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Oneness Pentecostals

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Oneness Pentecostals – Jesus Only

Understanding Oneness Pentecostalism

 

Oneness Pentecostals reject the trinity.  The trinity is a Christian doctrine of the union of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit in a single Godhead.  In this first section, I want to present there doctrine to you without criticism so you can feel the full weight of there argument and how easy it is to confuse and therefore enlist other Christians.

The Basics of There argument for the Oneness View

 

The oneness doctrine is based on a particular understanding of two scriptural truths.  These Bible based beliefs serve as the Foundation for the Oneness view of God and of Jesus Christ.  The first truth is that there is only one God, and the second in that Jesus Christ is God.  From these two truths they deduce that Jesus Christ is God in his totality, and therefore Jesus must himself be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Premise One – There is only One God

Duet 6:4 correctly emphasizes that there is only one God.  “Hear Oh Israel, The Lord our God, The Lord is one.”  This is the cornerstone for everything that is distinctive about God’s people.  No biblical author would have ever entertained the notion that there could be more then one Supreme Being.  It is the foundation of both ancient Judaism and the first foundational stone to Oneness theology.

Premise two – Jesus is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

 

The Second foundational premise of Oneness theology, the deity of Christ, is also certainly Biblical.   In this point we happily agree with the Oneness Pentecostal Group. In short Jesus Christ is God; He is the incarnation of the one and only true God. (Jesus as God John 1:1; 20:28). 

Conclusion – Jesus is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

It must therefore be taken as absolute scriptural truth that there is only one God, and Jesus Christ is, in every sense of the term, himself this God. 

It is precisely this agreement that exist between Trinitarians and Oneness believers that gives Oneness arguments against the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity much of their persuasive power.  Oneness Pentecostals believe there position is the only real position is consistent with these two foundational truths.  In other words only if Jesus is himself Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can the unity of God and the full deity of Christ be acknowledged with consistency.


Arguing that Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit

 

Jesus is the Father

 

There are two basic strategies that Oneness Pentecostals use for arguing for the conclusion that Jesus is God and Father.  First they argue that certain prooftexts directly identify Jesus as the Father.  Second, they argue that what is said about God the Father is also said of Jesus Christ. 

Some scriptures they use are Isaiah 9:6 (Jesus is called “Mighty God, Everlasting Father”) Since there is only one God Jesus must be God the Father.  Other scriptures John 10:30 “I and the father are one.”

The second strategy used by oneness Pentecostals is to cross reference passages in which both Jesus and God perform divine functions.  For example, the Bible says that both the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Gal 1:1) and that Jesus raise himself from the dead (John 2:19-22).  The father answers Prayer (John 15:16) so does Jesus (John 14:14).  The Father gives the Holy Spirit (John 14:16) so does Jesus (John 15:26). By piecing together texts such as these, Oneness exponents conclude that Jesus is himself the Father as well as the Son.

Jesus the Holy Spirit

Oneness Pentecostals believe that Jesus is explicitly called “the Spirit” in 2 Corinthians 3:17.  Jesus it is argued is Lord in this verse and explicitly identified as the Spirit who opens the heart of believers.  Also cited regularly is Romans 8:9-11 where it states “the Spirit of God”, “The Spirit of Christ”, “Christ”, and “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus” appear to be interchangeable.  They also believe both are portrayed as intercessors (Rom 8:26; Heb 7:25) Both Sanctify the church (Eph 5:26; 1 Peter 1:2) and that Both provide words to the disciples in times of persecution (Mark 13:11; Luke 21:15).  From piecing together texts as these Oneness exponents conclude that “Jesus is the Holy Spirit”. 

Conclusion: Jesus is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

It is a given that Jesus is the Son.  But if the Oneness interpretation of biblical passages discussed above is correct, Jesus is also the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Oneness Pentecostals find this teaching brought together in one place in Matthew 28:19.  Jesus tells his disciples to baptize “all nations “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.  Yet in Acts, we find that the apostles consistently baptize into the “name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38).  This it is said is to imply that “Jesus” is the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  To reinforce the point they say that Matthew 28:19, baptism is said to be performed in the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  From the singular “name” they deduce that the father, Son, and Holy Spirit must be one Person and that person is Jesus.

The implications of this are that Trinitarian baptism is unbiblical and invalid.  In fact, it implies that all non-Oneness believers, including Trinitarian Christians are unsaved.


Jesus and the Father in Oneness Theology

In order to make sense of this doctrine, that Jesus is both the Father and Son work they must explain two aspects of prominent biblical teaching about Jesus.   First, how the Father and the Son can be distinguished in scripture and yet Jesus is both of them and second why the Bible speaks of Jesus Christ as existing before his birth in Bethlehem.

The “Oneness Key”

The distinction between Father and Son is the same distinction as between the humanity of Jesus Christ and the deity of Jesus Christ.   For Oneness Pentecostals, to say that Jesus is both the Father and the Son is to say that he is both God and man.  Trinitarians agree that Jesus was God and man.  Oneness Pentecostals differ in application of the Doctrine of Jesus as God and man to the distinction between the Father and Son.  Trinitarians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, as distinct from the Father, who is fully God and fully man.  Oneness Pentecostals hold that the description of Jesus as being as “fully God and fully Man” refers to Jesus as being both the Father and the Son.  In other words, as fully God, Jesus is Father, and as fully man, Jesus is Son.  Trinitarians believe that Jesus’ Sonship is an aspect of his divinity and Oneness Pentecostals believe his Sonship is only an aspect of his humanity.  Being both the Father and the Son while on earth, Jesus could, according to Oneness theology, alternate, between the two natures.  Oneness authors refer to this “insight” as the “Oneness Key” referring to the way in which to “correctly” interpret the scriptures and who Jesus was.  Thus in the Oneness belief Jesus can be understood to act and speak sometimes as God (Father) while at other times as a human.  They are constantly asking what role Jesus is playing God or man.  Therefore, as paradoxical as it sounds Jesus was and is both the Father who loved and sent his Son, and the Son who loved and obeyed the Father.  He was both the Son who prayed to his Father, and the Father who answered the Son.  He was the man who experienced God forsakenness on the cross, and the God who at least appeared to forsake his Son on the cross.  If Jesus appears as distinct in nature it is always an “illusion” assumed for the sake of revelation.  This duality in the nature of Jesus is “the key” to understanding the relationship between the Father and the Son in scripture.

Unitarianism see Jesus as having two natures, however, Trinitarians see the relationship between the Father and Son is not a relationship between two “natures” (how can two natures relate?); rather it is a relationship between two divine real (not “illusory”) persons.   Moreover, because the Father and Son relationship in the New Testament at least “appears” to be relationship between two distinct “persons” two whos (Each loves, yields, talks,  etc., to each other) the Christ of the Oneness Theology comes across as having two distinct personalities within himself, which operate within him at different times and can even talk to each other.

The Preexistent Christ

A very important implication of the Oneness equation of “The Son of God” with the humanity of Jesus is that Jesus as the Son of God cannot be eternal.  The distinctness of the Son from the Father is the distinctness of a finite human being from the eternal God.   Hence, Jesus Christ as the Father existed from eternity according to the Oneness theology, Jesus Christ as Son had a definite beginning. 


The Preexistent Father

Paul and the writer from Hebrews refer to the world being created through Jesus Christ the Son (1 John 1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Eph. 3:9; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:2).  So how do they handle these texts?

First wherever they Jesus refers to himself as eternal (John 8:58) the previously mentioned “oneness key concept” of Christ as both the Father is utilized, for this means that Christ is both eternal and temporal.  It is then the voice of the eternal Father in Christ that is for the moment speaking when he refers to himself as existing eternally.

To explain passages as these most Oneness authors refer  to the concept of God’s foreknowledge.  This is the second way in which oneness authors get around the actual preexistence of the Son in Scripture.  This would mean that if the Father created the world through Jesus Christ that God created the world “with a view towards” or “for the sake of” Jesus Christ, the future Man (Son) in whom he planned to dwell.  The divine purpose existed from the beginning, not the one in whom it should be fulfilled.  In other words, the Son existed in Gods mind only.  This means for Oneness people that God had ideal forevision and not a “substantial entity”.  In John 1:1 “The word”, quit simply was God’s plan and purpose in creation.

The Commissioned Son

The explanation they offer for the “sending” passages is that Christ is said to be “sent by God into the World” in the same manner in which ordinary prophets are to be “sent by God”.    In other words the sent one was commissioned by God.    The only difference between sending of the man Jesus and the sending of the disciples is that Jesus received his sending directly from the Father who dwelt within him and was united to him, whereas the disciples’ sending was commissioned by Jesus himself.    It is therefore concluded there is no reason to believe the language of Jesus being “sent by God’ implies and concept of preexistence. 

The Son and the Spirit in Oneness Theology

 

In addition for the apparent distinction between Jesus and the father that the Oneness theology must account for, they must also account for the apparent distinction between Jesus and the Spirit.  If Jesus is personally identical with the Spirit how is it that he refers to the Holy Spirit as another counselor, as distinct from himself?  The standard response is to say that the Holy Spirit is simply another name for the Father.  In other words Jesus did this in order to distinguish the revelation and activity of God in the Son from the revelation and activity of God outside the Son and especially in the believers.  God uses the illusion of separation for the purpose of revealing his fullness. 

Seven reasons why the trinity has errors

  1. It contradicts the Biblical teaching that there is only one God and that Jesus is that God.
  2. The Holy Spirit is often absent in Scriptures
  3. The Bible often speaks of the Father alone as “God” as distinct from Jesus
  4. the doctrine of the Trinity employs extra biblical language
  5. the Trinity of pagan origin
  6. some arguments of the Trinity are clearly unsound
  7. the Trinity itself is self contradictory and therefore illogical

Previously I sought out to present the full argument of the oneness arguments and theology.  The remainder of this paper will be responding to these arguments.

Monotheism and the Deity of Christ

 

1.  That there is only one God and that Jesus is that God (incarnate).

 

Though this argument has initial appeal, it is actually misguided.  Three things may be said to demonstrate this.  First, Trinitarians have always maintained that there is only one God and that God is indivisible.  God can not be divided into thirds so to speak.  To say that there are three “persons of the Godhead” has never been taken to mean that there are three separate people who are God or God is a committee.   This is a mistake on the Oneness Pentecostals accuse Trinitarians of.  Therefore they think in terms of trithestic which is a complete misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.  The doctrine of the trinity simply states that God fully exists in three personally distinct ways.  God is nonmaterial and nonquantifiable.  As scriptures says, “God is Spirit” (John 4:24), and thus can’t be quantified into “thirds”.  God is therefore fully present in each of the three ways he eternally exists.  Who would limit God claiming this is impossible?  What is so trithestic about this?

Secondly, because God is indivisible, the doctrine of the trinity has always affirmed the complete deity of Jesus Christ.  Throughout the ages has always, by means of the Trinity, emphatically defended the complete deity of Christ against all heresies.  “For in Christ the fullness of the Deity lives…” (Col. 2:9).  This is not a truth discovered by the Oneness Pentecostals is the second decade of this century.  Trinitarians have from the beginning been emphatic on just this central truth. Jesus Christ is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13), our “Lord and God” (John 20:28), the “God over all” (Rom 9:5), and the one who is the beginning and the end.,” beside whom there is no other (Rev 1:8, 17-18, Isa. 44;6)  He is therefore the object of our faith and worship.  None of this is a “oneness truth” as they claim.  It has and always has been a Trinitarian belief.  It is and always has been a truth that has been passed down through the ages by the orthodox Trinitarian church against any who would assail it.  It is therefore presumptuous at best, if not utterly absurd for Oneness believers to think they are the sole champions of this truth.  Oneness exponents in fact make there own case on borrowed material that has been used by Trinitarian for the same purpose.

This leads to the final response.  In Scripture, Jesus is portrayed as being truly God, but he is not portrayed as being all there is to be said about God, for God is also portrayed as Father and as the Holy Spirit, distinct from Christ.  Because Oneness people and theologians do not see how God can fully exist as Son as well as Father and Spirit, they fly in the face of scripture and collapse all three together!  A wiser methodology has been followed by the church throughout the ages, however.  Rather than tell Scripture what the singularity and the indivisibility of God must mean, the church has allowed Scripture to tell us what these truths in fact mean.    And Rather than tell scripture what the deity of Christ must imply, the church has allowed Scripture what the deity of Christ in fact implies.  When we, following the church, do this we can in fact discover that God can be truly one while also embodying a triunity, and Jesus can be truly God without thereby exhausting all there is to be truly said about God.


The absent Holy Spirit

 

2.    The Holy Spirit is often absent in Scriptures

There are four arguments that can be made.  First this Oneness contention is a classic case of an “argument from silence” which is universally recognized as an invalid form of argument.  An omission does not constitute denial.  If I am with my two daughters at a speaking engagement and introduce them as “my children Sue and Tracy” this does not mean I do not have a Son.  To conclude that I don’t have a Son because I didn’t mention him would be an argument of silence.  Since omission does not constitute denial, arguments from silence are never valid. 

Second, if this argument was true it would go against the Oneness position.  For if being consistently mentioned alongside of the Father and the Son is necessary for the Holy Spirit to be regarded as a divine “person”, the oneness people would be conceding the fact that the Father and Son are distinct divine “persons”- but this is something they would not want to do.  If they are not conceding this, what is the point of there argument?

Third, the weakness of the argument can easily demonstrated by pointing out that the Holy Spirit is frequently mentioned alongside of the Father and/or the Son as a distinct person.  Consider Matt 28:19 (and the Holy Spirit), 2 Cor. 13:14 (the fellowship of the Holy Spirit) Eph 2:18 (by one Spirit).  The real question is not “why isn’t the Holy Spirit always mentioned along side the Father and the Son?”, but Why is the Holy Spirit so frequently mentioned alongside the Father and the Son?

Fourth, there are two good reasons as to why the distinct personhood of the Holy Spirit is a bit more obscure than that of the Father and Son.  One it was not necessary to reveal the third person of the trinity till the church age.  Before this the Holy Spirit was portrayed as impersonal.  With the teaching of Jesus, however, it becomes very clear that the Holy Spirit is God existing in a distinct personal way.  Thus he is constantly referred to as “He” and has personal activities and qualities ascribed to him (He counsels, convicts, speaks, leads… John 14:15-16 15:26; 16:12-15).   It is the business of the Holy Spirit to work within believers pointing them away from himself to the person of Jesus who reveals the Father (John 16:13-14).

The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring glory to Jesus Christ.  He is like a photographer who is constantly present with two companions taking pictures but not always in the picture.  His occasional omission does not mean he is nonexistent.

God Distinguished from Jesus

3.    The Bible often speaks of the Father alone as “God” as distinct from Jesus

They maintain that Jesus is both Father and Son, the Father his divine side and the Son his human side.

There are three arguments the error in this reasoning.  First, the Oneness Pentecostals need to explain why it is that whenever God and Jesus are being distinguished, it is never Jesus and the Son who are distinguished.   That is, if Jesus is both the Father and the Son, why does Scripture always limit Jesus’ explicit identity to the Son?  Why does scripture never refer to “Jesus the Son” when it refers to God (Father) and the man in whom he dwelt-if in fact Jesus is, as Oneness believers claim, both the Father and the Son?

Related to this point is the incredibly awkward reading that the Oneness Pentecostal understanding of Jesus creates for those passages that distinguish God from Jesus.  For example, Oneness Pentecostal would have us understand Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:14 to be saying:

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God (who is also Jesus Christ), and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (who is Jesus Christ) be with you all.”

Here is a good question.  Why does Paul make a distinction between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in this and every other similar passage if He in fact believes that the three are Jesus?

Again the Oneness Pentecostals would have us understand all of Paul’s salutation as saying:

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father (who is Jesus Christ) and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Gal 1:3

Even more remarkable in Paul’s many praises, Oneness Pentecostals hear him say:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who is himself the Lord Jesus Christ)… Ephesians 1:3.

                  

Can anyone really believe that Paul would have penned such convoluted sentences?  Can one really accept that his readers would have understood him in this fashion when He never once modifies this formula by saying something like, “Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Father of the Son”?  If Paul really thought that the Father was the “divine side” of Jesus would he not at least occasionally spoke like this?

Second if it is true that Jesus cannot be God when mentioned alongside the Father who is called God, the same must hold true for the Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6).

Third, if Jesus can not be God when the Father is called God beside him, it would follow that God the Father cannot be Lord when Jesus is called Lord beside him.  But this is how Paul Speaks.  He opens all his letters, as we have seen, with a blessing “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Cor 8:6).  Indeed he frequently distinguishes between one “God the Father”, “one Lord” and “one Spirit” (Eph 4:4-6; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor 13:14; Ephesians 5:18-20; 2 Thes. 2:13).  Clearly, Paul is not intending to imply the Father is not “Lord” or “Spirit” that Christ is not God, or that the Holy Spirit is not either Lord or God!  Hence, the attempt to restrict divinity to the Father, when he and the Son (and the Spirit), are being distinguished, simply fails.

Finally the Trinitarians do not ask if Jesus is God now man or God when reading Scriptures.  Such a question is a fundamental denial of the incarnation itself, for it represents a rejection of the truth that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:4).  A belief in the incarnation means everything Christ went through and did, God went through and did, otherwise, it is a meaningless belief.  The one person of Jesus can not be split in two, not even for the sake of a helpful “illusion”.  Therefore when Christ suffered, God suffered; when Christ wept, God wept, when Christ experienced hunger, God experienced hunger, and when Christ suffered a forsaken death, God suffered a forsaken death.  Paul said that God purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 2:28).  The Oneness insistence that it was not as God, but as a man, that Christ did these things splits Christ in two and is tantamount to denying the Incarnation altogether.  Only a belief that God can and does fully exist in more than one way – Trinitarians-can truly affirm that God could really become a man without depleting his own infinite transcendence. 

Unbiblical Terminology

3.    The doctrine of the Trinity employs extra biblical language.

First there is nothing in scripture that prohibits the use of unscriptural language to express what Scripture says.  Such a notion, if held consistently, would prohibit preaching.  We would only just be able to come together and just read the bible.  Beside Oneness and Trinitarians frequently speak of “The incarnation”, another word not found in the Bible.  Oneness writings use terminology as “Father hood of Christ”, “The God-Man”, “The initial physical evidence”, “the one substance of God”, and other phrases that are without a doubt absent from scripture.  And certain Oneness theologians such as Sabin and Reeves (both whom are objectors of the trinity on the basis of its unbiblical terminology) are fond of coining new phrases such as “theocarnationalism”, Omnipresent Spirit Substance”, or “Word-Image-Son” to describe their own position.  This is not to criticize but to state that use of new terminology is unavoidable.

Pagan Origins?

4.     the Trinity of pagan origin

First he claim is simply false.  It cannot be sustained with any solid evidence and valid argument.  That is why no recognized contemporary scholar supports this notion. Oneness portrayal of early church fathers, as sinister philosophers, preaching a “seductive philosophy” and therefore seeking to corrupt the apostolic faith with pagan ideas, could not be further from the truth.  The earliest Christian fathers cared about nothing more than preserving intact, without any alteration.

Second if the trinity had been incorporated from pagan sources into the Christian faith, there would have been a great deal of resistance and controversy surrounding this apostasy.  There is none.  However, there is much controversy that erupted when some believers attempted to propagate a new heretical doctrine Oneness view of God in the late second century.  This is further proof that the Oneness view does not go back to the New Testament as they claim.  But we find no controversy whatsoever surrounding the Trinitarian claim of the earliest post apostolic claim. 

Is The Trinity Illogical?

 

5.     some arguments of the Trinity are clearly unsound

6.    the Trinity itself is self contradictory and therefore illogical

We understand the difference between a contradiction and a paradox.  A contradiction runs directly against reason, and a paradox is beyond reason but not against it.  The doctrine of the trinity, then, is no different from other paradoxical doctrines of Christian faith, like the doctrine of the incarnation.  This doctrine asserts that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.  Is this a contradiction?  No.  it is certainly paradoxical, for we cannot understand how it could be.  But it is not non-sense.

The trinity does not divide God up into thirds.  Because God is Spirit, God is unquantifiable and indivisible.  Any other view of God would be considered pagan, anthropomorphic, and materialistic.

Finally, the Oneness adherents claim that the Trinity cannot explain how Jesus could depend on and pray to God the father reveals a serious weakness in there theology.  What they do not understand is there objection in itself reveals they do not truly affirm the incarnation.  This was pointed our earlier.  The Oneness theology cannot consistently affirm John 1:4, “The Word became flesh”, for they do not distinguish between three persons of the trinity.  To state it bluntly, if their undifferentiated God really did become a man in their theology, there would be no one left to run the Universe.  So they instead postulate a God who takes up residence in a man (the Son), but does not become a man.  He (the father) talks to the man (the Son), and the man talks back to him, but does not become the man who talks, and he therefore does not experience dependency and pray as man.  This, the Son, a man does on his own-and this is simply to say that God did not become a man.  It is therefore ironic and sad that the very group who professes sole possession of the truth of the incarnation actually denies it by denying the incarnation.  For the Trinity and the incarnation goes hand in hand. 

Baptism, Salvation, and the Name

The antitrinitarianism of Oneness Pentecostalism constitutes its most blanket and fundamental damaging heresy, but its denial of the Trinity is hardly its only heretical belief.  This is typical.  Historically speaking, heresies come in packages.  Without the belief in the trinity the reality of God’s eternal love and self-sufficiency, as well as authenticity of God’s self revelation, God’s sacrificial love on the cross, and thus of God’s grace, is undermined.  The denial of the Trinity results in an understanding of salvation that exchanges the perfect security and total sufficiency of the work of Christ on the cross for the “security” of a precise baptismal formula (“Jesus’ Name Baptism”).  You must be baptized, and speak in tongues, and there very shallow “security” of ones ability to keep a prescribed set of rules.  Oneness adherents proclaim if any of these so-called prerequisites for salvation are absent or are altered, one cannot hope to be saved.  In Oneness theology the God Trinitarians believed to love us so much that he gave his unique Son to die on the Cross that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life and have the joy of relationship to our eternal triune God, has been traded in for a nit-picky God of solitude who is compulsively obsessed with a prescribed baptismal formula and modes who will eternally damn any of his “Children” who don’t get it right.  He has been exchanged for a God who would hold back the gift of salvation for months and even years (sometimes entire lifetimes) while sincere believing individuals seek the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues-trying desperately to find out what flaws that are in their life is preventing the Holy Spirit from coming and hence preventing them from being saved!  The God of unconditional love and grace has been rejected in favor of a God who may instantly withdraw his love and salvation in a moment, and after this these first two conditions are met, if the tentative candidate for heaven does not obediently and meticulously follow the rules of “Holy Living” a soul will be damned.  Imagine the psychological and spiritual damage this could cause.  This is the oneness view of salvation that has replaced the Protestant tradition exclusive to trust in who God is and what God has accomplished through Jesus Christ with a view of salvation that requires individuals to place their trust ultimately in what they think “they” can and have done for God rather then the other way around.  If they have pleased God according to their baptismal formula they have purified themselves enough to merit the Holy Spirit and it proven to there Oneness believers by speaking in tongues.  It is hard to imagine a theology that could be much further from Paul, Luther, and the entire Reformation. 

Baptism

Often times the first thing Christians did after responding in faith to the Gospel message was get baptized, this was ordinary.  This is not, however, the same as saying salvation was ever seen as being directly contingent upon baptism.  The continual insistence in the New Testament that it is faith, and faith alone, that saves a person is itself enough to prove this (e.g. John 3:15; 36; 5:24; Acts 2:21; 10:43; 15:9; 16:31; Rom 1:17; 3:22-30; 4:3,5; 5:1; 9:30; 10:9-13)  At least sixty times in the New Testament, eternal salvation is explicitly tied to faith and/or repentance with no mention of baptism.  Relatedly, Paul who conceives of Baptism as paralleled with Old Testament circumcision (Col. 2:11-12), explicitly argues that Abraham is justified by God “BEFORE” he was circumcised (Rom 4:9-12).  As important as it was it was only a sign or a seal of the righteousness he had by faith.  This is how Paul thought of baptism.   The fact that the thief could be saved without being baptized further corroborates this point.  (Luke 23:42-43; 18:9-14).  The general teaching of Scripture, then, is that those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.   Everything else will result from this saving faith.  Salvation is a result of faith and faith alone by grace. 

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