Encounter Church, the fellowship I am privileged to pastor, is an Assembly of God fellowship of Christians. This means that Encounter Church is a Pentecostal fellowship. It is my firm belief that the Church of Jesus Christ, in every age and until He comes, is to be Pentecostal or Holy Spirit led and Holy Spirit empowered. Beyond this baseline definition there are seven beliefs that reveal the character of Pentecostal Christianity.
- Pentecostal Christianity believes that Jesus Christ the eternal Word of God, who is the Son of God, and the one and only Savior of mankind. He is also the Lord Who Sanctifies us, the Lord our Healer and our soon returning King of kings and LORD of Lords. In this, to us, Jesus Christ is everything and in everything we seek to make Him known (I Timothy 4:10; I Thessalonians 5:23; Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:1-3; I Thessalonians 5:1-3, Romans 13:11).
- Because His return is soon in coming, the Pentecostal Church is to be a Holy Church “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (II Peter 3:10-13).
- Pentecostal Christianity means we believe God is the same yesterday today and forever; therefore the same miracles, signs and wonders performed in Jesus’ name, are to be done through us in our day. Pentecostal Christianity believes that the age of miracles will continue until He comes in power and forever (Mark 16:15-20).
- A Pentecostal church should therefore believe the miracles, signs, and wonders are a means to attest to the truth of the gospel and often are necessary to open doors for the preaching of the gospel, break the power and bondage of Satan’s kingdom, and encourage the saints, who are in a war against the powers of darkness (Mark 16:20; Acts 3:1-16; Acts 4:27:31; Acts 5:1-11; Acts 6:8, 10; Acts 7:55-60; Acts 8:1-8; Acts 16:16-20; Acts 19:11-20).
- Knowing that the power necessary to preach the gospel and walk in the accompanying signs, is not inherent in us, a fellowship of Pentecostal Christians seeks to obey Christ’s command to be endued with power from on High, and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This enduement of power is subsequent to our salvation (although it may take place very soon after we repent and believe as in Acts 10:24-48), much like it happened in Acts of the Apostles at Pentecost, with Paul, at Cornelius’ House and in Ephesus, Pentecostal Christianity believes the normal initial physical evidence is to speak in unknown tongues (to the speaker), as the Holy Spirit gives utterance (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:4, 8; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:1-7).
- Pentecostal Christianity also affirms the need for us to “be being” filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19). Although new creations in Christ, we affirm the proneness to compromise, inherent within our “old man” of sin; that which is no longer the ruling principal of our life, but that which hangs around. Therefore, after being Baptized in the Holy Spirit, we seek to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, that we may yield to righteousness and be witnesses for Christ, in the power of the Spirit (Romans 6:14; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:11).
- In order to lay hold of this gift of the Father, by faith, a Pentecostal Christian seeks to lay their right to exercise self will for the purpose of absolutely surrendering to the will of God in Christ Jesus. This is for the sake of love, knowing that the Father made Jesus Christ, who never sinned, to be sin on our behalf, that in Him we could become righteous and reconciled with God. Through His cross and resurrection, we know our life is not our own, He purchased us with His own blood. Therefore our greatest heart desire is to know Him and make Him known (Romans 12:1-2; II Corinthians 5:17-21; Philippians 3:10).
For some of the readers of this blog, who may not attend a Pentecostal Church and may be unsure of what I am presenting, I would point you to Dr. John R. Rice. Dr. Rice, a Baptist Evangelist, wrote an excellent series of booklets on the need to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit and continually filled with the Holy Spirit , which are good introductions into this biblical and necessary gift (https://www.swordbooks.com/ricejohnr.aspx). I would also suggest Andrew Murray’s books on the Holy Spirit “The Fullness of the Holy Spirit” and “Experiencing the Holy Spirit” and Dr. George O. Wood’s book “Living in the Spirit”. Dr. Wood is a former General Superintendent for the Assembly of God Fellowship.
To me it feels redundant to say Pentecostal Christianity, or Pentecostal Church, or even Pentecostalism, for from the beginning of my life with Jesus Christ, from prayerfully seeking the scriptures, I believed what the word of God declared concerning the continuing power of the Holy Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost. Sadly, it is the leading of the Lord in me, on this platform, to clarify this category of Christianity.
For far too many, Pentecostalism is tied to the falsehood of the “Prosperity Gospel” which is prevalent in America–or tied to a culture of religious confusion, where speaking in tongues outside of the scriptural boundaries, outlined in I Corinthians 12 through chapter 14, leaves a great many irritated, confused, irate, and feeling justified as they lump those in error with those who are not, defining the whole group as those who offer strange fire.
In sincerity of heart I am grieved at those who cavalierly trample on the scriptural boundaries given by the Spirit who inspired the written word of God, as much as by those who behave as if God told them personally that the ongoing ministry of the power of the Holy Spirit has ended. The Church of Jesus Christ is to be empowered by the Spirit and led by the Spirit and that should look like the Church in Acts of the Apostles. It is Pentecostal, but more importantly it is simply the Body of Christ living as Christ lived… IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.