Monthly Archives: September 2015

1. The Holy Scriptures

This week the church Life group which my wife and I attend considered the introduction to and the first truth, “1. The Holy Scriptures,” in the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. All eight who attended regularly in 2014-15 were present. Only Robert, my son, was absent, his not getting home from work until the study was almost over.

My wife, Leonora, opened with our theme song, “We’re Together Again,” another song (I forget its name), and prayer. I distributed a sheet containing a summary of my presentation and made the presentation, our discussing throughout it the questions which I posed in it (see below). Ray, who leads our study of Romans on alternate weeks, took prayer requests and led us in prayer. We closed with lunch, which consisted of apple pie, topped with ice-cream, and something to drink.

Introductions to the PAONL and Related Statements of Fundamental 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.

After reading the above, I asked, “What does the introduction to the Statement seem to be intended to do?” The main idea put forward was that it emphasizes that the Bible is our authority and the Statement is just intended to be a basis of fellowship among us, its setting forth the essentials of what we believe, and not intended to replace the Bible as our authority.

I observed that although the introduction to the PAONL Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths is almost the same as the introduction to the Assemblies of God (AG) Statement of Fundamental Truths, the introduction (”preamble”) to the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths is much different. It says:

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada stands firmly in the mainstream of historical Christianity. It takes the Bible as its all-sufficient source of faith and practice, and subscribes to the historic creeds of the universal church. In common with historic, evangelical Christianity, it emphasizes Christ as Saviour and coming King. It also presents Christ as Healer and it adopts the distinctive position that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence when Christ baptizes in the Holy Spirit….

Again I asked, “What does the introduction to the Statement seem to be intended to do?” Our discussion brought out that besides stressing the authority of the Bible, as does the introduction to our Statement, the Statement emphasizes that the PAOC holds to the “foursquare gospel”—that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Coming King—the first and last being held in common with other evangelical Christians and the middle two being distinctive beliefs of Pentecostals. Thus the Statement seems to be intended to show how the PAOC is similar to and how it is different from other evangelical Christians.

I intended to ask, “Why do you think that the creators of the PAOC statement didn’t just use the introduction to the Assemblies of God statement, as the creators of the PAONL statement did, instead of creating a different introduction?”, but for reasons of time didn’t.

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 special 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; I Peter 2:2).

After reading the above, I observed that the Statements of both the AG and the PAOC open with a similar truth about the Bible. Actually the above and “1. Holy Scriptures” in the Statement of the PAOC are based on “1. The Scriptures Inspired” in the original AG Statement, but both were expanded to clarify some of the terms used.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is infallible, absolutely supreme and sufficient in authority in all matters of faith and practice.

I observed that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” comes from the KJV of 2 Timothy 3:16 and asked, “Why do you think that the verse and the truth begin with ‘All Scripture’ instead of with ‘The Scriptures’?” The group responded that they did so to stress the importance of all parts of the Bible. That this is the reason is demonstrated by the Assemblies of God’s inserting “both the Old and New Testaments” after “All Scripture” when it revised its original statement in 1961 and by the PAOC’s specifying that “divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the original writings.”

I noted that “is given by inspiration of God” translates a single Greek word which literally means “is breathed out by God” and is rendered that way in some modern versions; observed that there are various views of the way in which God breathed out or inspired Scripture; and read the descriptions given in Stanley M. Horton’s Systematic Theology (Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1994) of the five basic views: natural intuition, special illumination, dynamic guidance, verbal plenary, and divine dictation (pages 97-98). I asked, “Which view fits best the Biblical picture of inspiration? How do the others fall short?” The group identified verbal plenary, the view that “the Holy Spirit not only guided the writers’ thoughts or concepts, but also oversaw their selection of words for all that was written, not just for matters of faith and practice” (John R. Higgins, in Systematic Theology, page 97).

I defined “infallible” as being free from error; observed that the PAONL demonstrated the importance that it places on holding that the Bible is infallible by issuing a position paper affirming it in April, 1983, “The Inerrancy of the Scriptures”; and shared the following from a section in that paper called “Validation of Inerrancy”:

The Bible’s witness to its own inerrancy. Second Timothy 3:16 (NIV) uniquivocally states: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”. All Scripture is part of God’s revelation….

Some verses stress the permanent nature of the complete Scriptures. Matthew 5:18 (KJV) asserts, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot (the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet) or one tittle (a minor strike distinguishing certain Hebrew letters) shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”…Even the slightest detail of Scripture is important.

The New Testament witnesses to the veracity of the Old Testament. The gospel writers often remarked, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the prophet…” (Matthew 1:22, KJV). The fact of fulfilled prophecies, written hundreds of years before the event, cannot be overlooked in a defence of inerrancy….

Jesus affirmed inerrancy. By declaring that “…the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35, KJV), Jesus—the incarnate Word—vouched for the veracity of what was written. On many occasions Jesus said, “It is written” (Matthew 2:5, KJV…). We note especially His appeal to Old Testament Scriptures during the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).

The witness of the Church. The Church’s witness to an inerrant Bible cannot be disregarded. …While the Church can, and has, erred, it is folly to oberlook the consensus of opinion among theologians that the Bible is free from error.

The witness of God’s character. God’s character demands inerrancy. The Scriptures’ presentation of the attributes of God shows truth personified…. The Scriptures emanated from God. By suggesting that the Bible contains errors is to cast aspersion on God’s character.

I asked, “How should we deal with alleged mistakes and discrepancies in the Bible?” After we discussed the question, I shared the conclusion of “The Inerrancy of Scripture” (see above):

We do not deny that there are obvious technical problems in Scripture (egs., the 23,000 and the 24,000 of I Corinthians 10:8 and Numbers 25:9; and David’s numbering of the people—II Samuel 24:1-2; I Chronicles 21:1-2). Neither do we naively believe that completely satisfactory answers have been found to each problem. However, when problems do arise, we trust the Scriptures—God’s written revelation—rather than our fallible minds. Moreover, if all inherent difficulties were reconciled, this would make void the element of faith.

I defined “authority” as having the power or right to direct the actions or thoughts of others and identified the following rivals to the Bible in religious authority: the church, creeds and other church documents, personal encounters with God, manifestations of the Holy Spirit, and other religions. I observed that in a 1979 Gallop Poll a larger number of people between 18 and 29 said that in testing their religious beliefs they would turn to what the Holy Spirit said to them personally before they would turn to the Bible, and I asked, “Which would you turn to first? Why? What is the role of the other?” The group members said that they’d turn to the Bible first and that the Holy Spirit’s role was to illuminate the Bible (see below).

The Bible does not simply contain the Word of God, but is in reality the complete revelation and very Word of God [and] God does not give new revelations apart from or beyond the Bible.

I defined “revelation” as “something that is revealed [made known] by God to humans” (Merriam-Webster) and distinguished between general and special revelation. General revelation consists of God’s making Himself known through nature, human history, and human nature (particularly the conscience). Special revelation consists of God’s making Himself known through supernatural acts, the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures. I asked, “In what way is the Bible a ‘complete’ revelation of God?” The group answered that the Bible contains all that we need to know about faith and practice.

Christian believers today have special 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; I Peter 2:2).

I defined “illumination” as making something clear and asked, “How can we receive illumination in Bible study?” The group suggested prayer, the Holy Spirit, other people such as pastors, and study helps such as books and the Internet.

I closed by referring to the four characteristics which Wayne Grudem identifies in his Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994) as ones that the Bible ascribes to itself—authority, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency—and giving his explanations of the last two:

The necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws. (page 116)

The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly. (page 127)

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PAONL Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths

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.

4. Angels

A. Classification
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.

6. Sin

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 Evidence

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.

25. Tithing

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.

Paul’s Third Missionary Journey – 4. Paul’s Visits to Macedonia and Greece and Trip to Jerusalem

After three years of ministry in Ephesus Paul decided to revisit the churches of Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea) and Greece (Corinth) and return to Jerusalem. Although possibly prompted by the Holy Spirit to make the trip (Acts 19:21), Paul also had his own reasons for wanting to make it. As I observed in Riot in Ephesus, “Paul’s main reason for wanting to visit Jerusalem was to give to the leaders of its church the collection which he had organized in the churches of Macedonia and Greece for the relief of the poor in Jerusalem.” Thus he wanted to visit Macedonia and Greece to finalize the collection and to visit Jerusalem to deliver the collection.

Moreover he wanted to visit Corinth to achieve reconciliation with the church there; see [Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians]. And he may have wanted to visit Macedonia to do further missionary work as well as to encourage the Christians in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea and to visit Jerusalem to obtain the blessing of the church there on his desire to visit Rome and Spain (Acts 19:21; Romans 15:28).

Paul in Macedonia and Greece (Acts 20:1-6)

1 After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. (ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV)

On his way to Macedonia Paul preached in Troas but, although there was a positive response (”the Lord had opened a door for me”), didn’t remain there but went on to Macedonia because he was anxious to meet Titus with news about the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). His visit to Macedonia may have lasted over a year and included the visit to Illyricum, a Roman province north of Macedonia, referred to in Romans 15:19.

The “three months,” most of which were likely spent in Corinth, would be the winter months when ships didn’t sail regularly. Paul probably wrote Romans at this time to prepare the Christians of Rome for the visit which he hoped to make to them soon. I’ll consider it in my next article in this series on the life of Paul.

The men who accompanied Paul were likely the official representatives of the churches which Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 16:3-4. Their being with him would prevent even the appearance of his misusing the funds and as well would give safety from robbery. They sailed from a Corinthian port to Troas, but because Paul had heard of a plot by the Jews against him (apparently to kill him on the ship), he went to Troas through Macedonia instead.

The “us” and “we” show that Luke rejoined Paul in Corinth, and their use in 20:5-15, 21:1-18, and 28:16 indicate that he remained with him through the rest of Acts, accounting for its containing the kind of details found in a travel journal.
postAEutychus Raised from the Dead (Acts 20:7-16)

7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. 13 But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. 15 And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we went to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

If “to break bread” refers to celebrating the Lord’s Supper, verses 7-11 is the first reference in Acts to believers meeting together to worship on the first day of the week. The “many lamps” and the “speech until midnight” probably combined to make Eutychus become drowsy and fall from the window. His being “taken up dead” not “taken up as dead” indicates that he was killed by the fall, and so Paul’s “his life is in him” refers to Eutychus’ having his life restored, the last occurrence of raising the dead in the Bible.

Paul probably chose “to sail past Ephesus” because visiting it would involve many farewells, which would take time and make it harder to reach Jerusalem by the Day of Pentecost. However he did request its elders to come to him at Miletus while the ship was unloading and loading its cargo, and when they came he addressed them and prayed with them (Acts 20:17-38). His address to them being the only recorded speech by him to believers, I’ll consider it in a separate post.
postBOn to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-16)

1 And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed 6 and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”

15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.

When Paul addressed the Ephesian elders in Miletus, he told them, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me” (Acts 20:22-23). Now in Tyre, when some disciples were shown by the Spirit what would happen to Paul if he went to Jerusalem, they pleaded with him not to go. However his mind was already made up and he continued on his journey. His disregarding their warnings wasn’t disobedience to the Spirit because it was the Spirit who compelled him to go to Jerusalem (20:22, just quoted, and possibly 19:21).

Caesarea was the closest port to Jerusalem. Philip was one of the seven chosen by the church in Jerusalem in Acts 6:1-6 to preside over the daily distribution of food to needy widows. When the persecution that followed the stoning of Stephen scattered the Jerusalem church, Philip became a travelling evangelist, beginning in Samaria and ending up in Caesarea (Acts 8:4-40). Now, twenty years later, he was still there. Apparently his four daughters were dedicated in a special way to serve the Lord.

While Paul and his companions were still in Caesarea, Agabus, who had earlier prophesied a coming famine (Acts 11:28), came down from Jerusalem and acted out (Old Testament prophets often acted out their prophecies) a prophetic warning similar to the ones Paul had been receiving ever since he’d begun his journey to Jerusalem. Paul’s companions (including Luke–”we”) and the others there urged him not to go to Jerusalem, but on his affirming his willingness to die for the name of the Lord Jesus they stopped, saying, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”