor. 7: 1). Are Christians the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is Deity (Acts 5:3, 4, 9), but the Holy Spirit is not God the Father because the Father sent the Holy Spirit (Jno. 14:26; 15:26).
VI. "Jesus Is The Holy Spirit."
The United Pentecostal Church teaches that Jesus is the Holy Spirit because He said He would send the Comforter, and then He said, "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you" (Jno. 14:18). Christ came in the power of the Spirit; the Spirit was representative of Christ. This is parallel to Elijah and John the Baptist. John the Baptist came "in the spirit and power of Elias" (Mau. 17:10-13; Lk. 1:17). The Holy Spirit was "another Comforter" other than the Son Un. 14:16). He was no more the Son than John the Baptist was the literal person of Elijah.
Earlier the tract had said "that the Holy Ghost is the father of Jesus, Matt. 1: 18, 20" (p. 5). That statement denies that Jesus is the Holy Spirit. (For investigation of the Father of Jesus, see the information below in another section.)
VII. "The Trinity Theory."
This section is a rambling series of false accusations and misleading insinuations about the Bible teaching of three persons in the Godhead. For example, "After a raging discussion of centuries concerning the Godhead, a doctrine was finally agreed upon known as the doctrine of the Trinity" (p. 6). This is an assumption, an assertion without proof. Those who believe there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead rely upon the Bible as the revelation of the truth and not upon an "agreement" of men.
Further allegations are made which have no real point. (1) "If the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate persons, then each Christian has three persons in him" (p. 6). Answer: Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (Jno. 14:23). Note, "we" and our" -- one God, but not one person.
(1) "If there are three persons each raised Jesus from the dead. Acts 13: 30; Rom. 8: 11; Jno. 2:19" (p. 6). Answer: The persons of the Godhead act as one. What one does the other does. Jesus said, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things so ever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (Jno. 5:19). The Father begat Christ through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1: 18,20), and He raised His Son from the dead in like manner (Rom. 1: 4). See 2 Cor. 4:14 cf. Jno. 6:44; 2 Cor. 1:8
(2) "If Christ and God are two separate persons there are two separate churches because the Church is called the church of God and is also called the Church of Christ" (p. 6). Answer: The church is the church of God because Christ is Deity or God. Acts 20:28 speaks of "the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Who purchased the church "with his own blood," the Father or the Son? So, the church is "the church of the Lord" Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28-American Standard Version). The "church of God" or the "churches of Christ" are scriptural designations of the church. It is worthy to note that the church is never called the "United Pentecostal Church." No mention is made of it in the word of God. If it were named, I suppose that would make three churches according to their reasoning!
(3) "If the Holy Ghost and God are two separate persons then Jesus has two fathers" (P. 6). Answer: God is "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 15:6; Eph. 1: 3; 2 Jn. 3). He acted through the agency of the Holy Spirit in the conception of Mary (Mau. 1: 18, 20). Jesus knew and recognized the difference between His Father and the Holy Spirit. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name, he shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" Un. 14:26). The comforter, the Holy Ghost, was sent "from the Father" Un. 15:26).
(4) "If there are three separate, distinct persons there should be three separate, distinct names, whereas there is only one name" (p. 6). Answer: The Godhead is one in name or authority, but not one in person. Name, singular, often refers to names, plural. In Isa. 9:6, "his name (singular) shall be called Wonderful, Counselor," etc. Here His name included a plurality of names. Gen. 48:16 says, "Let my name be named on them and the name (singular) of my fathers. Abraham and Isaac . . ." So, name (singular) may refer to a plurality of persons. See Jno. 5:43.
Rev. 14:1 shows a plurality of persons with "a Lamb ... and with him an hundred forty and four thousand having His Fathers name written on their foreheads."
"I Tim. 3:16 says God was manifest in the flesh and I John 4:2 says Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. Harmonizing these two scriptures we find that Jesus Christ was God who came in the flesh and to attempt to place him on a lower plane than the Mighty God and Lord of all is to An ranks with anti-christ forces" (p. 7). Deity, God, was manifest in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, but this does not prove that the ~on and the Father are the same person. John he Baptist manifested Christ to Israel (Jno. 1:31). Does this mean that he and Christ are he same person? Paul manifested the knowledge of Christ (2 Cor. 2:14; Col. 4:4). Does that mean that Paul, was the knowledge or Mystery of Christ? Jesus was Deity manifested 1 the flesh. But before this, He was Deity or rod, and He was with God the Father (Jno. 1:1).
I Jno. 4:2 does not teach that the Father and the Son are the same person or else John contradicted himself in such passages as I Jno. 4:14 and 2 Jno. 9 where he mentioned "both the Father and the Son."
We have been limited by space to a brief view of the arguments set forth by the United Pentecostal Church. However, we would welcome further opportunity to study the word of God with any who believe we have advocated false doctrine. The meetinghouses of churches of Christ are open to study with representatives of the United Pentecostal Church. If the United Pentecostal Church believes it has the truth, why does it not open its buildings to an honest and honorable discussion? Truth does not fear investigation. Only error suffers from examination. I and my brethren stand "set for the defense of the gospel" (Phil. 1: 17). Remember, Jesus said, "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God" (Jno. 3:20, 21).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 34, pp. 8-11