The Holy Spirit In The Acts Of The Apostles And The Relationship To Pentecostal Experience Today (3) – Final
“Signs and wonders” (miracles demonstrating the kingdom of God) do not cease with the end of the apostolic age nor with the closing of the New Testament Canon but continue as minor background waves of prophecy, healing, deliverance, and tongues in A.D. 79. By C.100, there was a decline in miracles. The death of the last of the Twelve led to the spreading view that the exercise of Holy Spirit gifts ceased after the apostolic age. Justin Martyr (C.100-165) writes: “The first Apostles, twelve in number, in the power of God went out and proclaimed Christ to every race of men”; and “There is not one single race of men, whether barbarians, or Greeks, or whatever they are called, Nomads, or Vagrants, or Herdsmen dwelling in tents, among whom prayers and giving of thanks are not offered through the name of the Crucified Jesus.” History documents in Martyr disciple training school over a house in Rome “signs and wonders (exorcisms, healings and prophesying).
The significance of the Holy Spirit in the concept of Pentecost was evident in some areas. Vinson Synan is given an overview of the Pentecostal Century and tells a story of a young woman named Agnes Ozman, who was baptized in the Holy Spirit on January 1, 1901, at a small Bible School in Topeka, Kansas. According to Vinson, Ozman received a startling manifestation of the gift of tongues and became, in effect, the first Pentecostal of the 20th Century. In recalling this event, a former Methodist Pastor and Holiness teacher, Charles Fox Parham, said: “I laid my hands upon her and prayed, I had scarcely completed three dozen sentences when a glory fell upon her, a halo seemed to surround her head and face, and she began speaking the Chinese language and was unable to speak English for three days.” This incident indicates the Holy Spirit at work, similar to the Pentecost scene, and confirms that Holy Spirit has never changed and still has His transformational characteristics.
From a few people in 1901, the number of Pentecostals increased steadily to become today the most prominent family of Protestants in the world by the beginning of the 21st Century. The surprise for many people in the 1960s was that this expanse included mainline Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church. David Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia (1982) determined that Classical Pentecostalism now constituted the largest unit in the Protestant family. He also showed four Pentecostals, including the top three of the world’s largest congregations. Pentecostal is charismatic in activities, and Charismatic renewal is primarily involved with spiritual renewal.
Today’s Pentecostal is involved in excessive formalism and preoccupation with externals in much of official Christianity rather than stressing personal Holiness rooted in scriptural-oriented public and private prayer. The Church needs to reaffirm the Holy Spirit as the source of Christian unity and that all Christians, through the Baptism of the Spirit, can celebrate together the peace and joy that stem from Christ’s victory over sin and death. The birth of the Pentecostal Movement was a polarizing event. Yet even now, Pentecostals seem reluctant to admit that the formula of Spirit baptism, which stipulates evidential tongues, is inherently anti-ecumenical.
On the other hand, it would be naive to think that all scriptural teachings are ecumenical given the current landscape of Christendom. Every Christian tradition has ecumenical liabilities. Critics of the movement in the early years decried Pentecostal examples of sowing disunity. Holiness Pentecostal denominations in the United States had already further fragmented the Holiness Movement in the late 19th Century. Robert Jaffray, a Christian and Missionary Alliance missionary in China, spoke in tongues in 1908. By the following year, Jaffray argued that Spirit baptism dogma that requires evidential tongues led to division. Jaffray further charged that Pentecostals separated themselves from others because of a spiritual superiority complex. Pentecostalism swept his mission, but he observed that those claiming spiritual empowerment spawned small select meetings. Similarly, Arthur T. Pierson complained about divisions in Europe created by Pentecostals.
At least the North American Classical Pentecostal platitudes about unity were not born in a vision of unity in diversity but often forged in belief systems like “all” Need to come around to the Pentecostal way. In other words, we can all join together once you can mirror my image or embrace me as normative. A.J. Tomlinson was hardly alone in this posturing. The Pentecostal belief system at the Azusa St. Revival was so narrow that there were splits in the mission before one year passed. On the other hand, even if the Azusa St. Mission intended to encourage genuine unity for the entire body of Christ, their influence on at least Holiness denominations turned Holiness-Pentecostal would be minimal on this point. However, it in no way detracts from the considerable successes of the Azusa St. Revival.
Although the Pentecostal Movement brought many un-churched persons into their fellowships, fledgling movements seeking converts have been known to proselytize. It reinforces the view that our priority is communicating within our global community. Pentecostals’ diversity makes it impossible to systematize a coherent theological position to which ecumenical theologians can respond. It is clear from the Acts of Apostles that the work of the Holy Spirit involves new inwardness from the believers. The Spirit will do work within the hearts of the redeemed. John 16: 8-11 gave us an insight into Christ’s expectations. Jesus described how the Holy Spirit would work through the ministry of his disciples in the world as they proclaim the truth as it is in Jesus. This expectation is accomplished in the Pentecostal Churches today that is truly spiritual. Signs, wonders, and miracles follow those who believe and put their trust in Jesus, whom God sent.
In his best-seller, ‘Purpose Driven Church,’ Rick Warren states, “successful ministry is building the Church on the purposes of God in the power of the Holy Spirit and expecting the results from God.”
Virtues That Have Disappeared In Today’s Pentecostals:
- True Brotherly Love
- Honoring one another above oneself
- Patience in Affliction
- Faithful in Prayer
- Sharing with God’s people who are in Need
- Blessing those who persecute us
- Associating with people of low position
- Not Vengeful
- Loving our Enemies
In Acts, it is clear that it did not mean dismantling all structures of human leadership. It left the Church as an amorphous, emotion-driven mass of spontaneity, flowing in whatever direction the Spirit seems to ‘lead.’ Christ gives leaders to the Church, men full of wisdom inputted by the Spirit. And those leaders in that Spirit-given wisdom gauge their actions and choose their words in ways calculated to bring the most significant harvest for Christ’s kingdom. Acts show us what prayer is like; when praying, people recognize the presence of Jesus Christ as LORD. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit brought about the power to perform miracles in Acts.
Today’s Pentecostals emphasize miracles without the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Men, rather than following the leading of the Holy Spirit, lead the Pentecostals by Self. Idols are exalted and worshiped instead of Christ-centered living. Idolatry, as exhibited, means more than worshiping other gods but focuses on money, self, and other things. These things are put above Christ. Pentecostals have lost the Compassionate attribute. Many poor and needy do not find assistance in churches today. The Pentecostals show a physical symbol of inner decay. The Church builds massive buildings and a Cathedral, which does not transform its congregation into holy people. The people are still corrupt.
One cannot contemplate the level of corruption in Pentecostals. Unfortunately, churches today have doubts if they are filled with the Spirit of God. The point here is that some Pentecostal Leaders move about in arrogance, surrounded by external security personnel. They boast about their achievements, not giving credit to the work of the Holy Spirit, blowing their trumpets, and lifting themselves higher than God. On the Pentecost day recorded in Acts, brethren shared things in good fellowships and cared for peoples’ concerns. The Nature and characteristics of Jesus Christ were evident in the Apostles and disciples of Acts. They were very receptive to other believers and showed humility. These are lacking in most Pentecostals of today. A significant characteristic in Acts is the use of the name of Jesus. Without the true belief in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit cannot manifest. The Apostles performed miracles in Jesus’s Name. There is power in the name of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ. That is another significant deviation in today’s Pentecostals. When you hear them preach, you do not know if they are lifting their names or that of Jesus. The elevation of Jesus’ Name brings about healing and other miracles. An example is the use of handkerchiefs and other elements that have been customized and commercialized. Paul did not ask the people to bring a handkerchief or any element for anointing, but the people on their own brought the handkerchief to Paul to anoint for them to use for their sick people. What is expected in today’s Pentecostals is the leaders asking their congregation to bring all these elements for anointing and sanctification to make money. This method has made them wealthy.