The United Pentecostal Church emerged out of the Pentecostal movement that began in Topeka, Kansas in 1901. It traces its organizational roots to October 1916, when a large group of ministers withdrew from the Assemblies of God over the doctrinal issues of the oneness of God and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
Much of the following information is taken from Mead's Handbook of Denominations (11ed.) and from a book titled Jesus Only Churches, one in a series of Zondervan's, Guide to Cults and Religious Movements.
UPC Churches are known as "Jesus Only" Churches because they reject the Godhead (i.e., the Trinity). They also believe you must be baptized in water and speak in tongues in order to be saved. They hold to 'Holiness' standards of dress and appearance and recreational activities as do other 'Holiness' Churches. There are about 600,000 in the USA and about 3 million worldwide. The United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) was founded in 1945. It broke away from Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal Churches. UPCI trace their roots back to the Pentecostal Movement at the turn of the 1900's.
Some Pentecostals came to be known
as "Oneness" or "Jesus Only" Pentecostals because they did not believe
in the Trinity, and believed water baptism was necessary to get one's
sins remitted, and the formula for being baptized was in Jesus' name
only; not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. UPCI also
believe that speaking in tongues is evidence of the baptism of the Holy
Spirit, and thereby one cannot be saved without speaking in tongues.
Holiness is not the result of some act subsequent to salvation, but
should be the norm at the moment of salvation for every Christian. This
is the diabolic heresy of Lordship Salvation.
A Messed Up Bunch
UPC go way out into left field when they reject the Godhead, and require speaking in tongues and baptism for one to be saved. "New Birth is achieved by faith, repentance, water baptism, and baptism in the Holy Spirit" (which is evidenced by speaking in tongues); 'Jesus Only' Churches, p51, E. Calvin Beisner.
The doctrinal views of UPCI reflect most of the beliefs of the Holiness-Pentecostal movement--with the exception of the "second work of grace"; the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity; and baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It embraces the Pentecostal view that speaking in tongues is the initial sign of receiving the Holy Spirit. If this were true, then why DIDN'T the Apostle John mention speaking in tongues in any of his epistles? The entire purpose for the writing of 1st John is found in 1st John 5:13, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."
If baptism and speaking in tongues are necessary for
salvation, then why didn't John mention either when the entire purpose
of writing his epistle was so that we could KNOW we have eternal life?
It's common sense folks.
United Pentecostal Churches and Water Baptism
United Pentecostal Churches teach that water baptism is necessary to get to Heaven. This differs in teaching from other Pentecostal/Holiness Churches. Their mode of baptism must be by immersion and the "formula" (as they call it) must be "in Jesus' Name" only; not "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" of Matthew 28:19. They also attempt to use 1st Peter 3:21 to mandate baptism for salvation, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." It's important for any Bible student to look at the surrounding Scriptural context in which a statement is made in the Bible. If you read the entire chapter of 1st Peter 3, you'll learn that Peter was instructing us in Christian living (i.e., wives obeying their husbands, husbands loving their wives, being a law abiding citizen, etc). Peter was not speaking about the salvation of the soul; but of the believer's life.
United Pentecostal Churches and the Trinity
UPC rejects the doctrine of the Godhead (i.e., the Trinity), and believe that 'Jesus Only' is God, not the Holy Spirit or the Father. These are references to Jesus, the UPC claims. On their official website, the UPC gives 60 reasons why they reject the Trinity on their "doctrine" page. This the reason why UPC are categorized as a cult in many religious manuals, such as Zondervan's GUIDE TO CULTS series. The Word of God teaches the Godhead. Also, please read The Wonderful Truth of the Trinity. The word "Trinity" may not be in the Bible; but the word "Godhead certainly is ... "For in him (Jesus Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
How can anyone deny the Godhead in lieu of Matthew 3:16-17, "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
It is absurd for anyone to deny the Godhead with
such an abundance of Scriptural support, "If ye then be risen with
Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the
right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1). There is only ONE God (Deuteronomy
6:4); but He has manifest (or revealed) Himself to mankind in three
individual Persons. It may not make earthly sense; but it is solid
teaching from the Word of God.
United Pentecostal Churches and Salvation
United Pentecostal Churches believe that water baptism is necessary for salvation in order to get one's sins forgiven, and that one must speak in tongues in order to be saved (which they claim is evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit).
"New Birth is achieved by faith, repentance, water baptism, and baptism in the Holy Spirit" (which is evidenced by speaking in tongues)- SOURCE: 'Jesus Only' Churches, p51, E. Calvin Beisner.
UPC churches believe in order to remain saved, one must continue to live a a life of faithfulness and holiness and continue to 'believe' in Christ. This is self-righteousness. If I couldn't do good works to be saved, then how can I do bad works to lose it? I can't. Salvation is of God. Jonah 2:9, "...Salvation is of the LORD." I marvel at the foolish and destructive heresies which so many professed "Christians" trust upon. Of course, they are not Christians at all, they are imposters in the Body of Christ.
Mankind has always, out of fear and/or pride, added his own self-righteousness to the finished work of Christ's redeeming work. Why is it so hard for men to leave God's salvation alone? No man can save himself!
Similarly, United Pentecostal Churches are foolish to deny the Godhead,
and to require baptism and speaking in tongues for salvation. These are
WORKS added to God's salvation.
United Pentecostal Churches and Eternal Security
United Pentecostal Churches teach that salvation believe that salvation can be lost. If a born-again believer STOPS believing and turns his back on Christ, the UPC, as well as other Pentecostal and Holiness bodies, believe salvation can be lost. The Believer, therefore, is kept saved and secure by God....AS LONG AS this believer CONTINUES to believe in the Lord. This differs from Baptists and others who would teach 'UNCONDITIONAL ETERNAL SECURITY' which says the Christian is ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED, and will make it to Heaven once he is truly saved, whether he stays faithful to the Lord or not.
"...we believe it is possible for a person once saved to turn from God and be lost again.."
The UPC states that they believe in the 'eternal security of the believer', but note, only as long as the 'believer' continues 'believing'. Therefore, The UPC teaches that one can have 'assurance' that he is going to Heaven as long as he stays faithful to the Lord and KEEPS believing. This is utter double-talk.
"Though we may fail and fall, and sometimes sin, the heart of the true believer always regrets, repents, asks forgiveness, and seeks never to sin that way again."
Samson is evidence against their claims. Samson lived in habitual sin. Solomon was a heathen king; but he was a believer. King David sinned multiple times throughout the Bible; but he didn't lose his salvation. He lost his joy in the Lord for a time; but not his salvation. As far as Assurance is concerned, for all practical purposes, the UPC teaches that one cannot know for sure he is going to make it to Heaven until he is actually there, because they teach it is possible for a person to 'lose' salvation after he has been born-again if that person continues in an unrepentant backslidden state.
There is NO such teaching in the Bible. 1st Corinthians 3:15 clearly puts this nonsense to rest ... "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
There will be many Christians in Heaven
who will have just barely escaped the fires of Hell, and will have
absolutely no rewards!