The greatest tragedy in the church, as seen in a majority of Christian conferences and revivals is the systemic abuse and absence of accurate doctrinal content. However, we are extremely thankful to God, for the minority of pastors who are bound and devoted to the Lord being biblically competent truly understanding their biblical responsibility to boldly teach Christian doctrine to their flock and refute those who oppose it.

 

To demonstrate this point: Think back in the last 10 years at church (or at any conference/revival) have you heard a specific teaching on the Trinity, the deity of Christ, or justification by faith alone?” I have asked this question at churches around the world and rarely do I ever see a single raised hand in affirmation.

 

Along with basic Christian apologetics, ethics, and stressing the importance biblical accuracy (esp. to those who preach and teach), these essentials were a priority with NT church discipline. See, John 1:1, 18; 20:28; 8:58; Rom. 4:4-8; 5:1; 9:5; Eph. 2:8-10; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:14, 16-17; 2:9; Titus 2:13-14; Heb. 1:3, 8-12; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Jude 1:4; Rev. 5:13-14; 22:13 etc. In sharp contrast, much of the content in today’s’ Sunday morning sermons and evangelism has become a hodgepodge of biblically disconnected anecdotal stories and textual abuse (esp. misinterpreting and misapplying passages).

Interestingly, we find the opposite with non-Christian cults. When one becomes, for example, a Oneness Pentecostal, Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness, within a month or so, he (or she) becomes boldly equipped to communicate their distinctive theology and committing to memory particular biblical passages to “prove” their position.

 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18)

Christians should faithfully acknowledge Scripture as Theopneustos (“God breathed out,” 2 Tim. 3:16). Thus, the commandment to “grow”[1] in the knowledge of God and to always be “ready to give a defense” and reason for the faith is vital (1 Pet. 3:15; cf. also 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Only through a continuous proper study of the Bible does one “grow” theologically, which ensures not only effectiveness in proclaiming an accurate gospel, but also the ability to biblically to discern between true and false teachings.

 

All Christians (esp. pastors) are called to be theologians (i.e., constantly studying God [biblical doctrine], 2 Pet. 3:18), apologists (i.e., defenders of the faith, 1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 1:3), and evangelists (proclaimers of the gospel, Matt. 28:19; Rom. 10:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 4:2[2]).

 

Loving God with all Our Mind!

We are commanded to love God “with all” our mind (Mark 12:29-30). A lack of proper biblical study always results in a dislodged and erroneous doctrine. What is more, when church leaders fail in their biblical responsibility to teach doctrine, completely and accurately, the consequence is this: churches filled with biblically incompetent members, neither able to coherently defend nor affirm from a basic level the essentials of the Christian faith. Thus, they become targets and picture-perfect candidates and devotees of non-Christian false religious and false teachings.

 

The Biblical Pastor

The Apostle Paul does not encourage Christian pastors to assign themselves as mere “motivational” speakers cloaking Sunday morning sermons with entertaining stories and erroneous mottled interpretations of the Bible; so when this occurs in the Christian pulpit, it should utterly pierce our spirit (cf. Acts 17:16).

 

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

 

So necessary are the more than two dozen qualifications of a NT pastor that three major sections in the NT are devoted it—1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9; and 1 Peter 5:1-3. In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul stresses specifically to pastors (and indirectly to us) the importance of doctrinal precision:

 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God [how?] as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

 The phrase, “accurately handling” comes from the Greek verb, orthotomeō, which literally means, “to cut straight” (from temnō, “to cut” and orthos, “direct, straight”; cf. Prov. 3:6, LXX). The term carries the idea of precision. Consequently, pastors (and teachers) have a God mandated responsibility to teach and explain Scripture with precise accuracy.

 

Perils of Inaccurate Teachings

 Note Paul’s instructions to pastors in 2 Timothy 4:2-4: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

The five verbs in verse 2 (“preach,” “be ready,” “reprove,” “rebuke,” and “exhort”) are in the aorist imperative—grammatically denoting the strongest way to express an urgent commandment, a “do it now” verb! These critical actions both protect and encourage the church. In the next two verses, Paul warns what will happen when these urgent commandments are not implemented:

 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

 

“Sound doctrine” is derived from the content of the written Word. In Peter 3:16, Peter underscores the importance of biblical study. He refers to Paul’s letters and says they “contain some things that are hard to understand, which the UNTAUGHT [or ‘unstudied,’ from amatheis] and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). Naturally, unstudied people distort Scripture.

 

A Doctrine of Tolerance

When pastors abdicate their biblical responsibility of expository teaching, the church body writhes and relishes in distorted theology—, which effects their view of the nature of God and virtually every dimension of their spiritual, psychological, and physical life. Due to a laxity of proper biblical study and/or a recurring attendance at non-teaching churches, it is not surprising that many professing Christians severely lack theological discernment in which bad theology and, in many cases, immoral worldly behavior is tolerated and accepted. Observably, many clear biblical mandates are rejected by professing Christians merely because they are incompatible with one’s lifestyle or comfortable ideology.

 

For example, why is it that T. D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter’s House church in Dallas, TX, one of most popular “Christian” voices and authors followed, read, endorsed, and praised by literally millions of professing Christians, yet he still embraces a Oneness view of God rejecting the Trinity? Why would any “Christian” pastor endorse him, and/or keep silent while naïve members uncritically follow him? [3]

Acute biblical ignorance of fundamental doctrine is not a satisfactory excuse before God—He is a God of precision.

 

In point of fact, confronting and refuting biblical error is a divine command to all Christian pastors (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-4:1-4; Titus 1:9, 13). Jesus Himself openly commends the pastors of Ephesus for it (Rev. 2:2-3). Today, too many pastors and leaders are more accepting of those who are talented in their speaker abilities than those who communicate doctrinal truth and precision. Pastors have an enormous responsibility before God to diligently lead, equip, and guard the people of God from destructive bad theology and heresies that shame the Lord. In the first century, as Paul says: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrine taught by demons….” (1 Tim. 4:1).

 

We too, as Christians, have an obligation and responsibility: Since we follow a God that calls Himself “Truth,” we must therefore provide to all men an accurate and substantive presentation of the gospel and boldly contend earnestly for that faith, “which was once for all handed down to the saints.” It is a terrible thing to hear an unread Christian offer a mushy incomplete gospel to the unsaved—and when a pastor does this to his church, it is absolutely disgraceful.

 

Evangelizing the Saved & Unsaved

Romans 10:15: “just as it is written [Isa. 52:7], ‘How beautiful [or timely] are the feet of those gospelizing good things.” The same participle (euaggelizomenoi, “gospelizing”) appears in Luke 9:6 when Jesus sent out the Twelve: “Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel [lit., ‘gospelizing’] and healing everywhere.” Note, the gospel is simply the atoning work of the Son in His perfect vicarious life, substitutionary cross work, and resurrection.

 

Romans 1:1, 3: “the gospel of God….3 concerning His Son.”

 

1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered to you as of first importance … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

 

2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.”

Paul’s definition of the gospel, which evangelists must proclaim, was exclusively focused on the work of the Son, not man—namely, His nature (as incarnate God, viz. God-man) and person, His death (justification), and His physical resurrection. This, according to Romans 1:16, is the power of God for salvation. However, note the previous verse. Paul says to these Roman “Christians” that he is “eager to preach the gospel [from euaggelizō].” It seems clear that Paul was eager to “evangelize” the Christians in order for them to grow in biblical accuracy regarding the gospel and general theology—as should be the task of all pastors.

 

Finally, brothers and sisters we are in a spiritual war both foreign and domestic, and as such – we must satisfactorily train and arm our fellow members before we can hope to engage our foes. Put on the “whole armor” of God!

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NOTES

[1] In 2 Peter 3:18, the term translated “grow” is from the Greek, auxanō. The verb is in the imperative mood (auxanete), thus, a commandment.

[2] Although 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus are directly applied to pastors, there are indirect applications relevant to all believers.

[3] To those assuming that Jakes changed his Oneness position, consider 1) Jakes is still the Vice-Prelate and National Executive Board of Senior Bishops of – Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, which is a network of Oneness Pentecostal churches, and esp. 2) on the Potter’s House Belief Statement, Jakes still defines God as existing in “Three Manifestations,” which is Oneness not trinitarian. See >> http://thepottershouse.org/explore/belief-statement <<.

Definition: Three persons who share the nature of the one God, or, one God revealed in three coequal coeternal coexistent distinct persons (not people).

 
One God – Monotheism (monos, “one, only” + theos, “God”)

 

It is a basic straw-man to imply monotheism opposes the Trinity—the foundation of the Trinity is ontological monotheism, it seems you may not be familiar as to the basics of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Unitarian or unipersonal groups (such as Muslims, Oneness Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses et al.) assume that every place “one,” “alone” etc. (in word or concept) are applied to God (e.g., Deut. 6:4; Isa. 44:24; Mark 12:29; 1 Tim. 2:5), the unitarians read into these passages a meaning of “one person” reinterpreting monotheism to mean unipersonalism, although, there is no passage in the OT or NT, which clearly identifies God as “one person.”

Unitarians are deeply confused between “being” and “person.” Simply, “being” (an ontological reference) is What something is, while “person” is Who something is. Scripture presents one eternal God (one Being) revealed in three distinct persons, the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, naturally and historically, the Christian church has steadfastly held to and affirmed the glorious Trinity and preexistence of the person of God the Son, Jesus Christ. 

 

 The Trinity is Essential Doctrinal

Essential doctrine is any doctrine that involves the person, nature, and finished work of Christ (gospel). Hence, since Jesus is God in the flesh, second person of the Trinity, the nature of God is the utmost highest essential doctrine (Hosea 6:6; John 4:24; 17:3; 1 John 2:22-23).    

The Trinity is The Foundation of The Gospel, it is the Mutual Operation of the three Persons that infallibly accomplishes the work of salvation—it is therefore the Triune God that Saves   

 

Biblical Data

 

  1. The OT presents a multi-personal God, not a unitarian one.

 

For example:

  1. The angel of the Lord (who was identified as YHWH (or YHWH- e.g., Gen. 22:9-14; Exod. 3:6-14; 23:20-21; Num. 22:21-35; Judg. 2:1-5; 6:11-22; 13:9-25; Zech. 1:12; etc.).
  2.  YHWH and interacted with YHWH (cf. Gen. 19:24).

  3. The places where YHWH/God speaks in first person of YHWH/God in the third person (such as in Gen. 22:11-12; Isaiah 13:17-19; Jer. 50:40; Hosea 1:7; Amos 4:10-11).
  4. The numerous places where Plural terms are used of the one true God. Plural nouns, verbs, adjectives, and plural prepositions are used of God (cf. plural nouns – Gen. 1:26 [“Our image, likeness”]; plural verbs – Gen. 1:26; 2:18 [LXX]; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8; 54:5 [Heb., “Makers,” “Husbands”]; Psalm 149:2 and Job 35:10 [Heb., “Makers”]; Ecclesiastes 12:1 [Heb., “Creators”]; plural prepositions – Genesis 3:22 [“one of Us”]; and plural adjectives– Proverbs 30:3 [Heb. and LXX, “Holy Ones”]; Daniel 7:18, 22, 25, 27 [Heb., “Most Highs” or “Highest Ones”]; and many more could be mentioned. These examples can only be consistent with OT monotheism in the context of Trinitarianism—namely, three persons who share the nature of the One God.             

 

  1. The NT presents a triune God.

 

 Biblical Data Three Biblical Truths

  

I. There is only one God.  

II. There are three Persons or Selves that are presented as and called God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  

III. The three divine persons are distinct from each other.

 

CONCLUSION: The three distinct persons share the nature or Being of the one true God – only Regenerate will accept (John 8:43, 47; 1 Cor. 1:18).

Scriptural References

I. There is one eternal God (cf. Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; Jer. 10:10-11)—Not unitarianism, unipersonalism (monotheism means one God, not one person).

II. The three persons (or self-aware subjects) are presented as fully God—namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

The Father – – (God and unipersonal; cf. Rom. 5:10; Gal. 1:3).

The Son, Jesus Christ, is called and presented as theos, Kurios, and YHWH in a religious context in both the OT and NT (unipersonal).

The biblical evidence of the deity of the Son:  

 

 Old Testament—Jesus as God

 Angel of the Lord.

 Daniel 7:9-14—Son of Man.

 Isaiah 9:6: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father [lit., ‘father eternal’], Prince of Peace.”

 

New Testament—Jesus as God-man

  

  • Jesus was referred to as God/Lord, or being equal with God: John 1:1, 18; 20:28 (Ps 35:23, LXX); Romans 9:5; 1 Corinthians 2;8; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:3, 8; 10-12 (Ps 102:25-27); Jude 1;4, 5

 

  • The Son is presented as Creator: John 1:3 (panta di’ autou egeneto, “all things through Him”); Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:10-12 (Kurie, “Lord”—Ps. 102:25-27 LXX; see also 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2; 2:10).

 

  • Jesus claimed to be God: Matthew 12:6; John 5:17-18 (eluen, “breaking, loosing,” elegen, “kept calling”); John 10:30; Egw Eimi—John 8:24, 28, 58, 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8 (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 48:12); First and the Last—Revelation 1:17, 2:8; 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (cf. Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).      

 

  • Jesus was worshiped in a religious context: Matthew 14:33: “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son.’”; John 9:35-39. Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:13-14: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.”

 

The Holy Spirit is God (unipersonal):

The Holy Spirit also possesses the attributes of God:

  • Eternal, having neither beginning nor end (cf. Heb. 9:14),
  • Omnipresent, being everywhere at the same time (cf. Ps. 139:7).
  • Omniscient, understanding all things (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-11).
  • Omnipotent (cf. Luke 1:35).

 

The Holy Spirit is a Person: – The Holy Spirit communicates and personal pronouns (“I,” “He”) are applied to Him. Acts 10:19-20: “While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit eipen autō, [“said to him”] – “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for egō (“I”) have sent them Myself” (cf. Acts 13:2; Heb. 3:7-11; 10:15-17).

Personal Pronouns (e.g. John 16:13-14); – Possesses “personal” attributes (e.g., He has a will (cf. 1 Cor. 12:9-11); Emotions (cf. Eph. 4:30); Intelligence in that He Investigates (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-11; Rom. 8:27); He intercedes/prays (cf. Rom. 8:26); He can be lied to (cf. Acts 5:3); He can be blasphemed (cf. Mark 3:29-30); Again as seen above- He issues commands (cf. Acts 10:19-20; 13:4; Acts 16:6]; He gives love (cf. Rom. 15:30: “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me”; He is also our paraklētos (“Advocate; cf. John chaps 14-16). 

 
 III. The Three Persons are Distinct from each other

 To recall: The Three Biblical Truths:  1) There is only one God 2) There are three Persons or Selves that are presented as and called God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and 3) The three divine persons are distinct from each other.

  The three Persons are Distinct from each other: Angel of the Lord; John 1:1b. 17:5; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 1:3; Revelation 5:13.

Passages such as Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3; and Revelation 5:13 (and are many others) all distinguish the persons in the Trinity from each other. This is due to their grammatical construction—namely, the repetition of both the article (ho, “the”) and conjunction (kai, “and”).

 

Matthew 28:19: “Baptizing them in the name of the [tou] Father, and [kai] the [tou] Son, and [kai] the [tou] Holy Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the [tou] Lord Jesus Christ and [kai] the love of the [tou] God and [kai] the fellowship of the [tou] Holy Spirit with all of you.”

1 John 1:3: “Indeed our fellowship is with the [tou] Father and [kai] with the [tou] Son of Him Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 5:13:The [] One sitting upon the throne and [kai] to the [] Lamb, the blessing and the honor and the glory and the dominion into the ages of the ages.”

Lastly, note, we find at several places, NT authors citing Old Testament passages referring to YHWH and yet applies them to the Son (e.g., compare Ps. 102:25-27 with Heb. 1:10-12; Isa. 6:1-10 with John 12:39-41; Isa. 8:12-13 with 1 Pet. 3:14-15; Isa. 45:23 with Phil. 2:10-11; Joel 2:32 with Rom. 10:13). 

 

                                                                               In conclusion 

Scripture presents a tri-personal God. There is one God, and there are three distinct, coequal, coeternal, and coexistent, self-cognizant divine persons or Egos that share the nature of the one God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is God’s highest revelation to mankind.

 

In a previous article, we briefly discussed the Lord’s Supper, in substance, importance, and instruction, which is outlined in 1 Corinthians 11. We also examined Paul’s definition of what an unworthy practice of the Lord’s Supper is. Here we will examine the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, which in a general sense they refer to as the Eucharist (Greek, “thanksgiving”—thus, the action of thanksgiving to God).

 

The action of receiving the elements (i.e., the actual eating and drinking of the bread and wine) of the sacrament of the Eucharist is called the “Holy Communion”. However, as you will see, the Roman practice of the so-called Holy Communion is anything but a “Holy” Eucharist to God. It is a blasphemous practice that

1) rejects the biblical view that the “once for all time” atoning sacrifice of Christ alone was sufficient for salvation and was the very ground of justification (apart from man-works) and

2) the Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation, as explicated hereafter, deforms and dismembers the incarnation of Christ.

 

Transubstantiation

Rome holds to a distinctive doctrine called, Transubstantiation. In short, this Roman Catholic  theological position is where the  priests who preside at the Eucharist (or Lord’s Supper”), “consecrate the bread and the wine so [that these elements actually] become the Body and Blood of the Lord…. By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [hereafter, CCC], 1411, 13).

 

So according to Catholicism, when Jesus said, “This is My body” (Matt. 26:26), and “This is My blood” (v. 28), and “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19), He instituted the so-called Mass,[1] and gave the apostles, and thus, all future Catholic priests, the power to change (transubstantiate) the bread and wine into Jesus literal body and blood (New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism  [hereafter, BC], vol. 2, Q. 354, cf. also Q. 355). [2] But note, this so-called changing of the bread and wine into the actual and literal flesh and blood of Jesus did not, Rome argues, involve a change in appearance or taste. The BC (Q. 348) states: “After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into Our Lord’s body and blood, they remained only the appearances of bread and wine.”

 
Theological Heresies of the Transubstantial Eucharist

 Rome’s doctrine of the transubstantial Eucharist, a) presents a perpetual re-sacrificing of Christ, and b) it deforms and confuses the incarnation of Christ.  

First, the notion of the Eucharist as an ongoing sacrifice clearly,   

 

  • Rejects any idea of a “once for all time” or “finished” atoning sacrifice accomplished by His perfect life and cross work.

 

  • Rejects the sufficiency of the glorious cross work of Christ for both the forgiveness of sins and the averting of wrath due to us because of our sin.

 

  • Rejects the notion that sinners are justified though the death of the Son and not according to works.  

 

Note for example, the repetitious way Rome uses the terms such as “sacrifice,” “re-presents,” “propitiation” defining the effects of the Eucharist:    

 

“The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ” (BC, vol. 2, Q. 360).

“The Eucharist is also a sacrifice” (CCC, 1365).

“The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross” (CCC, 1366).

“The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice,” (CCC, 1367).

 

The Eucharist, according to Rome, is propitiatory (i.e., forgiving sins and removing the wrath of God): “This sacrifice [Eucharist] is truly propitiatory” (CCC, 1367).

“The Church intends the Mass to be regarded as a ‘true and proper sacrifice’” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Sacrifice of the Mass”; emphasis added).

Clearly, Rome sees the Eucharist as a “sacrifice,” which is offered through the hands of the priests: “The sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests’ hands” (CCC, 1369, also cf. 1414).

 

The Roman system of the transubstantial Eucharist is an insufficient sacrifice that is offered continuously by sinful Roman priests. This, clearly controverts and attacks the biblical presentation of the once for all time atoning accomplishment of Christ, as He Himself affirmed—“It is finished.”

 

The Roman “Christ” is not able to save a sinner in and of Himself by grace alone through faith alone—apart from human efforts. Nor is the redemptive work of Christ in Romanism the very ground of the believer’s justification.

 

Biblically, a sinner is “declared” righteous before God not through works such as water baptism, nor through the sinful hands of the Roman priests in their representing the sacrifice of Christ at the Mass; rather it is through faith alone. Paul rightly says: “just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works” (Rom. 4:6) “Through the [one time] obedience [atoning work] of the One the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).

 

Neither the church, Mary, Roman priests, nor anything or anyone can mediate between God and man. Only the two-natured person (God-man), Jesus Christ is able to be the Mediator:

“For there is one God, and one Mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).   

 

To emphasize the infinitely completed redemptive propitiatory work of the Christ, the author of Hebrews uses the Greek term ephapax (ἐφάπαξ) which means “once for all” (from epi, “upon” + hapax, “once, one”). Thus (lexically), “Taking place once and to the exclusion of any further occurrence, once for all, once and never again (BDAG), or “upon one occasion only” (Thayer).

 

The author of Hebrews (and Paul in Rom. 6:10) teaches that the sacrifice of Christ as the eternal priest was ephapax (“once for all time”)—for all other OT priestly systems (Aaronic and Levitical) were lesser, imperfect, and obsolete (Heb. 7:11, 23-28). Note the following passages:   

“who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did ephapax [‘once for all time’] when He offered up Himself (Heb. 7:27).

“and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place ephapax [‘once for all time’] having obtained eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).

“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ephapax [‘once for all time’!].11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10-14). 

 

The ephapax [“once for all time”] and Paul’s doctrine of justification through faith alone, shows in and of itself that the Roman Mass where the Eucharist is a repetitive propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ is an offensive attack on Christ and His one-time finished atoning work.        

    

The second theological heresy of Rome’s doctrine of Transubstantiation is the deformation of the incarnation of Christ. The Roman Church happily agrees that Jesus became flesh. However, in Romanism, the “flesh” that Jesus became is anything, but normal human flesh and likeness. Because, as Rome teaches, the elements in the Eucharist (bread and wine) actually transubstantiates (viz. changes into the non-figurative literal flesh and blood of Christ). Hence, wherever in the world Catholics are receiving the Eucharist (“Holy Communion”) at the Mass, the literal body and blood is being sacrificed at the hand of the priests. This clearly implies that Jesus’ physical body is ubiquitous—namely, its able to be in multiple places simultaneously!

 

A ubiquitous anomalous human nature sharply counters the biblical teaching that the eternal Word became the perfect representation of man—not a “hyper-flesh” ubiquitous fleshly body: “The Word became flesh…. being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man” (John 1:14; Phil. 2:7-8).

 

Rome’s doctrine of the transubstantial Eucharist is an idolatrous practice that mocks and rejects both the substitutionary work of Christ as the alone means of justification and manipulates the biblical view of the incarnation of the Son—who “emptied Himself, taking the form [real nature] of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [not in the likeness of a unusual ubiquitous man]. Being found in appearance as a [normal] man” (Phil. 2:7-8).          

 

Those who partake in the Roman Eucharist are

1) proclaiming the Jesus of Rome who did not take the nature of normal humanity, and

2) proclaiming the impotent Jesus of Rome whose atoning work was neither sufficient nor perfectly completed. Thus, they would be celebrating that which Paul condemned as anathema (cursed) in Galatians 1:8, 9 (viz. the faith + works system of the Judaizers).

 

Christians, in stark contrast, proclaim the Jesus of the NT: “Through the obedience of the One [Christ] the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19); “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God”! (Heb. 10:12; cf. Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9).      

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

 

Sola Gratia, Solo Christo, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

NOTES

[1] In Catholicism, the Mass is a celebration of the Eucharist, where Catholics participate together in “Holy Communion.”     

[2] In support of their erroneous doctrine of Transubstantiation, Catholics appeal to John 6:53-54. However, Jesus had already defined what He meant here back in verse 35, where Jesus refers to Himself as the “Bread of Life” – “he who comes to Me will not hunger [thus, coming to Him is equivalent to ‘eating His flesh’], and he who believes in Me will never thirst [thus, believing in Him is equivalent to ‘drinking His blood’].” Further, unlike the Synoptics, the Gospel John never even records Jesus’ institution of the Last Supper. Further, the historical time frame of the institution of the Lord’s Super would have been not until John 13, which was a different context than that of chapter 6, and at least one year later! In his Commentary on John, Calvin pointed out, “Indeed, it would have been inept and unreasonable to preach about the Lord’s Supper before He had instituted it.”               

 

The same proper exegesis that establishes important Christian doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, justification through faith alone, etc. establishes definite atonement (along with all the doctrines of grace).     

Yet ironically, I continue to see far too many ‘Calvinists’ use the same practices as that of the followers of Arminius at Dort when addressing Arminianism—namely, providing bucket loads of refutations, but then being absent (and/or very sloppy) in presenting positive exegetical affirmations from the text of Scripture.

Even worst is when misguided “Calvinistic” apologists rely on and employ philosophical apologetics and erroneously use Matthew 23 as a hermeneutic to evangelize and thunderbolt their typical myopic agenda in refuting the false system of Arminian autosoteric.

In fact, Arminianism promotes several unbiblical views including universal atonement, conditional election, and, with some, partial depravity. However, we as Christians, who correctly understand and embrace the doctrines of grace should (as mandated) confront these errors appropriately and out of love using the exegesis of Scripture to both affirm important biblical doctrines and refute any false doctrines whether essential or tangential.

                                          

             Scripture is sufficient to affirm and refute false doctrines.    

 

Oneness advocate and popular TV evangelist T. D. Jakes (of the Potter’s House church in Dallas, TX) has changed (reworded) his doctrinal statement regarding God. His old statement read:

THREE DIMENSIONS OF ONE GOD. . . . Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority. We believe in the Father who is God Himself, Creator of the universe. (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1).

Here his denial of the biblical definition of the Trinity is crystal clear. Describing God as “THREE DIMENSIONS” and saying God is “Triune in His manifestations” is decidedly Oneness, not Trinitarian. His statement before this one (1998) read in part: “God-There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three Manifestations: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

But as of recently, he changed it again, going back to the 1998 description: “There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” As we can see, the “Belief Statement” on the Potter’s House website: http://thepottershouse.org/explore/belief-statement/) still provides a unitarian and distinctly Oneness concept of God- using the term “manifestations” (thus avoiding the use of “Persons”) to describe God is consistent with Oneness doctrine, not Trinitarianism.

For those who still defend Jakes insisting that he holds to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity and not Oneness theology, please refer to the Potter’s House website and read his own Belief Statement. Denying the Trinity denies the biblical revelation of the nature of God. See A Concise Look at Oneness Beliefs.  

 

  

 

Spanish edition Here- 

 

John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (cf. John 4:24). The one true God has revealed Himself as three distinct persons, the Father and the Son, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Unbiblical Teachings of Oneness-Unitarian Theology

Oneness Christology is a clear and major departure from biblical orthodoxy. Similar to Islam, it teaches a unitarian/unipersonal (i.e., one person) concept of God. Hence, the chief Oneness Christological divergences from that of the biblical teachings are as follows:

1. Oneness Christology denies the unipersonality and deity of the Son. It teaches that “Jesus” is the name of the unipersonal deity. Accordingly, the “Son” merely represents the human nature of Jesus, while “Father/Holy Spirit” represents the divine nature of Jesus—thus, the Son is not God, only the Father is (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 99, 103, 252).

2. Along with the deity, Oneness Christology denies the preexistence and incarnation of the Son, and thus, His role as the Creator (cf. ibid., 103-4; Magee, Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is The Godhead in Jesus?, 1988: 25). By denying the preexistence of the person of the Son, Oneness doctrine rejects the incarnation of the divine Son holding to the erroneous notion that it was Jesus as the Father, not the Son, who came down and wrapped Himself in flesh, and that “flesh” was called “Son” (cf. Bernard, 106, 122).

In sharp contrast to Oneness Christology, Scripture presents clearly and definitely that the distinct person of the Son 1) is fully God (cf. Dan. 7:9-14; John 1:18; 5:17-18; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:3, 8, 10; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 1:8, 22:13), 2) was the Creator of all things (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1: 2, 10-12), 3) eternally coexisted with and is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. Gen. 19:24; Dan 7:9-14; Matt. 28:19; John 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13-14), and 4) became fully man in order “to give His life a ransom for many” (cf. John 1:1, 14; Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:6-11).

This is the Jesus of biblical revelation. Jesus Christ is the only mediator and intercessor between God the Father and human beings. Jesus is the divine Son, the monogenēs theos (“unique God”) who is always in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), a personal self-aware subject, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. In contrast to Oneness Christology, Jesus is not the Father, but “the Son of the Father” (2 John 1:3; cf. John 17:5ff.; 1 John 1:3).

Worshiping the unipersonal God of Oneness theology is not worshiping the true God in spirit nor truth. The Oneness concept of God is fundamentally the same as Islam and the Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witnesses): a unipersonal deity with no distinction of persons. The true God of biblical revelation is triune—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

“Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. . . .” (KJV).

The United Pentecostals Church International (UPCI) uses this passage (among others) to support its view that water baptism MUST be done “in the name of Jesus” only to be valid. Since the UPCI theology holds to the idea that Jesus IS the “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit.” The UPCI’s position is clear: Peter commands new converts to (a) repent be water baptized and (b) be baptized only by way of the exact formula: “in the name of Jesus.” Therefore, as the UPCI asserts, the remission or forgiveness of sins is accomplished only by water baptism “in the name of Jesus,” and repentance. However, only by disregarding the historical context and particular grammar, can the UPCI hold to such a heterodox view. Furthermore, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration controverts the theology of Luke (e.g., Acts 10:43). Even so, UPCI leader David Bernard remarks on the necessity of water baptism, as he understands Acts 2:38:

We should remember that water baptism is administered because of our past life of sin; it is for the ‘remission of sins’ (Acts 2:38). Since the name of Jesus is the only saving name (Acts 4:12), it is logical that the name be used in baptism (The Oneness of God, 139).

In proper biblical interpretation: Context governs word meanings. This is a vital point in exegesis. In other words, whatever Acts 2:38 is saying, it cannot oppose the NT as a whole in which the constant theme is justification (salvation) is through faith (as the sole instrument), apart from works—any works, such as the work of water baptism (cf. John 5:24; Rom. 4:4-8; 5:1; 1 Cor. 1:17, 30-31; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 John 5:1 et al.).   

Note, that there at least four acceptable interpretations of the passage especially regarding the preposition eis (“for [eis] the remission of your sins”). However, of the interpretations offered by competent Christian theologians, none provide for baptismal regeneration or Baptismal justification. Thus, Paul says: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. . . .” (1 Cor. 1:17).  

For example, noted Greek grammarian J. R. Mantey offers one such acceptable interpretation. He argued that the preposition eis (“for”) has a causal force, as with the thought of, “be baptized because of, in view of, unto, for, the remission of your sins.” In other words, the preposition eis should be translated “because of,” or “in view of” not “in order to” or “for the purpose of” forgiveness of sins. But keep in mind there is at least four different interpretations of Acts 2:38. Mantey believed that a salvation by grace would be violated if a causal eis were not evident in such passages as Acts 2:38. This way of handling the text is also concurred by one of the world’s premium and most quoted NT Greek grammarians A. T. Robertson:

IT [eis] is seen again in  Matthew 12:41 about the preaching of Jonah (εἰς τὸ κήρυγμα Ἰωνᾶ). They repented because of (or at) the preaching of Jonah. view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the NT taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission. So I understand Peter to be urging baptism on each of them who had already turned (repented) and for it to be done in the name of Jesus Christ on the basis of the forgiveness of sins which they had already received (Word Pictures, 3:35-36).

There is also another grammatical aspect to be considered. There is a shift from second person plural to third person singular and back to second person plural. Notice below:

  1. The verb “repent” (metanoēsate) is second person plural and is in the active voice.
  2. And “be baptized” (baptisthētw) is third person singular and is in the passive voice.
  3. The Greek pronoun translated “your” (humwn) is in a second person plural.

 Therefore, the grammatical connection is: “repent” (active plural) with “your” (active plural) as in “for the remission of your [humwn] sins” and not “be baptized” (passive singular) with “for the remission of your sins.” Moreover, the same wording “for the remission of your sins” is used in reference to John’s baptism (cf. Luke 3:3; Mark 1:4) and that baptism did not save, it was a preparatory baptism and of the coming Messiah and a call to repentance, as we will deal with below. An additional view, however, is that baptism represents both the spiritual reality and the ritual which is an acceptable view that works well in the scope of the context.

Notwithstanding the different shades of interpretation, which in fact do not contradict, but only enhance—they are all in accord with good exegesis. Contrary to the UPCI position, which violates not only the theology in Acts (e.g., 10:43) but also the entire theology of the NT (e.g., John 6:47; Rom. 4:4ff.; Gal. 2:16).

Lastly, in Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, foremost Greek scholar Daniel Wallace provides insightful comments regarding the four main interpretations of Acts 2:38:

“1. Causal εἰς [eis, “for”] in Acts 2:38? An interesting discussion over the force of εἰς took place several years ago, especially in relation to Acts 2:38. The text reads as follows:

Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς Μετανοήσατε, φησίν καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν. . . . (“And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized—each one of you—at the name of Jesus Christ because of/for/unto the forgiveness of your sins…”). On the one hand, J. R. Mantey argued that εἰς could be used causally in various passages in the NT, among them Matt 3:11 and Acts 2:38. It seems that Mantey believed that a salvation by grace would be violated if a causal εἰς was not evident in such passages as Acts 2:38. On the other hand, Ralph Marcus questioned Mantey’s nonbiblical examples of a causal εἰς so that in his second of two rejoinders he concluded (after a blow-by-blow refutation): It is quite possible that εἷς is used causally in these NT passages but the examples of causal εἰς cited from non-biblical Greek contribute absolutely nothing to making this possibility a probability. If, therefore, Professor Mantey is right in his interpretation of various NT passages on baptism and repentance and the remission of sins, he is right for reasons that are non- linguistic. Marcus ably demonstrated that the linguistic evidence for a causal εἷς fell short of proof. If a causal εἷς is not in view, what are we to make of Acts 2:38?

There are at least four other interpretations of Acts 2:38. 1) The baptism referred to here is physical only, and εἰς has the meaning of for or unto. Such a view, if this is all there is to it, suggests that salvation is based on works. The basic problem of this view is that it runs squarely in the face of the theology of Acts, namely: (a) repentance precedes baptism (cf. Acts 3:19; 26:20), and (b) salvation is entirely a gift of God, not procured via water baptism (Acts 10:43 [cf. v 47]; 13:38-39, 48; 15:11; 16:30-31; 20:21; 26:18).

2) The baptism referred to here is spiritual only. Although such a view fits well with the theology of Acts, it does not fit well with the obvious meaning of “baptism” in Acts—especially in this text (cf. 2:41).

3) The text should be repunctuated in light of the shift from second person plural to third person singular back to second person plural again. If so, it would read as follows: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized at the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. . . .” If this is the correct understanding, then εἰς is subordinate to Μετανοήσατε alone, rather than to βαπτισθήτω. The idea then would be, “Repent for/with reference to your sins, and let each one of you be baptized.…” Such a view is an acceptable way of handling εἰς, but its subtlety and awkwardness are against it.

4) Finally, it is possible that to a first-century Jewish audience (as well as to Peter), the idea of baptism might incorporate both the spiritual reality and the physical symbol. In other words, when one spoke of baptism, he usually meant both ideas—the reality and the ritual. Peter is shown to make the strong connection between these two in chapters 10 and 11. In 11:15-16 he recounts the conversion of Cornelius and friends, pointing out that at the point of their conversion they were baptized by the Holy Spirit. After he had seen this, he declared, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit…” (10:47). The point seems to be that if they have had the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit via spiritual baptism, there ought to be a public testimony/acknowledgment via water baptism as well. This may not only explain Acts 2:38 (viz., that Peter spoke of both reality and picture, though only the reality removes sins), but also why the NT speaks of only baptized believers (as far as we can tell): Water baptism is not a cause of salvation, but a picture; and as such it serves both as a public acknowledgment (by those present) and a public confession (by the convert) that one has been Spirit-baptized. In sum, although Mantey’s instincts were surely correct that in Luke’s theology baptism was not the cause of salvation, his ingenious solution of a causal εἰς lacks conviction. There are other ways for us to satisfy the tension, but adjusting the grammar to answer a backward-looking “Why?” has no more basis than the notion that εἰς ever meant mere representation.”

 

Final thoughts: the fundamental problem with the groups who embrace baptismal regeneration is that their view challenges Paul’s main thesis that “God credits righteousness apart from works” (Rom. 4:6) and justification is through faith (sole instrument) alone (not by works). Although the “work” of water baptism is a biblical commandment, it is a work that man does. It does not contribute in any way, shape, or form to the atoning work of God the Son (gospel), which is the very ground (cause) of justification. So Paul says to the Corinthian church: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. . . .” (1 Cor. 1:17).                              

Frequently seen on the Trinity Broadcasting Network is animated evangelist Jesse Duplantis—known by his devotees as the “Raging Cajun.” Infrequently practiced, the Bible admonishes Christians, to “test all things” (1 Thess. 5:21; cf. Acts. 17:11). Christians therefore, should not abdicate their responsibility to put Duplantis, in spite of his widespread popularity, to the biblical test. 

Visitation to Heaven

In August of 1988, Duplantis alleges that he went to heaven and postulates this claim behind the pulpits of some of the largest churches in America. Recently, Duplantis wrote a book entitled, Heaven, Close Encounters of the God Kind wherein he describes his alleged visitation to heaven. He also has a video and audio cassettes/DVD’s that provide all the details of his extraordinary claim. What is most alarming though, is that notwithstanding his “Christian” vocabulary and by his own admission, his claim to be a “Christian” teacher, is that Duplantis is teaching LDS (Mormon) doctrine in some of the largest Christian churches. 

 

Mormon Doctrine of God (an exalted man)

Founder, first President, and so-called prophet of the LDS Church tells us: “God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man. . . . ” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345).

Also in the LDS scripture, Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 we read: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s: the Son also. . . . ” The foundation of Mormon theology is that God is an exalted man. In Duplantis’ book, page 111, Duplantis tells us that he saw God’s throne. Then, on page 113, he goes on to describe how he saw God the Father: “I saw Elohim, Jehovah God, Yahweh sitting on the throne! But I saw his feet – only his feet.”  What is more, on pages 114-115, Duplantis explains:  

But I looked, again and I saw the lower part of his hand resting on the arm of the throne. He is so big – you can’t describe him in a dimension. His hand is huge!. . . . Then I saw God’s finger barely move and when it moved, an angel that was flying near Him was thrown up against a wall. Bam! It didn’t hurt the angel. . . .

Thus, Duplantis’s so-called vision is perfectly consistent with Joseph Smith’s teaching that God is a big man. Keep in mind, Duplantis is speaking of God the Father, not Jesus (cf. pp. 88-89). What is most distressing is that Duplantis is teaching this utterly blasphemous view of God to millions of people in Christians churches over airwaves and through multi media.

Thus, Duplantis’s (and LDS doctrine) is in stark contrast to the truth of God’s word. The God of biblical revelation is spirit (cf. John 4:24) and as Christ affirms in Luke 24:36-40, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Further, Jesus Himself clearly states: “No man has ever seen God [the Father] at any time. . . .” (John 1:18). The LORD Himself declares: “Do not I fill the heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:24; cf. v. 23; see also 2 Chron. 6:18). Discordant to Duplantis’ false teaching, God tells us in Hosea 11:9: “For I am God and not a man.” 

Clearly, Duplantis’s teaching of God is a decidedly different God than that of Holy Scripture. Duplantis, as does the LDS Church, has completely disregarded the clear teaching of Scripture—namely, that God the Father is an invisible spirit, which no man has seen, “or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). 

 

Mormon Doctrine of Preexistence

Also, Duplantis is in full concert with the LDS doctrine of preexistence. According to LDS theology, prior to man’s life on earth, all people existed in heaven as “spirit children”, then, at the appointed time, these spirit children are sent to earth to receive their physical bodies, thus becoming human (cf. LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 589).

In harmony with this view, Duplantis explains on page 119, that he

saw babies flying around God’s throne . . . wearing nightgowns. . . . [they were saying] “Can I be a spirit? Would you send me to the earth so I can be a spirit? I want to be a redeemed person. Can I be a spirit?. 

Duplantis’s doctrine of preexistent “babies,” again contradicts Scripture. Genesis 2:7 tells us plainly: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Duplantis however, holds to an LDS concept of preexistence, that is, preexistent babies, “wearing nightgowns” crying to God to come to earth, rather than the biblical doctrine of man (cf. also Zech. 12:1).

 

Different Spirit

Enlarging on Duplantis’s corrupt teaching of God, Duplantis then tells us on page 118 and 119, that the Holy Spirit resides only on earth and not in heaven. If Duplantis would only rely on the Bible rather than on his experience he would understand that the Holy Spirit is omnipresent and therefore cannot be confined to locality—this is a basic teaching that most children learn in Sunday school. Speaking on the omnipresence of the Spirit, David clearly declares: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? if I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there” (Ps. 139:7, 8; see also 1 Cor. 2:11).

 

Conclusion 

Without question, Jesse Duplantis is teaching contrary to Holy Scripture. If in fact, Duplantis really did have a bonafide vision, he should have consulted the Bible and put it to the test. But unfortunately, he did not and hence, he was duped by another spirit (cf. 1 John 4:1). Duplantis re-defines the God of the Bible and reduces Him to a big man. He pointedly denies the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit and concedes to the erroneous LDS view of preexistence. Jesus tells us to “watch out for false prophets” (Matt. 7:15-23). Christians are told to “refute those that oppose sound doctrine” and “rebuke them sharply” (Titus 1:9, 13; 2:1).

The foundation of LDS doctrine rests squarely on the teaching that God is an exalted man, the doctrine of preexistence, exaltation (i.e., man progressing to become a God). LDS theology is not Christian theology. Mormonism is a polytheistic non-Christian construct that has been rejected by the Christian church since its inauguration in 1830. Consequently, biblically unstudied people that embrace Duplantis’ s teaching are embracing the bedrock of LDS theology.

The pastors who bring Duplantis in are sinning and accountable to God; for they are bringing deception into their church. If Christians do not speak out against false teachings (as biblically mandated, 1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 1:3; etc.), then the false teachings will be construed as truth. In the first century, the Christian motto was “contend for the faith,” but in present-day Christianity, this motto has departed – now the motto is: “contend for the people”–in spite of doctrine.     

Pastors would do well to emulate the Apostle Paul, who was neither concerned as to what people thought of him nor his words–but only what His Lord Jesus thought. Note his words to the pastors: 

For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the Church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw disciples after them. So be on guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears (Acts 20:26-31).

 

Never was there a more deceptive doctrine advanced than that of the Trinity. It could have originated only in one mind, and that the mind of Satan the Devil (Reconciliation [Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1928], p. 101).

Since the beginning of human history, the nature of God (i.e., how He revealed Himself) has been furiously attacked (esp. ontological monotheism).[1] Though, one of the first heresies that emerged in first century church was that of the Judaizers.[2] And the second heresy that the early church dealt with was that of the Gnostics.[3] Both of which were thoroughly refuted by the apostles in there writings.[4]

Jesus was clear on the subject: eternal life is to have “knowledge” of the true God (cf. John 17:3; 8:24). And Scripture presents that there is one true God who revealed Himself in three coequal, coeternal, and coexistent *distinct* persons—thus, God is Triune. The biblical data is undeniable. But many today (and historically) deny, in some way, shape, or form, the doctrine of the Trinity. We are not speaking of some peripheral, non-essential doctrine here: The belief in the doctrine of the Trinity is essential to ones salvation, for it is how God revealed Himself—the very nature or essence of His essential Being, the only true God.

If one removes the Son from the Trinity (in any way), the Son is reduced to either to a created being (as with, for example, Oneness believers and Jehovah’s Witnesses [JWs]) or the Son becomes a “separate” God (as in Mormonism). The Trinity is the biblical explanation of how there is one God and yet the Son is presented as both Creator[5] and “God” (theos)[6] distinct from the Father and Holy Spirit who are likewise presented as God.[7]

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Main Objections to the Trinity[8]

Also, see JWs_Objections in which deals specifically with the Trinitarian objections made by the JWs. And see here Oneness_Objections in dealing with some of the specific Trinitarian objections made by the Oneness Pentecostals.

However, virtually all anti-Trinitarians utilize the same arguments as delineated below:


The Trinity is 3 separate Gods

This is a typical straw man argument that misrepresents the doctrine of the Trinity by assuming that “Trinity” means, three “separate” Gods. The very foundation, however, for the doctrine of the Trinity is *monotheism*: there exists only one true God (one Being, not one person). The doctrine of the Trinity states that there are three *distinct* coequal, coeternal, and coexistent persons who share the nature of the one true God. The belief in three separate Gods is a misrepresentation of the historic and biblical position of the Trinitarianism; three separate Gods is tritheism, which is how the Mormons view the Godhead.

The Trinity is from pagan origins

This is an argument of false cause (i.e., misrepresents the cause of something). In pagan constructs, they worshiped and believed in three separate gods. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there is one true eternal God revealed in three distinct inseparable persons. The Trinity properly defined is unique to only Christianity. The burden of proof rests squarely on those who make this kind of assertion—asserting something does not prove anything. By misrepresenting and distorting the Trinity unitarian groups put up a straw man argument– which has noting to do with the Trinity. In fact there no place in pagan literature pre-Christianity (first cent.) where a resemblance to the proper description of the Trinity (one God revealed in three distinct persons) is found.     
 

“Trinity” is an unbiblical term

This is a very popular objection especially among JWs. For the JWs to argue that the Trinity is not true because the exact word “Trinity” is absent from the Bible is self-refuting. If that kind of reasoning was true, then, the JWs would have to admit: the “Trinity” cannot be pagan, for the word “Trinity is not found in any pagan sources either. Further, if the *non-biblical words = false doctrine* argument were true, then, the Watchtower[9] [WT] must be a false religion for distinctive words that describe their organization are not contained in the Bible either such as “theocracy.” Even the badly mispronounced and mistranslated term “Jehovah” was not found until the early thirteenth century, as admitted by the WT.[10]

It is also self-refuting for Oneness advocates to pose the same argument. For many Oneness doctrinal terms that denote the Oneness concept of God are not found in Scripture either (e.g., “manifestations,” “modes,” “offices,” “unipersonal,” “monad,” etc.).

So on one side, both Oneness believers and JWs argue that the “Trinity” cannot be true because the exact term is not contained in Scripture, but on the other side, they both will assert the opposite: non-biblical terms can be used to justify their distinctive doctrines, which they say are biblical.[11] In point of fact, and what is not at all considered, is that terms like, “incarnation,” “self-existent,” etc. are not mentioned in Scripture and both are biblical truths, which by the way, all Oneness believers agree upon.

If we were only limited to strict biblical words, then, when teaching out of the NT, we would have to use only Koinē Greek words that the authors used! Employing extra-biblical terminology does not violate the rules of sola-Scriptura (Scripture alone), as long as the terminology is consistent with Scripture.

In other words, the term “Trinity” is merely a precise doctrinal word that defines the biblical revelation that is so overwhelmingly found in Scripture: There exists only one true God. Scripture also presents that there are three distinct Persons[12] who share the nature of the one true God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the church has used the term “Trinity” to describe the biblical data as with “incarnation” (cf. John 1:14) or God’s self-existence (cf. Ps. 90:2) all of which are biblical concepts. Again, this point must be understood: We cannot confuse the biblical data with doctrinal words that define that data.

The Trinity doctrine did not emerge until the 4th century

This is an argument from ignorance. First of all, the term was first used in the East as early as A.D. 180 to describe God by early church apologist, Theophilus, bishop of Antioch.[13] Further, it is completely misleading to say that the doctrine of the Trinity did not emerge until the 4th century.[14] This is a meaningless objection—for it confuses *doctrinal terms* with biblical revelation (as discussed above). The question of what is and what is not biblical is not determined by doctrinal terms, but rather the exegesis of the text. For a term to be “biblical,” it must be substantiated by the clear biblical data—i.e., what is stated in the pages of Scripture. Thus, we are not, as Paul instructs, to “go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6 NIV).

See Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century?

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Scripture presents God as triune. As Christians, we must present a positive affirmation of the gospel (i.e., the true God) and a biblical defense to those who oppose it.[15] For this glorifies God. The JWs spend literally thousands of hours teaching (in literature and personal interaction) against the Trinity. In 2006, they conducted over six million Bible studies every week worldwide! Thus, we must take the time to accurately present the doctrine of the Trinity (the one true God) in our gospel presentation. Pastors especially should be mindful that by never mentioning the Trinity, it is nearly as bad as rejecting the doctrine itself.

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NOTES

[1] Ontological (by nature) monotheism (one God) is the doctrine that there exists only one God by nature (cf. Deut. 4:35; Jer. 10:10-11). Mormons, although, claim that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “one God,” but only in the sense of “unity,” not one in essence. But, as they assert, these three are three “separate” Gods, with the Father as the head God in whom they worshiped alone—thus, the Mormon view of the Godhead. But whether one or more Gods are worshiped is irreverent, the question is: how many true Gods exist? The fact that the Mormons believe that many “true” Gods exist, therefore, categorizes the Mormon people as overt polytheists (the belief in many true Gods) and hence, non-Christian. Not only in the OT, but in the NT as well, strict monotheism was strongly asserted (e.g., Mark 28:29; John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:5).

[2] Simply, the Judaizers taught that one had to practice the OT law, rituals, ordinances, etc. (esp. circumcision), to obtain salvation. And this, was the primary reason as to why Paul wrote to the Galatians.

[3] The Gnostics (from gnōsis, meaning “knowledge”) held to a dualistic system: spirit was good and all “matter” (esp. flesh) was inherently evil; some even taught that “matter” did not exist; it was illusory—as with the theology of Christian Science today. Both the Apostle John and Paul specifically refuted this teaching (esp. in Col. and 1 & 2 John).

[4] As seen above.

[5] E.g., Isa. 9:6; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17)

[6] E.g., John 1:1, 18; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:3, 8-10

[7] Of course, the OT and NT teaching of “one God” (i.e., monotheism) does indicate or equate “one person” as *unitarian* groups such as Jews, Muslims, JWs, Oneness Pentecostals, etc. presuppose. Monotheism simply means “one God” (viz. “one Being”). To argue that “one God” equals “one person” is to argue in a circle. It assumes what is meant to be proven.

[8] These examples, however, are not necessarily in order of usage. Further, this is not an exhaustive list, only a sample of some of the main objections that are utilized most commonly by anti-Trinitarians.  

[9] That is, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which is the organization of the JWs.

[10] The WT publication, Aid To Bible Understanding, states:

The first recorded use of this form [Jehovah] dates from the thirteenth century C.E. Raymundus Martini, a Spanish [Roman Catholic] monk of the Dominican Order, used it in his book Pugeo Fidei of the year 1270 C.E. (Aid To Bible Understanding, 1971, pp. 884-5).

As noted above, for more information on the term see our article, The term “Jehovah” and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[11] In logic, this kind of argumentation is called “special pleading” for it “pleads” to or argues only one side of the evidence while ignoring the other side.

[12] The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are called “persons” for the simple fact that (a) they all possess *personal* attributes (e.g., they communicate, make decisions [viz. a will], exercise emotion, etc. also referring to themselves as “I” (egō)—the hallmark of personhood. Even more, Jesus used first person pronouns (“I”) to refer to Himself and third person pronouns (“He,” “His”) to refer to the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. John chaps. 14-16). Note that anti-Trinitarians such as JWs have no problem seeing the Father as a person, but the same evidence that demonstrates the personhood of the Father can be equally applied to the Son and especially the Holy Spirit. The JW’s are taught that Satan is a person because he communicates, however, that is true of the Holy Spirit at many places (e.g., Acts 10:19; 13:2) and yet they deny the personhood Holy Spirit due to their prior theological commitments: the Trinity is a false doctrine, thus, the Holy Spirit is merely Jehovah’s active non-personal force.

[13] Cf. Theophilus, To Autolycus, 2.15, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF], vol. 2. And the term “Trinity” was first used in the West around A.D. 213, by the brilliant church theologian, Tertullian of Carthage (cf. Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 2, in ANF, vol. 3).

[14] Many falsely assume that the doctrine of the Trinity was not developed until the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). But the Trinity was not even discussed there.- – See, Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century? 

[15] E.g., Titus 1:9, 13; 1 Peter 3:15; etc.

“It is His doing,” says Paul, that we “are in Christ Jesus, who became to us . . . righteousness. . . .” (1 Cor. 1:30). Ephesians 2:8-9 indicates we “are saved by [His] grace through [the instrument] of faith . . . not by [any] works.” Paul’s doctrine of faith alone is foundational to our understanding of what grace actually is and what being “declared righteous” (i.e., justified—through faith alone) by the Lord really means. As we know, in spite of the clarity of numerous passages in both the OT and NT, which stipulate this biblical truth, many non-Christian groups (esp. LDS and Catholics) deny this, thus denying the sufficiency and efficacy of the cross-work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

These groups routinely appeal to James 2:21: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?” Then, in the same breath, verse 24: “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Note that James actually says a person is “justified by works” and “not by faith alone” (ouk ek pisteōs monon). Typically, most Christians will respond to the objector by insisting that the Bible teaches that man is saved by “faith alone” and not by works. Although this is true, the response is lacking—because it doesn’t specifically deal with the passages in James 2, it just denies the assertion of the objector. To make matters worse, the objector will quickly point out the fact that James 2:24 is the only place in the NT where the exact phrase “faith alone” is used, and in the negative—“not by faith alone!”

However, groups such as Roman Catholics, who claim Scripture is the inspired Word of God, inadvertently make the NT contradict itself—placing James’ theology against Paul’s. Paul clearly says, “a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom. 3:28).

And Paul argues elsewhere, “the one who does not work, but believes in Him . . . his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). Paul’s faith-alone theology is unequivocally seen throughout his epistles (cf. Gal. 2:16; Rom. 4:4-8; 5:1; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 2:13; etc.).

Reconciling the Apparent James vs. Paul Discrepancy

There are several issues, which clearly erase any idea of discrepancy, affirm the theological consistency of James and Paul, and the biblical revelation of justification apart from any works.

Different Meanings. As we will see, contextually both James and Paul mean something different in their usage of particular terms—especially the term “justified.”

Word Fallacy. Because both James and Paul use the same terms (dikaioō, “to justify,” pisteōs, “faith,” and ergōn, “works”), the objector typically assumes that James is using “justified,” as Paul does,—in a context of salvation (viz. God pardoning the sinner declaring him righteous). This is the main error of the objector. By doing this, he engages in an exegetical word fallacy: applying a “limited” or single definition to a term at every place it appears regardless of the context. This error is a common one. We see the same with the term “world.” For example, the “world,” which the Apostle John says not to love in 1 John 2:15 is certainly not the same “world” as mentioned in John 3:16. The fact is, terms such as “world,” “every/all,” “prosperity,” “heal,” “son,” “age,” etc. are frequently misdefined due to a missing context. Remember, words are meaningless without a context. Since most terms can have various meanings, one must pay close attention to the context in which a term appears in order to obtain an accurate definition of the term in a given passage.[1]

So, in James 2:14-26, the objector applies a limited meaning to the term “justified”—that is, the actual act of God pardoning and declaring the sinner righteous by imputing the righteousness of Christ to the sinner’s account through faith—happening at conversion (cf. Rom. 3:28; 5:1; etc.). Although, this kind of justification is the marrow of Paul’s theology, James is not speaking about this kind of justification. In James 2:14-26, James is speaking of the already justified (saved) Christian being “justified” by his actions (esp. love) before men.

James explains that a workless faith, is a faith that is fruitless, not a real faith at all; it is not a genuine faith that was the result of regeneration. Again, James is dealing with the already justified person showing the world, by his works and behavior, that he is actually saved. In the same way, Abraham, who was already justified before the Lord by his faith alone, proved to men his justified status by his actions of obedience (“works”) offering up Isaac. This is the very point James makes in 2:21ff. Therefore, James can say Abraham was justified (before men) by his works and not by faith alone. Understanding this makes it easier to see what James is saying and thus draw a distinction between how James uses “justified” (before men) and how Paul uses it (before God).

In fact, there are many places in Scripture where God subsequently declares an already justified person “righteous” (as with Abraham in Gen. 15:6). There are also places where God pronounces an “act of justification” or openly acquits an already justified person before others. For example, Jesus in Luke 7:36-50 openly declares to Simon the Pharisee and to the women who washed His feet that her sins were forgiven.

It is obvious that her sins had been previously forgiven at some prior time. Her acts of piety and devotion toward the Lord Jesus show this to be true, which prompted Jesus to declare to her openly: “Your sins have been forgiven” (cf. vv. 40-48). Her previous state as truly justified motivated her acts of devotion towards the Lord Jesus. We saw the same with Abraham in Genesis 15:6: “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness,” which James even quotes in 2:23. When was Abraham “credited as righteous”—before or after this passage? Clearly before, for this could not have been the first time that Abraham believed.[2]

Faith and Works. So far, we saw how James uses the term “justified” in distinction to Paul’s usage. Now let’s look at the terms “faith” and “works” as used by James in distinction to Paul.

“Faith” (pisteuō). As with the term “justified,” the meaning of “faith” in James 2 is determined by the context. Frequently, Paul uses “faith” in the context of being the sole “instrument” (precondition) of justification (e.g., Rom. 5:1). Faith in this sense denotes the trustful response, which was the result of regeneration—faith is the instrument of justification whereas the lone merits of Christ is the cause of justification. Here, however, James is addressing those whose faith was progressing (if not already there) towards a stiff intellectualism empty of love, which James calls “faith without works”—that is, a dead faith.

“Works” (ergōn). Paul renounces the idea that any kind of works can merit in any way, shape, or form one’s justification—they cannot contribute anything to salvation. James, however, sees “works” as acts of kindness (love) to those in need. To James, this proves the evidence of one’s “actual justification” and a true and vital faith (2:14-17). So, although both James and Paul use the same terms (“justified,” “faith,” “works”) they use them in a different sense and context.

Further, Galatians 3:6 reads: “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Here and throughout Paul’s writings, he speaks of how a man may achieve justification before God (by faith alone) in which he cites Genesis 15:6. While James speaks of how a Christian should demonstrate or display (by works) his already and actual justified state in which James cites Genesis 22:9-10. Consider also, that Abraham’s “show” of faith (to offer Isaac up as proof) was at least twenty years after he was “credited as righteous.”

Similarly, in James 2:25, James asks, “Was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way?” However, before her noble “faith-act” of hiding the messengers, Rahab already had faith in YHWH (cf. Josh. 2:9). “The LORD your God,” she said to the messengers, “is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (v. 11). She was already righteous before God through her faith alone and later justified before men by what she did. Again, this is precisely the point that James is making: observable faith before men (cf. James 2:25).

In this sense, James sees “works” in a positive sense: Works that justify a Christian before men. Whereas Paul speaks of “works” in the negative sense: Works that do not justify before God. In 2:14, James asks, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” The answer, of course, is No! True faith results in works (cf. 1 John 3:16-18). James further says, “Faith, if it has no works, is dead being by itself” (v. 2:17). So Luther rightfully affirms: “We are saved by faith alone, but that faith is not alone.”

Lastly, note, what I call, “verbs or language of observation.” We find James using terms and phrases in chapter 2 denoting a real and literal “seeing/showing” faith, which again supports the context of as one of demonstrative active faith (shown by works), which justifies a Christian before men. For example: 

 2:18 “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” ‘Show me’ [deixon moi] your faith without works and ‘I will show’ [deixō] you faith by my works.”

2:22 “’You see’ [blepeis, from blepō] that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works.”

2:24 “’You see’ [horate, from horaō] that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone [pisteōs monon].”

Note, all verbs linguistically can denote a literal seeing with the eyes and a literal showing.  This, along with Abraham and Rahab’s “show” of faith defines the context: a show-faith before men.

Only by ignoring the audience to whom James wrote, the defining context, specific terms and phrases used, and the examples of Abraham and Rahab causes groups like Catholics and the LDS to remove James 2 out of its natural context making it oppose Paul’s faith-alone theology.

Therefore, when James says that a person is “justified by works and not by faith alone,” he is speaking of a person (Christian) whose works (viz. love) serves as proof to men that he is actually justified before the Lord. Whereas when Paul says, “a man is justified by faith apart from works” (Rom. 3:28; cf. 4:6; 5:1), Paul is speaking of a person to whom God, through faith alone, pardons and imputes to him the righteousness of Christ.

Again, James speaks of how Christians are “justified” before men (by faith and works); Paul speaks of being “justified” before the Lord (through faith alone by God alone; cf. Rom. 8:33; Eph. 2:8-9). To interpret James 2:14-26 in a context of a sinner being “justified before God” (salvation) by works is a blatant “misuse” of the intended meaning of the Apostle James. That a person’s works (any works) justify him or her before the Lord contradicts the entire biblical content of divine revelation.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

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NOTES

[1] Similar exegetical errors include known as “illegitimate totality transfer” (cf. Cf. Darrell Bock, in Introducing NT Interpretation; also cf. D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies). This fallacy “assumes that a word carries all of its senses in any one passage” (Bock, 110; the Amplified Bible tends to invoke this fallacy). Hence, to apply every definition that a term can have to a given passage with no regards for the context is an exegetical error.

[2] We see the same distinction (actual vs. open declaration) in the Sonship of Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus was already and actually the “Son” when He was subsequently and openly declared to be the Son on many different occasions throughout His life (e.g., at His baptism, cf. Matt. 3:16-17; at the transfiguration, cf. Matt. 17:5; His resurrection, cf. Acts 13:33; see also Rom. 1:2-4, where the Son was declared to be the Son).