Letter from Joel Hemphill to a "Oneness" preacher:
Dear Brother Shell:
Thanks for your kind response to my letter of last week.
However, I am afraid you rushed to judgement on a lot of very important Scriptures that I tried to call your attention to. Scriptures that deserve our most serious consideration for we will all be judged by them at the final day.
In regard to my past teaching let me say that when the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob revealed Himself to me in His word in 2005, I had to humble myself before Him and admit that I had been wrong. Please note that Jesus our savior is never once in Scripture called “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” He is His son! Jesus was in heaven with the Father when Peter said in Acts 3:13: “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, hath glorified his Son Jesus.”
Brother Shell, you mentioned two wonderful men from the past, two of my heros, W.T. Hemphill and W.W. Holland. I love the memory of these men, but I must say their theology was seriously flawed. My Dad was “Jesus Only” from about 1916 until his passing in 1981. In fact we buried him with his “Jesus Only” pin. Brother Shell, is that what you teach? Are you “Jesus Only?” I have spoken with some of the leaders of the U.P.C.I. and they no longer teach that doctrine, as it cannot be defended by Scripture.
Regarding the “Apostle’s doctrine,” were they “Oneness” or “Jesus Only?” Did they preach Jesus, to the exclusion of God the Father? What did the apostle Peter preach? Look at his words to the multitude at Pentecost. Yes, this is in Acts chapter two but somehow we never saw it!
“Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God (not God Himself in flesh) among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him...Whom God hath raised up...” (Acts 2:22, 24).
“Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand” (Acts 2:33-34).
So Peter preached that Jesus is “a man (an anthropos - “a human being”) approved of God” whom God raised up and seated him at His own right hand.
That is exactly where Stephen saw Jesus in Acts 7:55-56. And the inspired writer of Hebrews agrees:
“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12).
“So then, after the Lord had spoken, unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).
“It is Christ that died...who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:3).
“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).
“Jesus Christ, Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God” (I Peter 3:21-22).
What is Jesus doing while he sits at the right hand of God? He is our mediator, our intercessor, and he sits there “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Heb. 10:13), as the eternal God promised him in Psalm 110:1.
Brother Shell, was the apostle John “Oneness” or “Jesus Only?” Jesus had been in heaven with his Father for many years when John wrote the Gospel that bears his name. In John 20:31 he told us why he wrote his Gospel!
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God...” (Note: Messiah - not God).
“..and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3). Note: The word “and” in this verse is a conjunction and means “along with; together with; in addition to.”
“...we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).
“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God (not God) (I John 5:15).
Please do not refer me to I John 3:16 to say that “God” died for us. The word “God” is in italics, and every word in the KJV that is in italics was not in the original. Of course God cannot die, neither can He be tempted!
Brother Shell, was Phillip “Oneness” or “Jesus Only?” The confession that he required of the eunuch before water baptism was: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (not God)” (Acts 8:37).
Was the great apostle Paul “Oneness” or “Jesus Only?” His first sermon after his awesome encounter with Jesus Messiah on the Damascus road was:
“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God (not God)” (Acts 9:20). “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7).
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:3).
“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ”( II Cor. 1:2).
“Grace be to you, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:3).
“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:2).
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:2).
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (Col. 1:2-3).
“Unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 1:1).
“Unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:1-2).
“Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Tim. 1:2).
“Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (II Tim. 1:2).
“Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 1:4).
“Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phm. 1:3).
Who was Paul’s God? “But to us there is but one God, the Father...and one Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 8:6).
“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
“But my God shall supply all of your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Note: He did not say “my God is Christ Jesus” but “my God” will do this “by Christ Jesus.”
We are “heirs of God” (our Father), and “joint heirs with Christ” (our brother) (Rom. 8:17).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph. 1:17).
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:14).
Yes, Brother Shell, Jesus has a “God,” a higher power whom he fears (Isa. 11:2; Heb. 5:7), whom
he worships (John 4:22), whom he prays to and obeys. “I can of mine own self do nothing...if I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true” (John 5:30-31).
“And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape” (John 5:37).
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16).
“I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God” (John 20:17).
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Matt. 27:46)?
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God... name of my God... city of my God...out of heaven from my God” (Rev. 3:12). Note: Jesus had been in heaven for some 60 years when Revelation was written, but he still refers to God the Father as “my God” four times in this one verse.
“Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:3).
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (II Peter 1:2).
Jesus Christ our savior cannot be the One Most High God and have a “God” himself at the same
time! “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest...” (Gabriel to Mary) (Luke 1:32).
Jesus was not a body full of God, a robot if you please, but a man (a real human being) full of God.
But listen to Paul’s desire for us:
“...that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God’ (Eph. 3:19).
The inspired writer of Hebrews was not “Oneness” or “Jesus Only.” In Hebrews 12:22-24 he lists eight things that Christian believers have come to.
- “mount Zion.”
- “heavenly Jerusalem.”
- “an innumerable company of angels.”
- “the general assembly and church of the firstborn.”
- “to God the judge of all.”
- “the spirits of just men made perfect.”
- “to Jesus the mediator.”
- “to the blood of the sprinkling.”
Why did he not combine numbers five and seven? Because they are separate and distinct entities, beings, persons!
Brother Shell, I love you in the Lord and believe you are a true man of God. Therefore I do not wish to debate you in a public forum, which would probably only gender strife. I am willing to meet with you and any ten preachers that you may choose, in any place that you may choose, to discuss this in an atmosphere of brotherly love. You can let me know after you have read thoroughly these Scriptures that I have given you.
Love in Christ Jesus, Joel Hemphill
p.s. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob told me in 1986, “Abraham rests in my bosom, your
father rests in my bosom.” It was sometime later when I noticed the John 1:18 says: “...the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
p.p.s. Our Father God is a person (Job 13:8; Heb. 1:3), who has a will (Luke 22:42; John 5:30), a personality (Zeph. 3:17), a shape (Num. 12:8; James 3:9), a face (Matt. 18:10; Rev. 22:4), a head and hair (Daniel 7:9), eyes (Deut. 11:12; Prov. 15:3; Ps. 34:15), ears (Num. 11:18; Isa. 59:1; James 5:4), a mouth (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4), breath (Ps. 33:6; Gen. 2:7), a voice (Gen. 3:8; Deut. 4:12; Heb. 12:25), hands (Gen. 49:24; Ex. 15:17; Isa. 5:12), back parts (Ex. 33:23), and feet (Ex. 24:10; II Sam. 22:10; Isa. 60:13; Nah. 1:3). He laughs, sings, walks, stands, sits, feels and thinks. He is not in any way human, but he has a heavenly body (as do angels - Ps. 104:4; I Cor. 15:40, 44; Heb. 12:9; I Kings 22:19), and we are made in His image! Note: Do not be confused by the Bible verses that make reference to the Almighty’s wings. This is speaking figuratively as the nations of Assyria and Moab are also said to have wings (Isa. 8:8; Jer. 48:9; and the Messiah Jesus Christ is promised to “arise with healing in his wings” Mal. 4:2). Come to know the Father!