The Doctrine of Essentiality by Steve Waldron
Bro. Waldron, tell us a little bit about your ministry.
I am an avid student of God’s Word with a Th.D (theology), and have taught 34 different subjects in UPCI Bible colleges. For 19 years, I have been a home missionary, pastor and daughter-work planter. Currently, I pastor New Life of Albany where we produce hundreds of videos on a wide variety of subjects on our YouTube channel. We host two conferences each year: Fresh Oil Youth Conference and Great Apostolic Preaching. I am the managing editor for the Premier Study Bible, which is due out in 2017. It can be pre-ordered at premierbible.com.
What is the Doctrine of Essentiality?
As pertains to salvation, one must have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of his or her sins, be baptized in Jesus name for the remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking in tongues. Without any of these, salvation is not a complete process. It is popular today to say that salvation begins at repentance. This can indicate salvation at repentance. Phrases like, “Salvation is progressive, beginning with repentance and ending with resurrection or when we see Jesus Christ,” can lead individuals to say that we are saved at repentance if we don’t get further “light” on water and spirit baptism. This is called the Light Doctrine. Some people use this as an olive branch for Trinitarians, but we cannot compromise. We should proclaim the Word of God and speak the truth in love, because once truth is watered down it ceases to be truth.
Which specific Bible verses pertain to essentiality?
All the Great Commission scriptures: Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:16-17, Luke 24:46-47, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8. Jesus is committing to His apostles the doctrine of salvation that is essential for everyone. Anything less falls short. John 3:3-8 also classically states we MUST be born again. There is a point in time when we enter into the Kingdom of God. It is not just a process but also an event. Philip saw miracles and was baptized but knew the experience was incomplete without the baptism of the Holy Ghost. In Acts 10, Peter’s response after Cornelius’s household received the baptism of the Holy Ghost was, “Who can forbid water?” He then commanded them to be baptized. They were not saved at repentance. Acts 8 shows that water baptism is not enough and must be followed with the Holy Ghost. In Acts 19, John came preaching repentance to the 12 disciples of John and enters a discourse with them saying that it is incomplete. Alone, each of these experiences are incomplete for salvation.
What are the strongest threats against this doctrine?
Natural apathy and making exceptions to the rule are strong threats to essentiality. There are no exceptions to the clear teaching of Scripture. One cannot make it to heaven by simply being a great person. We must contend earnestly for the faith, understand our sinfulness, and know the great need for this incredible salvation that was given to us according to the book of Hebrews. Our DNA is made up of the Acts 2:38 experience, the keys that Jesus gave to Peter of the Apostles’ doctrine. Jude mentions false teachers who were ordained of old, that crept in unawares, speaking high-sounding words. What about the lost, or those that have never heard the name of Jesus? But this does not overcome the truth that all mankind is in sin and fallen short of the glory of God, no sin can enter into heaven, and we are all in need of a new birth experience.
Satan’s greatest fear is the new birth experience, because when people are born again they are delivered out of Satan’s kingdom according to Colossians 1 and are translated into the Kingdom of God. Because Satan wants everybody to experience hell with him, he will constantly say as in the Garden of Eden, “Yea hath God said?” Is there some exception to this? This is leaven. The moment we begin to look at one exception it begins to expand, and everything can be an exception. The Doctrine of Essentiality will no longer exist. Terms such as necessary are theological jargon, meaning it is good but there are exceptions. Essential means there is absolutely no way out. Jesus is the way, truth and the light. He alone has the words of life. The Bible is the only pathway of life we have to follow, and there are no exceptions.
How have the Apostolics responded to defend this doctrine?
We have responded by appealing to Scripture, because Scripture itself is under attack. In any organization where its founding documents are under question, the whole organization is under question. The Bible is our founding document. Satan is attacking the Bible, the very words of Scripture. Apostolics have contended earnestly, drawn lines in the sand, and with great scholarship and academia gone and shown that Acts 2:38 is the baptismal formula and not just a command to obey Matthew 28:19. We have gone to the highest levels of Greek and Hebrew to show that these are, in fact, absolutes. Even in the secular churches, you can see that this was the original form of salvation. Just to maintain this, we have been willing to suffer persecution and even die for truth and the Word of God.
How would you speak to this generation regarding the attack on essentiality?
With the Internet, we can read many viewpoints in an hour’s time and with that comes questions. For example, if you were raised in India, wouldn’t you just be Hindu? Post-modern hermeneutics is creeping heavily into the Apostolic movement. This is the idea that Scripture means different things to different people. You can have a hermeneutics for a third world country but different in the first or second because Scripture speaks many things to many people. Some Apostolics are embracing this concept and say one is okay because that is their understanding of Scripture and this is mine, but all roads end in heaven. We know from the Bible that there is only one road that leads to heaven, and it will be less populous. We cannot wrest the Scriptures into what we desire them to say. Scripture has a specific definition involved in it. We can never let our feelings keep us from the plain objectivity of Scripture.