An Open Letter To Jesus Name Apostolics
by Pastor Charles T. Martin
Is your salvation a certainty? Are you absolutely certain you're born again? Is your final destination heaven or hell? These are extremely important questions, and warrant our being certain of the answers. It is exactly because of the importance of these questions that you are exploring or have become involved with an Apostolic Church. For the same reason it is also essential that you read and carefully study this "Open Letter." It is very important for us to be sure of the answers to these questions because they have eternal significance and mean the difference between being saved and lost.
The Apostolic Jesus Name Churches teach several doctrines that are heresy. The errors or heresies are so very grave that it is possible believing them could cause a person to be lost. I know this is a strong statement, and I do not make it lightly or carelessly. I love you and I hope and pray that my statements on these doctrines will challenge you, and cause you to search the scriptures to be certain of what it says. Remember, it could mean your own personal salvation.
I am writing from my personal experience. For approximately sixteen years I was a member of Apostolic Jesus Name Churches. I first became involved with these churches when I received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. This occurred in 1969 at a small Jesus Name Church in Tennessee. This small church was part of the United Pentecostal Church International (a major Apostolic organization). After several months the Pastor of this church felt it was God's will for him to return to Bible School. He left the church without a Pastor and this small church folded. I took my family, which by that time had also become involved, and started attending another Jesus Name Church. This second church was an independent Apostolic Church, and was not part of any organization.
After moving to Kentucky with this group to help start churches in Ashland, Kentucky and Huntington, West Virginia, I received Ordination as an Evangelist. In 1971 I went back into The United Pentecostal Church and stayed there for the next fourteen years. Thirteen of those years were in a large church in Southern California. When I went back into these churches I surrendered my ordination by the independents for license in the United Pentecostal Church. When we moved to California, the Pastor of the church there requested that I surrender my license. Ministers in the United Pentecostal organization pay their tithes to the organization and he wanted my tithes to stay in the local church.
While in this church I founded and directed a Deaf Ministry, was active in Choir, Street Ministry, Home Bible Study, etc. Although I officiated at funerals, baptized, preached, and was used in other ministerial functions I never officially received credentials in this church. Although I received no other credentials, my years of personal knowledge and association with these groups and my involvement in ministry give me a solid and credible knowledge of their doctrine and beliefs. In February of 1985 after approximately five years of study, prayer, fasting, deep travail, and intense self examination I withdrew myself and my family from these churches. It was not an easy decision. It was not made quickly.
I based this work on the various doctrinal and personal struggles that occurred both while leaving and after our departure from these groups. It is very tempting to go into personalities. My human nature causes me to want to accuse, and to attempt to discredit the people in these groups or their leadership. I cannot do this. Several attempts to destroy my credibility and disgrace me were made, but I will not return evil for evil. I am going to approach these churches only from a scriptural and doctrinal perspective. I am going to address their doctrine apologetically and leave all the other perspectives in the hands of God.
The church we were involved with in Southern California was an old fashioned, hard line, Jesus Name Church. They taught a strong "Holiness" standard. (I will discuss this later in the section concerning "Holiness".) This church had a strong Pastor ruled government with no church board and was at times very active in it's outreach programs. Often this church had between 350 and 700 members and the Pastor is well known and respected within his organization. I greatly loved this man and held him in an exaggerated respect for many years. Actually, I still love this man and I believe I now understand what caused him to fall into error. Of course, I no longer have the respect I once had for this man. I feel a great pity that a man who so obviously loved God and so desired to be pleasing to Him was led so far astray. I believe with all my heart this man is sincere but much of His doctrine is simply error. He does not hold these doctrines alone, although in a few areas he has gone well beyond his organization. In general his doctrine is typical of these churches. These doctrines need to be discussed and their intrinsic errors shown.
I also pray that I can avoid having anyone feel that I am placing myself in some higher plane than these folks, or that I feel more holy or unique. I am a sinner saved by grace and make no such claims. When I present the erroneous doctrines of these groups it should be understood that the Jesus Name Groups are not a united body of churches. There is great disunity among them in doctrine, in practice, in church government, and in other areas as well. The errors I am going to discuss existed among the groups with which I had association, but I am not saying that all Jesus Name Groups practice everyone of these doctrines. There are only two doctrines that unite Jesus Name Churches and these are the adamant belief that the plan of salvation is best presented in Acts 2:38 (Repentance, baptism in Jesus Name, and receiving the Holy Ghost) and that God is one person (Modalism) rather than a Triune God. Both of these errors will be discussed in greater detail.
Almost all of these churches are "Holiness" churches and most use fear as a tactic and a means of control (they are what are sometimes called "Shepherding Churches"). Most hold the ministry in an exaggerated position, untouchable and unaccountable, and teach and practice a limited or conditional type of forgiveness. Most practice some form of intense denominationally and teach and practice a rigid legalism, keeping their people bound by rules and regulations. While I was involved with these churches I often spoke with members of other denominations, and I often asked them what they would do if I could show them within the Word of God that their doctrine was in error. Many times they said they would follow the truth of God's Word regardless of where it led. Little did I know that God would ask the same question of me and expect the same answer. It is my desire that this book helps you first, to be certain that you are a member of the body of Christ, and second, to enable you to be knit together with the members of the body in love and understanding.
Note: in the following pages there are many scriptural references. I have used the King James Version throughout, except as otherwise noted.
Doctrine Of Acts 2:38 -- Salvation By Faith, Ritual, And Works Versus Grace Through Faith
Jesus Name Churches teach that the plan of salvation is best presented in Acts 2:37 & 38.
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
They interpret this plan of salvation as repentance from sin, baptism in water by emersion in the Name of the Lord (usually "The Lord Jesus Christ"), and reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost. They believe that the initial evidence of having received the Holy Ghost is speaking in other tongues. There are several scriptural problems with this doctrine. It is contextually incorrect, It teaches baptismal regeneration, it makes tongues a requirement for salvation, it requires works as part of salvation, etc. Let us look at each of these problems and examine the scripture to determine what really is correct.
First, let's examine the question of the context of this passage. The devout Jewish men standing before Peter, who were pricked in their hearts (Acts 2:37) had just heard Peter preach a message. What was that message?
Peter's message contains several elements. Those elements are as follows: Jesus was Lord, Messiah, and Christ; The devout Jews in Jerusalem had participated in His crucifixion; but He was not dead but very much alive. He had resurrected from the grave. Acts 2:14-21 proclaimed the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy in that which was occurring around them:
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all [ye] that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is [but] the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by 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: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Acts 2:22-25 present that the works performed by Jesus prove Him to be the Messiah and stated that the " Men of Israel"
had participated in the crucifixion.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Acts 2:26-31 presents the fact of His resurrection.
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men [and] brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
Acts 2:32-36 uses the resurrection to further validate Christ's claim to be Messiah, Lord, and Christ.
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Pricked in their hearts over what they had done, they cried, "What must we do?" Peter's response was simple. He told them to repent of their sins.
Now when they heard [this], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men [and] brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38 and 39
It should be clear that he was not telling them to repent of every sin that they had ever committed, but rather specifically
of the sins of rejecting their Messiah and participating in His crucifixions. If we are to apply the context properly, we must
now ask ourselves if we fit the parameters of the men who heard Peter's message.
Are we devout Jews?
Acts 2:5: And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Did we reject our Messiah, and did we participate in His crucifixion?
Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked
hands have crucified and slain:
Since the answers to these questions are negative, we must not apply this passage of scripture to ourselves. Acts 2:38 is
simply not applicable as the plan of salvation contextually. If we want to find the biblical plan of salvation, we should look
into passages that deal with Gentiles and how they come to God such as Romans 10:8-10.
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:8-10
Jesus Name Apostolics will, after reading this, bring up the statement made by Peter in Acts 2:39 and 40, where He states that "This promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." They will then ask if this does not mean the passage should be applied to all Christians. The question should be whether the statement made by Peter is applicable to salvation or to the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit. I do not question the fact that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is for all, but I do question that application of this passage, as the Plan of Salvation, is contextually correct. I especially question it in the light of subsequent scriptures.
But for the sake of this argument let us examine the scriptures as if Acts 2:38-40 were contextually correct and see
if the results conform to the Word. If we assent to it's application it would be necessary for us to repent of our sins and be baptized. The Jesus Name Churches teach that Baptism is actually part of our salvation. The name for the doctrine that baptism is part of salvation is Baptismal Regeneration. If Baptismal Regeneration is truth there exists a terrible contradiction in scripture. Acts 2:38 seems to require an action on our part as part of our salvation and yet Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" My action of going down into water is effort, or work and as small an action as it is, if it is necessary as part of my salvation then Ephesians 2:8-9 causes this contradiction.
Romans 4:4 states, "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." The size of the work does
not make any difference, if it is by grace then it is by grace, if it is by works then it is by works, and we are not saved by
works. Paul also makes a strange statement in 1 Corinthians 1:17. He says, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles was not sent to baptize? Certainly if Baptismal Regeneration is truth, Paul would never have made this statement! Baptism simply must not be part of salvation.
WHAT THEN IS BAPTISM:
Colossians 2: 11-12 relates baptism and the Jewish practice of circumcision.
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Both baptism and circumcision are acts of a symbolic nature which publicly announce the covenant relationship which now
exists between God and an individual. Just as the Old Testament believer was circumcised the New Testament believer was baptized. Was the Old Testament believer justified or saved only after he was circumcised? Romans chapter 4 uses Abraham to make a clear statement that justification is not based on ordinance. Romans 4:10 says, "How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. God is consistent. He does not change.
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Psalms 89:34
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him. Ecclesiastes 3:14
I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he [is] the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion [shall be even] unto the end. Daniel 6:26
For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Malachi 3:6
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17
Jesus Christ is the same Yesterday, today and forever. Heb. 13:8
Therefore, if He justified Abraham by faith before he was circumcised, then He must justify us before we are baptized.
THE AWFUL ERROR OF NEGATING GRACE:
It is an awful thing (in the old meaning of awful [full of awe]), and a clear example of the power of deception that Jesus Name people so strongly believe that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is required as part of salvation, and become
so wrapped up in the concept of "Jesus Name", that they fail to see the grace of God. Grace is unearned, undeserved favor. There can, by the very definition of grace, never be an act or work involved in its application. Having stated the above, it is important not to minimize the importance of baptism. We are commanded to be baptized just as Abraham was commanded to be circumcised.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. Acts 10:48
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost: Matthew 28:19
To refuse baptism would be sin. We need to be baptized to fulfill all obedience. This is the reason Christ himself came
for his own baptism. Mat. 3:15 Baptism is important and should be administered to all believers.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [it to be so] now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. Matthew 3:15
No discussion of Baptism as it relates to Jesus Name Apostolics would be complete without some reference to the doctrine that gives these folks their names. This doctrine is the so called "Jesus Name Doctrine". Jesus Name People are adamant that the only correct formula which may be used at baptism is Baptism in the Name of The Lord. They take this doctrine from the various passages in the book of Acts where the apostles baptized or were baptized. The phrase used in these passages is, "in the name of the Lord", or "in the name of Jesus Christ". Before we adopt this doctrine we should carefully examine exactly what is meant by this phrase. Colossians 3:17 tells us to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17
Does this mean we should say, "in Jesus name" before we eat, go to the store, dress, play with our children, etc? Does this passage tell us to use this phrase as a ritual? Obviously it does not! This passage is simply telling us that everything we do should be done by the power and authority of Jesus Christ. If, in this passage, the phrase, "in the name of the Lord", means by the power and authority of Jesus Christ, then why does it not mean the same thing in reference to baptism?
When a policeman tells us to stop, "in the name of the law", it only means that he is commanding us to stop as the legally authorized representative of the law. He has power of attorney of the legal establishment to enforce the rules and regulations that make up the law of the land. Colossians 3:17 grants us the power of attorney to act, and live our lives, not through our own power and strength, but in the power and strength of the Lord. When we apply this truth to the subject of baptism we come to understand that what is important in baptism is not the words which are spoken but the authority being exercised.
Acts 2:38 tells us to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and Matthew 28:19 says to be baptized in the name of
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. If we understand the meaning of the phrase "in the name of" to mean by the power
of attorney of, then these passages do not contradict each other, but if we try to accept one passage over the other we
get ourselves into an area of dangerous scriptural interpretation. All scripture is correct and none of it is more correct than any other. Some may be applied more appropriately contextually but it is all correct and true. Apostolics say Peter had the keys to the kingdom so what he said was correct. I have heard others (not Apostolics) state that Jesus was God therefore what he said must be more correct. Either both statements are correct or neither is correct. I do not believe that any other interpretation except that which I have presented above will allow both statements to be understood as perfectly correct.
Jesus Name people are also very quick to try to explain that somehow the family name of God is applied in Baptism. This is pure invention. There is no scripture that teaches this. The fact is that when a child is born into a family, he automatically receives the family name. When we, through faith, are born into the family of God, we also receive the family name. Jesus Name People also teach that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is necessary as part of salvation. While I believe in the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, and I certainly believe it is for the church today as much as for the church in any age, I believe the scriptures simply do not support it as a rigid necessity for salvation.
There is a passage in Acts where believers were found among the Samaritans. They were probably the same people who came to see Jesus after his talking to the women at the well. Were they saved before they received the Holy Ghost?
What about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What about the thief on the cross? Jesus is God. When he says something it is forever settled. There can, by his own word, be no change in what He has said. From the moment it is spoken His word is ultimate law. In John 3:3-5 Jesus states that except a man be born of water and spirit he can not enter the kingdom of God. If this passage is taken, as the Jesus Name People take it, to mean that you must be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost to be saved, then from the moment it was spoken no one would ever be saved without being baptized and receiving the Holy Ghost. Yet Jesus also said the thief on the cross was to be with Him in paradise that night. Jesus does not lie, every word He said was truth, and He does not change. If he, after saying you must be born of water and spirit, takes
someone to paradise without their being baptized, then baptism is not being born of water and something else must be meant by that statement.
One possible interpretation of the "being born of water" would be natural birth (because of the copious fluid present in all births, even cesarean sections). This may be what Jesus is referring to in John 3:12 when he says he is speaking of "earthly things". Therefore the doctrine that you must be baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost to be saved is incorrect. The thief was neither Baptized nor filled with the Holy Ghost yet he was saved.
Jesus Name groups teach Acts 2:38 as the plan of salvation. It is not. They teach repentance from sin, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (the Lord) only, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost as necessary to be completely saved. The truth is that we are saved by grace through faith and the covenant acts follow conversion. Covenant acts are not part of salvation but follow salvation. God is consistent, but if the doctrine taught by the Jesus Name Groups is truth then God is not consistent and against His own words He saved a thief hanging by his side. Because God is consistent it follows that their doctrine must be in error. Further since he saved Abraham by faith before performing any covenant acts, and the thief on the cross before performing any covenant acts, He must save us before any covenant acts are performed. Although we should be baptized and should seek for and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost they are not part of our salvation.
Doctrine Of Holiness -- By Rules And Regulations Versus True Holiness Of The Heart
The Apostolic Jesus name churches teach what they call the "Holiness Message". By this they mean that we as
Christians should live in purity, modesty, and separation from worldliness. They teach that holiness is both an inward
thing and an outward thing. Scripture is clear that the principle they are presenting is excellent and much needed in the present world. We as Christians need to be examples to the world in every way possible. It is indisputable that proper
holiness, is pleasing to God.
Often the Word of God says things like: Come ye out from among them and be ye separate, 2Cor. 6:17; Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect, Mat. 2:15-17; etc. It is, therefore, evident within the Word of God that this principle is correct. The dilemma is that the method used in the Jesus Name churches to obtain holiness is totally incorrect. They create a system of rules and regulations and use these to govern the people within their churches. They call these rules and regulations "Church Standards" and well beyond the areas of standard morality and ethics, they encompass such things as:
How long a person's hair may be (long and uncut for ladies and short for men)
The amount and type of jewelry which can be worn (some allow moderate amounts and some don't even allow wedding bands)
The type and style of clothing that may be worn (dresses, often of certain styles and lengths for the ladies, and shirts and trousers for men, also of certain types and lengths)
The types of amusements allowable (they are generally against TV, Movies, Plays, Theatre, but there is considerable variation about such things as amusement parks, beaches, etc.)
They are against all dancing (except that which happens in their church services as a part of worship)
They are against most secular music, especially Rock,Country & Western, etc.
They forbid "Mixed Bathing" (men and women swimming together) Some congregations also control whether or not you are allowed to miss church, what colors can be worn, how old children must be before they can start dating, etc.
They are generally opposed to the use of make-up.
Many other areas of life are also controlled in many congregations including even the sexual frequency and practices of married couples within the congregation.
As you can see, they often attempt to control almost every aspect of a person's life.
Please note that these churches are not the only groups to ascribe to this "Holiness Message". There are several groups, which practice this doctrine to some degree. What these groups are doing is nothing new. God gave Moses a perfect law on Mount Sinai. Jewish leaders took these laws and interpreted, and explained them until they created a library full of their traditions. They sometimes even gave these traditions the same value as the original law. If we must live by a law, (and any system of rules and regulations like this is a law), then we should live by the law of the Old Testament. God gave it, and it was perfect.
The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul:the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple. Psalms 19:7
The New Testament states that it was only a schoolmaster to show us that we in our own selves could not measure up to God's standards. It shows us that we are sinners in need of a savior.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24
Gal.2:16 tells us that no flesh is justified by the law. If the law doesn't justify us and we are not made holy by rules and regulations, How then can we be made holy? A careful study of Colossians chapters 2 and 3 reveals the following: Because of our completeness in Christ.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: Colossians 2:8-10
We should not allow anyone to judge us about whether or not we practice ceremonial worship.
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the
sabbath [days]: Colossians 2:16
We should not allow anyone to create or enforce systems of rules and regulations.
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Colossians 2:18-22
Systems of rules and regulations do not overcome, or even help in overcoming mans' sensual nature.
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. Colossians 2:23
The person who creates systems of rules and regulations has lost connection with Christ (the head) and is vainly puffed up in his own mind.
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Colossians 2:18-19
Man's sensual nature is only overcome as he locks his attention and affection on things above and strives for submission and surrender.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4
Certainly, there are a great number of don'ts in God's word. There are many things we are told to avoid and things which are dangerous to our relationship with God, but we cannot overcome these things and live an overcoming life, by our own efforts. It can only be done by concentrating all our attention and affections on Him and surrendering to Him. He will enable us to be and do what is pleasing to Him and we will stand, not in our own power but in His. It has been my experience that the more rules and regulations an individual lives under, the more carnal he becomes.
This is true because rules and regulations have no power to change his sin nature and the focus of his attention is always negative. When a person concentrates upon himself in this manner the only possible result is a sort of negative selfishness, a constant self examination, and a constant awareness of faults and failures, etc. While this false piety may seem correct, it really is terribly destructive. True holiness is joy, and peace. Rules only tell you what you are doing wrong, and there is no joy in always being wrong. The scriptural focus is Christ and things above.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2
These are extremely positive, and will draw a person into a more spiritual life. So, we see that rules can only bring bondage and carnality, but Christ brings life and liberty.
LIBERTY IN CHRIST:
According to Gal. 5:1-6, Christians are free in Christ; free to do the following:
1. Make our own choices based on God's word without force,peer pressure, or similar coercion.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
2. Free to serve one another in love. (The entire law is summed up in a single command "to love your neighbor as
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
3. Free from obligation to the Old Testament law.
To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 1 Corinthians 9:21
As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16
4. Free from the law of sin and death. This means that we are free from the death that sin causes and are no longer
destined for Hell, but are destined for heaven.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2
Paul speaking of his freedom, said, "all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful to me, but all things edify not." 1Cor. 10-23 When we speak of liberty, what do we mean? Do we mean we can go out and do anything? As Paul said, "By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey - whether slaves to sin which leads to death or to obedience which leads to righteousness?" Rom. 6:15-16
You see, Christians actually only have one law, and that is the law of love. The question is no longer "what does the law say" but rather, "is what I am doing loving God and my neighbor"? The law of love does not seek its own, but seeks the highest good for others. I am free from the old law, free from rules and regulations, free to be able to spend myself in love, and as curious as it sounds, as I walk in the Law of love I find myself obeying the principles of the Law. Yet, my obedience is not originating from my own effort but from my surrender. you see, I move out of the way and let God manifest His holiness through me.
The Apostolic Jesus Name Churches generally teach "Holiness", by which they mean living a life of purity. This is correct in principle, but their method, that of creating rules and regulations, or Church Standards, is not scriptural and actually accomplishes the exact opposite of purity. The scriptural way to walk in "Holiness" is to concentrate on things above. Put and keep your attention and affections on heavenly things, especially on and in submission to Christ. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Mat.22:37-39
If and when you do that you will live the life required to be pleasing to our God but not in your own strength and power but through His. It will also bring a joy magnificent beyond imagining.
Doctrine Of Love Or Fear -- The Ministry Of Fear Versus The Ministry Of Love
Have you ever been terrified? Were you afraid of the dark as a small child. Many of us were afraid of the dark. Maybe you thought that monsters lived under your bed, or in the half light of a darkened room all the normal items seemed to take on a sinister appearance. Sometimes it becomes ordinary to live in fear. For 16 years I was involved with Jesus Name Churches and for all that time fear was the predominate emotional message and control element used by these groups. It was used to keep me in line, to keep me coming to church, and to keep me from thinking for myself. Within these churches fear is a constant companion and is constantly being presented within the teaching and preaching.
There are several different methods used.
1. They teach living in an exaggerated fear of God.
2. There is a heavy emphasis on "Hell Fire and Damnation"
3. Judgment is taught, not only as a future event but also as a strong possibility in this life.
4. God is presented as an angry tyrant.
5. Pastors are held to have a special relationship with God in that they are God's spokesmen and God's government within the congregation. They exercise the "right" to chasten, punish, and discipline members of the congregation.
6. As discussed in the previous chapter these people are buried under rules and regulations. They are constantly watching themselves and each other for signs of sin or failure.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Germany. As my plane left the ground and started climbing, I watched out the window as all the works of man dwindled into insignificance. In almost no time at all I was no longer able to see cars, houses, or trees. Even the large cities became simply a mass of "something" below us and I suddenly understood what the prophet meant when he asked God what man was that God was mindful of him. I stood in awe that God would know me and want relationship with me. Certainly, when the scripture proclaims that the very hairs on my head are numbered it is beyond my understanding. I have stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and felt an overpowering sense of awe directed toward the God who created this massive spectacle of nature, and I have stood underground at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and felt a very similar wonder. The beauty and mammoth diversity in these huge underground rooms is staggering. This magnificent awe, powerful and overwhelming, is a proper and correct emotion for us to have toward God, and best exemplifies what the scripture calls "the fear of God".
But the mindless terror promoted by some groups is major biblical error. Examine the following scripture with me:
I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears. Ps. 34:4
Who so hearkeneth to me shall dwell in safety and shall be quiet from fear of evil. Pr. 1:33
I will trust and not be afraid for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my salvation. Is. 12:2
God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7
There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts out all fear. 1 John 4:18
Fear, especially this mindless terror, and faith are incompatible. If we love God and have faith in Him we have nothing to fear. While those outside of God have reason to fear, He should bring peace and comfort. Why do these churches teach so strongly the message of fear? It is simply to keep the membership under control. While God desires to control and motivate us through love, these people try to control and motivate through fear. This explains why their ministry constantly preaches "Hell Fire and Damnation" rather than what is pure, lovely, and of good report.
Finally, Brethren, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil.4:8
I understand that Jesus Christ will ultimately come to judge the quick and the dead, but John taught that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world would be saved.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18
Several other passages of scripture demonstrate that compassion, mercy, and love were the factors predominantly used by the Lord to motivate people. Please see:
And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, [thou] Son of David. So Jesus had compassion [on them], and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him. Matthew 20:30 & 34
And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth [his] hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. Mark 1:41
And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that [Jesus] sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind [him] weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe [them] with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed [them] with the ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loveth little. Luke 7:37-38 & 47
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Luke 19:41
Jesus wept. John 11:35
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 1:21
What right do those who call themselves Ministers of the Gospel have to use radically different methods of leading people to God and assisting them to stay with God than those used by Jesus Himself?
You therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape judgment or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2: 1-4
There will be a day when God will judge men's secrets (Romans 2:16) but this day is not now:
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. Romans 2:16
Today, Jesus is come not to condemn or even judge. Today Jesus is seeking that which is lost. Today He is come into the world to save, redeem, rescue, etc. We, as His representatives, are to emulate Him in word and deed. We are to function in kindness, tolerance, patience, and most of all a kind of love that wants the very best for others; a love that is not dependent on someone else loving us, and a love that enables us to be servants. Finally, the Bible teaches that everything we do should be done in love, mercy, understanding, etc. Any group of people that gossips, backbites, tells on each other, etc., is plainly carnal and not spiritual. The word is plain as to what to do if you see your brother sin. It says to pray for him. It never says to go tell on him
If any man see his brother sin a sin [which is] not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 1 John 5:16
Scripture is even clear what to do if his sin is offensive to you personally or directed toward you. It teaches personal confrontation, confrontation with witnesses and finally confrontation before the entire congregation.
Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. That's right; God is seeking us! He is calling for us. His love is unconditional. His love does not depend on whether or not we obey the rules. Fear, in the sense of a great and mighty awe, is appropriate for us to feel but mindless terror is contrary to God's word, purpose, method, or practice. Perfect love casts out all fear.
Remember that fear and faith are never in agreement. If you fear whether you are saved or not, you are possibly not saved. Salvation is by faith, and faith is complete trust and confidence. It is not possible to have faith, this kind of faith, and fear at the same time. Please, for the sake of your salvation, do not stay with any group that ministers the wrong type of fear. Also do not stay with a group where you fear the other members of the congregation. Gossip, backbiting, telling on others etc., have no place within the true Church of the Living God. Follow the biblical principles if you see your brother sin. Don't forget unconditional love.
Doctrine Of The Angel or Messenger Worship -- Improper Positioning Of The Ministry
There are many sincere and godly men within the Jesus Name Groups, and it is not my intent to in any way "wag my tongue" at these men. God's warns us about the "gainsaying of Core".
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. Jude 11
This relates to an Old Testament story about a group of men who came to Moses and told him he took to much upon himself. I believe in ministerial authority and the duties and responsibilities of those in positions of authority within the congregation are certainly scriptural. I believe in ministerial authority and personally submit to the authority of my own pastor.
When all things are said and done though, both my pastor and myself must submit to the same authority. That authority is God and is expressed in God's Word, the Bible. If I compare the position of a pastor as taught or practiced within any particular church, sect, or group against the scripture, I am in perfect order, but if I measure them by my own personal opinion or idea of what the Ministry should be, then I am in error.
The office of pastor is necessary to the local body. Although it is possible to be saved without a pastor, it is more difficult. Ephesians 4:11 and 12 make it clear that God considers the ministry His gift to the church.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Ephesians 4:11 - 12
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, ministers and teachers are some of God's main channels of the spreading of His Word. Scripture also says, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God...How can we hear without a preacher" and
"Obey those who have the rule over you" (Rom. 10:14 & Heb. 13:7,17, and 24 respectively) Clearly government and order
are a necessity within the body. I also believe that the Minister should be the head of that government within a local body.
It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be Ministers and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. Ephesians 4: 11 & 12 NIV
The most basic responsibility of the ministry is to equip or prepare God's people to serve each other and the remainder of the world, to give them the necessary tools to enable them to do those things God will require of them. These tools are basically a system of principles, doctrines, and skills so that the lost may be reached, the hurting may be healed and the hungry or destitute may be fed and clothed. These scriptural principles are synopsized by the Lord Jesus Himself when he said:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22: 37-39 NIV
Within the Jesus Name churches there is a tendency toward a very dangerous direction of ministry. That tendency is to rule and govern by creating systems of rules and regulations.
These "regulations" or "church standards" as mentioned previously open the possibility of some dangerous errors:
1. The Error of Extra-Scriptural Addition
The Word of God is complete and forever settled in Heaven. Your Word, O Lord is eternal. It stands firm in the heavens. Psalms 119: 89 NIV.
When any addition is made to the Word, in any way whatsoever, we are denying its completeness. The Word tells the women of the congregation to dress modestly.
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 1 Timothy 2:9-10
When a minister says what modesty is, and creates a rule or regulation, he is adding to God's Word, he is denying the completeness of the Word. In essence, he is saying that the Word says to dress modestly, but that is not enough; you must dress as he says in order to actually be modest. This same principle applies to any other area which a Minister "rules" on and is potentially major error. Revelations 22:18-19 tells us that anyone who adds or subtracts from the things written in the book will have their part taken out of the book of life. this is a very dangerous position and should be avoided in every way possible.
2. The Error of Potentially Denying the Divinity of God.
God is Divine. Part of His divinity is His right and ability to perform correction, judgment, chastisement, etc. He effects this operation in love through the Holy Spirit and through His Word. Please read John chapter 14. Who of us would say, "God, You are not able to show through your Word and by the leading of Your Spirit what is pleasing and acceptable to you. You don't have the power to convict of sin, correct, or chastise your people. I will do it for you!" None of us would be that pretentious, and yet that is exactly what is said by the man who sets standards. God does not need us to do His work for Him, or to do His things our way. Moses was not allowed into the promised land because he did God's things his own way. He took upon himself the duties and responsibilities of God. When he was instructed to speak to a rock, Moses hit the rock.
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. Colossians 2:20-23
This setting of rules is an easy trap for a Pastor because so many of the congregation come to him with a great number of questions. If the Pastor is not careful, he will soon be directing the personal business of the entire congregation, making rules right and left and will discover himself completely out of his Biblical position.
3. The Error of Messenger Worship.
When a Minister starts setting standards and creating rules it is easy to also fall into another trap. This is the trap of encouraging messenger worship. Messenger worship is simply where a congregation, or even an individual within the congregation stands more in awe of, or honors, trusts, and obeys the minister more than God. They go to the Minister rather than God for the solution to their problems. When asked what they believe they will respond with something like, "My Pastor teaches...etc." They do not study, pray, fast, or seek the face of God for their answers; they just go to the Minister. They are not listening for and trying to follow the voice of God; They are listening to the Minister's voice. Very quickly, they reach a place where they do not even want to know the voice of God for themselves. They don't need it. They have their Minister.
If you trust, rely upon, or regularly go to anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ, for the answers to your problems, you are in terrible error, because, if you trust anyone to this degree you are not trusting God and if you are not trusting God, a grave potential exist that you are not saved. I love you, and since I recognize the dangers of this action, I beg you to return to your faith in Jesus, your faith in God and leave your faith in man.
Please understand, I am not telling you to disregard the governments God has placed within His church. We should follow the men that God has placed over us. We should follow them as they follow Christ. They as faithful under-shepherds to the over-shepherd (which is Christ) are worthy of our honor and obedience. What then should a Minister do? He should preach the Word, nothing more or less. He should preach holiness, purity, godliness, modesty, subjection, obedience, morality and all the other principles of God's word. He should temper it all with love, mercy, longsuffering, and by his
godly example, he should demonstrate what he feels these attitudes and attributes are and how they should be practiced. When his advice is requested, he should present alternatives including his own position and encourage study and prayer to seek God's will in the situation. He should not create rules, regulations, or standards. He should always keep in mind that from the very beginning of time God has allowed man the right to choose for himself. And although he has the right of rule and the responsibility of government, he should remember Christ's example and always rule from a servant's throne.
Almost every Jesus Name Congregation practices this rule setting to some degree or the other. The congregation that I came out of was more extreme than some, but almost all practice it to some degree. Please find yourself a congregation that does not practice this error, submit to the leadership of that congregation and follow them as they train you and prepare you for the word of service.
Do ask your minister's opinion on critical issues in your life and after hearing his guidance, pray and study God's word until you are sure within yourself of the will of God for you. Look to God with faith for your answers. Do not worship the ministry, do not rely on them to order your life, and do not fall into the trap of Minister Worship.
Doctrine Of Grace -- Conditional Limited Versus Unconditional Forgiveness
Many Apostolic Jesus Name groups teach or practice limited or conditional forgiveness. When a member sins, especially if that sin is of a moral nature, some of the organizations limit, restrict, or even refuse to accept that person into the ministry, regardless whether the individual repents, asks for forgiveness, or makes atonement. If the individual is already in the ministry he would be instantly defrocked (removed from ministry) without possibility of restoration. When a member is involved in sin and that sin becomes public, often the Minister will put that individual on restriction or probation until they "prove themselves". Some Ministers covenant with the sinner (make an agreement together that at a certain time the situation will be reviewed), and some will only form an open ended dictate saying that the determination as to when adequate repentance has been shown is for the Ministry to determine.
These restrictions are usually something like:
1. You are not allowed to represent the local church in any manner. If you are in any position of authority you are removed. If you teach, sing, preach, etc., you must stop at least for your period of restriction. You must not work in any outside ministry, outreach, or participate in any activity where you could be considered to be an active member
or a representative of the congregation.
2. You must limit your fellowship. Do not visit in other member's homes, do not go to church related parties, or activities, and do not associate with other members except at the local congregation's meetings or services.
3. Often an outward mark is required. A scarf might be required for a women's cutting her hair, or a particular color required to be worn for some other sin.
4. Some congregations line the folks on restriction up at the front of the church and are forced to listen as other members are told not to have any association or fellowship with them. (This happened in the congregation that I was associated with).
These practices are definitely anti-scriptural! If your assembly or church practices this type of forgiveness, please run, don't walk, to the nearest exit and do not go back. Get out and stay out. this is damnable heresy. If you condone or practice this type of forgiveness you cause your own soul to be in peril. I realize these are strong words but let me show you why I am willing to say them.
Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors...For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive you. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: Matthew 6:14
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Luke 11:4
The teaching here is obvious. If we are to be forgiven we must forgive. The same methods, manner, and conditions which we use in our practice of forgiveness will be used in our own forgiveness. If we forgive freely and unconditionally we will be forgiven freely and unconditionally, but if we forgive conditionally we will also be forgiven conditionally.
This type of forgiveness is, at best, an ideal. It is something to strive to make active in our lives. Often we, in practice, fall short of this ideal, but our doctrine should reflect this ideal rather than the non-ideal. If we hold up the ideal as our goal, it is possible to sometimes approximate it, but if we lower our standards to the less than ideal we can fall into a dangerous trap. I believe that God sees our hearts. If our goal is unconditional forgiveness I believe He will use that
criteria to forgive us, but if our goal is conditional forgiveness I believe that we will be forgiven only conditionally.
People in various groups and denominations are literally binding their own forgiveness by this practice. They are making it difficult or impossible for God to forgive them by their unforgiveness. This is extremely dangerous. Ideally, how much should I forgive? Should I forgive everything? Does it matter how often it occurs? Then Peter came to Jesus and asked,
"Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18: 21-22
Jesus says to forgive a brother not seven times but seventy seven times. I do not know anyone who has actually done something worthy of forgiveness against me seventy seven times, but even if I did I think the principle is clear, we need to be able, readily, to forgive.
When God forgives, He forgives all of our sin: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Psalms 103:3
Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. Psalms 85:2
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Colossians 2:13
God, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ makes us whole and complete. It is a curious fact that the Greek word for saved and made whole is one and the same word. A beautiful picture of the completeness of our forgiveness is that Isaiah says that sin is scarlet.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
Blood is also scarlet and when the blood of Jesus is spread on our sins it is impossible to tell where one starts and the other stops. Forgiveness, like all the other things that God gives to mankind becomes ours through a simple process. That process is as follows:
1. God completely does his part.
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him. Ecclesiastes 3:14
2. We receive what He does by faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. Hebrews 1:6
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. Hebrews 11:8
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: Hebrews 11:9
3. To be complete or finished our faith must be backed up or completed by appropriate actions (works). James 2:22
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? James 2:22
Let me use a Bible story to illustrate this process in action. Peter and the disciples are in a boat. A storm comes up. The wind and the waves become exceedingly rough. Lightning is flashing and the rain is pouring down in sheets. Suddenly they see something walking on the water toward them. They are very frightened. Jesus calls out to them, "Don't be afraid, it is I". Peter, dear rash Peter, says, "Lord if it is you, bid me come to you." The Lord says, "Come." Peter gets up, steps out of the boat and walks on water. He takes his eyes off Jesus for a moment and starts to sink, calls out to Jesus to be saved and Jesus takes him by the hand and leads him back to the boat.
When Jesus said "Come", principle number one went into action. All the powers of heaven were prepared to assist Peter. God thoroughly and completely did His part. Peter could walk on water. Peter actuated principle number two when he believed what Jesus had said. The moment that Peter believed he could walk on the water all the powers of heaven were assisting Peter. He could walk on water. When Peter stepped out of the boat, principle three went into action. He could have sat in the boat and even sat there believing, but until his faith generated action the faith was not complete because the manifestation was not there. Of course we all know the story, and how even after walking on water, Peter let the storm distract him from his faith, but that is another story.
Forgiveness of sin is complete as far as God is concerned. He has spoken. He can not lie. From His vantage point, the work is already done. We must only receive and then walk out what we have received. We must receive our forgiveness and live as if we are forgiven. Any group that puts restriction or probation on an individual is not Scripturally practicing forgiveness. They are making themselves Judges of principle three and taking upon themselves responsibilities which are God's alone.
When God forgives us,He forgives all of our sins, past -present - and future. His forgiveness is conditional only in the sense that it must be received by faith and walked out. It is also conditional in the sense of our being forgiven only in the way and to the degree that we, ourselves, forgive. If we put restrictions and/or probation on others, then we would be required to put ourselves on restriction or probation for our own failures and sins. If we bind up someone's forgiveness, we bind up our own forgiveness. If we are quick to forgive others of their sins against us then God will be quick to forgive us.
Forgiveness should be unconditional except as noted above. If your congregation teaches any other form of forgiveness you should leave that group as quickly as you can and do not go back. This in it's simplest form is "if you don't forgive you will not be forgiven". If you are not forgiven, you are not saved. If you are not saved, then you are lost. God help us all to be saved and not lost!
Doctrine Of The Body Of Christ -- Exclusiveness Versus Universal Brotherhood
Apostolic Jesus Name Churches, almost without exception, teach that they are the only church. They teach this primarily because of their doctrine of the absolute necessity of Baptism in Jesus Name, receiving the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, holiness (church standards), etc. This doctrine (their understanding of the plan of Salvation as mentioned earlier) is only taught in Apostolic Jesus Name Churches. Most of the groups are willing to believe you could be saved in other Jesus Name Churches but they often quarrel over what they call standards. They dispute so determinedly that the more conservative churches are against the more liberal churches even within the same organization.
A particular Pastor may or may not be in fellowship with the other Apostolic Jesus Name Churches within his own town. I personally know of two brothers both within the same organization who disagreed about whether video equipment should be used. One brother didn't want his people associating with the people in his own brother's church because of their disagreement. This is denominationalism at it's very worst.
Scripture teaches unity, peace, cooperation, harmony, etc.. Separation, anger, hatred, lack of cooperation, disharmony, etc., are certainly non-scriptural.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalms 133:1
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Acts 2:44
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the
things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Acts 4:32
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? Ephesians 4:5
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26
Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the
measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: Ephesians 4:13
And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 1 Thessalonians 5:13
Paul went so far in his pursuit of harmony that, when talking about preachers who were preaching Christ even of envy
and strife...he said, "in every way Christ is preached and I, therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." Phil 1:15
The Old Testament tells us that God hates certain things and a list is provided. Of these things, one is he who causes
These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19
How far should we pursue unity then? Should we fellowship people who don't believe as we do? What limits should we place on this? Scripture is actually very clear on this subject. The limiting factor is the fellowship of light and darkness.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and
what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
If a person is a believer, we should pursue unity. How should we define a believer? New Testament practice was to
accept anyone who had accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Lord, who trusted the shed blood of Jesus as their substitutional sacrifice as a believer and a brother or sister. The church at Corinth was a mixed up, confused body with many problems, yet never was it suggested to any other assembly in any of Paul's or the other Apostle's writings that they were to be avoided or not fellowshipped. Yet we are told to mark those among us who cause division.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. Romans 16:17
No house divided against itself can stand and certainly the Apostolic Jesus Name Churches are divided against themselves and against everyone else. It is interesting to note that in the same church where those in disfavor were lined up in front and disfellowshipped, there was a great amount of preaching about division. They were constantly told to mark those among them that caused division. Isn't it a shame that the pastor was the main one creating division? How could the Spirit of God have led this congregation, which was already having problems with harmony, into radical division, rather than into love, unity, and fellowship? It is obvious that the spirit leading this congregation was not of God, and I greatly pity them. God help us, as the body of Christ, to be one body in Him rather than divided as we are now. If there is one clear objective of Satan it is to keep the church weak through division. John tells us that men will only know we are disciples through our love one for another.
The Apostolic Jesus Name Movement is a divided camp. The several organizations are divided from each other and among themselves. It is clear from God's word that this division and extreme denominationalism is error. We must strive for unity, harmony, fellowship, and love one for another. If the church you are attending or thinking about attending preaches against almost every other church in town there is great danger that this church is involved in this error. What should you do? You would be better off in another congregation where love and harmony within the framework of the Word is preached. Radical disharmony is contrary to the direction of the Lord.
Doctrine Of Sanctification -- Perfectionism Versus Imputed Real Righteousness
The Apostolic Jesus Name Churches, almost without exception, teach what I call perfectionism. They teach that to be saved a person must live above sin. They teach that we should be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect; that we must avoid sin in every form; that especially we should avoid willful sin because there is no sacrifice for willful sin, and that a true saint by constant effort, striving, personal endeavor, and with the help of God overcomes the world, sin and evil in every form. Sometimes this doctrine is called Sanctification, and sometimes not, but this is the doctrine it most nearly resembles. Here again is that terrible mixture of truth and error. Samuel Clement who wrote under the name of Mark Twain said, at one time, that a good liar tells the truth, just not quite all of it. An intermediate liar tells a mixture of truth and falsehood, and a poor liar tells nothing but lies. We must be careful to know God's word so we can tell these apart in religious circles and so we can know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Thou wilt destroy them that speak lies: Jehovah abhorreth the blood-thirsty and deceitful man. Psalms 5:6 ASV
Jesus simply does not lie, and yet the following scriptures portray a relationship based on a peaceful trust. That is not
consistent with a life of continual personal striving. Although we are in a war and we do strive and battle against sin and evil, our strength and empowerment comes from Christ, and operates through our faith and trust in him. In this relationship is rest and peace rather than stress, struggle, eternal battle, and unrest. If the doctrine of perfectionism is truth, then Jesus must have lied.
Jesus said, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and
learn of me for I am meek and lowly and my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:30
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Psalms 23:2
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of
the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Psalms 37:7
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. Psalms 116:7
Now I can relax. For the Lord has done this wonderful miracle for me. Psalms 116:7 Living Bible
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the
Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set
your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth:
Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. Revelations 14:13
Perfectionism is definitely not easy or a light burden, and yet the passages that believers in this doctrine quote, do require that we as Christians live a life as if we were dead to sin and evil. How can both be true? How can we live a perfect
and sinless life and yet rest from our labors and live under an easy yoke and a light burden? The secret is in Romans 8:13
(quoted above). Restated, it boils down to the following: If you live according to your sinful nature, you will die. If you live
by and through the Spirit you, through that same spirit, put to death the misdeeds of the body, and live. 1 Co. 3, 1 & 2 (also quoted above) says we overcome our natural man by considering ourselves dead and putting our attention on things above. We cannot accomplish the overcoming of our flesh in the flesh, it must be done by submission of our wills, yes, our very selves to God.
Perfectionism too often becomes the flesh attempting to live as the spirit requires, which is a total contradiction. A house divided against itself will only fail and to try to live spiritually through the flesh is as impossible as trying to save a life by committing murder. Jesus prayed that we would be one with Him even as He and the Father were one, and Jesus' entire life was a life of submission and surrender to God His Father.
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11
George McDonald, a minister in the early 1800's explained that no matter how much a person submits or yields his own will
to God, he will still remain a servant, although it may be a very royal one. But if somehow God's will becomes the person's will, that person is no longer a servant, but becomes a willing child. Paul said He was dead, and yet not dead, yet not him alive but Christ alive in Him. Gal. 2:20: Paul also taught that there was a place where Christ was allowed to be formed within us.
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, Galatians 4:19
How then do we achieve real purity, holiness, etc.? It must be achieved through surrender and submission. Surrender to the point where we no longer do the work but can say as Jesus said, that the father who dwells in us does the works. 1 Tim. 3:16 speaks of the mystery of Godliness. God was manifest in the flesh in Christ Jesus, and the mystery of mysteries is that God can and will manifest Himself in and through us. Many passages of scripture have other names or labels for this position:
Having Christ formed within us, Gal. 4:19 ;
Coming to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ, Eph. 4:13;
Being complete in Him., Col. 2:10;
Walking in the Spirit, Gal. 5:16 & 25;
Filled with the Spirit, Eph. 5:18;
Bearing the image of the heavenly, 1 Cor. 15:49;
Sanctified by the Holy Ghost, Rom. 15:16
Changed into the same image from glory to glory, 2 Cor. 3:18; and
Followers of God as dear children, Eph. 5:1
I sometimes hear the phrase, "The Imputed Righteousness of God," and the speaker almost always is talking about some kind of record book righteousness. In other words, God imputes His own righteousness to our record in heaven and therefore we are righteous. Although this is true and through this application of God's righteousness to our record we gain right standing with God, this imputed righteousness is not just a record book thing. Not only does He put His righteousness on our record, but He also puts His righteousness into our hearts and lives.
For the sake of clarity and not to set up a new doctrinal stance I like to call these two types of imputed righteousness, real righteousness and record book righteousness. When we start living in Him and walking after His Spirit we start living more and more holy, not through our own effort and striving, but through His imputing of righteousness. We, through our own efforts will only fail. Flesh against flesh is a divided house. We, through surrender and submission start to walk in His Spirit and He does the work in and through us.
Perfectionism is taught by the Jesus Name Apostolic Churches. They teach that through our own effort supported and assisted by God, must live above sin. This is error. The truth is that real holiness, real perfection can only be achieved by yielding ourselves to God and allowing Him to manifest His holiness through us. When His will becomes our will, we become willing children of our Father, we walk in His Spirit and in His strength. We allow Him to be formed within us, And we become less and less empowered by ourselves and more and more empowered by Him. Then we walk in the heavenlies from glory to glory, and yes we live more and more above sin - not because we are constantly watching ourselves, constantly fearful of failure, but because more and more His nature is becoming our nature and His nature knows no sin.
Is some state of sinlessness possible to actually attain? Can we walk in this place? Truthfully, I have yet to be able to walk in that place with anything like consistency, and yet His word and something within me states that is a real possibility.
The Doctrine Of The Godhead: "Jesus Only" or Oneness Doctrine (Modalism) Versus Trinitarianism
Among the doctrinal problems associated with the Jesus Name Churches is that doctrine many feel to be their major problem. They deny the Trinity. Their doctrine of the Godhead is called, among themselves and the church in general, The Oneness Doctrine.
The theological name for this doctrine is modalism. What is modalism? It is the doctrine that teaches the offices or manifestations of God are not "Persons" but simply different sides, titles or offices of the same one person. They say that a man can be a Doctor, a Lawyer, and an Indian Chef at the same time, and therefore God can be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time. This is not a new doctrine. Historically around the third century (the 200's) the church in general followed the Trinitarian course and yet enclaves of other doctrines existed. Modalists claim that the Oneness Message was taught by a large group of churches in early church history, but this also is simply not supported by the early church's historical record.
From the beginning of the Christian Church the debate has raged between the Trinitarians, the Modalists, the Gnostics, the Arians, and several others, and still the debate continues. In 365 AD at the Council of Nicaea there was a "Great Debate". This Church Council was called because of the inroads being made against the church by the doctrine of Arius, a bishop from Alexandria, who taught that Jesus was a created being subservient to the Father, a "god" but not "the" God. This doctrine is still taught by several groups including the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Why are separate persons required? Within the cover of the doctrine of modalism there exist two somewhat different schools; Logical and Illogical modalism. Logical modalism (often called "Sabellianism" after a Bishop named Sabellius from Antioch who was excommunicated as a heretic in approximately 250 A.D) teaches that God can not be Father, Son, or Holy Spirit at the same time. According to this doctrine God was Father in creation, Son in redemption, and Holy Spirit within the church today. This doctrine also denies the pre-existence of Christ saying that He did not exist until He was conceived in the Virgin Mary except as a thought or plan of God for the future. This doctrine is also sometimes called Successionism. There are several scriptural problems with this position.
1. This doctrine denies the absolute unity of God. The Bible is clear that all of God existed and operated in every manifestation of God. The following are only a few of the many areas where the absolute unity of God is manifest.
a. In Creation -
1) God spoke, Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,and 14 ;
2) All things were made by Christ, John 1:3;
3) The Spirit moved upon creation, Zech. 4:6b.
b. In the Incarnation
1) The Father involved; He will be called the Son of God, Luke 1:35;
2) The Son involved; and He called God His Father; Luke 22:42 and Christ was the Incarnation.
3) The Holy Spirit involved; The Holy Ghost overshadowed Mary and she conceived. Matt.1:18 & 19;
c. In the Baptism of Christ - Luke 3:21
1) Holy Spirit descended as a dove;
2) The Father spoke; and, of course,
3) Christ was being baptized.
d. At the death and resurrection of Christ -
1) "Father into thy hands"...Luke 23:46;
2) Christ raised by the Spirit. Rom. 8:11;
3) and again all this was happening to the Lord Jesus.
2. God is often spoken of in a uniplural form, and this form of address is only used when addressing something or
someone whose parts exist at the same time. Uniplural forms are words like family, school, company, group, we,
us, our etc.
Let us make man...Gen. 1:26 ; 3:22 ;
Let us go down...Gen 11:6 ;
We will come and make our abode... John 14:233.
3. The elements of God or manifestations are spoken of by the other elements as co-existing. Jesus spoke of His
Father in Heaven and to His Father in Heaven; and He also often spoke of the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
Mat. 6:9-13 (Throughout the 6th and 7th chapters of Matthew, John chapter 14, and in many other passages in the Bible,
God the Father is spoken of as self-existent with Jesus)
4. There exists separate wills between the Father and the Son. For two separate wills to exist at the same time
requires a distinction of person. "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." Luke 22:42
5. Jesus submitted to the Father. It is impossible to submit to someone who does not exist at the same time you exist. " Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil. 2:5-8.
6. Logical modalism also requires that God change. He was the Father and became the Son and then became the Holy
Spirit according to this doctrine. This is three definite changes and yet the scripture is clear that God is immutable. God simply does not change.
"I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him." Eccl. 3:14
"For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Mal 3:6
"I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he [is] the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion [shall be even] unto the end." Da 6:26
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is
no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Jas 1:17
It should be clear from the arguments this far presented that Logical modalism is not scriptural.
Some of the Jesus Name Groups try to teach or adopt the position of Illogical modalism. Illogical modalism teaches
that when the Scripture speaks of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit they exist and operate at the same time because they
are absolutely One. This doctrine denies that any distinction exists between the persons or manifestations within the Godhead. I believe that the answers presented already in this article clearly show that some distinction exists. God is
spoken of in uniplural forms, separate wills exist, and most of all, Christ's submission to the Father so clearly displayed in Phil. chapter 2 all demonstrate the distinctiveness between the elements of God. What then is God in respect to His oneness and yet distinctiveness?
The early church father Augustine proclaimed it in this manner:
But when asked three what, then the great poverty of language becomes apparent. But the formula "Three Persons" has been coined, not in order to give a complete explanation by means of it, but in order that we might not be obliged to remain silent. But on the other hand it could not say that there were not three something's since by denying that Sabellius fell into Heresy. From the scriptures we learn with absolute certainty that which we must piously believe, and the eye of the mind perceives with its unfailing perceptions, namely that there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that the Son is not the same as the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is not the same as the Father and the Son. When asked to explain what the three were it was answered substances or persons.
(Augustine, The Trinity, Vol. 10, book 5, Pages 187-188. Harvard Classic Reprints)
God is one God manifest in Three Persons or substances (for lack of a better term) and the doctrine of modalism, whether Logical modalism or Illogical modalism is simply not supported by scripture. For a study on the Biblical basis for the doctrine of the Trinity, click here.
Why This Church?
Shortly after becoming involved with the Apostolic Jesus Name Churches, a close friend of my mother asked me a question, "Why this church?" It would be wonderful if the answers to this question were easy, but sadly that is not the case. There are many factors involved, some of which go back to my earliest childhood. It is curious that as I have studied, analyzed, discussed and prayed over these factors, I have discovered that many people who become involved in the cults and with cultic groups have similar backgrounds. There is also a lot of pain involved. Searching out the answer to this question has required opening many old wounds. As I wrote God graciously granted me healing in many, many areas of my past. To answer this question it is necessary for me to change my format and write a few pages of narrative.
I was born November 22, 1945 to a family that dearly loved me. My parents had tried, unsuccessfully, for several years to have children and I was their first born son. During my birth, apparently, the muscles in my mother's abdomen were damaged, and a few months later, after becoming pregnant again, she literally had to crawl on her hands and knees to keep from losing this second child. I was a bright child, already saying words and starting to string words together in beginning sentences, when at 10 months of age, my brother was born. Tim, my brother, was a seven months baby, born 2 months early. Because of his premature birth and the problems my mother was having, my grandmother moved in with us and stayed until she passed away. To finish the family picture I need to explain that I had an older sister. During the period of time where my parents were in doubt as to their ability to have children of their own they adopted a twelve year old girl, Alma.
All of these occurrences so traumatized me that I stopped talking and did not say another word for eight months. At eighteen months I started talking in sentences. As if this were not enough trauma and change, it also appears that I had a disorder which is sometimes called "Attention Span Deficit" or "Minimal Brain Dysfunction", which explains the extremely short attention span and hyperactivity which I manifested. My father was a career military man and we moved from Tennessee, where I was born, to New Mexico before my brother was born. This was only one of many moves which would be made before his death in 1961.
I have no doubt that my parents loved me, but they were at a great personal disadvantage. Their own personal, physical and emotional problems were compounded by my inability to sit still for more than a few seconds and the emotional damage translated into a heavy handed discipline. Somewhere in this scenario, I discovered the power of violence and used it to get what I wanted. I could get the attention I craved, and if loud enough or violent enough, I could often gain "control".
My parents also instilled in me a sense of right and wrong, and although the violent behavior was powerful and exciting, and fulfilled many of my needs, I was tormented because I knew that the raging and violence was wrong, evil, sinful and destructive. Along came the Jesus Name Churches. Suddenly I was special. I was one of the "Small Flock", a member of "The Church", and "Specially Blessed". Unable to control myself, I now had massive external controls. All the rules and regulations were comforting and the strong leadership provided needed authority figures. The problem was that I had never dealt with the past. I simply put it, and to a degree myself, on a shelf and didn't look at it any more. There was no personal growth, and no emotional or spiritual development. Scholarship was ridiculed, their way was the only way, and at one point we were even told that we should pray for God to deliver us from our intellect.
Naturally the anger, and pain remained, however buried. Rebellion seethed just under the surface and outlets for that pent up emotion had to be found. I am sad to say that most of it was vented at my family. While professing to be a Christian, I actually abused my family, emotionally, verbally, and physically. In the infinite mercy of God, somehow he still loved me and over a period of time dealt with me. He showed me the doctrinal errors of this group, helped me to start coming to grips with my past, and began to reveal His truths about me. He began to allow me to see the lies I had believed about myself and started the process of finding healing. The process is still working in my life.
The Pastor of the Apostolic Church we were in then preached that He was the Vicar of Christ, The Spokesman of God, and the only source of understanding, interpretation, and direction we would ever need. A few days later, his son-in-law preached that it was necessary to live in mortal terror of God to be saved (his understanding of the fear of God). We left those churches.
Why this church? The answer is that it filled certain emotional and mental needs, it supplied controls and order when I was unable to control or order myself, and it enabled me to put myself on a shelf and hide rather then develop or grow. I am so thankful that God loved me enough to see through all this confusion and mess. I am thankful that through His grace and mercy, He brought me out, gave me hope, and started real growth in my life. I am no longer angry as before, I have learned to no longer abuse the ones I love, and healing is being poured out on me. Truly I am experiencing the Balm of Gilead.
Why this church? If you are considering joining one of the Apostolic Jesus Name Groups, or at present are a member, you too need to answer that question too. "WHY THIS CHURCH." What personal, emotional, or mental need is being supplied by this church? Why do you need their control, their legality, their impossibly strong leadership? You must answer these questions fro yourself. I am thankful to God that I have discovered that not only are these Groups not the Truth but they are in major error. And I don't want or need their error nor their incorrect and dangerous control. It is the prayer of my heart that you will follow the Shepherd of Love and really be saved rather than these shepherds of dangerous and damnable doctrine.
May the Lord bless your understanding to what I have presented here. Sincerely Yours, Charles T. Martin
Pastor Charles T. Martin is the Administrative Pastor of Jubilee Deaf Fellowship a nondenominational Charismatic Church in Denver CO that focuses on the deaf community although all are welcome to their services. Pastor Martin carried credentials with several Oneness organizations, and after leaving the Oneness movement became credentialed with the Foursquare Church for many years. After moving to Denver where he and his wife share pastoral duty, he became ordained through the World Bible Way Fellowship from Irving Texas.
To write to Pastor Martin, who would love to discuss this issue with anyone interested, click here.
When we discuss religious subjects we sometimes use the same terminology and yet mean very different things. I included the following list of definitions so that the reader can be certain of what I mean when I use a particular word or phrase.
APOLOGETICS: Apologetics are written or spoken materials defending or vindicating one's doctrine or beliefs. The English
word comes from a Greek root meaning to defend, to make reply, to give an meaning, to give an answer, to legally defend oneself. In NT times an apologia was a formal courtroom defense of something (II Tim. 4:16). As a subdivision of Christian theology apologetics is a systematic, argumentative discourse in defense of the divine origin and the authority of the Christian faith.
CHURCH STANDARDS: Church Standards are rules and regulations within a local congregation or assembly concerning the required behavior and dress of its members. These are usually the pastor's or the organization's position on such things as how to dress, hair length, make-up, jewelry, acceptable amusements, etc. Often, obedience to these ordinances is a requisite of full fellowship with the assembly. (This is a personal Definition derived from involvement with Apostolic Churches)
COVENANT SIGNS OR ACTS: Acts, signs or actions required by a particular covenant, i.e., circumcision, baptism, etc. (This is apersonal Definition derived from involvement with Apostolic Churches)
DENOMINATION: A religious sect or group joined for legal purposes and for mutual support and assistance. It is usually a
group associated because of similar beliefs or doctrines. The term 'denomination' in general refers to anything distinguished
by a name. In religious contexts the designation has traditionally applied both to broad movements within Protestantism, such as Baptists and Methodists, and also to the numerous independent branches of such movements that have developed over the years primarily because of geographical expansion and theological controversy.
FAITH: Complete unquestioning belief; complete trust and confidence. Noun corresponding to the verb 'believe,' for which
the Hebrew is heemin, the hiphil form of aman, and the Greek (LXX and NT) pisteuo. The latter is a key word in the NT, being the term regularly used to denote the many-sided religious relationship into which the gospel calls men and women, that of trust in God through Christ.
FEAR: Fear is an anxious anticipation of danger, pain, fright, anxiety, or heavy concern, etc. In the NT there is one main noun for "fear," phobos, and one main verb, phobeo. The element of fright or terror seems to be inherent in these terms, but as is the case in the OT, the idea of reverential trust predominates. A favorite phrase in the NT that occurs also in a number of places in the OT is "Fear not," or, "Do not be afraid" (NASB, NIV). This occurs especially with the sudden appearance of angels (Matt. 28:5; Luke 1:13,30; 2:10). Here it seems to indicate the feeling of terror or fright that the angel's presence brought. Jesus used it in the sense of being afraid of the future. He comforted his disciples with the words: "Don't be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:7). In verse 32 of the same chapter he says: "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." Fear as a preventative has value. But fright or terror has no place in the Christian's life, at least in his relationship to God."
GRACE: Grace is merciful loving favor of God toward man, undeserved and unmerited. Like many other familiar terms the
word "grace" has a variety of connotations and nuances, which need not be listed here. For the purposes of this article its
meaning is that of undeserved blessing freely bestowed on man by God, a concept which is at the heart not only of Christian theology but also of all genuinely Christian experience.
HOLINESS: Holiness is the act of being holy; the state of spiritually purity; being sinless; and a person's total separation from evil, sin, or wrong. The manner of life which is centered on God, with special reference to devotion, piety, and reverence toward him. It can be defined as the conjunction of an attitude of devotion to God and of the consequent right conduct."
HUMAN ENDEAVOR: Human endeavor is the attempting or effort of an individual; striving; trying hard; an earnest attempt to accomplish. (This is a personal definition from involvement with Apostolic Churches)
IMPUTED: To impute is to attribute to another; charge to another's account; to count one's actions, deeds, or attributes
as belonging to another. A broad concept finding its theological center in the atonement. The Latin imputare literally means "to reckon, to charge to one's account," and is an adequate rendering of the Greek term logizomai.
PERFECTIONISM: The doctrine that teaches we are required to live up to or accomplish extreme degree of holiness to ever win our salvation (This is a personal definition from involvement with Apostolic Churches)
RIGHTEOUSNESS: Morally right or justifiable position; right standing; right and proper behavior. The Hebrew word regularly
translated "righteous" or "just" is saddiq and originally meant "straight" or "right." The corresponding Greek term is dikaios,
and in Greek society referred to that which is in accordance with law or social norm. The noun forms are sedeq (or sedaqa) and ikaiosyne. The verbs sadak and dikaioo mean "to do justice, to be just, to vindicate, or to justify in the forensic sense of declare righteous or treat as just.
RITUAL: A system or form of solemn ceremonial act, as in religion; a required formula or pattern of observance. (Personal
Definition from involvement with Apostolic Churches)
SALVATION: The saving or rescuing of an individual from sin, and the results of that sin including death, judgment, and eternal punishment. The saving of man from the power and effects of sin.
WORKS: Effort exerted; appropriate actions; deeds. The works of both God and mankind receive prominent attention in the Bible. God's works, mentioned early in Genesis and throughout the giving of special revelation, consist of creation, providence (including the preservation and government of the world), and redemption. Jesus' comment that his Father was still working (John 5:17) is reinforced by Paul (Phil. 1:6; Rom. 14:20), who considers his activity as an aspect of the work of God (I Cor. 16:10; Phil. 2:30; cf. Acts 13:2).
GOOD WORKS: (actual)- Works done for the common good or the good of fellow man; i.e., feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, etc. "What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James 2:14 (as taught by Apostolic groups)- Works done in the attempt to be pleasing to God; deeds of obedience.
WORKS OF THE LAW: Efforts, actions or deeds required by the Old Testament Law. (Personal Definition from involvement with Apostolic Churches)
(Definitions taken from the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, 1984, Baker Book House Company, unless
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