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QUESTION: I'm asking you because I know your a United Methodist minister.

-I've been a member of and ordained in the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI; Oneness Pentecostal movement) in 2006.  I was required to preach for conversion/becoming a Christian w/Acts 2:38:
1. repentance to clean up for God
2. water baptism in Jesus' name [only] was required
3. Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues required
4. standards/rules/dress code required

A Methodist shared with me:

Romans 10:13 - For whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
 
-Our Apostolic Pentecostal church's choral was invited to a United Methodist Church.  A Methodist shared with me there view of conversion or how to become a Christian - "Romans 10:13 tells us - For whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  They stressed that we are saved by grace through faith without legalism.  That conversion occurs the moment with just the faith statement, calling on the name of the Lord." without tongues, water baptism, or works.
 
-I went to the UPCI [Oneness] seminary in 2004 to 2008, but God continued to deal with me.  Was ordained in 2006 in the middle of it.  I told them about my experience with the Methodist.  Members said, "These Methodist that take Romans 10:13, to call on the name of the Lord, with just the faith statement only, > do not do it!  You must clean up for God, you must be water baptized in Jesus name, you must speak in tongues, and you must have the standards of holiness [strict dress code, legalism] to be saved."
   
-I was just like John Wesley and reluctantly went to a Methodist meeting [different than my own], and I heard a Methodist read and talk about Romans 10:9-10, you Believe and ARE justified, you confess and ARE saved.  And Romans 10:13.  I decided to study out Romans 10 further, give a fresh look at Romans 10:9-10, and Romans 10:13, Acts 16:31, John 3, and compared Acts 2:38 with Romans 10:13.  
 
I saw that when Methodist do conversion, they do conversion with Romans 10:13: For whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  And at the moment you believe in your heart and call on the name of the Lord, with just the faith statement, the conversion occurs.  Correct?

Apostolic Pentecostals believe a 4-fold view of conversion, repentance, water baptism in Jesus Name, Holy Ghost and tongues, rules/standards/dress code.

However, I see more how Methodist do conversion with Romans 10:13, to call on the name of the Lord, with just the faith statement.  The moment you call on the name of the Lord, the conversion occurs.  Correct?

Water baptism is part of the Christian walk, but not required for conversion.  Correct?

Thank You Much

ANSWER: Good Afternoon Greg, thank you for writing. I am a believer. I am ordained to serve in the Universal Church of God, and yes, I serve as an Ordained United Methodist minister.  Your email is very interesting. The scripture that I like concerning conversion is Romans 10:9-10' The Holy Spirit write, through the pen of Paul...........
         " That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord", and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will
         be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
         "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." V.13

Note: let me share a little history on Conversion: As you know, there's a number of biblical images that provide a serious view of humanity's sinful condition.
*Eph. 2:1 "dead in transgressions and sins"
*Human powerlessness (Rom. 5:6
*Active enemies of God Rom. 5:10
*Scripture affirms that "the mind of sinful man is death" (Rom. 8:6-7).
Those of us who take this portrait of humanity seriously, we realize that Scripture describes a radical change in both state and attitude. We must pass from death to life. What I'm saying is, an inner transformation of the individual believer IS basic to Christian faith.

Background: Early Church Fathers believed in conversion, but little attention was given to the specific role of the individual and the Holy Spirit in the process by which a person came to new life in Christ. Understand Greg, in the Catholic era, they believed that 'saving grace' was transmitted by sacraments CONDUCTED by priests and bishops of the church! Please don't go over that point lightly. Personal conversion, as far as they were conserned, didn't seem necessary. To them, Original Sin was assumed to be purged by baptism, and other sins were forgiven through the sacrament of repentance.

Background:  Reformation brought the belief Scriptures), that salvation comes to a person through faith (belief) in Christ and through FAITH ALONE.
 The Reformers, as you know, believed that humanity was so ruined by The Fall that no one could respond to the gospel unless God intervened. You might
Recall that Augustine held this view (Pelagius, of course did not). But Augustine argued that our bondage to sin can be broken only by an act of God's grace; it's the Holy Spirit who generates a renewal 'within', freeing our will to choose faith. The Reformers essentially held this view also.  John Calvin wrote "When the Father is heard within, he takes away the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh." In other words Greg, a person believes in Jesus, recognizes his or her sin, and cries out to God for deliverance.  

Conclusion:
Let me put it like this. Conversion isn't simply a change of beliefs. It's  an 'inner transformation' that refocuses a person's life on Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit of God does the internal work. Read: John 16:8 the Spirit helps us to recognize our personal sin and need for salvation. Upon belief we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God.  Read Romans 6:3-5, 8. Paul's teachings on baptism. Water baptism is our outward 'sign' that we have chosen to die with Christ and be raised to newness of life.. This I believe.  In regard to speaking in tongues, Paul teaches it is the
'Least of the spiritual gifts' and we need not seek the gift. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift or gifts he wants us to use to build God's Church.  
So yes, I believe the scriptures teach that at the moment I believe in my heart, and call on the name of the Lord, I am sealed by the Holy Spirit of God. I am saved by faith. After that comes sanctification.
 Read: psalm 51:10, Ps. 51:11, 17, 14,

In the NT we hear Jesus pray for the sanctification of his followers
Read: John 17, 1Cor. 6:11, Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom. 15:16 1Cor. 1:2.  Note: Heb. 10:13-29. Sanctification in the positional sense is accomplished ONLY by Jesus' blood.  Scripture clearly teaches that we who belong to Jesus are " being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord", who is the Spirit Also read: 1Thess. 5: we-24.

Perhaps Greg this is more than you asked for, but I believe in supporting what I believe and practice.  I so hope it is helpful.

May God bless you as you seek to be in His Will.

Reverend Ramona Stonecipher

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Rev. Ramona Stonecipher,

Thank You much, that was a very thorough and passionate answer.  I appreciate that.

Firstly, I looked up, read, and spent hours studying the scriptures you recommended.  I read the paragraph before as well as read up to and after each of the verses.  Very insightful and it encouraged me!

Now, let us start off with sanctification:  Yes!  I believe in sanctification being an 'inner transformation' of the heart that enables the soul to live and appreciate the life and person of Jesus Christ.  When I've been in the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI; Oneness Pentecostal movement), the first thing that I would think of when someone says holiness is:  skirts all the way down to the ankles or hell.  Our standards of holiness for women are: long skirts, must wear hose, no jewelry, no make-up, no halter-tops, no sleeveless shirts, long un-cut hair, etc. etc.  Referencing the part of our Apostolic church choral going to the United Methodist Church, I fasted and fasted, prayed and prayed, spoke in tongues and spoke in tongues, anointed myself, and did not go out socializing 2-weeks before I attended the UMC.  Why?  I was scared because the Methodist girls did not have the "standards of holiness" like us Apostolics.  When I went to the Methodist church, the associate pastor's daughter wanted to meet me.  She was wearing a denim miniskirt, went bare-legged, and had on high heels.  Yes, I admit, I looked down 3-times and thought she looked very pretty.  I was kind of judgmental.  That is when the United Methodist said:  "We are absolutely convinced that we are saved by grace through faith without legalism."

I shared the Oneness Pentecostal view of conversion: repentance, water baptism in Jesus name is required, Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues required, and standards of holiness required.  The Methodist shared: "Romans 10:13 tells us, For whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  And at that moment you call on the name of the Lord with just the faith statement, the conversion occurs, without works, without legalism, without tongues, without water baptism."

While at the UPCI seminary, I did some personal research and soul-searching asking questions to see if it was true.  Can someone experience conversion [personal conversion] without/before water baptism and without speaking in tongues?  At what point does someone have assurance?  Know that they are a child of God?  The answer I got while at the UPCI seminary:  "It depends on the point someone is justified?"

That brings me to the verse, Rom. 10:10, that you quoted:
-I thought it was interesting you used the NIV.  I was raised KJV only :).
For it is with your heart that you believe and ARE justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and ARE saved.
I looked it up in Greek Beyond the Basics by Mounce.  The verbs for believe and confess are instantaneous presents (also known as punctiliar or aoristic presents).  An imperfect is a past tense that happens over time or happens in a process in the past.  An aorist is a past tense that happens in a snap shot or is instantaneous.  It is an aoristis present because the action occurs in the present from a past aorist event (e.g., Christ crucified).

I took Modern Pentecostal Movements while at the UPCI seminary.  I decided to study the charismatic movement in the UMC.  The UMC has a charismatic movement where people have the gifts of the Spirit, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but tongues is not a requirement for conversion, and the "standards of holiness"/strict dress code is not required.  From a UPCI perspective, we believe that a charismatic is someone that believes in the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues, but without the standards of holiness/strict dress code.  I went ahead and looked into other denominations.  The Lutheran/Anglican/Greek Orthodox all believe in baptismal regeneration meaning: water baptism is the point that someone has a conversion.  The faith statement/confession of faith is not the point of conversion.

Because of this, I went back to visit the United Methodist Church again.  I asked again, how do you do conversion?  The Methodist said, "Romans 10:13, For whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  The moment you believe, and the moment you make just the faith statement, call on the name of the Lord, the conversion occurs.  If you are still struggling to have assurance, maybe because you never tried conversion with just the faith statement calling on the name of the Lord.  You might have a position in the church, you might have one of the gifts of the Spirit, you might have been baptized, you might teach Sunday School, but you must believe that Jesus is Lord, you must believe that God raised Him [Christ] from the dead, and you must call on the name of the Lord for conversion."

Yes, I see that Methodist believe that they are saved by grace through faith without legalism. (meaning without the strict legalism/dress code/etc)
Yes, I see that Sanctification is "internal work in the heart" after conversion.  Do not throw baby out with bathwater.
Yes, I see from the Methodist perspective that speaking in tongues is not required.

However, speaking with Oneness Pentecostals, conversion is 4-fold, 1. repentance, 2. water baptism in Jesus' name, 3. Holy Ghost with evidence tongues, 4. standards of holiness/strict dress code
For Church of Christ, conversion is 4-fold, belief, faith, repent, water baptism
For Lutheran/Anglican/Episcopalian/Catholic/Greek Orthodox, conversion happens at the point of water baptism.  Do not believe in personal conversion or that conversion happens at the point of the faith statement.

Now, for Methodist, you believe and ARE justified, you confess and ARE saved.  Conversion happens the moment (is instantaneous) when you believe and make the faith statement, call on the name of the Lord, without speaking in tongues, not at the point of water baptism, without struggling, without works, without legalism?  Correct?

Thank You Much for all your help.

ANSWER: Yes my friend. That is my belief.  I am saved through the grace of God. The moment of belief, I am sealed with the Holy Spirit. It's a beautiful thing.
I appreciate all the research you've done, as you can see I do the same. We are not so much different, we should celebrate  our belief.  As far as a dress code goes, there are many things that I don't approve of. But my dislike of something doesn't mean it's wrong.  We all interpret 'modest' differently.  I'm sure my definition of holiness is different than most in today's society.

I often think of what Jesus said. "be ye holy, for I am holy."....... When you study Jesus, study the mind of Jesus, study his actions(those he did and didn't do),
Study his teachings, his psychology, his behavior, etc., holiness is pregnant with meaning. He said, "Imitate Me!"   I've spent a lifetime 'seeking'....,
Studying...., communicating, submitting, praying for wisdom...., fasting, following, allowing myself to be discipled by the Holy Spirit, my Teacher and Guide.
Legalism is not part of this journey.  I'm to follow Jesus.  The Holy Spirit works within me, and transforms my heart and mind. The changes I make, is because I want to be more like Him in every way.

I do not believe you sinned, or I sinned, when I looked at someone who was dressed, in my view, inappropriate.  Nor do I believe they sinned. Jesus says, "Come as you are." "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." He wants our heart. He doesn't care what we wear..... He cares what we believe.
He doesn't care if we speak in tongues, the Holy Spirit of God will distribute what gifts He wants us to use to build God's Church.  It's His choice. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be sanctified - it's an on-going process.,a life-long process.  Over time, with the Holy Spirit's help, with hearing the preached Word, with rightly dividing the Word of God, we begin to experience the renewal of our mind and become more like Jesus. The more we're like Him, the more we can imitate Him. It's all about love.

God speed,
Rev. Ramona Stonecipher

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Rev. Ramona Stonecipher,

Firstly, I accidently hit the send button on my follow-up so I am sending again.
Yes, I've done lots of research and even lots of soul-searching.

A number of times you mentioned the dress code or legalism.  Yes, like Paul being a chief of all Pharisees was trying to get people to be compliant.  I to was one of the chief Apostolic Pentecostals in the UPCI: the first thing that I would think of when someone says holiness is:  skirts all the way down to the ankles or hell.  I even made up a rule of no high heels.  I went along with the more strict Apostolics by saying that girls have to wear hose to worship, no going bare-legged, or hell.

Referencing the part of our Apostolic church choral going to the United Methodist Church, when I went to the Methodist church, the associate pastor's daughter wanted to meet me.  She was wearing a denim miniskirt, went bare-legged, and had on high heels.  Yes, I admit, I looked down 3-times and thought she looked very pretty.  I was kind of judgmental.  That is when the United Methodist said:  "We are absolutely convinced that we are saved by grace through faith without legalism."

Yes, I believe not that we are saved by grace through faith without legalism.  I even went back to an official in the UPCI and said, "I am starting to believe in holiness like the United Methodist.  Holiness is what's in the heart, not a "standard of holiness"/dress code.  I believe and think that when a Methodist girl comes to church, wears a miniskirt, goes bare-legged, I think that the Methodist girl looks pretty without the "standards of holiness"/dress code.  However, I still believe for conversion: 1. repentance, 2. water baptism in Jesus' name, 3. Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues."

They accepted it as long as we have some kind of guidelines, after conversion, for the dress code.  But, I believe like the Methodist that we are absolutely convinced that we are saved by grace through faith without legalism [without the standards of holiness/dress code).  Lately, the 2-year affirmation statement came due where we have to agree to preach the "standards of holiness" and the other 3 requirements for conversion.  I see conversion without the standards of holiness/dress code/legalism.  But, I am thinking about also changing the view of conversion.

Got invited to a UMC church to preach also earlier.  Will share that experience later.

I hope you saw in the earlier question that I questioned the view of the dress code.  God is dealing with me about changing my view of conversion and how to preach conversion.

Thank You Much

Answer
My friend, you are a good person. I know you want to preach only what is Truth.  In all churches, from the beginning, we have
had 'man-made' laws thrown in by holy men who believed their interpretation of the Scriptures was correct.  Read some writings of
some Hasidic Jews who were enlightened on this fact. Often people get culture, religion, rituals, ideologies,and desires confused with
Scriptural Truth. Perhaps that's one reason the Lord admonished us to ' rightly divide the Word of God'.  We need to seek His Truth, not ours.

Jesus promises if you seek, you will find. You're doing well. God knows your heart.  When you spoke of the various things you did before going to a United Methodist worship service, I felt a bit sad. It was like you and others were afraid of catching some form of disease from your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus said, "Judge not lest you be judged." God measures a person not by their outward appearance, but by their heart. It's all about love my friend.

You may never shun some of your practices, may be too important to you. That' OK. I just encourage you to not focus on our differences, but on those things we agree. The world is divided enough without Christians stiring the pot. Just think, if we allowed our differences to separate us, we would not take the time to try to understand each other. Like Jesus says, we must be slow to speak and quick to listen. I am listening to you....., I hear a beautiful heart. Let God handle the divine things....., they will truly outshine those less important. Through sanctification we will be made clean and acceptable. When you or I come in contact with a Baptist, Methodist, UPCI, Assembly of God, etc., we need not worry. These people are ALL members of the Family of God. The ground is level under the cross. We're equal. Praise God the Lord said, "Come as you are."  He had no rules..... No conditions.... He just offered love. "Come.......

God speed as you continue to seek and serve. The world is a better place because of you.

Rev. Ramona Stonecipher  

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Reverend Ramona C. Stonecipher

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Hi! I'm an ordained minister with a Master Degree in Theology. I have spent several years preaching and teaching God's word. As a Pastor, and servant of the Lord, I can help you find answers to questions of faith. I can help you understand the difference between having a religion or having a faith. We can explore the power of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. I can help you cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus, the Christ of God. What I'm saying is, we can study the Word of God together. I can't solve your problems, but I can lead you to the One who can. I can't make you believe or have faith, all I can do is plant the seeds and introduce you to the One who is the Gardener. I can also tell you that God loves you and God is a God of second chances. I hope you'll accept my invitation to walk the Damascus Road together__. Welcome.

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United Methodist Minister Master of Divinity Teacher Bible Scholar Christian Counselor Counselor Suicide Prevention CPA Baptist Medical Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri

Organizations
Concerned Women For America

Education/Credentials
Graduate: University of Nebraska Graduate Studies: Fairleigh Dickenson University, New Jersey Graduate: Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri

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