The real gospel message is that salvation is by grace through faith (Rom. 6:23)--not faith and something you do like baptism or faith and speaking in tongues or faith and going to a Oneness church, etc. True salvation is freedom from the requirement of keeping any part of the Law to get or maintain salvation. True salvation is receiving Christ (John 1:12), being in the body of Christ, and being redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. It means that we are not obligated to keep a moral code such as women should not wear pants, shorts, makeup, or jewelry. It does not mean that we are in danger of losing our salvation if we go to movies, own TV's, swim in public, or wear facial hair as the Oneness Church emphasizes.1 We have been set free from the Law. Of course, this does not mean that we are free to sin. Not at all, for how shall we who have died to sin still live in it (Rom. 6:1-2)?
But after studying Oneness Pentecostal theology, I have concluded that it is not Christian since it denies the true God by denying the Trinity and denies salvation by grace by adding a requirement: baptism. In addition, there is the legalistic expectation of a moral code that must be obeyed lest they be in danger of forfeiting the forgiveness of sins which Christ so lovingly bought and freely gives. This is works of righteousness.
As is the case in cult groups with false gods, false gospels follow. Such is the case with Oneness Pentecostal theology. It teaches a false god and a false gospel. The god of Oneness theology is not a Trinity. Its gospel is faith plus works: baptism, speaking in tongues as a necessary sign, and obedience to a moral code as a demonstration of salvation. Are we to obey God's word? Absolutely yes! Are we free to go and sin? No. We are obligated to obey God but not as a requirement to be saved or keep salvation. We are saved by faith (Rom. 5:1) and because we are saved, then obedience follows. Keeping moral laws does not keep us in the faith. Being baptized is not what saves us.
The true gospel is defined by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:1-4 as that which saves us. Notice that baptism is not mentioned here:
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures," (NASB).
Faith is only as good as the person in whom it is placed. It is, therefore, essential that we rightly understand God as He has revealed Himself, a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We see the Son speak to the Father and pray to Him (John 17). We know that God's word says that the Son bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24) and purchased us with His own blood (Acts 20:28). We are justified apart from the works of the Law "because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight . . . " (Rom. 3:20), and "for we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law," (Rom. 3:28), and "For what does the Scripture say? ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness'" (Rom. 4:3), and "Therefore, having been justified by faith . . . " (Rom. 5:1), and "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness" (Rom. 4:5).
Those in Oneness theology need to come to the true Trinitarian God and Savior, renounce the addition of baptism to salvation, and rely completely and totally on God's saving grace by faith alone. Then, they need to look at the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) instead of speaking in tongues as an evidence of their salvation.
May Jesus be glorified.
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- 1. I am not saying that they do not have the right to practice holiness as they perceive it. I am addressing the issue of the externalities as a necessary sign of being saved.