Placing Genuine Faith in God through Right Doctrine and Response

Numerous times, in various Usenet newsgroups, an article has been posted under the heading ...

> One Man's Exodus from The United Pentecostal Church
> by David Vivas, Jr.

The article has been posted at, as well as several other addresses

I have communicated at length with the author, mainly in the mail-list "Higher-Fire" in 1996 and 1997 and I would like to make some comments, after considering what his statements mean to me, from my point of view.

David Vivas' story has been around for a long time, and while he has adapted a quite condemnatory point of view, one would have to be quite gulible to believe some of his implications. For example, he portrays the people of the church as being in bondage, and quite unhappy. While there are unhappy people everywhere, those who know the Pentecostals of the Western area of the USA will notice that they are remarkably lively, happy and vibrant Christians. Anyone near Christian Life Center in Stockton,CA, (within Vivas' range of experience) for example, knows this assembly as typifying the most outgoing, confident and fervent Christians there are.

Vivas relates the development of his experience from childhood and appears to be saying that he was ill equipped to defend himself against the infiltration of the witnesses that came to his life, because of family disorder, and a lack of spiritual headship. This is simly an arbitrary attempt to portray believers as victims, which anyone might attempt - for example, a moslem imam explaining to a family how thier child happened to become Christian. The fact is, mostApostolic Pentecostals are quite confident in their experience, and did not come into the church in the midst of controversy, nor do they become "moonie-ish" in their segregation, but rather gradually develop a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and at the same time become actively interested in doctrinal matters. Most nominal churches only wish that their own congregations were equally comitted to the doctrines which they represent as Bible truth.

> "Am I your brother in Christ, yes  or  no?"  asked  Dr.  Walter
>Martin in a debate with United Pentecostal Church representatives
>Nathaniel Urshan and Robert Sabin, which took place on the  "John
>Ankerberg Show" in 1985.  As I sat and observed Brother  Urshan's
>reluctance to give a direct response to  the  question,  my  mind
>pondered  in  dismay  over  the  fact   that   my   own   General
>Superintendent would not answer, "No, you are not my  brother  in
>Christ."  This would have been a common response  coming  from  a
>Oneness adherent to a Trinitarian believer.

Mr Vivas evidently believes that everyone is as comitted to insulting their hosts and company when put on the spot. It was quite clear why Dr. Martin asked this question, and what he attempted to accomplish through it.

The doctrines of the Apostles are not best conveyed by insult, as is obvious from present company. What Martin tried is called a "set up". Vivas will get to that, but in advance be aware that few people are so unwise as to want to rail against everyone who differs with them, as the manner of the foolish is.

It is not wisdom to say everything one believes at any moment. The Bible teaches in Proverbs 15:23 that seasoned speech can be the source of positive and joyful things. consistently, Jesus Christ himself was not compelled to speak by Pilate or Herod, though each might have received powerful responses to their disrepectful and demanding questions.

> I would like to share with you my experience in the United
>Pentecostal Church. The intentions of this article are not to
>bash Oneness believers, but rather to help inform the Christian
>Church of the dangers that exist in legalistic movements of our

The reader should note that Vivas says it is not his intention to bash oneness believers. However, in my personal conversations with Vivas on mail lists, this actually happens routinely, as will be noted in the text of this story.

Also, Vivas uses the term "legalistic" without definition. I was recently told that a child had developed "negative feelings by being forced to attend church regularly (it happened to be a good Apostolic church). The person complaining was not suprisingly, also not interested in attending church at all, though his wife was and herself took the children. I had to ask, "Are your children also developing negative feelings from being forced to attend school ?".

The question of what is, and what is not important to the Christian life does actually vary among various religous movements. the Christianity of the Bible is not without some costs, and pastors are not free to grant utter freedom with respect to all of the teachings of teh scripture, though many will relegate faith to a matter of subjective mental or emotional experience. Mr. Vivas would like to warn of legalism, but I would like to warn of fear mongers and fast talkers who would speak against those who hold scripture in high regard, while staying allof from personal responsibilty or specific doctrine.

>  I was raised in the Assemblies of  God.   My  mother,  who  was
>Catholic, had intentions of sending me to  the  Catholic  Church.
>My father, who was Protestant, would not allow my mother to  send
>me to the Catholic Church.  Instead, he sent me every Sunday with 
>his parents to Sunday School at the Assemblies of God.  My mother 
>and father were saved several years  later,  and  we  attended  a
>Pentecostal Church in a nearby  city.   I  was  involved  in  the
>church and saw 15 of my high school friends saved.  By this  time
>I was 15 years old.  At school I  began  encountering  classmates
>who attended the United Pentecostal Church in our  city.   I  had
>countless discussions with them on the subjects  of  the  godhead
>and water baptism.  After several vigorous attempts to respond to 
>their Oneness claims and the many scriptures on water baptism,  I
>became persuaded of their theology, and even went as  far  as  to
>doubt my salvation.
>  I became very angry and bitter with  my  parents,  pastor,  and
>Sunday school teachers whom I thought had led me in error since I 
>was a child.  I was told by the UPC  that  the  doctrine  of  the
>Trinity was in actuality a belief in  "three  Gods."   They  also
>told me that I had been baptized the  wrong  way.  They  insisted
>that the name Jesus Christ must be spoken over an individual when 
>being baptized and that those who have been baptized in the  name
>of  the  Father,  Son,  and  Holy  Spirit  had  been  erroneously
>baptized.  They asked me to show them in the Bible  where  anyone
>was  baptized in the  Triune  formula  and  insisted  that  every
>instance of biblical baptism  occurred  "in  the  name  of  Jesus
>Christ," (that is, with the name pronounced over them).

Was Vivas actually able to show some point at which the ordained standard of doctrine and practice did indeed utiilitze the titles in baptism? At this time, no doubt he was innocent enpough to actually believe that the operation of baptism might be held in the same high place of importance as the Apostles evidently kept it.

> I soon told my parents of my  decision  to  attend  the  United
>Pentecostal Church.  They opposed my decision.  By  this  time  I
>had attended the UPC on several different occasions  without  the
>consent of my parents.  After becoming  aware  of  my  excursions
>they grew concerned.  After my first few visits, I was determined 
>to be baptized "the right way" so that I could surely be saved.

There are many young people who are attending trinity churches against their careless and unbelieving parents will today. This attempt to project young people who seek God as victims is shameless.

> Since my attending the UPC went against my father's will, I
>moved out of my parents' home at age 16. As a result, I found
>myself living with different members of the church. Three months
>later, I was set up on the platform for preaching purposes.

If not strange, then this is a very liberal church indeed. Typically a new person will be observed and discipled and helped to mature for minimally 6 months before this kind of responsibility is given. Maybe it had been a number of months before he moved out, still, it is odd. Most churches are not anxious to promote children of 16, as there are good men of seasoned age to fulfll the responsibilities of elders. I would guess that Vivas wanted to be promoted and sought it hard, if this is so.

> I became heavily indoctrinated with various books and materials
>published by the UPC. I devoted my time to the listening of
>debate tapes between Oneness preachers and Trinitarians. I
>learned all the Oneness responses to Trinitarian theology, and
>became dogmatically opposed to Trinitarians.

Its strange that one would take this approach. I have been preaching for a few years, and having discussed doctrine with Vivas, I certainly did not see Vivas as being very knowledgable in this area, and I personally have rarely listened to debate tapes. Generally, our understanding comes from long hours of Bible study, and prayer. In any case, if I had been an elder responsible for Mr. Vivas, I would never have recommended his time to be spent extensively in this way. Mr. Vivas seems to be protraying the Apostolic people as robots, learning their responses by rote. I think this is laughable to anyone who knows true Apostolic people.

> In  August  1989, after being a part of the ministerial  staff  of  the  local  UPC
>church, I became licensed with the  organization.   I  started  a
>prison ministry in which about 75 inmates were  baptized  in  two
>years.  I was very zealous with church  activities.
> I was familiar with Dr. Walter Martin and had obtained a  number
>of his writings and tapes.  Although  I  didn't  believe  he  was
>saved at the time,  I  admired  his  knowledge  in  the  area  of
>comparative religions.  Upon hearing of Dr. Martin's  passing  in
>June of  1989,  I  attended  his  Memorial  service  in  Southern
>California. During the Memorial  Service,  I  was  moved  by  the
>comments made by different individuals concerning  him,  and  was
>battling in my mind how I was to consider this man  lost  and  in
>error, when his  very  life  and  ministry  had  helped  so  many
>thousands through the years.  Yet, I could  not  compromise  with
>what I thought was the "Truth."

Dr. Martin was well respected. So was Sec General U Thant, and Mahata Ghandi. Mr. Vivas is preparing the audience to stand in a place where they have to confess that salvation is "whatever Walter Martin had", without any requirement of biblical instruction. I was not aware that the evangelical protestants were in the habit of making saints whose lives become the standard of salvation.

>  I was loaned a video of the debate mentioned above  which  took
>place on "The John Ankerberg Show" ("The Trinity or 'Jesus Only': 
>What Do The Scriptures Teach?").  My  first  impressions  of  the
>debate left me disappointed.  Dr. Martin  and  Cal  Beisner  were
>very thorough in  their  presentation  and  defense  of  Orthodox
>Christianity,  while  in  my  prideful  opinion,  the  opposition
>delivered a  poor  defense  of  Oneness  theology.   

Mr. Vivas mentions no theology at all, but is rather comitted to conveying a story of the emotional dissatisfaction of his hero's letting him down.

For those who are pondering what happened, I can only recommend aquiring the tape, which is probably still available through Ankerburg, or the CRI people.

Even though the Ankerburg staff edited the presentation without consent or consulation of both parties, and even though there was interdispersed advertising for books purported to confirm the "truth of the trinity", there were some highlights. Since the Ankerburg staff was running a series with Moonies, and JWs and such, placing the UPC in the same category, its presentation format conveyed guilt by association from the beginning. At numerous points along the way, Akerburg arbitrarilly moves the subject along, summarizing that "we have established that there is evidence of the trinity in the Old Testament", etc.. when in fact, analysis of the debate would have to dispute that, no matter what side one was inclined to take.

Inidentally, the Ankerburg team's scholarship was not universally upheld, as Mr. Vivas would like you to know. I will not say more about this, as it is not the subject, but let it be sufficient to say that doctrine judged "sound" by Mr. Vivas' standard is not nesesarilly sound. He is relating his impressions and emotions, having already said that his learning was largely gathered from listening to debate tapes. I would be more comfortable to trust his judgement (if I had not personally seen the Urshan/Martin tape) IF I knew that he was a Bible student, and not merely a "debater".

I *have* seen the tape (I have a copy), and can only guess that Mr. Vivas was more impressed by the younger member of the CRI team's nasty and adamant attitude than by his reasoning from scripture (but, the debate is another subject.. )

> So to more effectively present and defend Oneness doctrines, I began
>investing in scholarly works in the areas of Church History and
>Word Studies in Hebrew and Greek. To my astonishment, I
>discovered several faulty interpretations of church history as
>taught by the UPC. There were also a number of grammatical
>discrepancies of certain key passages that had gone by unnoticed
>and are in fact used to distort the meaning within the context of
>the passage.

Mr. Vivas claims to have condemnatory knowledge, but does not provide it. Reader's should understand that in the counsel of sincere men of God they will not at least be maniplated by people who want to charge others as cultists, but require their blind acceptance of rumor and heresay.

> During the last year of my involvement with the UPC, I analyzed
>the teachings of my local church. We were taught by our local
>pastor that he was going to answer for us on Judgment Day
>concerning our lives and personal experiences with God.

I don't know Mr. Vivas' pastor but this misleading comment seems to be evidence that he believed the Bible where it says
"Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor
from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast
delivered thy soul.  Again, When a righteous [man] doth turn from his
righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before
him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall
die in his  sin , and his righteousness which he hath done shall not
be remembered; but his  blood  will I require at thine hand. " - Eze

The reader must ask himself: Is it consistent with Mr. Vivas' charges that the Lord would ask a pastor to atone for their sins? On the other hand, is it evident anywhere in the scripture that the pastor is not set in a place of responsibility to warn the hearer of the word?

> We were taught that if we missed a church service, we would have to give
>an account to God as to why we missed.

We cannot know if Mr. Vivas is not relating some admonition for those who wanted to be in church once a month. Does anyone not believe that church attendance is important? How much admonition is needed? Mr. Vivas is evidently not a pastor, but he ought to know that with varying people and their personalities, the amount of encourgement they need varies too.

> We were discouraged from attending family outings on a church night. When wanting to do
>so, members young and old alike, had to ask permission from the pastor.

No doubt some did, and some did not.

> More often than not, the answer was "no." "Where are
>your priorities," he would ask, "to God or your family?"

Well, I dont know where Mr Vivas lives exactly, but where we are there is a constant friction between godless relatives who do anything in their power to work against their beliving relatives attending church, including intentionally scheduling gatherings coincident to church services. I have known more than one person, trinitarian or oneness, to be worn down by the constant "family activity" to the extent where they simply gave up the conflict and quit attending church.

Of course, what we are heariing from Mr. Vivas is heresay, and the depiction of one spectator who is obviously bitter, and seeking to portray the church in the worst light he can.

> This would engender a sense of guilt among the members of the  church. 
>Scriptures were manipulated and effectively  used  to  intimidate
>members who consequently had no rights or say-so.  The pastor was  
>always right, because he proclaimed himself "the man of God"  who
>was not to be questioned.

I guess this debate could go on forever. There are people everywhere who cannot abide with authority, or with God giving some people positions which they themselves do not have. This bothers the ego, and creates a sense of resentment that will be expressed in surprising ways, but usually in the very rebellion that it was born of, while yet in seed.

It is easy nowadays in the wake of hypocrites like Swaggart and Baker, and the likes of Jim Jones and the many pediophile priests to get a crowd to agree when you condemn the authority of ministry. In fact, the Bible does not ever indicate that the undershepherd is to be instructed by those sheep that he cares for and leads. Rather, he is to become a steward in the fear of God, watching for the souls.

> In my experience I wanted to attend a Memorial Service of a
>relative. I was asked by the pastor if it was really necessary
>for me to attend since it was on a church night. He answered
>"Let the dead bury the dead." Needless to say I was in church
>that night. I found that not only did he manipulate scripture and
>coerce the people but was in fact acting as a dictator.

Well, assuming that we have all the facts here, this was probably a tactless and excessive prohibition. However, I suspect that it is just the author having trouble with regular church attendance again.

> There were also the extremes of legalism which exist in most
>United Pentecostal congregations.

Here is where Mr. Vivas speaks way beyond his knowledge or authority. Mr Vivas does not tell you how long he was associated with the church, but it was not long evidently. However long it was, was it adequate to say that he knows anything about most of over 3,500 congregations in the US alone ? In my 14 years in the church, I have been in perhaps 40 churches. I can tell you assuredly, generalizations are diffuclt at best. Condemnations are exactly what they seem to be.

> Men were not permitted to wear mustaches, women were not allowed to wear pants or slacks,
> make up, jewelry or cut their hair. And neither could wear sleeves
>above the elbows. These were all considered "Holiness Standards."

Various congregations will hold to church standards. We hope ALL will hold to biblical standards.

Facial hair on men is not universally opposed. the definition of modestty varies somewhat, but very rarely or never will you see a woman with breasts showing through sleeveless tops be seen in the church, except they are very new visitors. Some things are decent, and some are not. The standards are made by the church, and not by the world. To portray guideliness for good behavior as law is dishonest and deceptive on the part of the author.

The bible condemns the wearing of the opposite sex's garments. Mr. Vivas may make the case that womans pants are clearly different. Sorry.. the church, and many elements of society disagree. I wonder if there are many who walk into the wrong restroom because they cannot distinguish the two legged figure from the one with a skirt.

Teaching on jewelery is not unique to Apostolic Pentecostals, and the scriptural teaching regarding the head and the hair is plain from 1 Cor 11, if anyone wanted to consider the literal meaning of it. Again, some dismiss much of scripture as irrelevant., but we do not. I suppose someone wants us to be ashamed of this, but its hard to be discouraged with the Bible.

>Television was disapproved of since it was considered "a pipeline
>from hell into the home."

Many, many secular sociolgists, psychologists and even New Age proponents condemn the television as a deterant to virtually everything wholesome and even to good mental health, as it serves to violate so many areas of life - from the constant barrage of lewd and violent activity to the replacement of real-life relationships.

Many ills of society have grown in parrallel to the use of TV as a preacher of social norms. Mr. Vivas, are you an advocate of the principles and values that are common in the entertainment industry?

>To violate any of these standards, a member was considered to be rebellious and disobedient to the
>Word of God, not to mention their pastor.

Lets mention both, and consider their place in the dimension of salvation. Is obedience to the word of any value? is the pastor more than a functionary who stands there because no one else will ?

> It became a salvation of works rather than grace. If a person did not follow
> these standards, they could not possibly be saved.

This is Viva's interpretation of the situation. His harsh black and white protrayal of the pastor/saint relationship is very unrealistic, and projects the pastor in this demigod notion only to people ignorant of the reality of such a relationship. It takes advantage of the ignorant. He should apologize.

> The church was governed by modern-day Phariseeism.

This is plainly a judgement. When knowledgable people cast these stones, they are willing participants in the results. It is sad, but I doubt Mr Vivas would recognize a Pharisee if he climbed down the western wall, and beat him over the head with a phylactery.

> Looking back now, I can see the bondage of the people caused by
>presumed self-righteousness -- which they flaunted by their
>"holy" attire. It became, as the Apostle Paul said, "...a form
>of godliness" (II Timothy 3:5).

Once again, this is his judgement - however, we wonder if righteousness is only recognizable, in Mr Vivas mind, through disregard for scriptural standards. It is a cheap notion that one who follows some principles is therefor self-righteous.

It is quite possible, and perhaps even likely to become hypocriical and self-righteous in the midst of outward expressions, while there is no inward renewal of the Holy Ghost. On the other hand, if there is inward renewal, should submission to the word of God be far behind?

"If you love me, keep my commandments" - Jesus Christ

Jesus allowed the hearer to determine whether he would measure himself as loving Truth, but then required that he express it in faith. The IF is before LOVE, and does not regulate the "keep my commandments", phrase. that is a given.

>Another incident happened that further disturbed me. Different
>people from our local church left to attend another United
>Pentecostal Church and were informally disfellowshipped because
>they did so. We were taught that we must attend the church
>wherein we were "saved." If one left the local assembly to
>attend another Oneness Church, they were considered rebels and
>lost, thus the disfellowshiping.

That is baloney again.. Pastors must grant a transfer if there is no reason speaking against the cooperation of the one requesting it. many times, a transfer will be given, even if this is not the case, simply because the pastor knows that to retain this individual who might begin to work against the church in his discontent would not be very wise.

Excuse me, but that is REALLY off-base.

> I knew that this teaching was not even remotely Biblical. I
>then began to thoroughly re-examine the teachings of the church.
>These and other situations prompted me to analyze the teachings
>of the organization as a whole. I asked a friend of mine (who was
>a disfellowshipped member attending a nearby United Pentecostal
>Church) to once again review with me the Ankerberg debate, this
>time, with open hearts, open minds, and unbiased intentions.
> All of the evidences given by Martin and Beisner were

Let David Vivas stand in a forum of earnest and qualified scholars and say "Martin and Beisner are irrefutable", particularly with regard to the arguments made in Akerburg debate. :-)

> We checked out many of the references and found
>them to be accurate and correct. Martin explained many of the
>passages the UPC representatives quoted. For example in John
>10:30 Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." Oneness adherents
>maintain that this proves Jesus and the Father are one person.
>Yet Martin brought out that the Greek in this passage reads:
>"...we are in union." (See further a Greek Interlinear Bible in
>this passage for the Greek word "esmen." It translates "we
>are.") Deuteronomy 6:4 was also quoted. Again, Martin and
>Beisner explained that the Hebrew word for "one" in this passage
>is "echad" -- meaning a compound unity.

Vivas may or may not know (I do not know what his real knowledge is), that ECHAD is used to denote compund unity AND numerical, or economic
unity in the scripture.

While Martin DID translate the text aloud (he did not read from Greek, or English) and say that Jesus said "WE are one", ("hen esmen' -using the first person plural indicative), this is not remarkable, as the construct requried for an alternative would be absurd:

"I and my Father, I am one" ?

Beware before jumping for delight that Jesus Christ was specifically speaking to people who thought of TWO when he spoke of God and Himself. It was certainly no revelation that Jesus Christ and the God of Abraham were DIFFRENT. Unless we are to accuse Jesus of capitalizing on the carnal and obvious, we ought to realize that he was equating the Deity with Himself. This controversy led to the immediate efforts to stone Jesus for blasphemy. On the other hand, the Jews themselves might have been able to say that THEY had "compound unity" with God, in some sense.

> Finally, at the end of the program Martin asked Nathaniel
>Urshan if all those who had been baptized in the "Triune formula"
>were lost and going to hell. Urshan expressed his uncertainty
>with a hesitant response.
> My stomach turned because the answer
>should have been an emphatic: "Yes! They are lost and going to
>hell." The UPC emphatically teaches that one must be baptized
>with the name Jesus Christ pronounced over them.

Too bad David Vivas' stomache turned over seeing a carefully handled response I am sad to see when people are put in a no win situation, but always glad to know that the Lord provides some solution, even if painful.

It would not be difficult for me at all to say that I was unsure whether people baptized in the titles would be saved. After all, I have known MANY MANY people to have started in this tradition and then come into the truth, with a whole heart and by utterly converted.

> Further, one must speak in tongues as the essential evidence of being filled
>with the Holy Spirit. One could not be saved otherwise.

Some may have noticed that, at the inception of virtually all Pentecostal organizations, this belief was framed in their articles of faith. In fact, unpon inspection, they still are!

>In addition, members must follow the legalism taught in their
>church, be it shaving off one's mustache or wearing sleeves below
>the elbow, or for women refraining from wearing pants, cosmetics
>jewelry, and so forth. Therefore it then becomes a salvation by
>works, and not by grace.

Nah, it becomes a relationship and there is a human element involved, including love and interdependacy and prayer and caring that Vivas fails, for some reason, to mention. Could it be that he neglected these himself ?

> What I never understood was how one who believed in the
>Trinity, and yet was filled with the Holy Spirit, could be lost.
>"How could the Holy Spirit dwell in an unclean temple?", I
>thought. Sins were washed away only after being immersed in
>water. The Scriptures did not teach baptismal regeneration as I
>was taught to believe. This doctrine was contrary to the
>biblical concept of salvation by grace.

If the baptism of the Spirit was in and of itself, being saved, which the Bible NOWHERE teaches, then Mr. Vivas sentiment would be compelling. As it is, salvation is by faith. Faith does not cease at a certain point, but must continue and be the , lest one draw back unto perdition (Heb 10:38-39)

> The members of the local UPC church I attended looked to the
>Pastor as the authority figure. Members would not question his
>stand on any particular issue, for fear of being marked.

In other words Mr Vivas, they are gutless and faithless, having only a mock replica of salvation?

> Members could not go on a vacation or miss a church service without the
>pastor's permission. He became their dictator and ruled over
>them with unchallenged authority.

Mr. Vivas has returned to the condemnations, but this time for another purpose. He is bullying the individual and mocking them with the notion that they are slaves. He is encouraging them to uproot,lest he continue to mock. This reminds me of the Assyrian king who railed so against the people of Judah, and sent Hezekiah to seek God.

>I began to see that the general attitude of the UPC as a
>whole, likened itself to that of the Pharisees of the New

In other words, Mr. Vivas was led from a place of discontend and question, to a place where he extended his judgements to thousands over which he had no knowledge.

Not David of old, he resisted such a spirit: " LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty : neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. " - Psalm 131:1

Later, the Apostles would come to condemn those whose inclination to speak outside of their station appeared to themselves to be a calling.

"These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. " - Jude 1:16

"These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error." - 2 Peter 2:17-18

>They appeared outwardly to men  as  being  holy,  but 
>their insides were corrupt and rotten. (See further, Matthew 23.)

It is a favorite thing for Christians who bicker to compare their argets to the Pharisee. The judgements of God are, unlike man's, sure. These things will be shown in time,

> Now that I am out of the UPC, I have found out what true
>liberty in Christ is. My identity is now with The Baptizer, and
>not with "a baptism."

I personally encountered the blood of Jesus Christ in a very real way when I was baptized in the name of Jesus, and experience its refreshing , and cleansing power each day. Furthermore, I have had liberty every single day that I have lived in Christ, and protest MOST LOUDLY any attempt to suggest that I don't, on the basis of lies and slanders, and even worse, that I might respect the scriptures enough to let them influence my life.

> My sincere prayer for those who are trapped inside of a legalistic movement, such as the UPC,
> is for them to come out and experience what true freedom in Christ is,
>and that in their search for truth, they will come to know Him
>who is Truth.

Mr. Vivas criticism is plainly this: Christians who hold Jesus Christ to be the true God, and who follow the doctrine of the the Apostles do not know Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and have no fellowship with God, though they do worship and believe upon him. These are pretty lofty words. I personally hope I never attain to this high a seat in the heavens.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond to this. I have wanted to, in the Holy Ghost, for quite a while.

In Jesus' name!

(c) 1997 Mark W. Bassett


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