Bible Class Curricula - Denominational Doctrines (Part 2) - Lesson #3 - The Assembly of God (Pentecostal) Religion
- History of the Assembly of God/Pentecostal Denomination
- When did the denomination start? New Year’s Eve Night, 1900
- Where did this movement start? The Assembly of God official statement of their history says, "The beginning of the modern Pentecostal revival is traced to a prayer meeting on January 1, 1901. Most researchers agree it was at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas."1
How did this movement start? In his book, Modern Churches and the Church, J. Porter Wilhite records:
In Topeka, Kansas, a band of earnest hungry-hearted Christian people, being hungry for more of God, called a fast that lasted twenty-one days. During this time they prayed earnestly for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which to their joyful surprise came at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1900 .2
- Who founded the Pentecostal denomination? There is no single person’s name attached to the beginnings of this movement. The history of the Assembly of God religion records the founders as about 300 preachers and “laymen” from about 20 different states.3
- Where is the headquarters of the Assembly of God/Pentecostal religion? The official headquarters is located at 1445 North Boonville Avenue, Springfield, Missouri65802-1894.4
Who is the head of the Pentecostal denomination? The Pentecostal religion does not have one person who rules the assemblies. However, it does have a type of democratic organization that is quite foreign to the Bible. There is an Executive Presbytery, a General Presbytery, and a General Council that decides on matters related to the church. The by-laws of the Assembly of God of religion state:
The Executive Presbytery shall consist of the general superintendent, the assistant general superintendent, the general secretary, the general treasurer, the executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions, the executive director of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions, together with 14 other persons to bring the number to 20. The terms of office for all members of the Executive Presbytery shall begin 60 days after date of election and shall continue for 4 years or until their successors qualify.5
- What is their authority? The Bible and any revelation they allegedly receive through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that is deemed to be in accord with the rest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- Pentecostal Tenets Examined Scripturally
One doctrine that sets Pentecostals apart from many other religious groups is their belief that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is available for people today. The position of the Assemblies of God is clearly stated in Article V of their Fundamental Statements of Truth:
All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian church.6
The following passages are offered in support of this doctrine:
- Acts 1:15ff.; Acts 2:1ff. – Pentecostals believe that the combination of these verses proves that the 120 – not just the 12 apostles – received Holy Spirit baptism. Therefore, we, too, can receive it today.
- Joel 2:28 – This verse is often used to assert that everyone will receive Holy Spirit baptism.
- Acts 10:1ff. – This passage is used to affirm that all will receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, just as Cornelius and his household did.
- Titus 3:5 – Pentecostals use this verse to teach that one must be baptized in the Holy Spirit – not just water.
- Matthew 3:11 – Pentecostals believe that the "baptism of Holy Spirit and fire" represents the baptism of the Holy Spirit for all believers (Acts 2:1ff.).
- Do these passages teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for us today?
- To prove that only the 12 apostles (not the 120 others) were baptized in the Holy Spirit, we need look no further than Acts 1:13 and Acts 2:43. A proper understanding of the word "flesh" shows that it was only the apostles who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The word flesh in this context means, "all men, all humanity (or, both Jew and Gentile alike)." This promise found its fulfillment in Acts 2 (Jew) and Acts 10 (Gentile).
- The washing of regeneration cannot be the baptism of the Holy Spirit because the Greek words will not permit such an interpretation. The Greek word for washing is loutron, which literally means "a bath or laver." The word for regeneration literally means "new birth, or to be born again." Pentecostals themselves admit that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate from the new birth.
- To understand Matthew 3:11-12, one must remember that the baptism of the Holy Spirit did come to pass as promised in Acts 2 and 10. Also, in Matthew 3:12, John affirmed that the baptism of fire is Hell (Matthew 25:31ff.).
The practice of modern-day miracles is one of the major tenets of Pentecostalism.
The Assemblies of God believes unequivocally that God still performs miracles today. This conviction grows out of a firm belief that the miracles recorded in the Bible were historical events – not myths or folk stories. There is no indication in Scripture that miracles have ceased or will cease in the present world order. Because there are confirmed instances of miracles happening today, we must conclude with certainty that God still performs miracles. Jesus Christ, the greatest worker of miracles, is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).7
- Hebrews 13:8 – Pentecostals posit that since Jesus has not changed, why should the ability to do miracles have changed/ended?
- Matthews 18:20 – The Assemblies of God claim that since Jesus is still with us today, we can still do miracles.
- Mark 16:17 – The claim is that Jesus gave us this gift in the Book of Mark.
- Do these passages teach that we today still have modern-day miracles?
- The purpose of Hebrews 13 is to assure Christians that Jesus and His promises cannot be removed by external circumstances. Nowhere in the context of Hebrews 13 are miracles under discussion.
- To understand Mark 16:17, we need to look at the immediate context. In context, we learn the purpose of miracles was to confirm the Word (Mark 16:20). Miracles were not used simply to heal people’s diseases. Paul, a man who was able to heal diseases, left Trophimus at Miletus sick (2 Timothy 4:20). Why did he not heal him? It had to do with the fact that miracles were not for personal gratification. Do we need the Word confirmed by miracles today? Or, is the Word of God self-confirming?
- Also, the New Testament clearly teaches that miracles have ended. In 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, Paul said that prophecy, tongue speaking, and miraculous knowledge would one day vanish away when "that which is perfect" has come. What is "the perfect"? The Greek word for "perfect" does not mean sinless, but rather complete, lacking in nothing, or absolute. Paul is referring to the "perfect law of liberty" – the Bible (James 1:25, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). In light of 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, we can prove that Pentecostal “healings” are not legitimate.
Another teaching of those in the Assemblies of God is that speaking in tongues still exists. They believe that a manifestation of the Holy Spirit for us today is the ability to speak in some “heavenly language” with which the Spirit imbues you. Pentecostals support this doctrine by saying:
First let us examine the Scriptures. On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell upon the assembled believers and "all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues" (Acts 2:4). Later, as Peter was preaching at the house of Cornelius, "the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message" and they were "speaking in tongues and praising God" (Acts 10:44, 46). Again, as the apostle Paul was ministering to the Ephesian disciples, "the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:6). It is evident also that Paul himself was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17) and spoke in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:18). These Scriptures clearly show that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.8
- What do the Scriptures really teach about speaking in tongues?
- First, we must understand that tongue-speaking is simply having the ability to speak in another language without having studied that language (Acts 2:5-12; 1 Corinthians 14:10-11).
- To prophesy/preach is of greater value to others than tongue-speaking (1 Corinthians 14:1-5).
- Tongues must be interpreted in order to be of any value (1 Corinthians 14:6-19).
- Tongues are for believers – not unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:20-25).
- Tongue-speaking was intended to last for a limited time (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
- Remember that Pentecostals affirm that the sign of the filling/baptism of the Holy Spirit is the ability to speak in tongues.9 If we can show just one example of someone who was filled with the Holy Spirit yet never performed miracles, then this theory can be proved to be false. That one example is John the Immerser (Luke 1:15; John 10:41).
- How to Convert a Pentecostal
- To convert a member of the Pentecostal religion, you must convince them that obeying the Gospel is an intellectual decision first and an emotional decision last (Acts 23:1; John 4:24; 8:32).
- You must take great pains to teach Pentecostals about the Holy Spirit and His workings in the New Testament (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4).
- You also must teach Pentecostals that we are not in the age of miracles today (1 Corinthians 13:8-13; James 1:25).
- You might start somewhere simple and show them the full plan of salvation and the nature of the church (Acts 18:8; Matthew 16:13-18).
- Did the Pentecostal denomination start on Pentecost in Acts 2?
- Did this denomination begin with a heavy emphasis upon emotion?
- Did this denomination begin in Jerusalem in the first century?
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a major tenet of the Assemblies of God. What do the Scriptures teach about the Baptism of the Hoy Spirit? Is this available for Christians today?
- This denomination states that there is no indication in Scripture that miracles have ceased. What passages do teach that miracles have ceased?
- What was the purpose of miracles in the New Testament? Do we still need miracles to accomplish that purpose today?
- In the first century, was tongue-speaking a “heavenly language”? What was the purpose of tongue-speaking?
- Must there be an interpreter for tongue-speaking to be of any value? Do Pentecostals put an emphasis on the interpreting of the tongues as much as they do the speaking in tongues?
- Does Paul say that if there is no interpreter one should not speak in tongues?
- Pentecostals claim that speaking in tongues is a sign that one has been filled with the Holy Spirit. What one biblical example proves this false?
- Does emotion have a part in religion? What part should it play?
- 1Online: (http://www.pe.ag.org/articles/4457/who_we_are.cfm), retrieved June 24, 2014 .
- 2Wilhite, J. Porter, Modern Churches and the Church (The Manner Company, Fort Worth, TX, 1956 ), p. 205.
- 3Online: (http://www.pe.ag.org/articles/4457/who_we_are.cfm), retrieved June 24, 2014 .
- 4Online: (http://ag.org/top/contact.cfm), retrieved June 24, 2014 .
- 5Constitution and Bylaws of The General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of America and Selected Territories in Constitution of The General Council of the Assemblies of God ( 2013 ed.), Article IX, Section 2, paragraph a.
- 6Ibid., Article V, Section 7.
- 7Online: (http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/gendoct_20_miracles.cfm).
- 8Online: (http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/baptmhs_faq_tongues.cfm#withoutspeaking).
- 9Ibid. Pentecostals boldly proclaim this connection, saying, "There are those who give testimony to a dynamic and life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit who have never spoken in tongues. Nevertheless it cannot be said that they are filled with the Spirit in the New Testament sense of the term. There is an essential link between that experience and speaking in other tongues."
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