Question – Do the differences between the Oneness and Trinitarian camps create unnecessary division? Does our definition of God matter, so long as we just agree to disagree? Is baptism necessary? Does the mode of baptism really matter?
What does the Bible say about the importance of understanding the nature of God?
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – "4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
John 4:4-26 – Story of the Samaritan woman. Verses 21-24 – "21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
You can't worship God without understanding who He is.
What does the Bible say about the nature of the Godhead?
Exodus 20:2-6 – "2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
Deuteronomy 6:4 – "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!"
Deuteronomy 32:39 – "Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand."
Isaiah 37:16 – "O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth"
Isaiah 43:10-11 – "10 You are My witnesses, says the Lord, And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. 11 I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no savior."
Isaiah 44:6-8 – "6 "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.7 And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, Since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, Let them show these to them. 8 Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.' "
Isaiah 44:24 – "I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself"
Isaiah 45:6 – "There is none beside me. I am the LORD and there is none else"
Isaiah 45:21-22 – "There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else"
Isaiah 46:9 – "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me"
Isaiah 48:11 – "I will not give my glory unto another" (see also Isaiah 42:8).
Malachi 2:10 – "There is only one God, who is the Creator and Father of mankind."
Zechariah 14:4-9 – "4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. 5 Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come, And all the saints with You. 6 It shall come to pass in that day That there will be no light; The lights will diminish. 7 It shall be one day Which is known to the Lord-- Neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen That it will be light. 8 And in that day it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. 9 And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be-- "The Lord is one," And His name one."
John 10:30 – "I and my Father are one." (emphatic use can be translated "one and the same.")
John 14:9 – "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" (literally, "you have seen the very Father.")
John 14:11 – "I am in the Father, and the Father in me." (Light bulb – the light is in the bulb yet the light is beyond it)
Acts 20:28 – "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to 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."
1 Corinthians 8:4 – "Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one."
1 Corinthians 12:3 – "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit."
Ephesians 4:4-6 – "4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Colossians 1:13-20 – "13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Colossians 2:9 – "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;"
1 Timothy 3:16 – "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory."
Titus 2:13 – "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,"
John 1:1,14 – "1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (became flesh – literally, the Word was tabernacled or dwelt in the flesh.)
James 2:19 – "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!."
Revelation 4:2 – "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne."
The scripture is clear – the Old Testament view of God is strictly, strongly, unwaveringly monotheistic and Oneness. The Jews deny any tri-unity in the person of God, which is a problem that many have with "orthodox" Christianity. The New Testament affirms the traditional Old Testament view – Jesus is God, and God is One.
Is baptism necessary?
Baptism is necessary for remission of sins and salvation
Matthew 28:19 – "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"
Mark 16:16 – "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."
John 3:5 – "Jesus answered, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Acts 2:38 – "Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 22:16 – "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
1 Peter 3:21 – "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"
Baptism associates us with Christ
Romans 6:3-4 – "3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Galatians 3:27 – "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Colossians 2:11-12 – "11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."
You cannot be associated with Christ if you haven't been buried with Him in baptism, obeying His commands, as well as the example of scripture.
Does mode really matter?
Baptism, biblically, only occurs in Jesus' name
Acts 2:38 - "Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 8:14-16 – "14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Acts 10:48 – "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord."
Acts 19:5 – "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
In an instance where baptism did NOT occur according to the Acts 2:38 formula, Paul rebaptized.
Acts 19:1-5 – "1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." 4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
To baptize comes from the Greek word baptizo, meaning "to dip or to plunge." The literal connotation has to do with dipping a garment in a dye.
A Problem with the Coeternal, Coequal members of the alleged "Trinity"
Philippians 2:5-11 – "5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
vs. 6 – "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,"
form = morphe, or image. Just as Adam was made in the image of God, so Jesus was made in the image of God. This has nothing to do with Jesus being divine.
vs. 7 – "but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men."
Jesus lowered Himself by taking the role of a servant (i.e., washing the disciples' feet.)
Christ could not point to Himself and bring glory to Himself as a man.
He did not grasp at power, but "grasped" or took the form of a servant.
Adam in the Garden was tempted to eat, to grasp at knowledge in disobedience to God.
Hosea 6:7, "But they like men (literally "adam" or Adam) have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me."
Jesus had to pick up where Adam left off. At His baptism He is covenanting to fulfill His role as perfect man.
Ps. 22 and Is. 46 point to the Messianic King who will rule through suffering.
In the wilderness the Devil tempts Jesus to take a shortcut: rule without suffering. But this would break covenant like Adam!
vs. 8 – "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Became a man…
Obedient to death…
Even the death of the cross…
He was obedient in His role as a suffering servant
vs. 9 – "9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,"
Vs. 9 – "given Him (Christ) a name which is above every name"
God the Father God the Son God the Holy Spirit
At the Incarnation:
God the Father God the Holy Spirit
God the Son
After the Incarnation:
God the Son
God the Father God the Holy Spirit
Does Jesus have a name that is higher than the Father? This doesn't seem coequal.
vs. 10,11 – "10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."