Oneness Pentecostalism to One God

By J. Dan Gill

The second incongruence in v. 22 was – “by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him.” My Oneness faith directed me to believe that Jesus had to be God because of the extra-ordinary miracles that he did. Again, if Peter was Oneness, wouldn‟t I expect him to declare: “by miracles, wonders and signs that he did – thus proving himself to be your God”?

Lost Verse No. 2:   Acts 2:23 – “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

Again, it is Jesus of Nazareth – a “man” handed over to them. It is a man that they had put to death. There was no message that day about them putting their “God” to death. There was no message that day about having crucified the “man part” of Jesus. It was a “man” from Nazareth that they killed. That is what the crowd heard. It is exactly what Peter meant for them to hear.

Lost Verse No. 3:   Acts 2:24 – “But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.”

This verse was particularly difficult for my Oneness Pentecostal mind-set. As a Oneness person I was straightly to believe that Jesus raised himself from the dead. And why not? Any of the “super-being” theologies would logically draw us to that conclusion. However, if he raised himself would not the most powerful statement Peter could make be: “Jesus raised himself from the dead – thus proving that he was God.” But, twice[12] in this chapter alone, Peter affirms that God raised “Jesus” – the man from Nazareth – from the dead.[13]

Lost Verses 4 and 5:   Acts 2:34, 35 – “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’”

To my Oneness faith when one spoke the word Lord it was in itself a reference to Deity or God. Here, however, was an insurmountable difficulty: the LORD (YHWH – Ps. 110:1) is speaking to another who is lord but not God. And, by the context of Peter’s proclamation, this second lord is the man Jesus (v. 22). Clearly Peter’s words separate Jesus and God in the minds of his listeners that day.[14]

Of course Peter is quoting David from Ps. 110:1. This passage from the Old Testament is frequently quoted and referenced in the New Testament. Yet, this flagship Scripture of our brothers in New Testament times was all but hidden from my Oneness faith. I cannot recall a single occasion when this verse that was so quoted by God’s people in the New Testament was selected to be the  text for a message by any of my Oneness Pentecostal ministers.

And this is also wonderful: Peter is not telling the people on the day of Pentecost a story of God or an “angel-like” being coming to earth. There is no one coming down in Acts 2 to become a “Godman” or an “angel-man.” There is, however, someone taken up. There is no story of God or an “angel-like” being who voluntary debases himself by coming to earth. There is the story of a man who has – by God – been exalted to the right hand of God in heaven.

Lost Verse No. 6:   Acts 2:36 – “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made that same Jesus whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ.”

Incredible! Jesus is Lord – because God has made him Lord. He is the Christ – because God has made him to be the Christ. It is short of the mark to honor Jesus Christ as “lord,” without also honoring God for making him lord. And notice again, it is not just a “flesh-part” that is made lord. It is Jesus himself who is made lord by God. Likewise, God has made Jesus to be the Christ – his anointed one. God has no need to be anointed by anyone. It is he who anoints Jesus (Acts 10:38).

Jesus is Lord and Messiah only because God has made him to be these things.

Hence my rhetorical refrain:

If God had not made Jesus to be lord – would he be Lord?
If God had not made Jesus to be Christ – would he be the Christ?
If God had not raised Jesus from the dead – where would he be?

Lost Verse No. 7:   Acts 2:38 – (with v. 37) “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do’? Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

Acts 2:38 – our cardinal Oneness Pentecostal verse. Verse of verses! Why would I categorize this verse as one of those lost to Oneness theology? It is because, if we fail to grasp the underpinnings of faith in Peter’s declarations leading up to Acts 2:38; if we divorce verse 38 from its context, then this verse is also effectively lost. How shall we rightly preach or obey from the heart, words we don t truly understand?

Let us take a look at what Peter was saying in this landmark verse in light of the things that we now know formed the basis for his directives in Acts 2:38. Peter directs people to do two things. And, he gives the order in which they are to do them:

First, repent – (Grk. – metanoeo) – In Greek this is a compound word meaning quite literally “change your mind.” [15] Peter is telling people to change their minds regarding Jesus of Nazareth. They were to believe everything that Peter had just said regarding him.

Thus, true repentance was to embrace:

Acts 2:22 – Jesus was a man approved by God and that God did miracles, wonders and signs through that man.
Acts 2:23 – That they had been complicit in that man’s death. Not the death of a body or a human nature, but of a human being.
Acts 2:24 – That God raised him from the dead.
Acts 2:34, 35 – That God has glorified this man from Nazareth, and set him at his own right hand.
Acts 2:36 – That God has made Jesus to be Lord – God has made him Christ.

This was true repentance. Is not this exactly the same repentance that we should be proclaiming today? It is Peter’s immediate and right answer to the question: What shall we do? Aren’t those the exact same things that we should be directing people to believe about Jesus now?

By proclaiming that message, people today can bring forth that same repentance. Then and only then are we ready to approach the second of Peter’s two commands: “And be baptized every one of you…”  Notice that Peter directs that this will be a baptism in the name of that same man – the anointed Jesus. In this baptism, we as men now fully and wholly identify ourselves with this man – the son of God (Romans 5:17-19). By true repentance and baptism in his name, we are disciples of this man who died for us and whom we now embrace as Lord and Messiah. In this baptism, God views us as companions of his son Jesus and as being in relationship with his death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). Here, our hope and salvation is clearly and wholly appended to Jesus as the true human son of God (1 John 4:15; 5:10-12).

And notice Peter’s emphatic: “every one of you.” The command to be baptized in Jesus’ name carries the exact same weight as the command to repent. Everyone who fully repents regarding Jesus is to be baptized in his name. It is the same one they rejected and hanged on a tree. Now they will be immersed into him. And, indeed it is the name of Jesus the Christ – not Jesus your God; not Jesus the “God-man”; not Jesus the “angel-man.” Rather, it is Jesus the man whom God has anointed. The man he has made Lord. The one he has made Christ.

This immersion was the pivotal moment for the receiving of Peter’s message that day. It is synonymous with the acceptance of Jesus himself. It was the consummation of the people’s faith in all that they had heard. That same repentance is something that we as people can do. Receiving baptism in water in the name of the Messiah is something that we can do. These are directives from Peter. They are imperatives. Do we really believe them or not?

And then… you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

2019-01-09T12:56:29+00:00

About the Author:

J. Dan Gill
J. Dan Gill is Editor in Chief and a contributor to 21st Century Reformation Online. He is a frequent speaker, has written many theological articles and presented a variety of papers on Christian issues and biblical subjects. J. Dan Gill is the author of “The One – In Defense of God” a book which makes the case for non-trinitarian “absolute monotheism” as being the theology not only of Jews but of Jesus and original Christians. He argues that the one God of the Bible is the Father alone and that Jesus is the Christ – God’s Messiah. Dan Gill is the producer and co-host with Sir Anthony Buzzard of 21st Century Reformation’s popular video commentary series on the New Testament writings of the Apostle Paul and the Book of Hebrews. J. Dan Gill is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and his academic studies have focused particularly on the history of Christian doctrine, early church history, the Reformation and restoration movements.