Category Archives: Pentecostal Doctrine

19-22. The Last Things

In our last meeting the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied “19. The Blessed Hope,” “20. The Millennial Reign of Christ,” “21. The Final Judgment,” and “22. The New Heavens and New Earth” of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. All five current members of the group attended. We opened with Leonora, my wife, leading us in singing and prayer; we discussed additional members and study subjects for 2016-17; we considered the sheet on “The Last Things” which I’d given out the previous week, reading all the Scripture passages except Revelation 21-22 and discussing the statements; and Ray Noble took prayer requests and brought them to the Lord in prayer. We didn’t close with lunch as we usually do because we’d preceded the meeting with a meal celebrating the 21st birthday of one of our members, my son Robert. The contents of the sheet follow.

We call the study of what God has planned for the future eschatology or “the last things.” The Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador (Article V of the PAONL’s General Constitution and By-Laws, 1998) contains the following Truths about the last things:

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 earth for one 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 God’s promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21, 22).

When I’d given out the “The Last Things” sheet the previous week, I’d accompanied it with sheets called “Views on the Great Tribulation” and “Views on the Time and Nature of the Millennium.” We browsed the former when discussing 19. The Blessed Truth but didn’t look at the latter. Thus I’ll share just the former here. It follows.

Views on the Time of the Great Tribulation

The Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador says: “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” (Truth 19). However some premillennialists hold that the Rapture takes place after the Great Tribulation. Their view is called posttribulationism and our view is called pretribulationism.

Posttribulationists make these arguments:
1. The tribulation is clearly linked with the Lord’s return in Matthew 24:29-31, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (ESV).
2. The New Testament nowhere clearly says that the church will be taken out of the world before the tribulation. Moreover the only passage that explicitly speaks of the church’s being caught up, “[T]he Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, ESV) seems to describe something that is open and public.
3. The idea of two separate returns of Christ, once for his church before the tribulation and seven years later with his church to bring judgment, is nowhere explicitly taught anywhere in the New Testament.

Pretribulationists make these arguments:
1. Revelation 3:10, “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth” (ESV), seems to indicate that the church will be taken out of the world before the great tribulation. Other Bible passages which indicate that the church will not go through the great tribulation are Luke 21:36; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
2. Since the great tribulation is a time of the outpouring of God’s wrath on the earth, it would not be appropriate for Christians to be on the earth at that time.
3. If Christ comes before the tribulation, he could come at any time, which is consistent with the many Bible passages which indicate that he could come at any time. Some of those passages are Matthew 24:42,44; Matthew 25:13; Mark 13:35-37; Luke 12:40; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 4:7).

Stanley M. Horton, an Assemblies of God scholar cautions, “[L]et us not allow differences of opinions with respect to the time of the Rapture separate believers…. A ‘crown of righteousness’ is not limited to those who have right ideas about the Rapture, but is promised ‘to all who have longed for his appearing’ (2 Tim. 4:8). The commendation that we all want to hear is ‘well done, good and faithful servant!’ So let us all be about the Lord’s business and, at the same time, keep that longing for, that expectation of Christ’s coming, which might take place at any moment.” (Our Destiny, Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1996, pages 133-34)

16-17. The Church and Ministry

In our last meeting the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied “16. The Church and Its Mission” and “17. The Ministry and Evangelism” of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Four attended. We opened with Leonora, my wife, leading us in singing and prayer; we considered the sheet on “The Church and The Ministry” that I’d given out in a previous meeting, reading all the Scripture passages except 1 Corinthians 12-14 and discussing the statements; Ray Noble took prayer requests and brought them to the Lord in prayer; and we closed with lunch. The sheet follows.

16. The Church and Its Mission

The Church is the Body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointment for the fulfilment 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 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:

A. To be an agency of God for evangelizing the world (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16).

B. To be a corporate body in which man may worship God (1 Corinthians 12:13).

C. To be 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; 1 Corinthians 12-14).

C. Enables them to respond to the full working of the Holy Spirit in expression of fruit, gifts and ministries as in 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 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).

14-15. The Sacraments

Last evening the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied “14. The Lord’s Supper” and “15. Water Baptism” of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Four attended. We opened with Leonora, my wife, leading us in singing and prayer; we considered the sheet on “The Sacraments” that I’d given out in a previous meeting; Ray Noble took prayer requests and brought them to the Lord in prayer; and we closed with lunch. The contents of the sheet follow, supplemented by a few comments by me, which are italicized.

A sacrament is a ceremony instituted by Jesus Christ and observed by Christians as a sign of God’s grace or as a means for them to receive God’s grace in their lives. Like other Protestants we recognize two sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Roman Catholics recognize seven). Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on the night of his betrayal (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), and he commissioned the eleven to baptize converts before his ascension to Heaven (Matthew 28:18-20). Here is what the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador says about the two sacraments.

14. The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements of bread and fruit of the vine, is the symbol expressing our sharing the 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 Christ’s death, raised by the might of His power to walk in newness of life, yielding his members as instruments of righteousness unto God as those who are alive from the dead. It is not a saving ordinance, but is essential in obedience to the Gospel. Baptism, according to Scripture, should be administered by single immersion, and according to the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19.

I explained that we’d consider 15. Water Baptism before 14. The Lord’s Supper because a person is usually baptized in water as a sign of his or her becoming a Christian before he or she begins observing the Lord’s Supper as a Christian.

Baptism

Although there is agreement among Christians that baptism is connected with the beginning of the Christian life and of one’s initiation into the church, there is disagreement about what it means, whom it should be done to, and how it should be done.

“Water Baptism is an outward sign, seal or expression of an inward death, burial and resurrection.” Two passages which indicate that baptism symbolizes the believer’s union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection are Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:12. “It is not a saving ordinance.” The reason for this assertion is that some Christians hold that baptism is a saving ordinance, Roman Catholics holding that it saves by itself and Lutherans holding that faith is a prerequisite. Some passages which seem to support their view are Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Acts 22:16, Titus 3:5, and 1 Peter 3:21. However I understand those passages to show that baptism symbolizes our being cleansed from sin rather that to affirm that it cleanses us from sin. Although recognizing that the passages seem to connect water baptism and salvation, the others in our group agreed with me.

Although some churches baptize the children of believing adults as well as the adults, we limit baptism to believers, those who have met the conditions for salvation—repentance and faith. In the New Testament water baptism was administered to believers when or shortly after they made a profession of faith. Some passages in Acts describing this are 2:41, 8:12, 10:46-48, 16:14-15, and 16:32-33. Those who affirm infant baptism note that the last two of those passages refer to the baptism of households, but there is no indication that those households included children.

“Baptism…should be administered by single immersion.” Although historically baptism has been done by immersion (dipping the subject under water), affusion (pouring water on the subject), and sprinkling (sprinkling water on the subject), in the New Testament it seems to have been administered just by immersion. As well the symbolism of the believer’s union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection seems to require baptism by immersion.

I noted that “Baptism…should be administered…according to the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19” was probably included in 15. Water Baptism because of the insistence by Oneness Pentecostals that baptism should be in the name of Jesus rather than in the name of the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

The Lord’s Supper

“The Lord’s Supper [consists] of the elements of bread and fruit of the vine.” Christians disagree on the relationship between the elements and the body and blood of Jesus Christ. We believe that the elements just symbolize his body and blood (see the next paragraph), but Roman Catholics believe that they actually become his body and blood when the priest says “This is my body” during Mass (their name for the Lord’s Supper), a view called transubstantiation. They believe that when this happens Christ’s sacrifice is repeated and that grace is imparted to those present. Although Lutherans don’t believe that the elements actually become the body and blood of Christ, they believe that his physical body and blood are present “in, with, and under” them, a view called consubstantiation.

“The Lord’s Supper…is the symbol expressing our sharing the 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).” Theologians identify additional things symbolized by the Lord’s Supper, including the benefits of Christ’s death (Matthew 26:26-28), spiritual nourishment (John 6:53), and the unity of believers (1 Corinthians 10:17).

Although Protestants generally agree that because the Lord’s Supper is a sign of being a Christian only those who believe in Christ should participate in it, some theologians argue from the meanings of baptism and the Lord’s Supper that only those who are or plan to be baptized should participate in the Lord’s Supper and some churches restrict participation in it to their own members and/or specify a minimum age for participating in it. We practise what is called “open Communion” (“Communion” is another name for the Lord’s Supper), which means that all believers present are invited to participate. However often the pastor encourages us to examine ourselves before participating, as Paul told the Corinthians to do (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). We had an interesting discussion of this paragraph. For example, we considered whether Communion should be observed in children’s services, concluding that it shouldn’t be.

Ordinarily the pastor or other leader who officiates at a church’s worship service should officiate at the Lord’s Supper too. However there doesn’t seem to be any reason why only leaders should distribute the elements and our church invites different members of the congregation to share in distributing them.

In the original Lord’s Supper a single loaf of unleavened bread and a single cup of wine were used. However often substitutes are used that retain the symbolism; our church uses wafers and small glasses of grape juice.

Throughout much of church history most of the church has celebrated the Lord’s Supper every week. However since the Reformation many Protestant groups have celebrated it less often; our church celebrates it once a month.

13. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Last evening the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied “13. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Four attended. We opened with Leonora, my wife, leading us in singing and prayer; we considered the sheet on “13. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” that I’d given out in a previous meeting; Ray Noble took prayer requests and brought them to the Lord in prayer; and we closed with lunch. The contents of the sheet follow, supplemented by a few comments by me, which are italicized.

In our study of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador we’ve finally come to the Truth which distinguishes Pentecostals from most other Christians:

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 2:4, Hebrews 12:28); intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work (Acts 2:42); and a more active love for Christ, His Word, and 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 the 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 with 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.

We didn’t read the Scripture texts, my explaining that we’d read most of them in going through the rest of the sheet.

The Promise of Baptism in the Holy Spirit

During the last recorded appearance of Jesus to his disciples in Jerusalem, he told them, “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV). He went on to say about the promise of the Father, “[which] you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5). Then after leading them out to the Mount of Olives from which he was about to ascend into Heaven, he told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The Purpose of Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Baptism in the Spirit is associated with power for witnessing in Acts 1:8, quoted above. Other benefits of receiving it are described in the closing sentence of the opening paragraph of the Truth 13 (see above). It also opens the door for the activities of the Holy Spirit that are commonly called spiritual gifts, “supernatural abilities given by God through the exercising of which believers are enabled to minister effectively and directly in particular situations [1 Corinthians 12:4-11]” (Truth VI, 4 of the Statement of Fundamental & Essential Truths of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada).

The Initial Evidence of Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Before his ascension, Jesus told the eleven not to leave Jerusalem but to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father which he had told them about, “for…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). Peter told the crowd which gathered on the day of Pentecost that what they had seen and heard was the fulfilment of that promise (2:33). Thus, Acts 2:1-4 comprises the first description of people being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (2:1-4)

Peter went on to tell the crowd that they would also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit if they would repent and be baptized, “[f]or the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off” (2:38-39). Acts refers to four subsequent occasions on which ones were baptized in the Holy Spirit: the Samaritan believers (8:14-17), Paul (9:17-19), the Gentiles gathered in the house of Cornelius (10:44-48), and the Ephesian disciples (19:1-7).

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. (8:14-17)

17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened. (9:17-19)

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (10:44-48)

1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all. (19:1-6)

We didn’t read the Scripture texts, our having read them in preparing for the meeting.

The chart below shows what preceded and marked each of the five occurrences of baptism in the Holy Spirit in Acts.

RECIPIENTS & REFERENCE — WHAT PRECEDED AND MARKED BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
the believers gathered together on the day of Pentecost (2:1-4) — preceded by a wind-like sound that filled the house and “tongues as of fire” that rested on each; accompanied by speaking in other tongues “the mighty works of God” (2:11)
the Samaritan believers (8:14-17) — preceded by Peter and John’s praying for and laying hands on them; seen to be received by Simon the magician, suggesting some unusual manifestation of the Spirit’s presence (8:18-19)
Paul (9:17-19) — preceded by Ananias’s laying his hands on Paul; accompanied or followed by the restoration of Paul’s sight and his being baptized
the Gentiles gathered in the house of Cornelius (10:44-48) — occurred while Peter was preaching; marked by their speaking in tongues and extolling God; served as evidence to Peter and the Jews that God had given salvation to them (11:18) and they could be baptized
the Ephesian disciples (19:1-7) — preceded by their being baptized and Paul’s laying his hands on them; accompanied by their speaking in tongues and prophesying

On the sheet I gave the above as a chart.

Speaking in tongues is referred to in three of the five accounts, but it isn’t mentioned in the accounts of the Samaritan believers or of Paul. However that some external manifestation such as speaking in tongues occurred when the Samaritan believers received the Holy Spirit is implied by Simon’s offering money to buy the power to impart the gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. And although Acts records Ananias’s telling Paul that Jesus had sent him so that Paul might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t actually say that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit at that time, let alone giving details about how he was filled. Thus, in light of his saying later, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (1 Corinthians 14:18), Paul too may have spoken with tongues when he was first filled with the Holy Spirit.

Thus, I think that the Pentecostal doctrine that the initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues rests on a solid Biblical foundation.

The others in the group agreed with me that the Pentecostal doctrine that the initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues rests on a solid Biblical foundation.

11-12. The Holy Life

Earlier this week the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied Truths 11 and 12 of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Four attended. We opened with Leonora, my wife, leading us in singing and prayer; we considered the sheet on “The Holy Life” that I’d given out in a previous meeting; Ray Noble took prayer requests and brought them to the Lord in prayer; and we closed with lunch.

In our study we considered “12. Sanctification or the Holy Life” before “11. The Believer’s Obedience.” Here is what it says:

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 of God.

To explain what it means by entire, instantaneous, and progressive sanctification, I shared from the section “Sanctification in Assemblies of God Teaching” in Stanley M. Horton’s contribution to Five Views on Sanctification (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1987).

Horton opens his consideration of instantaneous sanctification by quoting this statement by Ralph W. Harris, “Sanctification is instantaneous, for the moment a person believes in Christ he is separated from sin and unto God” (page 115). After discussing this initial sanctification, which he also calls “positional sanctification,” Horton concludes, “By Christ’s sacrifice, sinful persons are put into perfect relationship with God. We are sanctified, dedicated, consecrated, set apart for God and for His worship and service. As we walk with Jesus in simple faith, we are made partakers of the fruit of His obedience. We are set free to do God’s will” (page 116).
Among the Bible passages that Horton cites in his discussion are:
– “Because of him [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30, ESV; all Biblical quotations made by me are from the ESV).
– “By that will [the will of God accomplished in Christ] we have been sanctified through the offering of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

Horton begins his consideration of progressive sanctification by citing several Bible passages that show that it is needed, such as Paul’s addressing the Corinthians as “people of the flesh [and] infants in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1) and his many exhortations to grow in grace including “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires…be renewed in the spirit of your minds…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Next Horton identifies means appointed by God to provide for our progressive sanctification: the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible. Among the Bible passages that he cites are:
– “But if we walk [keep walking] in the light, as he is in the light, we have [keep on having] fellowship with one another [between us and God], and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses [keeps on cleansing, purifying] us from all sin” (1 John 1:7; the phrases in square brackets are from Horton, but most commentators understand “fellowship with one another” to refer to fellowship among Christians).
– “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)..
– “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Horton cautions that we must “respond to both the Word and the Spirit in faith and obedience … for sanctification to become actual and experiential in our lives” (page 123).

Horton observes that Assemblies of God writers and preachers use the term entire sanctification in three different ways. Sometimes they use it of believers who “live up to the light they have” (page 123). Sometimes they use it of believers who “live a life of victory over temptations” (page 124). And sometimes they use it of “the state to which we shall be transformed at Christ’s second coming” (page 125).
Personally I understand it to occur at death for our souls and when Jesus returns for our bodies. Bible passages indicating this include:
– “You have come to Mount Zion … to the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22-23).
– “From it [heaven] we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).

I prefaced our consideration of “11. The Believer’s Obedience to God” with the observation that neither the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada nor the Assemblies of God, sister fellowships of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador, includes a similar truth in its statement of fundamental and essential truths. Here is what the truth says:

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 obligation 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 with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1:7).

I asked the group: “Why do you think that the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador includes it? Do you think that it should be included?” They responded by observing that many Christians, including Pentecostals, live as if they believe in antinomianism, illustrating by noting that even within the church which we attend there are men and women living together who aren’t married. Although I agreed that we certainly need to be warned against antinomianism, I questioned whether such a warning need to be included in our Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths when neither the PAOC nor the AG includes such a truth in its statement.
So far I haven’t been able to find out why the PAONL decided to include the truth in its statement. If any reader knows why, I’d appreciate your letting me know either in a comment on this post or by e-mail.

8-10. The Salvation Provided by Christ

Last evening the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied Truths 8, 9, and 10 of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Five attended. We opened with singing led by Leonora, my wife, and with prayer by Russell Froude; we considered the sheet on “The Salvation Provided by Christ” that I’d given out in a previous meeting; Ray Noble took prayer requests and brought them to the Lord in prayer; and we closed with lunch.

A copy of the sheet follows. I read the introduction and “Definitions of Experiences in Salvation” and others read the Truths from the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. When reading the introduction, I explained that not all Christian groups understand the experiences as taking place in the order given. When reading “Definitions of Experiences in Salvation,” I stopped after each definition for comments and questions and we had a good discussion of some of them. I did the same after the reading of each Truth, but there was no discussion on them, possibly because it was getting late.

[MATERIAL ON SHEET]

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV).

Building on what Paul says in these verses, theologians identify a number of experiences in the process of going from a sinful state to full salvation. According to Systematic Theology: A Pentecostal Experience (Stanley M. Horton, editor, Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1994), Pentecostals understand those experiences as taking place in this order: foreknowledge, election, predestination, calling, repentance, faith, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification (page 355). Below are definitions of each of the experiences and what the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador says about a few of them. This evening we’ll consider the definitions, except for “sanctification” and “glorification,” and Truths 8, 9, and 10.

Definitions of Experiences in Salvation

Most of the definitions are taken from the Glossary of Systematic Theology: A Pentecostal Experience (see above); they are followed by “(Horton).” Definitions of experiences not defined in it are from the Glossary of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994/2000) and followed by “(Grudem)” or from The Random House Dictionary of the English Language (New York: Random House, 1966/67) and followed by “(RHD).” Words and phrases in square brackets are insertions by me.

foreknowledge – the knowledge God has of things and events before they occur. (Horton)
election the choice by God of individuals, as for a particular work, or especially for salvation or eternal life. (RHD)
predestination – the teaching that God chooses [determines] something in advance. He predestined that Jesus would be the Head of the Church and that the Church would be a chosen Body that He will glorify when Jesus returns. Calvinists believe that God predestines individuals to be saved. This come from Calvin’s philosophy [theology], not from the Bible. (Horton)
calling – an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel [the gospel call], in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond to him in saving faith (Grudem)
repentance – a change of the basic attitudes toward God and Christ, which involves a turning away from sin and a seeking of God’s rule and righteousness. (Horton)
faith belief in God and Christ expressed in wholehearted, trusted obedience. Biblical faith is always more than believing something is true. It always has God and Christ as its object. (Horton)
regeneration – the Holy Spirit’s work of giving new life to the sinner who repents and believes in Jesus. (Horton) It is often called “being born again.”
justification – God’s act of declaring and accepting a person as righteous in His sight. God pardons sinners who accept Christ and treats them as not guilty—just as if they had never sinned. (Horton)
adoption – that act of sovereign grace by which God gives all the rights, privileges, and obligations of being in His family to those who receive Jesus Christ. (Horton)
sanctification – the work of the Holy Spirit that separates believers from sin and evil and dedicates them to the worship and service of the Lord. There is an initial act of sanctification at conversion and a continuing process of sanctification as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in putting to death wrong desires. (Horton)
glorification – the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own. (Grudem).

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” [Acts 20:21]. 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” [2 Corinthians 5:21].

7. The Atonement of Christ

Last evening the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied “7. The Atonement of Christ” in the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Four attended. My wife, Leonora, opened with singing and prayer; we considered the sheet on “7. The Atonement of Christ” that I’d given out in a previous meeting; Ray Noble took prayer requests and led us in prayer; and we closed with lunch.

A copy of the sheet follows. Besides reading it, we read each of the Bible passages referred to in it and considered how it supported the Statement. We also discussed how the atonement shows the love and justice of God.

[MATERIAL ON SHEET]

This evening we’re going to consider “7. The Atonement of Christ” in the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador (PAONL). “Atonement” is the work that Jesus Christ did in his death to make mankind and God at one. Here is what “7. The Atonement of Christ” says about it:

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 14:14,17,20; 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).

We’ll consider each statement in “7. The Atonement of Christ” guided by the definitions and comments given below it. We’ll also discuss how the Bible passages demonstrate the statement.

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).
“Salvation” is “deliverance from the power and effects of sin.”
“All men” refers to all people, not just to all men. Note that although salvation has been provided for all people, not all people have accepted it.
“Sacrifice” is “offering of something precious, such as the life of an animal, to a deity.”
Perhaps Isaiah 53:3-6 is intended instead of Isaiah 63:3-6.

It is the only perfect redemption, propitiation, satisfaction and substitutionary atonement for all sins of the world, both original and actual.
“Redemption” is “deliverance from captivity or other evil by payment of a ransom.”
“Propitiation” is “making favourably inclined.”
“Satisfaction” is “compensation or reparation for a wrong or injury.”
“Substitutionary” is “taking the place of.”
“Atonement” is “making at one of mankind and God.”
“Sin” is “breaking the law of God.” It is the topic of “6. Sin.”
“Original sin” is “the guilt and the tendency to sin that all people inherit because of Adam’s sin.”
This view of the atonement is generally known as the theory of penal substitution or the theory of vicarious atonement. “Penal” refers to Jesus’ bearing a penalty when he died and “substitution” refers to his being a substitute for us when he died. “Vicarious” refers to Jesus’ taking our place.
Although this view of the atonement is the view most generally held, several other views of it have been put forward in the history of the church, the best-known being:
1. The Ransom to Satan Theory, which holds that the ransom which Jesus paid was paid to Satan.
2. The Moral Influence Theory, which holds that Jesus died on the cross to show us how much God loves us, enticing us to love Him and thus obtain salvation from Him.
3. The Example Theory, which holds that Jesus died on the cross to provide an example to us of how much we should love God if we are to obtain salvation from Him.
4. The Moral Government Theory, which holds that Jesus died on the cross to demonstrate to us that God requires a penalty to be paid when His laws are broken. Jesus’ dying on our behalf allows God to forgive us our sins while preserving the moral government of the universe.
The main criticism made of each of the four theories is that it doesn’t account satisfactorily for the many Bible passages which refer to Christ as a sacrifice and propitiation.

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).
Although Acts 2:36 doesn’t demonstrate the statement by itself, “therefore” indicates that it does when taken with what precedes it.
Although 1 John 2:2 describes Christ’s atoning work, it doesn’t seem to connect it with His resurrection from the dead.

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).
“Repent” means “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault that one tries to change one’s life.”
“Believe” means “to accept the truth of and trust in something.”
Repentance and belief are the topic of “9. Repentance and Faith.”
“Born again” refers to God’s giving new life to us. It is the topic of “8. Regeneration or New Birth.”
“Eternal life” is described by Jesus in John 17:3 as a life in which ones “know you [the Father] the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you [He] have sent.” It also means “everlasting life.”
Although neither Acts 20:21 nor 1 Peter 1:23,25 demonstrates the statement by itself, they do when taken together.

Furthermore, in the Atonement, divine healing was provided for all believers (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16b,17).
“Divine healing” means “restoration to health of one by the supernatural intervention of God.”
Its importance to us is shown by our “Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths” devoting a Truth, “18. Divine Healing,” to it. It says: “Divine healing is an integral part of the Gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the Atonement, and is the privilege of the Church (Isaiah 53:4, 5; Matthew 8:16, 17; James 5:13, 16).” We’ll consider it when we reach that Truth.

We’ll close our study by considering why Christ came to earth and died for our sins. The Bible attributes his doing so to the love and justice of God.
The love of God as a cause of the atonement is expressed in the Bible’s most familiar passage, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).
The justice of God as a cause of the atonement is expressed in Romans 3:25-26, “God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood…to show God’s righteousness, because in divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (ESV).