III.A.7.f Evangelistic Message vs. Plan of Redemption

PART  III –  Application to Pentecostal Theology 

Subpart A  –  The Pentecostal Renewal

Article 3 –Finished Work Doctrine as Incomplete Theology

Section (f) – Evangelistic Message vs. Plan of Redemption

Daniel Irving

i.    The Fallacy Underpinning the Baptistic Model of Redemption

ii.   Understanding Durham’s Advocacy of the Finished Work at Azusa

iii.  The Finished Work as Essential Truth While Incomplete Doctrine

Paul before Ruler 01

The following article may be viewed in video format via the Youtube link below:

Section (e)

EVANGELISTIC MESSAGE vs. PLAN OF REDEMPTION

i.   The Fallacy Underpinning the Baptistic Model of Redemption

A primary contention of evangelical scholars (particularly those of the Baptist perspective) against the principle of a Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit is that it is devalues the Cross of Jesus Christ as the exclusive agency of redemption.  The reasoning is that since salvation constitutes a matter so simple as the bringing together of a confession of the mouth with a simple faith in the heart (Rom. 10:9), then what can possibly be added to this?  If Christ has performed the work of God in its entirety at the Cross, how can any experience be added to that of regenerating faith?  To the Baptist way of thinking, the search for, and even the prospect of, a future redemptive experience undermines Christ’s work on the Cross as the full satisfaction of God.  Horace Ward explains this perspective within Vinson Synan’s book, Aspects of Pentecostal and Charismatic Origins.  Concerning this view, Ward writes:

He believes that any spiritual experience subsequent to regeneration must of necessity demean regeneration by suggesting its inadequacy.  To him, the expectation of a subsequent work by the Holy Spirit implies a low opinion of what Christ has done. [1]

Of course, the slippery slope of this argument is to deny what is the ultimate future work of redemption; the redemption of the body.  If there is no successive redemptive experience after initial regeneration then logically there is no redemptive experience for the body, and thence, no resurrection.  If we be consistent under the “Christ did it all” argument and the Church has nothing yet to experience of a redemptive nature then the resurrection itself must constitute a slander of Christ’s work on the cross.   But naturally, those of the Baptistic perspective would dare not adopt the full extent of their reasoning.  But there is a clear explanation for the error of this perspective.

If those holding the Baptistic model of redemption are willing to make exception for a future redemption for the body, they must also make exception for the redemption of man in his threefold nature of body, soul, and spirit, as Paul tells us plainly that redemption relates to all three:

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless  unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                     I Thess 5:23

There is even the suggestion by this verse that sanctification relates to all three constituent parts of the man.   If we are to be wholly sanctified, it will be through the means of the Truth:

Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.             John 17:17

Our means of sanctification is Jesus Christ, in His witness as the Word of God as evidenced in the fact it was necessary that Jesus Christ sanctify Himself unto this work: 

And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.                                                                                     John 17:19

Truth is not accessible to the man but through Christ as the atoning sacrifice, the embodiment of Truth, and the Personhood of our resurrection.  Therefore the threefold witness of His life, His death, and His resurrection are indivisible. The sanctification possessed by the saints is Jesus Christ Himself.  They are sanctified by means of His Person and His work; the faith in which constitutes the “work of God” in justifying, sanctifying, and physically-resurrecting the body of Christ.

Where the Baptistic view of redemption falls short is in its failure to account for the threefold nature of man as the object of redemption and the intended beneficiary of Christ’s “Finished Work.” Man requires a redemption of all three aspects of his creation, and just as the redemption of the body (ie. our resurrection) does not occur simultaneously with our experience of first coming to faith (ie. our justification) so there appears nothing to require our deliverance from sin’s bondage (ie. our soul’s sanctification) to occur simultaneously with our justification.   The Second Work doctrine of Wesley recognized the divisibility (although agreement) of Earth’s witness, which is God’s work in the Church, of which John writes:

and there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, the water, & the blood; & these three agree in one.                      I John 5:8

On the other hand, the Finished Work doctrine of Durham which derived from his Baptistic perspective, did not recognize this divisible principle that is Earth’s Witness, focusing upon the indivisible witness of Heaven which is the witness of Jesus Christ, of which John writes:

For there are three that bear record in heaventhe Father, the Word, & the Holy Ghost. And these three are one.                               I John 5:7

This is the unified witness of Jesus Christ, which is Sanctification as a Person as He Who is in His nature and work, God.  But as to the witness of Earth, which operates via the Church, what is expressed is sanctification as a verb.  These reflect upon Sanctification through their sanctification of spirit, soul, and body.  Thus the word to the Church is:

. . ., Be ye holy; for I am holy.                I Peter 1:16

Because the redemptive plan for the Church of Jesus Christ involves union with God through conformity within His own Holy nature, the evangelistic message of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”[2] while constituting the focus of our faith does not integrate the reflexive operation of redemption that is worked within the Church; the body of Messiah.  This explains the fallacy underpinning the Baptistic model of redemption.  And this is why Durham’s Finished Work doctrine constituted, and remains, an insufficient model for Pentecost.

ii.  Understanding Durham’s Advocacy of the Finished Work at Azusa

As a Baptist minister entering the doors of the Azusa Street Mission, Durham mixed with those of a Wesleyan perspective to which his thinking was alien.  Durham 01As related earlier, Pentecost came upon the “come-outers” of Methodism; those holding firm to the Wesleyan teaching of a second definite work of Grace.  Therefore, while Durham accepted the Pentecost that had fallen from heaven upon those professing to the Second Work, he did not bring himself to doctrinally receive the Second Work of Wesleyanism.  One substantial obstacle for him must have been the way in which the doctrine was misapplied by its early Pentecostal adherents so as to insist upon its having been experienced as a precursor to the Holy Spirit’s baptism.  For recall from an earlier article that the Wesleyan Pentecostals did not view an individual as eligible to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit until they could testify to an experience of sanctification which was expanded to mean the full deliverance from the works of the flesh.  To the Wesleyans, evidence of carnality in the believer was evidence they could not have been truly baptized by the Spirit.  Clearly, therefore the Wesleyan Pentecostals stumbled into heresy in this regard.  For consider that even though the Corinthian believers were referred to as “carnal” by Paul (I Cor. 3:1-4) yet they are acknowledged by Paul as having received the Holy Spirit’s baptism (I Cor. 12:13).azusaleaders

Durham’s disinclination toward Wesleyan thought must have grown into a deeper conviction against its teachings when he observed the bad fruit of the doctrine’s misapplication within Pentecost, wherein its advocates were warning seekers they must have a prerequisite experience called “sanctification” prior to baptism, led by a fixation with securing the newly anointed within the mantra of; “saved, sanctified, and filled.”  Further, if one received the baptism absent the testimony they had first received its precursor (as was the case for many if not most) they were often informed their experience was counterfeit; a most horrific judgment to make.  Within this milieu, it is little wonder that a Baptist minister should rise up and declare the reciprocal doctrine.  Durham denounced the mantra, “saved, sanctified, and filled” for the cleaner and less destructive, “saved and filled.”  His preaching quite relieved the judgmentalism and suspicion engendered by the opposite error and allowed the experience of seeking God for the baptism to remain the blessing that it is.

iii.   The Finished Work as Essential Truth While Incomplete Doctrine

The Finished Work doctrine has a very definite ring of truth.  This is because it is substantially the truth.  The Finished Work is able to be preached under the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit because its message is consistent with that peculiar witness of the Holy Spirit which is the finished work of the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Recall that when Paul preached the Gospel in power, his message was amazingly simple:Sacred Ht 05

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.                 I Cor. 2:2

This is the heart of the Spirit empowered preaching of the Gospel and the true Gospel unto which the Holy Spirit will bear witness when preached by those sent.  This tells us that there is really no other consideration in the Spirit empowered evangelistic preaching than the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  Therefore who can reasonably deny that the work of Jesus Christ is a “finished work”; complete and comprehensive for the full redemption of the Church?  The evangelistic message is the proclamation essential truth.

While the Finish Work doctrine constitutes the evangelistic message and the central focus of the Christian faith (whose object is Jesus Christ), the doctrine does not in itself  constitute a model of redemption incorporating the Church.  The Finished Work doctrine is no explanation of the process of redemption within the body of Christ, being rather, the statement of the evangelistic message of the Gospel.  The Finished Work is not the theology of the Church Durham put it forward as being.  

Lamps & Virgins 01The stumbling of the Finished Work as a doctrine of Pentecostal redemption is its failure to consider the divergence in the twofold aspect of the witness of God that is Messiah Head (the Lord Jesus Christ) and Messiah Body (His Church).  As related above, the former constitutes Heaven’s Witnesses and bears allusion to the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Finished Work from which Earth’s Witness draws its being.  As to Earth’s Witness, this is a work in progress.  That which bears record in heaven is the finished work of Christ which is indivisible and complete. We cannot receive one of three witnesses of the Lord’s life, death, and resurrection, without possessing all three.  On the other hand, the revelation of that finished work is divisible as indicated by John’s statement “these three agree in one.”  These represent the three redemptive encounters with God destined for the spirit, soul, and body of the man, and which have their manifestation justification, sanctification, and ultimately the glorification of the Church when we have our ultimate encounter with Christ at His coming.  This is the body of Christ. This is the temple of God which Christ declared He would build in three prophetic “days.”

Jesus answered & said unto them, “Destroy this temple, & in three days I will raise it up.           John 2:19

Thus for Durham to advance his properly evangelistic message of the Finished Work (ie. Heaven’s witness of Christ) as somehow a complete explanation for Pentecost and for the Church’s redemption was tantamount to asserting the Church of this age as “finished” as well.  But Paul makes clear that the Church is not experientially finished when he writes:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:                                                                                      Eph. 4:13

Just as the Lord Jesus Christ had a course to complete during His earthly witness in order to make a way for us to follow, so must the Church finish the course laid before it as a witness to the world and as a working out of its own redemption. Therefore Paul expresses this sentiment in his letter to Philippi:

. . . that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection  and the fellowship in His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect,  But I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.              Phil. 3:10-12


[1] Horace S. Ward cites Frederick Dale Bruner who makes this argument.  See Aspects of Pentecostal & Charismatic Origins, Edited by Vinson Synan © 1975 Logos International at pg. 112.

[2] I Corinthians 2:2

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About Lamp-Stand

I was converted to the faith of Jesus Christ in 1982 at which time I received water baptism and Spirit baptism. In the Spring of 2008 I was led of the Spirit through a process of repentance upon which I had an encounter with Christ that worked a profound change upon my inner being. I became aware that I had been forgiven a great debt of sin. I soon felt the Lord's direction that I close my office that my energies not be divided from the study of doctrine.
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