By Larry Ray Hafley
(1) If, as prominent Protestant preachers proclaim, salvation is “solely by grace,” why are not all men saved, since “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11)?
(2) When “Oneness” Pentecostals read, “I and my Father are one” (Jn. 10:30), they erroneously conclude that Jesus and the Father are one person. The Bible says that Paul and Apollos were “one” (1 Cor. 3:8). Were they one person? A husband and wife are “one” (Eph. 5:31). Are they one per-son? In Genesis 11:6, a multitude of people were “one.” Were they one per-son? Jesus prayed that all believers “may be one” (Jn. 17:21). Was he praying that all disciples might be one person?
Observe that Jesus prayed that believers “may be one, even as we are one” (Jn. 17:22). “As” is an ad-verb of manner. Disciples are to “be one” just like Jesus and the Father are one. If Jesus and the Father are one person, then Jesus was praying that his disciples would all be one person. But even Pentecostals admit that Jesus was not praying for his disciples to be “one person.” Thus, the Father and the Son are not one person, for Jesus prayed that his disciples would be “one” in the same sense that he and the Father “are one.”
(3) Most “tongue speaking” Pentecostals believe that baptism is immersion and that it is essential to salvation. This is especially true among the “Oneness” “Jesus Only” Pentecostals. For this reason, the following thoughts have been helpful in Bible studies with them.
(A) When we read that water baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ” is “for the remission of sins” in Acts 2:38, we learn its purpose and place in the plan of salvation. Hence, whenever we read of baptism later on in the New Testament, we know what it was “for.” For example, we read of water baptism in Jesus’ name in Acts 10:48 and 19:5. Though the purpose is not stated in those passages, we know from Acts 2:38 that it was “for the remission of sins.”
(B) Likewise, we learn from Acts 8:36-38 that baptism involves coming “unto . . . water,” going “down into water,” and coming “up out of the water.” In other places, it is simply stated that people were “baptized” (Acts 2:41; 10:48; 16:15, 33). How-ever, with the very word itself, and the actions described in Acts 8, we know, whenever we see that people were baptized, that they came “unto,” went “down into,” and came “up out of ” water.
(C) After walking a Pentecostal through the above reasoning and helping him to see the point, he generally will agree. Then, take the very same tact and apply it to a study of “tongues.” In Acts 2:4-11, we learn that when men spoke in tongues “as the Spirit gave them utterance,” they spoke languages; they spoke in the “tongue” or “language” of their audience. The hearers “heard them speak in his own language,” “in our own tongue, wherein we were born,” “we do hear them speak in our tongues,” or languages. So, to “speak in tongues” “as the Spirit” gives “utterance,” one speaks a human tongue or language. Later, we read that men spoke “with tongues” (Acts 10:46; 19:6; 1 Cor. 12-14). Though it is not specified in some texts, we know from Acts 2 that they spoke in the tongues or languages of men.
Carefully review the arguments made on the action and purpose of baptism outlined above. Then show that the same reasoning reveals that Spirit given “tongues” are not some emotional, ecstatic babbling, but are actual languages.
(4) We are being warned, even by some of our own brethren, that we should preach “more about the Christ” and “less about the church,” or, as some have said, “more about Jesus, and less about ourselves.” Assuredly, we should “preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Cor. 4:5), but this is not what our critics mean. They say that to preach about “the church” is to be guilty of preaching “ourselves.” Brethren, it is not so!
Salvation by God’s “own purpose and grace . . . was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:20). “Yes, that is what we should preach. We should not preach so much on the church. We should preach God’s eternal plan to save man by grace in Jesus! We are guilty of a misplaced emphasis. We have majored on the church and have minored in the Christ.” Note, though, that the church makes known God’s wisdom “according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 3:10, 11). “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages” (Eph. 3:21). You cannot separate Christ from the church. To do so is to preach an incomplete Christ, for the church is “the fulness of him” (Eph. 1:23).
God’s wisdom and glory are demonstrated by the very existence of the church. To speak against the church is to speak against that which exhibits “the manifold wisdom” and glory of God Almighty. Christ and his salvation system of grace were given before the world began. That system reaches its brilliant, multi-sided splendor and glory in the finished product, the church. The church is the “completeness” of what God planned and purposed. To leave it out is to ignore the wisdom and glory of God and the fulness of what the Savior accomplished in his selfless, sacrificial suffering.
Christ built something (Matt. 16:18); he “purchased” something (Acts 20:28); he is “the head of’ some-thing (Eph. 1:22); he reconciles the saved in something (Eph. 2:16); he is “the Savior” of something (Eph. 5:23); he sanctifies something (Eph. 5:26); he cleanses something (Eph. 5:26). What is that something? Whatever it is, may we preach it? May we tell men what it is?
Men are “baptized into Christ” (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). Men are “baptized into one body,” the church (1 Cor. 12:13). Men are reconciled unto God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19). Men are reconciled “unto God in one body,” the church (Eph. 2:16). Lest one be “guilty” of preaching “the church too much” and “Christ too little,” should he preach that men are “baptized into Jesus Christ” but neglect to preach that they are “baptized into” his body, the church?
If so, ignorance will abound about the church and its place in the plan of God. When that happens, should we then “tilt toward” preaching more about the church and less about the Christ? We need to know so we can keep the proper balance!
(5) “Can we understand the Bible alike?” Some say, “No, absolutely not!” Do they expect all of us to understand their conclusion alike?
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 18, p. 12-13
September 15, 1994