ADD-11 - The Pentecostal Church

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Transcript

ANSWERING DENOMINATIONAL DOCTRINES

Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). Welcome to our study on answering denominational doctrines. In this series of lessons we are taking the Scriptures and examining the doctrines of various religious groups for the purpose of seeing if they follow and hold up to the teaching of the Bible. As we examine these, we want to specifically look at their integrity. We want to see if they are holding true to the teaching of Christ. And we want to see if, in their origin and design, they are the church about which we read in the New Testament. It is possible to know if any of these denominations is the church of the New Testament because in the New Testament we find the pattern for God’s church.
Today we are discussing the Pentecostal religion.

So let’s begin by asking, “When did the Pentecostal religion start?” The Bible tells us that the New Testament church started in the first century. So when did Pentecostalism start? History records for us that it began New
Year’s Eve at the turn of the century in the year 1900. Is that the time frame for when the
church of the Lord Jesus Christ was prophesied to begin? Not according to Scripture. In
the first century Jesus said, “I will build My church.” According to Acts 2, that church was
established in the first century. But to help us see that the church and the kingdom had
long been in existence before Pentecostalism arrived on the scene, let’s notice the words
of Jesus in Mark 9:1—“Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will

not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Here Jesus was talk-
ing to His disciples, and He wanted them to know that some of them would not die until they

had seen the kingdom “present and with power.” What is the kingdom? Following Matthew
16:18, where Jesus said that He would build His church, He said to Peter, “I will give you the
keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The church and the kingdom
are one and the same organization. Because Jesus said, “I say to you that there are some

standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with pow-
er,” we then can know for a fact that the kingdom/church of Christ, about which we read

in the New Testament, began in the first century on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in
Acts 2. This is very important. We know that Pentecostalism does not meet that design
because its beginning was over nineteen-hundred years too late. Thus, it cannot be the
church about which we read in the New Testament.

Who started the Pentecostal religion? How did it come about? The Assemblies of God of-
ficial statement says that “the beginning of the modern Pentecostal revival is generally

traced to a prayer meeting at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, on January 1, 1901.”

However, the Bible says that the New Testament church began, not in Kansas, but in Je-
rusalem on the Day of Pentecost. In Acts 2:5 the Bible says that “there were dwelling in

Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven,” which explains where these
people were at that time. Then, in verse 47 we read that the people who had been saved

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on that occasion were “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord
added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Where did the New Testament

church start? It was not in Topeka, Kansas. Rather, it began in Jerusalem in the first cen-
tury on the Day of Pentecost after the preaching of the Gospel. Pentecostalism did not

begin at the right time or in the right place. So how, then, did the movement get started?

History records that, as one writer put it, 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.” There were people who
wanted “more of God.” But instead of turning to the Bible as God’s Word to see how to
grow a closer relationship with the Lord, they called for “a great outpouring of the Holy
Spirit” (and then were surprised when it allegedly took place!). This does not fit at all with
God’s scheme of redemption that we find in the New Testament.

Who founded Pentecostalism? There is not just one person’s name attached to the found-
ing of Pentecostalism. Instead, Pentecostalism’s own literature records the founders as be-
ing around 300 preachers and “laymen” from about twenty different states. There were a

variety of different people, all claiming that they were the founder of the religion. Yet Jesus

did not say that 300 preachers from twenty different states would found His church. Rath-
er, He said that He would found the New Testament church. Look once more at what Jesus

said in Matthew 16:18—“I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My
church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Jesus founded the church.
“No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor.
3:11). Jesus founded His church in the first century at Jerusalem. If any church does not
fit that design and origin, then it cannot be the church about which we read in the New
Testament.

Another question that we might ask is, “Where is the headquarters of the Pentecostal re-
ligion?” The official headquarters is located in Springfield, Missouri. Where is the head-
quarters of the Lord’s church? There is no earthly headquarters. The headquarters of the

church of Christ emanates from the throne of God itself in Heaven, which is where the
church’s Head (Jesus Christ) is. Notice what Hebrews 1:3 says of Jesus: “Who being the
brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by
the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand
of the Majesty on high.” Jesus is reigning from Heaven. He is still the Head of the church.
And that church has no earthly headquarters. Christians do not go to any locale on Earth
to find the church’s headquarters, but instead look to Heaven. And we look to the Word of
God for our laws and for God’s teachings. The Pentecostal religion does not match the
church as God set it up to be in the New Testament.
Who is the head of the Pentecostal denomination? It does not have a single head, but does

have a type of democratic organization that is foreign to the Scriptures. There is an Exec-
utive Presbytery, a General Presbytery, and a General Council that decides on matters re-
lated to the church, and by-laws. Those by-laws state:

“The Executive Presbytery shall consist of the general superintendent, the assistant gen-
eral superintendent, the general secretary, the general treasurer, the executive director of

the Assemblies of God World Missions, and the executive director of the Assemblies of
God U.S. Missions....”

The by-laws go on to list many other people. What can we learn from this? Such an organ-
izational structure is not found in the Bible. The hierarchy that is found in the New Testa-
ment has Christ as the Head of the church. God, in His infinite wisdom, has already de-
cided regarding matters of doctrine for the church. Yet, to allow expediency and function-

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ality, God placed elders as overseers of the church (Acts 20:28ff.). Deacons are servants
to the church, and all Christians stand on level ground. There is no “Big Me” and “Little
You” in the church. There is no “clergy/laity” system. We all stand on level ground at the
foot of Christ’s cross. There is no “executive presbytery.” Where do we read about that in
the Bible? It is not there. But notice what we do find. In Colossians 1:18 we read, “He
[Jesus] is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the
dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Who deserves the preeminence?
Who is the “executive in charge”? Jesus has “all authority in heaven and on Earth” (Mt. 28:
18). He is the Preeminent One.

By what authority does the Pentecostal religion operate? Its authority is supposedly the Bi-
ble and any revelation it allegedly receives through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that is

deemed to be in accord with the rest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals say, “The
Bible is our authority.” But then they also say, “We received such-and-such a revelation”
or “the gifts of the Holy Spirit also told us....” Wait a minute. The Bible says differently. The
Bible says that it is the sole authority on all matters concerning God and how to get to
Heaven. Notice in 1 Corinthians 4:6 what we are taught. Paul said, “These things, brethren, I
have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us
not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one
against the other.” The Scriptures teach that we are not to “think beyond what is written.”

Someone says, “I got a revelation from God last night.” How do we know that such a per-
son received a revelation from God?” “The gifts of the Holy Spirit told me so-and-so.” How

do we know that the gifts of the Holy Spirit imparted such information to a person? We can

know what we have in the Bible, which says that we are not to “think beyond what is writ-
ten.” The Scripture says that we not to add to or take away from the Word of God (Rev.

22:18-19). The Bible says in Proverbs 30:6, “Do not add to His word, lest He rebuke you
and you be found a liar.” If we are to stay only with the Bible because it is the once-for-all
delivered faith (Jude 3), and if it has everything we need for “life and godliness” (2 Pet.
1:3), then we do not need any additional revelation. We have everything we need within the
pages of the Bible. We do not need additional revelation. Nor do we need “gifts of the Holy
Spirit.” No one currently could prove whether such things were true or not. But can know

what is in the Bible, and we can know that it is from God and that it is our sole, final au-
thority.

Now let’s examine some of the doctrines of the Pentecostal religion. One of the main doc-
trines that sets Pentecostals apart from other denominationalists is their belief that the bap-
tism of the Holy Spirit is still available for people today. The position of the Assemblies of

God is stated clearly 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.” Think about that for
a moment. Was Holy Spirit baptism “the normal experience of all in the early Christian

church”? From such a statement it would seem that Holy Spirit baptism occurred in “ev-
ery occurrence.” Do you know how many times the New Testament records Holy Spirit

baptism as actually happening? Two times! It occurred in Acts 2 when the doors of the
kingdom were opened to the Jews. Then it occurred again in Acts 10 when the doors of
the kingdom were opened to Gentiles. Holy Spirit baptism was not “the normal experience
of all Christians.” Rather, it was something that occurred on two special occasions when
the doors of the kingdom were opened, first to Jews, and then second to Gentiles. We need
to realize that the baptism of the Holy Spirit did not happen to everyone. We can see this

clearly from Scripture. For example, how can we prove that the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 fell on-
ly on the twelve apostles, and not the other 120 people who also were assembled? One

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of the main arguments made by Pentecostals is that on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 20,

all 120 people mentioned were baptized by the Holy Spirit. Thus, we need to look no far-
ther to see that such is what we should expect today. From Acts 1:13 we can see that

the baptism of the Holy Spirit was promised. We see it coming in Acts 2. But who were
the recipients of Holy Spirit baptism? According to Acts 2:43 wonders and signs were done
“through the apostles,” not the 120. Those 120 people are not mentioned as having the
same powers as the apostles. A proper understanding of the word “flesh” will disprove the
Pentecostal’s theory in this regard. That word, Pentecostals suggest, means “all humanity”
(meaning Jews and Gentiles alike), and found its fulfillment in regard to the Jews in Acts 2

and in the regard to the Gentiles in Acts 10. Even more amazing is the fact that Pente-
costals say that everyone should expect the baptism of the Holy Spirit “in fire.” Do they

really understand what the “baptism of fire” is? In Matthew 3:11-12 John said that the bap-
tism of fire is the baptism of Hell itself. People will be immersed in the fires of Hell. And that

is what the Pentecostals say that all Christians should expect?! We need to realize that
the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not something that continues to occur today.
Another of the major tenets of Pentecostalism’s teaching is the practice of modern-day
miracles. The Assemblies of God believe unequivocally that God still performs miracles
today. They state,

“This conviction grows out of a firm belief that the miracles recorded in the Bible were his-
torical 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 in-
stances of miracles happening today, we must conclude with certainty that God still per-
forms miracles.”

Wait a minute. Can we be sure that there is nothing in the Scripture which says that mir-
acles were going to cease? Furthermore, if some person somewhere says that he or she

experienced “a miracle,” how can we confirm that such actually was the case? Oftentimes
it is the case that such people were simply tricksters who were trying to dupe people—
only for their own gain—into thinking that their “miracle” was real! Does the Bible teach
that modern-day miracles are still occurring? We need to realize that 1 Corinthians 13:8-
10 clear teaches that miracles were going to cease in the first century.
“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues,
they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part
and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in
part will be done away.”
What is “the partial”? It is the miracles (including tongues, supernatural knowledge, etc.).

All those things were to cease when “the perfect” came. The Greek perfect here is te-
leios, which means “complete, full, or lacking in nothing.” It does not mean “perfect” in the

sense in which we often use the word. Rather, the idea is that of “completeness.” We know
that Jesus was perfect, but He had already come by the time that Paul wrote this passage
in 1 Corinthians. We know that His Second Coming pertains to “when He comes again,”
not to His initial coming. So what was “the perfect” that was yet to come? James 1:25 helps

us understand this when it speaks of “the perfect [same Greek word] law of liberty.” Mir-
acles were for the purpose of confirming a man as speaking from God. Imagine a scenario

in which you had two people who both stood up to say, “We have a message from Jesus to
which you need to submit.” Yet their messages were opposed to each other because they

do not say the same thing. How could a person in the first century (who did not have a com-
pleted Bible) know which person was lying and which one was telling the truth? If one of

the men could perform miracles (such as healing the sick or raising the dead), but the oth-
er man could not, then it would be obvious as to which man was telling the truth because

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miracles confirmed that a man was God’s spokesman. Once the Bible was completed, we
then could use it to check people’s claims. We no longer live in the age of miracles. They
have ceased. Tongues have ceased. Miraculous knowledge has ceased. We now have the
completed will and word of God. Let me ask you this. Would you rather having something
“partial,” or would you rather have something “full”? If the boss said to you next week, “I
know that it’s payday, but I think I’ll give you a partial check rather than a full check this

week,” what would you think about that? You’d say, “No way! I want the full check be-
cause I worked for it and I deserve it.” Did you know that miracles in the Bible are de-
scribed as “partial”? They are spoken of as something in a state of infancy, not one of ma-
turity. Fortunately, however, we today have the fully revealed Word of God. We no longer

need the partial because we have God’s complete will from the mouth of Jesus and His
disciples.
Another teaching held by those in the Assemblies of God is that speaking in tongues is
something that every Christian should do today. Pentecostals believe that a manifestation
of the Holy Spirit for us today is one’s ability to speak in some “heavenly language” that
the Spirit has inspired within the person. 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). These Scriptures clearly show that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evi-
dence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.”

Remember that we’ve already seen that the baptism of the Holy Spirit happened only twice.
Is it the case that “all spoke with tongues” in Acts 2? No, it is not. Peter stood up with the
other eleven apostles and spoke in tongues. Not everyone did that. In Acts 10, the Holy
Spirit fell on Cornelius and his household just as it had on the apostles in Acts 2, but it is
not the case that every time people obeyed the Gospel, the Holy Spirit fell on them. What
do the Scriptures really teach about tongue speaking?
First we need to understand that tongue speaking was simply having the miraculous ability
to speak in a known language without ever having studied it. In Acts 2:5-12 we see that
when the apostles spoke, those present “each heard them in their own language.” Wait a
minute. I thought that tongue speaking was “a heavenly language.” No, it is not. Tongue

speaking is the ability to speak a known language without having studied it. Tongue speak-
ing is not some sort of “heavenly language.” That is not said anywhere in the Bible. Fur-
thermore, the Scriptures teach that the ability to prophesy or preach is of greater value to

others than tongue speaking. Tongue speaking is not “the most important thing.” Paul said

in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 that preaching the message of God with clarity was of more im-
portance than tongue speaking. In fact, the Scriptures teach in 1 Corinthians 14:6-19 that

tongues had to be interpreted by someone in order to be of value. Someone had to under-
stand what was being said so that he could tell others who could not understand it—or what

was being said would be of no value. But here’s what often happens. Someone “speaks

in tongues” today, but no one has a clue as to what is being said because there is no in-
terpreter present. That is in direct contradiction to the Scriptures. Tongues were for be-
lievers, not unbelievers. It was Christians in the first century who had the ability to speak in

tongues. Plus, tongues were intended to be for a limited time. According to 1 Corinthians
13:8-10, tongues were to cease. Pentecostalism affirms that the baptism of the Holy Spirit
proves that a person is a child of God. If a person has not experienced that, then he or
she is not a child of God. How many people have (they thought) obeyed the Gospel, but

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never were able to speak in tongues, so others looked down on them? To be true to the
Scriptures, we need to understand that there is an example of someone who had the Holy
Spirit without measure, yet never did a single miracle. I can prove that tongue speaking
is not a sign of a person’s being a child of God.
Look in Luke 1:15, which says of John, “He will be great in the sight of the Lord, shall drink

neither wine nor strong drink, will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his moth-
er’s womb.” Now look at John 10:41—“Then many came to Him [Jesus] and said, ‘John

performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.’” John had
the Holy Spirit without measure, yet never performed a single miracle. Thus, a person still

can be right with God, just as John was, without producing an outpouring of the miracu-
lous. This clearly proves that the Pentecostals’ theory of tongue speaking is not true ac-
cording to the teaching of the New Testament.

So how can we help those who believe that a person must have experience the baptism
of the Holy Spirit in order to be right with God, or that a person must be able to speak in

tongues? We must help people understand that such things were limited to the first cen-
tury during the infancy of the church, and were specifically for the purpose of confirming the

Word. Today, however, we have everything we need in God’s Word. Obeying the Gospel

is first and foremost an intellectual decision that is based on the truth of God’s Word. Je-
sus said, “You can know the truth [not feel], and the truth will make you free.” I recently

heard someone say, “I wouldn’t trade the feeling I’ve got in my heart for al the Bibles in the
world.” How sad that is! We are not talking about feelings. We’re talking about facts from

the Word of God. We must realize that the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the ability to per-
form miracles, had a specific purpose that ended when the Bible was finished. Let me il-
lustrate. In Mark 16:20 we see the purpose of miracles. “They went out and preached ev-
erywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying

signs.” Miracles were intended to confirm the Word. If two people stand up today to claim
that they both have a message from God, we can know which one is right because we
can check their statements against the Bible. In the first century people did not have that

privilege. But they could know that the one whom God confirmed was speaking on His be-
half. Miracles have ceased.

God’s plan of salvation is simple. The church today is active and vibrant thanks to the Word
of God. How to become a Christian is something that is clearly taught throughout the Book

of Acts. What must a person do to become a child of God? I’m thankful today that the Bi-
ble makes God’s plan of salvation so simple. In Acts 18:8 we read that many of the Co-
rinthians, “hearing, believed and were baptized.” Baptism in water is where God puts the

emphasis. We must hear God’s Word. We must realize that the Bible is God’s final au-
thority. Whatever it says, we must do. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and

the Savior of the world (Acts 8:36-37). We must repent and change our lives (Acts 2:38).
We must make the good confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Rom.
10:10; Mt. 10:32-33). And we must be baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins. In
Mark 16:16 Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does
not believe will be condemned.” Saul was told, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your
sins” (Acts 22:16). Peter made it so clear in Acts 2:38 when he said, “Repent, and let every
one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Jesus taught
us that baptism is water is the point in time when we can know that we are children of
God. We do not have to worry. We do not have to wonder. We do not have to seek after
signs or bow to tricksters who are out for money. We can know that we are right with God

because the Bible says so. If you have been involved in the Pentecostal movement, per-
haps you have been duped into thinking that you weren’t really a spiritual person. Maybe

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someone told you that you ought to be able to do miracles. Realize today that you can
become a Christian simply by obeying the Gospel, and that that will make you right with
God. We pray that God will help you to do that.