Summary: Pointing out the error or the "Jesus Only" Doctrine.
Matthew 28:18-19 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..."
Peter said at another time, (quoting from the prophet Joel), "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh."
We are fortunate to be living in the day when we are seeing this great prophecy of God taking place before our very eyes. Ever since the turn of the century when this latest outpouring of God's Holy Spirit began, millions have come to know the mighty power of the Pentecostal experience.
Some may prefer to term this the Charismatic experience, others the Holy Ghost experience, and still others the Pentecostal experience. The terminology doesn't matter, we're all referring to the reality of being baptized in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance. For the sake of simplicity I will refer to this throughout the rest of this message, as the Pentecostal experience.
A common Doctrine?
The other day I was asked, "Do all Pentecostal people think of believe alike?" I believe what was really being asked was, "Do all people who have experienced the Baptism in the Holy Ghost accept standard 'doctrines'?"
I think, in the basics of Christian faith, all Pentecostals do accept the same fundamental doctrines. I'm referring of course to repentance, salvation through the blood, and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as described in Acts 2:4
If you will read our tenants of faith you will see how similar it is to the tenets of faith of almost all major denominations. (Members of certain "modern" churches might be surprised to find that these are the basics of their faith ;but nevertheless ,most churches can at least find them among their formal organizational papers.)
Beyond these basic of faith, many modern churches do diverge in their theology to a great extent, while almost a Pentecostal believers find themselves in close agreement on most question of scriptural interpretation. There is a Pentecostal group which does however, diverge from the generally accepted Pentecostal position. This group is known as the Jesus Only people, or Oneness. Technically they are call the United Pentecostals and sometimes they are referred to as New Issue.
While the Oneness people have not shown anywhere near the growth of the average Pentecostal group, they are gaining adherents. What disturbs me about this situation is that I suspect is primarily fear which is bringing new members into their fold. You see, the basis of their teaching is that if you are not baptized by their method--and do not accept their doctrines--you are not saved, nor are you a member of the Body of Christ.
Here again we have a body of believers who are good, upstanding, well-motivated people. It might well be asked, "If they are Christians and want to do what's right, how can they go so far wrong in their doctrine?" The answer, of course, is that even the best motivated of heats can stumble when the head leads it down an errant path. I believe their motivation is right, while their performance is in error.
Should we chance divisiveness by discussing the doctrinal misconceptions they promote? While I shun argument for the sake of argument, I feel I should. This is not a simple matter "of to each his own." The Word of God is given to us to be our staff against the world, our strength, and our guide to proper doctrine. The Word tells us to rightly divide the Word (2Timothy 2:15) for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, and for sound doctrine!(2 Timothy 3:16)
God gave us His Word so we could, through study and application, develop sound doctrine. Admittedly, all fall short of complete knowledge of God's intent for us in this day. I believe God deliberately left some fine points obscured so we would have to study His Word as an ongoing and perpetual component of our Christian Life. I do feel, however, that there is a difference between freedom to search out God's meaning from His Word and license to promote doctrines which are barely suggested within the Word.
The "New Issue" erupted within the Pentecostal movement about 1914. While it started as a friendly debate of the question of the correct method for water baptism, it quickly developed into a fierce controversy over the nature of the Godhead. The argument in those early days was basically of the effort to reconcile the words of the Lord in Matthew 28:19 and Peter's words in Acts 2:38. Suddenly the thing exploded. Those who practiced baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (Jesus Only) claimed a special revelation from the Lord which would result in the correct manner of water baptism. And what was this tremendous, tradition-defying revelation?