Yesterday evening the church Life group which my wife and I attend held its first meeting for 2015-16. Currently we plan to alternate between studying Pentecostal doctrine and studying the book of Romans, meaning that we’ll study each every second week. In our first meeting I made a presentation on the foundation of Christian doctrine, the source of Christian doctrine, and the distinctive belief of Pentecostals. A summary of my presentation appears in my August 15 post, Introduction to Pentecostal Doctrine.
As for the meeting itself, five members attended. My wife, Leonora, opened with our theme song, “We’re Together Again,” and prayer; I distributed a sheet containing a summary of my presentation and made the presentation, and we had a relaxed and interesting (at least to me) discussion of it; Pat, the only woman besides Leonora in the group, recorded our prayer requests and Roland prayed for them; and we had lunch.
The sheet that I distributed contained besides a summary of my presentation the following note on useful resources for our study of Pentecostal doctrine:
● “Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths,” General Constitution and By-Laws, The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador, June 1998. It can be viewed at Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths.
● P. C. Nelson, Bible Doctrines, revised edition, Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 2009 (originally published in book form in 1934). Bible Doctrines is an exposition of the Assemblies of God Statement of Fundamental Truths, which the PAONL Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths was adapted from. It is available at Religious Book and Bible House.
However after the meeting I decided to provide the PAONL Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths here for the convenience of members of our Life group and visitors to Open Theism. Here it is:
STATEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL AND ESSENTIAL TRUTHS
The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith and practice. Hence, this Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths is intended as a basis of fellowship among us (i.e., that we all speak the same thing, 1 Corinthians 1:10; Acts 2:42). The human phraseology employed in this statement is not inspired or contended for, but the truth set forth is held to be essential to a full gospel ministry. No claim is made that it contains all the truth of the Bible; only that it is a systematic synopsis of these fundamental truths.
1. The Holy Scriptures
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is infallible, absolutely supreme and sufficient in authority in all matters of faith and practice. The Bible does not simply contain the Word of God, but is in reality the complete revelation and very Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. Christian believers today have spiritual illumination to enable them to understand the Scriptures, but God does not give new revelations apart from or beyond the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15,16; 1 Peter 2:2).
2. The One True God
The one true God has revealed Himself as the eternally existent, self-revealed “I AM”; and has further revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association, i.e., as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; Isaiah 43:10,11; Matthew 28:19).
The Essentials as to the Godhead
A. Terms explained:
The terms “Trinity” and “Persons” as related to the Godhead, while not found in the Scriptures, are in harmony with Scripture, whereby we may convey to others our immediate understanding of the doctrine of Christ respecting the Being of God, as distinguished from “Gods many and Lords many.” We, therefore, may speak with propriety of the Lord our God, who is One Lord, as a Trinity or as one Being of Three Persons, and still be absolutely scriptural (egs., Matthew 2:6; 8:16,17).
B. Distinction and Relationship in the Godhead.
Christ taught a distinction of Persons in the Godhead which He expressed in specific terms of relationship, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that this distinction and relationship, as to its existence, is an eternal fact, but as to its mode it is inscrutable and incomprehensible, being unexplained (Luke 1:35; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Matthew 11:25-27; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3,4).
C. Unity of the One Being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Accordingly, therefore there is that in the Father which constitutes Him the Father and not the Son; there is that in the Son which constitutes Him the Son and not the Father; and there is that in the Holy Spirit which constitutes Him the Holy Spirit and not either the Father or the Son. Therefore, the Father is the Begetter, the Son the Begotten, and the Holy Spirit the One proceeding from the Father and the Son. Therefore, because these three eternally distinct and related Persons in the Godhead are in a state of unity and one in essence, there is but one Lord God Almighty and His name is One (John 1:18; 15:26; 17:11,21; Zechariah 14:9).
D. Identity and Co-operation in the Godhead.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are never identical as to Person; nor confused as to relation; nor divided in respect of the Godhead; nor opposed as to co-operation. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son as to relationship. The Son is w th the Father and the Father is with the Son as to fellowship. The Father is not from the Son, but the Son is from the Father as to authority. The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, proceeding as to nature, relationship, co-operation and authority. Hence, no Person in the Godhead exists or works separately or independently of the others (John 5:17-30).
E. The Title, Lord Jesus Christ.
The appellation “Lord Jesus Christ” is a proper name. It is never applied, in the New Testament, either to the Father or to the Holy Spirit. It therefore belongs exclusively to the Son of God (Romans 1:1-3,7; 2 John 3).
F. The Lord Jesus Christ, God with us.
The Lord Jesus Christ, as to His divine and eternal nature, is the proper and only begotten Son of the Father, but as to His human nature, He is the proper Son of Man. He is, therefore, acknowledged to be both God and man; who, because He is God and man, is “Immanuel,” God with us (Matthew 1:23; 1 John 4:2,10,14; Revelation 1:13, 14-17).
G. The Title, Son of God.
Since the name “Immanuel” embraces both God and man in the one Person, our Lord Jesus Christ, it follows that the title, Son of God, describes His proper Deity, and the title, son of Man, his proper humanity. Therefore, the title, Son of God, belongs to the order of eternity, and the title, Son of Man, to the order of time (Matthew 1:21,23; 2 John 3; 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 7:3; 1:1-13).
H. Transgression of the Doctrine of Christ.
Therefore, it is a transgression of the Doctrine of Christ to say that Jesus Christ derived the title, Son of God, solely from the fact of the Incarnation, or because of His relation to the economy of redemption. Therefore, to deny that the Father is a real and eternal Father, and that the Son is a real and eternal Son, is a denial of the distinction and relationship in the being of God; a denial of the Father and the Son; and a displacement of the truth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (2 John 9; John 1:1,2,14,18,29,49; 8:57,58; 1 John 2:22,23; 4:1-5; Hebrews 12:3,4).
I. Exaltation of Jesus Christ as Lord.
The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, having by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high; angels and principalities and powers having been made subject unto Him, and, having been made both Lord and Christ, He sent the Holy Spirit; that we, in the name of Jesus, might bow our knees and
confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. In the end, the Son shall become subject to the Father, that “God may be all in all” (Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 3:22; Acts 2:32-36; Romans 14:11; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
J. Equal Honour to the Father and the Son.
Therefore, since the Father has delivered all judgement unto the Son, it is not only the express duty of all beings in heaven and in earth to bow the knee, but it is an unspeakable joy, in the Holy Spirit, to ascribe unto the Son all the attributes of Deity, and to give Him all the honour and the glory contained in all the names and titles of the Godhead (except those which express relationship, see paragraphs b, c, and d), thus honouring the Son even as we honour the Father (John 5:22, 23; 1 Peter 1:8; Revelation 5:6-14; Philippians 2:8, 9; Revelation 7:9, 10; 4:8-11).
3. The Resurrection of Christ
Christ did truly rise again from the dead and took again His body, with flesh, bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature: wherewith He ascended into Heaven, and there sits until His Second Coming.
Angels were created as intelligent and powerful beings to do the will of God and to worship Him (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 5:11,12). However, Satan, the originator of sin, through pride fell and was followed by those angels who rebelled against God. These fallen angels or demons are active in opposing the purpose of God (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-19; Ephesians 6:11,12; 1 Timothy 4:1; Jude). Those who remained faithful continue before the throne of God and serve as ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14).
B. The Believer and Demons
Demons attempt to thwart God’s purposes. However, in Christ, the believer may have complete liberty from the influence of demons (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; 4:1-4). He cannot be possessed by them because his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit in which Christ dwells as Lord (Matthew 6:24; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20).
5. Man, His Fall and Redemption
Man was created good and upright, for God said, “Let us make man in Our image and in Our likeness.” But man, by voluntary transgression, fell, and his only hope of redemption is in Jesus Christ the Son of God (Genesis 1:26- 31; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-21).
Man’s fallen, hopeless and helpless condition is at the foundation of the Christian religion, for, if man be not fallen, he needs no Saviour. The Word of God clearly reveals the Fall and it is abundantly proven by the history of his earthly career. Man, as he came from the hand of his Creator, was perfectly holy and happy. In him shone the following attributes of the Deity—love, righteousness, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. But by one voluntary act, he entailed upon himself the sure wages of sin, which is death—death temporal, death spiritual and death eternal. Man’s body, that day, became mortal. His soul became spiritually dead. Eternal death was ever imminent. His unhappy offspring, born in his image, inherited the same depravity in their nature and consequently entailed the sure wages of sin, which is death.
Sin is not simply the following of Adam, but is the corruption of the nature of every man through the sin of our first parents passed down from generation to generation, thus perpetuating this evil principle so that man is wholly gone from original righteousness and is of his own nature inclined to evil. Yes, all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God and are under condemnation and unable to please God without His grace.
7. The Atonement of Christ
Salvation has been provided for all men through the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross (Isaiah 63:3-6; John 12:32,33; 1 Peter 2:24). It is the only perfect redemption, propitiation, satisfaction and substitutionary atonement for all sins of the world, both original and actual. His atoning work has been proven by His resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:36; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:14,17,20; Hebrews 10:12; 1 John 2:2). Those who repent and believe in Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and receive eternal life (Acts 20:21; 1 Peter 1:23,25). Furthermore, in the Atonement, divine healing was provided for all believers (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16b,17).
8. Regeneration or the New Birth
Regeneration is the creative act of the Holy Spirit, whereby He imparts to the soul a new spiritual life. This is absolutely necessary to salvation and becomes a reality in experience through faith in Christ in response to the power of the Word of God, for as the Scripture says, we are “born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23).
9. Repentance and Faith
The repentance required by Scripture is a change of mind toward God, and is the effect of the conviction of sin worked in us by the Holy Spirit. Paul summed up his gospel as “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” The faith which brings justification is simple reliance or dependence on Christ, which accepts Him as the sacrifice for our sins and as our righteousness. The instruments through which faith is created are the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
10. Justification of Man
Justification is a judicial act of God whereby the sinner is declared righteous. Thus, we are pardoned and accounted righteous before God, only on the merit of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, by faith and not for our own works or deservings. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
11. The Believer’s Obedience to God
The dangerous doctrine called Antinomianism, found in the early centuries of the Christian Church, is quite prevalent today, viz., that because grace is free the professing believer is exempt from moral obligations and thus can go on committing sins and living a spiritually indifferent life, still hoping all is well. All who make a Christian profession of conversion and later commit sins and go back into the world must repent of their sins and seek forgiveness through faith in the cleansing blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to get right with God. It is true that God has promised to keep that which we have committed unto Him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12); also that we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed at the last time (1 Peter 1:5). But man’s responsibility is shown in the first epistle of John, where it distinctly states that “IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1:7).
12. Sanctification or the Holy Life
Entire sanctification is the will of God for all believers, and should be earnestly pursued by walking in obedience to God’s Word (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15,16; 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24; 1 John 2:6). In experience, this is both instantaneous and progressive. It is wrought out in the life of the believer by his appropriation of the power of Christ’s blood and risen life through the person of the Holy Spirit, as set forth in the Word.
13. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
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 the Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9). With the Baptism of the Holy Spirit come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 4:8), a deepened reverence for God (Acts 2:43; Hebrews 12:28), intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work (Acts 2:42), and a more active love for Christ, for His Word, and for the lost (Mark 16:20).
The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is indicated by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6).
Our Distinctive Testimony
We consider it a serious disagreement with the Fundamentals for any minister among us to teach contrary to our Distinctive Testimony that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is regularly accompanied by the initial physical sign of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance, and we consider it inconsistent and unscriptural for any minister to hold credentials with us who thus attacks as error our Distinctive Testimony.
14. The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements of bread and the fruit of the vine, is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4); a memorial of His suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26); and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26); and is enjoined upon all believers “until He comes.”
15. Water Baptism
Water Baptism is an outward sign, seal or expression of an inward death, burial and resurrection, signifying the believer’s identification with Christ, in that he has been planted in the likeness of His death, and raised by the might of His power to walk in newness of life, yielding his members as instruments of righteousness unto God as those that are alive from the dead. It is not a saving ordinance, but is essential in obedience to the Gospel. Baptism, according to the Scripture, should be administered by single immersion, and according to the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19.
16. The Church and its Mission
The Church is the body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of her great commission. Each believer, born of the Spirit, is an integral part of the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven (Ephesians 1:22,23; 2:22; Hebrews 12:23).
Since God’s purpose concerning man is to seek and to save that which was lost, to be worshipped by man, and to build a body of believers in the image of His Son, the priority reason-for-being of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the Church is to be:
A. An agency of God for evangelizing the world (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16).
B. A corporate body in which man may worship God (1 Corinthians 12:13).
C. A channel of God’s purpose to build a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 14:12).
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador exists expressly to give continuing emphasis to this reason-for-being in the New Testament apostolic pattern by teaching and encouraging believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. This experience:
A. Enables them to evangelize in the power of the Spirit with accompanying supernatural signs (Mark 16:15-20; Acts 4:29-31; Hebrews 2:3,4).
B. Adds a necessary dimension to a worshipful relationship with God (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; chapters 12-14).
C. Enables them to respond to the full working of the Holy Spirit in the expression of fruit and gifts and ministries as in the New Testament times for the edifying of the body of Christ (Galatians 5:22-26; 1 Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 4:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Colossians 1:29).
17. The Ministry and Evangelism
A divinely called and a scripturally ordained ministry is the provision of the Lord for the evangelization of the world and the edification of the Church (Mark 16:15-20; Ephesians 4:11-13).
18. Divine Healing
Divine healing is an integral part of the Gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the Atonement, and is the privilege of all believers (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16,17; James 5:13,16.)
19. The Blessed Hope
The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation, together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, is the imminent and blessed hope of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; Romans 8:23; Titus 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52). The Rapture, according to the Scriptures, takes place before what is known as the Great Tribulation. Thus, the saints, who are raptured at Christ’s coming, do not go through the Great Tribulation.
20. The Millennial Reign of Christ
The Second Coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is the blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on the earth for a thousand years (Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:27,30; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-14; 20:1-6). This millennial reign will bring the salvation of national Israel (Ezekiel 37:21,22; Zephaniah 3:19,20; Romans 11:26,27) and the establishment of universal peace (Isaiah 11:6-9; Psalm 72:3-8; Micah 4:3,4).
21. The Final Judgment
There will be a final judgment in which the wicked will be judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 19:20; 20:11-15; 21:8).
22. The New Heavens and New Earth
We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21, 22).
23. Marriage and the Family
Marriage is a provision of God whereby a man and woman live together in a life-long relationship (Genesis 1:27; Romans 1:21-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10), that is legally sanctioned by the state to enable both partners to meet their spiritual, physical and social needs. Marriage is endorsed by Scripture (1 Corinthians 7:1-2), and was sanctioned by Christ’s presence at the wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11). It is intended to provide the wholesome expression of sexual desire (1 Corinthians 7:3-6; Hebrews 13:4), companionship (Genesis 2:18), and support to both partners (Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7).
Marriage is more than either a temporary relationship of convenience intended to provide personal pleasure or a contract that binds two people together in a legal partnership. It is a covenant relationship. Within a marriage a “one flesh” relationship is created, which goes beyond a physical union to establish an emotional and spiritual oneness, and to provide for the procreation of children (Genesis 1:28; 2:24; 1 Corinthians 6:15-17).
Marriage is to be an exclusive relationship that is maintained in purity (Ephesians 5:3,26,27). It is intended by God to be a permanent relationship (Malachi 2:15-16; Matthew 19:4-6). It is a witness to the world of the relationship between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
Marriage requires a commitment of love, perseverance and faith. Because of its sanctity and permanence, marriage should be treated with seriousness and entered into only after counsel and prayer for God’s guidance. Christians should marry only those who are believers (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). An individual who becomes a believer after marriage should remain with his/her partner in peace, and should give witness to the Gospel in the home (1 Corinthians 7:12-14,16).
The Bible holds family life as a position of trust and responsibility. The home is a stabilizing force of society, and a place of nurture (Ephesians 6:4), counsel and safety for children.
24. Divorce and Remarriage
First: Marriage has been instituted and ordained by God. The marriage relationship is honorable and pure. God’s original plan for marriage is that it be a permanent, monogamous relationship (Matthew 19:4-6).
We therefore, discourage divorce by all lawful means and teaching. Our objective is reconciliation and the healing of the marital union wherever possible. Marital unfaithfulness should not be considered so much an occasion or opportunity for divorce but rather an opportunity for Christian grace, forgiveness, and restoration. Divorce in our society is a termination of a marriage through a legal process authorized by the State. While the church recognizes this legal process as an appropriate means to facilitate the permanent separation of spouses, the church restricts the idea of divorce, in the sense of dissolution of marriage, to reasons specified in Scripture.
The weight of biblical record is negative and the explicit statement is made, “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). Divorce is more than an action of the courts which breaks the legal contract between partners in marriage. It is also the fracture of a unique human relationship between a male and female. Divorce has profound consequences for the children. Divorce is evidence of the sinful nature expressed in human failure.
Where all attempts at reconciliation have failed and a divorce has been finalized, we extend Christ’s love and compassion.
Second: There are now among Christian people those who became entangled in their marriage relations in their former lives of sin, and who do not now see how these matters can be adjusted. Therefore, we recommend that these cases be left in the hands of the Lord, and that they walk in the light as God lets it shine on their souls.
Third: Where the exceptional circumstance of Matthew 19:9 (except it be for fornication) exist or when a Christian has been divorced by an unbeliever, (1 Corinthians 7:15, 27,28) we recommend that the question of remarriage be resolved by the believer as he or she walks in the light of God’s Word.
Fourth: Whereas divorced and remarried persons in the ministry usually cause stumbling, reproach and division, whatever may have been the cause of divorce, therefore, we advise and recommend that our ministers and assemblies do not accept to the Full Gospel Ministry those who have remarried and are now living in the state of matrimony, while former companions are living (1 Timothy 3).
Fifth: And as a means of making the above effective, we further advise our Pentecostal ministers not to perform a marriage ceremony between any believer, or other person, and a divorced person whose former companion is still living. We also especially warn all people that unions made in the future in the face of this warning between any of our ministers and such divorced persons will affect the standing of both ministers who perform the ceremony (unless he is innocently deceived into doing same), and also that of the minister entering into such union, whether man or woman, no matter which may be the innocent party.
Tithing was divinely instituted by God under the old covenant and was compulsory upon the people who worshipped God. Under the new covenant, we are not bound by arbitrary laws, but the principles of right and wrong, as expressed by the law, are fulfilled in the believer’s life through grace. Grace should produce as much as or more than law demanded. Regular systematic giving is clearly taught in the New Testament and is an acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ. It is known as the Grace of Giving. The gauge or rule of this systematic giving is defined in the Old Testament, known as the Law of Tithing. All Christians should conscientiously and systematically tithe their income to God.