In continuing my series of posts on the gospel according to Oneness Pentecostalism, I want to touch on the subjects of repentance and baptism and the OP view on these subjects. You will note that OP does not view baptism as a simply an ordinance, however important, but as essential to salvation. According to OP, you cannot be saved if you are not baptized and if your are not baptized by immersion in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins.
Repentance and Baptism
Repentance, according to David Bernard, is only the first step in dealing with sin in one’s life. He uses the example of spilling ink on a carpet and notes that there are two steps required for a complete restoration. There must first be an expression of regret and apology to the owner, which would represent the notion of repentance. But following repentance there then must be the removal of the stain and this is only accomplished through baptism.[i]
“The inward work of salvation begins at repentance, but repentance alone is not the complete work of salvation. Water baptism makes the turn from sin complete by burying the old man. Repentance and water baptism together bring the full work of remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Perhaps we can say that God deals with the present consequences of sin at repentance and with the past record and future consequences of sin at water baptism. Both components are necessary.”[ii]
Thus, for OP baptism is essential for the new birth. It is essential for the removal of sin and for one to be in right standing with God.
Relying on I Peter 3:21, Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:41, Bernard asserts that baptism is an essential part of salvation and is an expression of faith in God by obedience to his word.[iii] Bernard argues that baptism must be more than a symbolic ceremony and more than a public declaration of joining the church by citing to the Ethiopian eunuch, who was baptized in the desert with no observer, and the Philippian jailer, who was baptized at midnight, which demonstrated the urgency of the matter of baptism.[iv]
Bernard states the following passages demonstrate the significance of baptism:
- Remission of sins occurs in baptism (Acts 2:38, 22:16)
- Baptism is a part of the new birth (John 3:5, Titus 3:5)
- Baptism identifies with the burial of Christ – it indicates we died to sin by repentance and are burying our past sin, the dominion of sin and sinful lifestyles (Rom 6:4, Col 2:12)
- Water baptism is a part of the one baptism of water and Spirit that places us in Christ – (Rom 6:3-4, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:5) – by baptism we enter God’s family.
- Baptism is a part of our spiritual circumcision – (Col 2:11-13) – by the new birth we enter into the new covenant relationship with God.[v]
With regards to baptism, two other points are of note with respect to the OP perspective. First, OP (as the name implies) argues that baptism should be administered by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and anyone baptized in any other mode, such as in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, should be re-baptized. Bernard cites to Acts 19 justifying the re-baptism of those who had been baptized in a manner other than in the name of Jesus Christ.
David Bernard cites to Acts 10 and notes that when “a person received the Holy Spirit before water baptism, he has a new spiritual life; nevertheless, he is commanded to be baptized in Jesus’ name, and we must always obey God’s commands to remain in right relationship to Him.”[vi] There is a great deal packed into this statement that should be addressed.
Once one has repented and been baptized, according to OP, it is essential that the believer receive the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. I will cover this topic in my next blog post.
[i] Bernard, David K., Essentials of the New Birth, Word Aflame Press, 1987. 16.
[iv] Id. at 17.
[vi] Id. at 19.