1. What happened to the manifestations of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit between the first century church and the Azusa Street revival in 1910?
2. The first purpose of this study is to trace through history the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
II. The Early Church
1. The Day of Pentecost
• Acts 2:1-4
• We generally measure the beginning of the church from this point
2. The book of Acts especially relates the events of the early church and provides the record of the baptism of the Holy Spirit during those first years
3. By way of many of the epistles of Paul we get a glimpse of the working of the Holy Spirit in the local churches
4. But what happened to the Pentecostal experience for the next 1900 years?
III. Establishment of the Assemblies of God Fellowship
1. The AG movement is an outgrowth of the world-wide Pentecostal revival that broke out in 1901.
2. In 1914 the official beginning of our movement took place in Hot Springs, Arkansas, however our beginning took place much earlier
3. At the end of the Civil War, in 1865, Americans face a new era
• There were disagreements over Reconstruction, civil rights, and a variety of social problems
• Major Protestant denominations were divided over the issues comprising the war
• The Industrial Revolution drew many people from the farm to the city with the promise of work
• There was a movement from religious thinking to secular thinking
• At the same time there were many immigrants streaming into the country
• Charles Darwin and his origin of Species raised issues that would revolutionize science and further divide denominations
• As a result some responded these new situations by recommitting themselves to the Scripture and evangelical faith
4. During the late 1800s D.L. moody preached to large crowds
• He strongly influenced the evangelical culture of his day
• He tirelessly tried to find ways to win the world to Christ
• In the 1870s he was influenced by the English Brethren who taught that the Second Coming was rapidly approaching.
• This teaching contrasted sharply with American religious thinking of the day which said that the country should be Christianized through political and social reform
• Moody and his followers regarded the return of Christ as the only solution to the problems of the age
5. Those evangelicals convinced of Christ’s soon return were motivated to evangelizing the world in their generation.
6. For that they needed supernatural ability to proclaim Christ.
7. As they studied the Scripture, they soon began to focus on the person and work of the Holy Spirit
• Their study of Scripture indicated that spiritual power was available to them in a special experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit.
• This baptism was enduement with power for service
• This was one way in which Americans rediscovered the doctrine of Spirit baptism
• By the 1880s they had begun to teach the necessity of a special “enduement with power for service.”
8. Among the many Americans concerned about holiness and spiritual power at the turn of the century was Charles Parham
• Charles and his wife, Sarah, opened a healing home in Topeka Kansas in1898
• “Our hearts,” Parham wrote, “were stirred to deepen our consecration and to ‘search the Word.’”
• In the fall of 1900 Parham opened a Bible school with the purpose of “Not to learn these things in our heads only, but have each thing in the Scriptures wrought out in our hearts. … that every command that Jesus Christ gave should be literally obeyed.”
• By December, Parham’s long fascination with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit resulted in an assignment for his students: to discover Biblical evidence for the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
◊ His peers generally associated such a baptism as either a purifying or empowering work of the Spirit
◊ None had proposed a uniform initial evidence
• Respected evangelicals of the day, while agreeing that tongues might be evidence of Baptism, refused to specify a uniform evidence
• They taught that Spirit baptism would be shown by desire ◊ to learn more about Christ
◊ a love for the Bible and a desire for spiritual knowledge and experience
◊ disinterested love
• After completing their assignment, Parham’s students agreed that the baptism in the Holy Spirit clothed the believer with power for service
• They also agreed that the Biblical evidence of such baptism was always speaking in tongues
• At a watchnight service that ushered in1901 Parham’s followers were filled with the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues as evidence of their Spirit baptism
• In 1905, Parham set up a short-term Bible school in Houston, TX
• Among the students was a black Baptist holiness preacher, William J. Seymour and in the spring of the next year he traveled from Houston to Los Angeles
9. In 1910 Seymour’s teaching on evidential tongues (which he had not yet experienced) got him ousted from the black holiness mission that had originally invited him to L.A.
• He held his meetings in a large vacant building on Azusa Street
• Services continued day and night
• The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday, April 18, on “the newest religious sect” and the devotes of the weird doctrines that preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal”
• This free advertising brought the crowds!
• Over the months three themes became noticeable in the Azusa Street revival
◊ cleansing through the blood of Jesus
◊ soon return of Christ
◊ rejection of denominationalism
• Participants of this revival recalled that there was a stronger emphasis on both the blood of Jesus and the Second Coming than on any spiritual gift
• These early Pentecostals sincerely hoped to promote nondenominational fellowship rather than to create new denominations
10. As the message preached by enthusiastic Pentecostal evangelists won followers, it also began to raise controversy
• As an example, when some of the leaders of the Christian Missionary Alliance movement accepted Pentecostal teaching, whole congregations became Pentecostal
• After a period of indecision in how to respond to Pentecostalism, CMA leaders virtually excluded tongue-speaking from their movement.
• There were reports of fanaticism by believers around the country
• Occasionally, Pentecostals claimed to be more spiritual than those who disagreed with them on the matter of initial evidence
• For a variety of reasons, many Pentecostals found it impossible to remain in the churches where they had fellowshipped earlier.
11. Other problems arose
• Occasionally, missionaries left for foreign countries without enough support
• Sometimes they went to these foreign countries with no intention of studying the language of their field (convinced they could communicate through tongues).
• As stated earlier, there was a resistance to a centralized authority and was as strong as belief in the Gospel for many.
• There were occurrences of people using tongues and interpretation for personal direction (whom to marry, for example).
• Other questionable practices had entered into some churches.
• The movement was becoming fragmented and in desperate need of a standard of conduct and doctrine.
12. The Hot Springs General Council
• The call for order came from southern Pentecostals led by E.N. Bell
• Some believed more organization was needed to prevent cliques from galloping off each in its own direction. So Bell and others called a General Council to convene at Hot Springs and over 300 met in April 1914
• They came with the opinion that the advantages of cooperative fellowship and general standards for conduct and practice far outweighed any disadvantages.
• Rejecting denominational organization, delegates agreed to promote a voluntary cooperation that would not affect congregational self-government.
• While some Pentecostals hesitated to participate in organizing efforts, increasing numbers responded favorably to the cooperative fellowship concept of the Assemblies of God.
• In the months following the General Council district councils began to form.
13. The AG fellowship is the largest Pentecostal movement today. This study, however, is not to be a study of the growth of the Assemblies of God movement. It is to focus on what happened throughout history that led to the latter-day outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, it should give you a better understanding of present day Pentecost
The Fall of the Early Church
I. Patterns of Apostolic Christianity
1. The Church was born on the day of Pentecost
2. With the coming of Christianity to the Roman Empire religion shifted from something that men do to appease the angry gods to something that happens to me to bring them into relationship with the one true God.
3. The complete story of how the Church spread in the first two centuries cannot be told
• Acts of the Apostles is mostly a record of Paul’s work in advancing the gospel into the West
• It hardly mentions the rapid growth of the Christian faith into all the areas of the East
4. There seem to be some basic patterns to the growth of the Early Church
• Converts were gained through Spirit-anointed preaching
• Converts were required to make a public confession by being baptized in water
• Christians met in small groups in their houses
• The organization was simple, for every unit of believers, there was a local leader, each of whom was responsible to a bishop, who in turn followed the teachings of the apostles
• The total participation of the whole Church in evangelism
◊ Meetings were not evangelistic but for worship, the Lord’s Supper, and religious instruction
◊ Meetings were secret
◊ People were won to Christ outside the meetings and were brought to the illegal gatherings only after they could be trusted not to report the Christians’ activities to the authorities
• There were the miraculous gifts of the Spirit in operation
◊ Divine healing was common
◊ Prophetic messages were so frequent that Paul had to limit such utterances to three in any given service
5. There were several stabilizing forces that ended to unify the Church
• Christians were so busy explaining the fundamental doctrines of the Church that they had little time for conjecture or experimentation with theology
• Don’t forget, there was the almost constant danger of persecution
• New converts were given a doctrinal course of instruction and required to make a public confession of faith before they were baptized in water
II. The meaning of new Testament Patterns
1. Did Jesus and His apostles intend for the new Testament Church to provide the patterns for all ages to follow?
• Jesus’ plan for the church can be seen in Matt. 16:13-19
◊ He asked His disciples “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?”
◊ Peter, speaking for the group, said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
◊ This is the central truth of the Gospel
◊ The apostles, in turn, proclaimed to the world, “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”
• Jesus then went on to declare, “And I say also unto thee, That thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
◊ Protestants and Catholics have different interpretations of this passage
◊ The early Church fathers had no difficulty
◊ Chrysotom (347-407) thought “the rock” to be the on the faith of this confession
◊ While St. Augustine (354-430) said that the Rock was Christ
◊ Although these two fathers differed in their interpretation, neither of them—nor any of the earlier fathers—said that Peter was the foundation of the Church.
• Jesus established three basic functions of the Church
◊ He said to the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth John 16:13
◊ The Church was to edify and feed the believers (John 21:16)
◊ Finally, the Church was to proclaim the Gospel (Mark 16:15)
• Jesus’ clearest statement on what he intended concerning His Church is found in His prayer of John 17
“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. . . I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world. . . I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me: and they have received them, and have known surely that I cam out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. . . I have given them thy word. . . As thou has sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me though their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
• The major points of doctrine of the Christian faith did not develop over the centuries, but burst forth in a surge of inspired revelation and spiritual insight in the very first sermon of the Church preached on Pentecost
2. How far can a church stray from apostolic patterns and still be considered Christian?
• The sad fact is that throughout most ages the Church has not followed the apostolic patterns
• Why did the Early Church lose the apostolic characteristics?
• The first reason was that people forget important causes very quickly as new generations emerge with different world conditions, social environments, and patterns of thought.
◊ From A.D. 70 (the destruction of Jerusalem) until A.D. 90 almost nothing is known of the history of the Church
◊ John, the last apostle, died about A.D. 100
◊ During the first half of the second century most of the churches did not even have complete collections of the New Testament
◊ The gospel was passed on by word of mouth with many inaccuracies, additions, and false impressions.
• A second dividing force was the moving of the center of the Church from Jewish to Greek territory
◊ In Jerusalem the emphasis was on the relationship of the gospel to the Law of Moses
◊ In Greek territory it was on the relationship of the gospel to the philosophy of Plato
◊ Much later when the center moved to Rome, the emphasis was on the structure of Church government
• One of the first signs of the loss of apostolic patterns was that the Church stopped proclaiming the gospel and began to defend the faith
◊ Evangelism was greatly reduced
◊ A more highly trained clergy arose and lay participation was reduced to a minimum and opening new churches no longer was important
◊ The Early Church confined its leadership to the limitations of apostolic succession by passing the leadership to men trained by the apostles and then on to those who they had trained
• The Church began to speculate with theology rather than accept doctrine by apostolic declaration
◊ Christianity became a philosophical rather than a redemptive religion
◊ Some of the more common controversies concerned: mode and time of baptism, whether the Church could forgive sins, the relationship of Christ to the Father, and the authority of the clergy
• The increase of formality led to a liturgical form of worship which later developed into the Roman Catholic mass
3. What happened to the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the early Church?
• In A.D. 30 Luke said that “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
• In A.D. 56, Paul wrote “I would that ye all spake with tongues.”
• In about A.D. 150, Justin Martyr wrote, “For the prophetic gifts remain with us, even to the present time.”
• After A.D. 183, Irenaeus wrote, “In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church who posses prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages.
• Eusebius wrote concerning the end of the second century, “. . . instances of divine and miraculous power were remaining in some churches.”
• By A.D. 200 the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the accompanying supernatural acts of the Spirit were beginning to decline.
• By the fourth century, Chrysotom wrote concerning the gifts of the Spirit described in I Cor. 12-14, “The whole passage is exceedingly obscure, and the obscurity is occasioned by our ignorance of the facts and the cessation of happenings which were common in those days but unexampled in our own.”
4. What happened in A.D. 200?
• There remains little doubt that the number of people who were baptized in the Holy Spirit diminished sharply about the year A.D. 200.
• Syncretism of the Gnostics
◊ Christianity was not the only new religion in the Roman Empire
◊ Mithraism had a sacrificial meal of bread and wind as well as a baptismal rite
◊ The religion of the Great Mother, a legendary goddess who supposedly loved the virgin-born shepherd Attis, whom the followers of that religion believed had died and rose again
◊ There was a great amount of blending of ideas. This is called syncretism.
◊ The Gnostics believed that salvation was obtained through a special knowledge gained by separation from matter rather than by faith or even good works
◊ They emphasized that spirit was good and matter evil
◊ They borrowed many religions for their rites and worship
◊ Because they considered matter to be evil they denied that Jesus Christ had truly come in the flesh.
◊ this is what II John 7 refers to when it said “for many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.”
• While the Church was involved in deep controversy with the Gnostics, the prophetic elements that had been so evident in the first century began to wane.
◊ A movement called Montanism then formed to attempt to maintain the prophetic gifts
◊ The abuses and excesses of Montanus and his followers cast a doubt over the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spire
◊ This caused the main body of the Church to treat these subjects with extreme caution
◊ The tragic truth appears to be that one of the contributing causes for the decline of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a fanatical misuse of the Spirit’s power
◊ Priscilla, Maximill, and Montanus were the leaders
◊ They claimed that just as Jesus was the incarnation of the Father, so Montanus was the incarnation of the Holy Spirit
◊ They taught that the prophetic utterances given to them by the Holy Spirit were superior to the new Testament
• The disappearance of the apostolic patterns came during the reign of Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
• The official act of the emperor caused every roman to become a Christian by the fact of his citizenship
• Pagan people of all religions were forced to be called Christians in name
• Over the following centuries there were many ecumenical councils to redefine the Church, its doctrines, and its mission, but the apostolic patterns were gone.
• Many years passed before Roman Catholicism emerged in its full development, but it can be generally said that the birth of the Roman Catholic Church was the result of the marriage of the Church with the Roman Empire early in the fourth century.
• There followed a bleak and dreary period of 1200 years before the first signs of apostolic patterns were seen again.
Prophets Through the Dark Ages
Prophets of the Reformation
Prophets of the Dark Ages and Reformation
I. Review: When the Fire Went Out
• As we examined last week, we saw the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, beginning on the Day of Pentecost
• It spread from Jerusalem to all of the churches
• From Pentecost to the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.)
◊ During the first century ALL Christians were baptized in the Holy Spirit
◊ In the second century MOST of the Christians were baptized in the Holy Spirit
◊ By the third century SOME Christians were filled with the Spirit
◊ And in the fourth century the baptism in the Holy Spirit was apparently FORGOTTEN
• The number of people who were baptized in the Holy Spirit diminished sharply about the year A.D. 200
• The blending together of religions (syncretism) is evidenced by the Gnostics
◊ They borrowed ideas from many religions
◊ They believed that spirit was good and matter evil
◊ they denied that Jesus Christ had truly come in the flesh because matter was evil
◊ This is what John reefers to as deception in II John 7
• Another movement, the Montanists, attempted to maintain the prophetic gifts that were starting to wane
◊ Montanus, in his excesses caused the main body of the Church to become defensive concerning the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit
◊ Montanus claimed to be the physical incarnation of the Holy Spirit here on Earth
◊ They taught that the prophetic utterances given to them by the Holy Spirit were superior to the New Testament
◊ The fanatical misuse of the Spirit’ power by the Montanists was one of the chief causes for the decline of the Holy Spirit in the third century
II. Prophets of the Dark Ages
1. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the common people had no knowledge of the Scriptures except for the Latin verses used in the mass
• The Bible existed only in a language they could not understand
• Copies were guarded in secluded monasteries like museum pieces
• Reading of the bible, except for the Psalms, was forbidden for the common man
2. When the Roman Empire fell, it broke up into many feudal domains with their castles and knights.
• Civilization collapsed and fell into the hands of semi-primitive barbarians
• The great majority of the people became illiterate peasants who had to depend on their superior lords for all of their knowledge
3. There were some through the Dark Ages who were spiritual and tried to maintain the simplicity and spirituality of the Primitive Church
• The Paulicians sent out whole colonies over much of Europe and wherever they went they carried their revival fervor
• Many have testified as to the moral character and purity of life led by these people
◊ The standard for admission to the ministry was very high
◊ They were to communicate to the believers the gift of the Holy Spirit
◊ They tried to organize their churches on the same pattern as the Primitive churches
• History records a lack of moral integrity among some of the adherents, however
• In spite of their errors, the Paulicians were the people who came the nearest to the ideal of a vibrant, militant, and spiritual church during the Dark Ages.
• It was from these sincere people that sects sprang, in the twelfth century and later, who had an experience comparable with our present day Pentecostal outpouring.
◊ The Albigenses in southern France in the early 1200s
◊ The Waldenses in northern Italy at about the same time
• The followers of St. Francis were similar in belief to the Albigenses but they remained in the Roman Catholic Church but were Pentecostal in practice
• The great Reformation that develops over the next two or three centuries is undoubtedly due to the spiritual hunger manifested by these people of the Dark Ages
III. The Prophets of the Reformation
1. After more than a thousand years of the ignorance and superstition of the Dark Ages, men were ready to break their bonds and revolt against the forces that had bred such depravation.
2. A new inquisitiveness opened the doors for education, industry, the arts, the discovery of the new World, and nationalism.
3. With this awakening there came a demand for better communications
• Organized religion, bound in its centuries-old traditions and deluded by its own self-esteem resisted the changes violently.
• The demand for better education and communications to satisfy the needs of the rising masses brought about one of man’s greatest inventions
• In 1436 Johann Gutenberg made the first printing press with movable type
• The very first book to be printed was the Bible!!
4. There were four groups of reformers who manifested the gifts of the Spirit during the Reformation period
5. The first were the Huguenots
• These were French protestants of the 16th & 17th centuries
• They were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church
• Calvin was a product of the Huguenots
• The doctrine of predestination and their extreme Calvinistic view on “election” made fatalists out of them
• The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics states that “an infectious ecstasy seized people of all ages and of both sexes. They spoke with tongues. It is said that all of their leaders were prophets and that prophecy was what held them together for two hundred years.
6. Jacobus Arminius gave his name to the theory of the free choice of man to serve god
• They argued from the 14th chapter of I Cor. That free prophecy is the highest form of ministry
• They also believed that God by His grace could pour out His Spirit upon men in the seventeenth century as well as in the day of the apostles
• They determined to wait in faith for the outpouring of the Spirit and the bestowal of miraculous gifts for the restoration of the Church in its pristine apostolic purity and power
• They were independent reformers who believed in being led by the Spirit
• These people were severely persecuted for their faith, by Protestant and Catholic, both for their rejection of infant baptism and what was termed their fanaticism
• The inspired leaders of the early Anabaptisms felt it was the will of God to create an empire where men were led by the Spirit and where they could be free.
• Official Protestantism rejected all prophetic ministry in outcry to the excesses of the Anabaptists
• Any group which subscribed to any form of enthusiasm, for centuries after this, were viewed with suspicion at best and generally with strong and sometimes violent opposition.
• They were persecuted by the Protestants and the Catholics.
• Even though their history contains erroneous excesses, Anabaptists are now credited with being the greatest champion of freedom of faith and the separation of church and State
8. The fourth group of spiritual reformers can be found wholly within the Catholic Church itself
• Jansenism was prominent in the 17th and 18th centuries
• Cornelius Jansen became Bishop of Ypres and remained a loyal and sincere Roman Catholic until his death
• Britannica says they the Jansenites were far advanced on the road which leads to apocalyptic prophecy and speaking with tongues.
• In one of their fits they commonly “broke into some disconnected jargon which they often passed upon the vulgar as the exuberant and resistless evacuations of the Spirit, and many other such like enthusiastic stuff”
8. The Moravians established themselves in North Carolina
• The Moravian Church still exists today
• Has 160 congregations
• 50,000 adherents
• In 17 states in the USA and in two Canadian provinces
III. Methodist Church
1. John Wesley receive his knowledge of the new birth from the Moravians while on a visit to their headquarters on Zinzendorf’s estate (Herrnhut)
2. Strange things took place in Wesley’s meetings
• April 17, 1739 people shed tears, fell down in fits, cried out, roared, screamed, were struck down (terms used by observers)
• In Seneca County, New York the Methodists were especially fervent with protracted meetings with frequent instances of tongues and other phenomena
• To most people it looked like another Pentecost
3. The unusual fact about the early Methodists was that its founder defended spiritual manifestations in their most extreme form, yet he himself never had these experiences
4. It was the absence of these in his own life which undoubtedly caused the manifestations to largely disappear after the first years of his ministry.
5. These extreme demonstrations produced violent reactions from some people
• Some were very disturbed that Wesley gave encouragement to such manifestations
• Criticism took in every phase of the Wesley’s life
• It is quite clear that Wesley observed, sympathized with, and defended prophecy and speaking with tongues although he, himself, never experienced either.
• He did practice praying for the sick and those possessed with demons.
6. John Wesley sought to restore primitive Christianity to the church as he understood it in the Book of Acts
• For him, while this certainly included the gifts of the Spirit, his real interest was with the fruit of the Spirit.
• This led to his trademark theme of “entire sanctification”
• His disciples interpreted this to mean a definite instantaneous second work of grace after conversion
• The Assemblies of God believe rather in progressive sanctification
IV. Charles Finney
1. By 1840 the Methodists outnumbered all other Protestant denominations in the United States
2. One person heavily influenced by Wesleyan views was Charles Finney
3. He linked the experience of sanctification with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
4. Finney would stop short of the Pentecostal position of speaking in tongues but he did claim that the Holy Spirit allowed the believer in prayer to transcend the limits of human language
• Romans 8:26
• He wrote, “the Spirit excites desires too great to be uttered except by groans. Something that language cannot utter – making the soul too full to utter its feelings by words, where the person can only groan them out to God who understands the language of the heart.”
V. Revivals in Scotland, England, Germany, Ireland, Wales
1. In 1830s there was a great revival in the Scotland that spread into England
2. Rev. Edward Irving was the head of one branch of the movement
• He preached with great spiritual vitality
• As early as 1830 Irving had stated he believed the “standing sign of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost” was speaking with tongues
• He seems to be the first person who viewed speaking with tongues as the initial evidence of the Baptism.
• This created much controversy
• The London Times often mentioned what was occurring and on may 3, 1832 it said “Irving profaned the sanctuary of God by introducing hideous interludes of the unknown tongues. . .”
• The church was crowded to overflowing each service
• News of healings, speaking with tongues, and prophecy came to London from Scotland
• Irving was tried by the church and on April 26, 1832 he was defrocked, his membership and ordination revoked by the Presbytery of the church in Scotland.
• He started his own church called the Catholic Apostolic Church, which is still in existence today
3. In Ireland a revival came to several denominations, particularly to a group called the “Cold Presbyterians” as a result of a prayer-meeting
4. In Wales, particularly in 1859, a revival broke out in the College of Trevecca.
• After an unusually good service one evening, they met the following day in a field and had 30,000 present.
• What happened was said to be the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel and that it fell on all regardless of age.
5. Other sightings
• In Cane Ridge Kentucky a great spontaneous revival began, led by Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians
• In 1880 it was recorded that in the Salvation Army speaking with tongues had been common in the earl day of the Army
• In 1899 there were instances of “tongues” in New Zealand
VI. The Evidence Has Spoken
1. It should be obvious that there is evidence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from the time of the Apostles
2. Even during a few hundred years in the Dark Ages, where very few written records were kept, I am convinced that God honored hungry hearts with His Spirit
3. As we saw in the beginning of this study by the turn of the last century the frequency of such outpourings led to the establishment of the Assemblies of God, which is the largest Pentecostal movement today.
4. Next week we want to finish this study by looking at the Problems of Pentecost, using the previous history of the past 2000 years as a basis for their analysis
Problems of Pentecost
1. Gross overview of the Church
• Church began on the day of Pentecost
• The ministry of the Holy Spirit was at the center of the church
• The Apostolic Church was vibrant and grew
• Upon the death of the Apostles and by 325 AD, the presence of Holy Spirit manifestations in the Church had ebbed
• During the Dark Ages people did not have access to the Bible and wide-spread Church became meshed with political movements of the world with the creation of the Roman Catholic Church
• The invention of the printing press in the mid fifteenth century started to make the Bible available to the people
• With the Reformation came growth of the Anabaptists, the Huguenots, and even those in the Roman Catholic Church that allowed the Holy Spirit to revive them
• During the 17th and 18th centuries came other movements such as the Seekers, the Quakers, and the Shakers who testified to the presence of the Spirit in their lives
• John Wesley defended spiritual manifestations in their most extreme form in the Methodist church in the early days of Methodism
• There were great revivals in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries
• Major revivals in the 19th and 20th centuries that affected many parts of the world
• The Azusa Street revival led to the formation of the Assemblies of God fellowship in 1914
• Through each period of history dating from the first century church there are reports of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on hungry hearts everywhere
• There is evidence of a movement springing forth only to be relegated to inactivity in subsequent years
• Major revivals, where the Holy Spirit was allowed to move, waned in time. As Birdie pointed out, the Methodists were called “Shouting Methodists” years ago but in recent years have lost their shout
2. What are the reasons for this type of deterioration?
• For centuries the truth of New Testament religion was lost to the masses, for the Bible was buried in incompre-hensible Latin and there were few copies in circulation
• Even after the printing press, it took 500 years before the apostolic teaching were evident on a large scale
• Often during the two millennia following Pentecost, groups of believers have experienced the outpouring of the Spirit only to be silenced
• Persecution and rejection were common to those involved
1. When the Church has strayed from the Bible and the Spirit being the chief sources guiding its existence problems have arisen
• When some powerful individual or organization takes precedence, there will be a deterioration of the Church’s zeal
• When the Roman Catholic Church began to declare that its pronouncements were equal to the Holy Scriptures stagnation began to set it
2. As the Church grows the institutional ramifications can choke out the flow of the Spirit
• When there becomes a wide gulf between the clergy and the laity, formalism will take precedence to the moving of the Spirit
• This leads to a new church movement when hearts become hungry
• This leads to persecution and further seeking of God wherein the Holy Spirit falls and the cycle begins all over again
3. Conformity is one of the most powerful forces that leads to dilution of the Spirit’s moving
• Every church has the responsibility to adopt and enforce a standard of conduct.
• The danger is that standards are set to conform with the rest of the world.
• Likewise, as time goes on many have a desire to conform to an inherent fear of anything new, which leads to new ritual.
• All of this leads to stagnation.
4. The opposite pitfall is to allow people to do whatever is right in their own sight.
• Jonathan Edwards has said that when the Spirit is poured out on people who have never experienced it before, that it is natural for extremes to appear but this does not necessarily mean people are evil.
• For this reason many have discredited the gifts of the Spirit
• The Anabaptists elevated prophetic utterances to supercede the Written Word. As a consequence Protestantism rejected all prophetic ministry
• The Ranters completely rejected all external authority and relied completely on their inner revelation and convictions
• In the beginning of modern Pentecost the gifts of prophecy, speaking with tongues, and interpretations of tongues were frequent.
◊ After the freshness of Pentecost passed these manifestations often waned
◊ A frequent reason that these disappeared is that someone goes to excess and predicts something which does not come to pass and then all vocal manifestations are immediately suspect.
• There are some who have had ecstatic experiences that do not seem to be examples of a holy life.
◊ There are some who have had ecstatic experiences that in the true sense of the word are not Christians, i.e. the Mormon Church
◊ But even God can use Balaam’s donkey to enlighten His people
• And, there are those who have imitated the manifestations of the Holy Spirit for a variety of reasons
III. The Future of Pentecostalism
1. We should be able to observe and learn from previous revival movements and the early church the influences that deteriorated their experience and strive to not make those same mistakes
2. There are two main dangers against which we must guard
• The gradual domestication and control of Spirit’s moving
• The symptoms are many
◊ increasing formality
◊ decreasing emphasis on the spontaneous moving of the Spirit
◊ growing emphasis on pulpit-centered rather than congregational-centered worship
◊ limitation of religious activities within the walls of the church building
◊ erratic emotional excesses,
◊ loss of active lay participation
• Men just cannot believe that to be truly Christian is as simple as it appears in the New Testament, so churches complicate their worship with such an array of religious paraphernalia that they finally collapse under the clutter of their own baggage.
• If the apostolic Christianity was intended to provide the patterns for the Church of all ages, why did they and why should we lose the distinctive characteristics that were manifested in the first century?
• The constant pressure on godly people to blend their faith with other religions to attain unified peace and harmony rather than meeting the demands of an absolute God has been one of the deadliest diseases of true religion since the world began
• The Ecumenical movement is a deteriorating force that endangers the Pentecostal Movement just as this same force drained the Early Church of its power
3. There are those who say that the Pentecostal Movement will decline and become “just another denomination” like other movements that have developed out of revival.
• The Pentecostal Movement is different from the previous American
• It represents a full return to the doctrines, experiences, and the basic practices of the Apostolic Church, while the others did not
• We have seen that deviating from apostolic practices leads to problems
• Our best offense is to emphasize the things that the apostles repeatedly stressed; don’t give obscure ideas any more relative importance than what the Bible has already given them (don’t build doctrine on single scripture references)
• Teach apostolic doctrine in the home, from the pulpit, and in the Sunday school