Monday, January 17, 2011

Pentecostal Manifesto

Pentecostal Manifesto
A Public Declaration of Our Beliefs, Practices, & Intentions

Acts 2:1-4
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

What is a Manifesto?
The word, “Manifesto” has been used in connection with other movements, ideologies, and political affiliations.  The word “Manifesto” is derived from the Italian language and it means “Clear”.  The purpose of a “Manifesto” is to make it “Clear” what a group believes, practices, and intends.   The most famous use of the word “Manifesto” was penned by Karl Marx & Fredrick Engels and is titled “The Communist Manifesto”.  Other “Manifestos” that have been produced are:
1.                 The Anarchist Manifesto (1850)
2.                 The Humanist Manifesto (1850)
3.                 The Fascist Manifesto (1919)
4.                 The Cannibal Manifesto (1928)
5.                 America’s “Declaration of Independence”
6.                 Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America”
7.                 The Homosexual Manifesto
A Manifesto lays out openly what a group believes and intends for the future.  When Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848 they clearly told the whole world what their ideology and plans for the Communist movement were.  Their book ignited a fire in those that came after and by the middle of the 20th century over one half of the world was under the rule of communist governments.  Their Manifesto worked to galvanize followers to act.  It is my hope that this Pentecostal Manifesto will do the same.

What is the Basis for Our Movement?
Our text is the first reference in the Bible to a “Pentecostal” experience.  With great faith we continue to look back at these scriptures.  What God did for the early Church was repeated throughout the Book of Acts and upheld in the theological writings of the Apostle Paul as the normative experience for all believers.  Our movement is NOT based on the fanciful ideas of modern preachers, but on the solid basis of the Word of God.
One Baptist woman asked me one time, “Where do you Pentecostals get all of that speaking in tongues from?”  My answer to her (obviously she never read the Bible) was, “From your Bible”.  We did not invent “Speaking in Tongues”, shouting, dancing in the Spirit, clapping our hands, lifting our hands in worship, anointing the sick with oil, laying hands on to pray for others, the operation of the Gifts of the Spirit, prayer cloths, and fiery preaching.  All of these experiences are common in a prayed-up Pentecostal Church.  All of these experiences are in the Word of God –the same Bible that Baptists read from.
So, our movement is based on a solid belief of the Word of God.  We do not try to “explain away” the experiences of the New Testament.  We do not try to relegate the all-important experiences of the Book of Acts as being only for the formative period of the Church but no longer needed for today (who made that decision and why does the Bible not say as much?). 
We closely, and fundamentally, hold to the Word of God as the perfect rule of faith and conduct.  Our Doctrine is the Word of God.  We fundamentality believe in the scripture.  We believe that the literal interpretation of Scripture is the first way to understand scripture.  We teach and preach both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  We believe that the Bible is the Word of God to mankind.  The Pentecostal Movement has always been based on the Word of God.  As much as in us now is we will continue to base our Movement on the Word of God.
We are NOT a rebellious offshoot of the Catholic Church.  We are not a splinter off of the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, or the Baptist.  We are the Original Church.  We are the Church that Jesus built!  Those 120 disciples that came out of the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost were speaking in tongues, they were shouting, and some supposed them to be drunk.  They all could lay hands on the sick and see them recover, they all could cast out devils, and they all lived holy lives!
There are no Catholics in the Book of Acts.  Where are the red-robed cardinals in the New Testament?  They cannot be found!  Where are the robed priests that lay the Eucharist on the tongue of the parishioner?  Where is the Holy Water?  Where are the gold covered crucifixes with the dying Jesus hanging on it?  Where is the celibate priesthood?  Where are the Mardi gras celebrations?  Where are the Day of the Dead celebrations?  None of this is in the Bible.  My friend, that is a counterfeit religion imposed on the world by the Devil and it does not represent the mind of God in any way.
We are not Calvinist and we reject the teachings of John Calvin that sets up two classes of humanity: those that can be saved and those that cannot.  We gladly offer the Gospel to all peoples regardless of race, skin color, sex, status, political affilation, or social standing.  This Gospel is for "Whosover will". 
On the Day of Pentecost the Church was speaking in tongues, they laid hands on the sick and saw them recover, they anointed the sick with oil, and they experienced the supernatural power of God.  This is the Church.  This is the will of God.  And this is what we must contend for.  We must not settle for anything less than what God promised us in the New Testament.

What Are Our Core Values?
You hear a lot today about “Core Values”.  This phrase has come into popular usage today.  What we call “Core Values” today we called “Beliefs & Doctrines” yesterday.  Core Values are central values.  They are the very basis of what we are.  There are many things that we believe but these are the most sacred.  What are the core values of the Pentecostal Church?  Here is a partial list:
1.    We believe that the shed blood of Jesus at Calvary washes our sins away - Not water baptism, not communion, not church membership, not confession.  We believe that every one must be “Born Again”, and it is this experience taken by faith.   This experience admits a person into the Kingdom of God.  In order for a person to experience the Baptism in the Holy Ghost they must first be Born Again.  In order to be "Born Again" a person must repent- turn from their sin and sinning.
2.    We believe in the Baptism of the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking in other tongues.  We will not budge on this doctrine!  It is scriptural, it is a part of the early church, it is a part of the modern church, and is the will of God for every believer to be “Filled with the Spirit”.  Every person that is baptized in the Holy Ghost will speak in other tongues.  The active movement of the Holy Ghost in our Churches will bring the Gifts of the Spirit into operation, and these gifts will glorify Christ and edify the Body of Christ.  We do not believe that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is an option – we believe that we were commanded by God to be “filled with the Spirit”.  Neither do we believe that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is redemptive - we still believe the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
3.    We believe in Divine Healing.  We believe that Jesus still heals today.  We believe that healing was purchased by the stripes laid on Jesus’ back and that He can, and will, heal today.  Healing is for the Church and it must be contended for.  Divine healing has always been a part of the Pentecostal Church and we will continue in this.
4.   We believe in the Rapture of the Church.  Let me add here: We believe in the imminent Rapture of the Church.  We believe Jesus is coming soon.  The Rapture is the hope of the Church and it is the desire of every Born Again believer.  The Rapture of the Church is the next great event on the calendar of the Church. 
5.    We believe in the Sanctification of the Believer.  We believe that the Blood of Jesus will cleanse you from all sin and that now the Believer is commanded to walk in holiness.  A marked degree of separation from the world will occur when a person is “walking in the Spirit”.  Though this is not popular today, we still hold to this unchanging principle of the Word of God.  God commands holiness in our walk with Him, He commands separation in our walk in this world.
6.   We believe in the Gifts of the Spirit- Not only do we believe these gifts are real but we believe they are for today.  We still believe that these gifts operate through a clean vessel.  We still believe that these gifts are for the edification of the Body of Christ.  We do recognize that there are charlatans in the Church that seek to abrogate and abuse these gifts but in no whatsoever do we reject the proper and orderly use of the gifts on the Spirit in our Churches.
7.    We believe in the five-fold Ministry- We still believe that God is calling men to be Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers.  We believe that these ministries are gifts from God.   We believe that the Church cannot be perfected apart from these ministries.
8.    We believe in the Divinity of Christ- We believe that Jesus has always been and that all things that are created were created “for Him and by Him”.  We believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  We believe that He was both the Son of God and the Son of Man.  We believe that He was born of virgin.  We believe that He died for our sins and had a bodily resurrection.  We belived that Jesus is the Son of God.

What Experiences Do We Hold Most Sacred?
There are seven great practices of the Pentecostal Church that we are known all over the world for:
1.      Holy Ghost Baptism evidenced by speaking in tongues- Everyone asks about our tongue talking.  This is what we are known for.  No other experience or manifestation is more closely linked to the Pentecostal Church than speaking in tongues.  It is the “Golden Arches” of the Church – it is our trademark.
2.      Our Praying- There is no people on earth that can pray like we do.  Sunday night, June 27, 2010, I preached this.  Guess what?  A local boy came staggering in the Church for prayer – he had just gotten a phone call that his Dad had passed away – this young man, Charlie, had never stepped one foot in our Church but he knew where to go when he needed prayer.  Each of us can relate similar stories.  People may hate us but they know who to call on when they need prayer.  We are known all over the world as a people of prayer. 
3.      Holy Living- People know us all over the world from the degree of separation that we live.  Unfortunately, this is changing.  We have always been known as “The Holy People”.  A Catholic couple quizzed me at some length about “Why we live holy lives?”  My friend, when you are in love with Jesus giving up things for His glory is not hard at all.  It is only difficult to those that do not have a burning love in their hearts for the Savior.  Sanctification is the means whereby God molds us into the image of His Son.  We believe that holiness is a matter of both the flesh and the spirit and we will not sacrifice one for the other.
4.      Our Preaching- Have you ever heard a non-Pentecostal preach?  What was it like?  It probably sounded like a dull and dry lecture.  Not so with an anointed Pentecostal preacher.  Our preachers are the best in the world.  They preach with fire – they preach with passion – they preach with the anointing.  We do not seek to persude men with education alone, but like the Apostle Paul we come in the demonstration and power of the Spirit.
5.      Our Worship- We have been known for our shouting, our dancing in the Spirit, our Jericho Marches, our lifting of holy hands, and so on.  Worship is a part of the Pentecostal experience.  It is the Holy Ghost that infuses our worship with fire.  Without the Holy Ghost the services would be dry and formal (just like the rest of the religious realm).
6.      Healing & Miracles- We are also known for the Supernatural.  Things happen in our churches!  Things that are unexplainable!  God is moving in our midst.  God still saves, heals, delivers, fills, and performs miracles.
7.      Our Zeal for Evangelism- We have always been evangelistic.  What I mean by “evangelistic” is that we wanted to share this good news with everyone.  There are no people on earth more determined to share their message than Pentecostals.  We must reach out to all of those around us, including other non-Pentecostal religions, to share the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ and the awesome power of being “filled with the Holy Ghost”.
For the Pentecostal Believer there is no experience more memorable than their Baptism in the Spirit.  All of us continually look back at this experience as our unique equipping by God for service.  It is not that we discount of repentant conversion.  Oh, no!  We were Born Again and that made it possible for the Holy Ghost to fill us.  As B. H. Clendennen used to tell about his salvation experience and his second trip to the altar the following night.  He related that the man praying for him asked, “Are you down here seeking the Holy Ghost?”  Bro. Clendennen asked him, “What is the Holy Ghost?” and the man said “Next”.  When B. H. Clendennen asked him if it was better than what he got last night when he repented of his sin the man replied, “No, but it will make what you got last night better”.
If we lose the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with speaking in other tongues, then we lose what it means to be Pentecostal.  It is this unique experience that most sets us apart from all other religions and denominations.  Whatever it takes we must not lose this experience.
We also believe in Holiness and Sanctification.  The Pentecostal Church has always stood for Holiness, and our membership up until recently has always been marked by a great degree of separation from the world.  We must contend for this!

What Are the Primary Challenges that We Face?
We are faced with many challenges, not the least of which is our age.  The Pentecostal Church is the First Church.  The Pentecostal Church is the Original Church.  The Pentecostal Church was born on the Day of Pentecost.  Any historian can trace our roots all the way back to the Upper Room.
Time always has a negative effect on things.  In our world around us, time will eventually kill every thing.  Time erodes mountains, changes the course of rivers, flattens hills, grows forests, changes generations of humans and animals, and changes ideas. 
This is the challenge that we face today.  There are those in our midst now that do not share our heritage, our beliefs, our convictions, and our desire for the future.  At one time the fringe movement in our midst was small and ineffectual – it hovered at our edges and we did not feel it was a legitimate threat to us. 
Today, it is no longer a fringe movement but is the fastest growing element in the Pentecostal Church.  The Charismatic churches, the liberal churches, and the Prosperity churches are the largest in America and the rest of the world.   Our old-fashioned churches that adhere to the “old paths” have grown smaller while these liberal churches have grown larger.  Preacher, do you think they are preaching the same Gospel that you are preaching?  Do their Church members share the same convictions that you and I share (recently I was at a restaurant and saw a family of five – the mother wore a t-shirt and on the front it said, “River of Life Christian Fellowship” – most likely a Charismatic Church – the adults were all drinking wine and cocktails)?  Folks that is not the same kind of Pentecostal that I am!  There is a difference!
This is our challenge!  The world is starting to think that the behavior of the liberal church is common practice in all Pentecostal Churches.  We must live this down!
At one time the Hagin-Copeland bunch were the wackos, they were the ones that were weird.  They hovered at the edges and we felt they were not a serious threat.  Now we are the weirdos.  They have taken over!   The fringe movement, the liberal Pentecostals (as B. H. Clendennen called them, "The Neo-Pentecostals), now hold most of the leadership positions in Pentecostal denominations.  They have the largest churches.  They are the ones that the community is looking to. 

What We Are Against
You cannot be “For” something without being “Against” something.  When a pollster calls the house they may say, “I am going to make a statement and I want you to tell me if you are ‘for” or ‘against’ this statement.
We are “for” the Holy Ghost filled life.  We are “for” diving healing.  We are “for” the virgin birth of Christ.  We are “for” the Gifts of the Spirit.  We are “for” the Rapture.  We are “for” the Blood of Jesus.  We are “for” the New Birth.  We are “for” sanctification.  We are “for” holiness.  We are “for” speaking in tongues.  We are “for” true worship.  We are “for” the five-fold ministry.  We are “for” tithing.  We are “for” being faithful.
But, what are we against?  We are against the modern Charismatic Movement.  We are against the Prosperity gospel.  We are against liberal theology.  We are against worldliness.  We are against deadness.  We are against liquor “sipping saints”.  We are against dead preaching.  We are against Hollywood.  We are against homosexuality.  We are against pornography.  We are against TBN.  We are against Calvinism. We are against the “other gospel”.
To Charismatic/Prosperity/TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network) Crowd we would like to say: We will preach against what you stand for.  We will expose your lies.  We will preach against you.  We will teach against you.  We will tell our church members to beware of you.  We will stand flat-footed in our pulpits and proclaim the truth about you.  You have twisted the scriptures and you preach "another gospel". 
To the lazy, lifeless, listless, lusterless members in our own ranks we would say this: Get in the altar and repent!  Get a prayer life!  Stop all of the wandering in and out of Church and get in!  Stir up the dead coals in your heart and catch on fire for God!  Repent of your ceaseless backsliding.  God will not allow you to be lukewarm – so get on fire!
To our Politicians we would like to say: We are tired of what you are doing to America!  We are tired of what you are doing to Europe!  We are tired of your liberal agenda.  We are tired of your lies.  We are tired of your empty promises.  We are tired of your scandals.  We are tired of your immorality.  We, in the Pentecostal Church, are praying for God to bring His judgment against all that oppose this Gospel.
To the Roman Catholic we would like to say: We have always been Protestant, meaning we protest your wicked abominations.  We pledge to you that we will not stop preaching this Gospel and reaching out to the religious in your ranks so they may see the truth.  We will preach day and night.  We will pray without ceasing.  It is our hope to rescue as many as we can from your foul ranks before the end comes.
To the False Prophets & False Preachers: We will continue to preach this uncompromising Gospel that will expose you for what you are.  We will continue to pull the sheepskins from off of your wolf nature to expose you for what you truly are.  We will preach without fear or favor.  We will preach loudly, boldly, and forcefully.  We will warn our congregations of your true nature and equip them with the word of God so they can stand against you.
To the Muslim: We are committed bringing the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ to you.  We do not believe that Allah is the same God as Jehovah God.  Our goal is to evangelize your nations and bring this Gospel to every home.  We will continue to preach that “There is no other name under Heaven whereby we MUST be saved”.
To the Homosexual: We will not accept your perverted lifestyle.  We will preach against your sin and wickedness.  We will warn our children of your dangers.  We will fight to preserve the traditional family of One Man and One Woman.
To Jezebels in our ranks: We will not bow to your wishes to run our Churches.  We will not cease day and night to preach and proclaim the truth that will liberate the Church from your lies.  We will not accept your worldly lifestyle.  We will stay true to the teachings of the Word of God.

What is Our Vision for the Future?
Earthquake!  There is already a seismic divide between the true Pentecostal Church and the false.  In places the gap between the two is narrow but it will get wider.
Within major Pentecostal denominations there are really two churches: a Liberal Church and a Traditional (True) Church.  These two are completely different!  How can that be?  They claim to serve the same Lord, share the same doctrine, support the same missionaries, go to the same conferences, and send their money to the same headquarters.  They may co-exist together for now but there are tremors already taking place.  The earthquake is coming!  This thing cannot stand.  Eventually Esau and Jacob are going to come into conflict!
Our vision for the True Pentecostal Church is for us to establish ourselves apart from the false. 
How will this be done?  We must expose the false for what it truly is.  We must use the gifts that God has given us to do this: preaching, teaching, testifying, and living a holy life apart from the world.   Whenever you see compromise, get as far away from it as you can!
The future is going to be tough for the Pentecostal Church but we have the Word of God to instruct us, the Holy Ghost to lead us, the Cross to crucify our flesh, and the Blood of Jesus to cleanse us.  We can make it!  We must not compromise!  This is our Manifesto!  This is our Pentecostal Manifesto!  
Right now the false has intermixed all around us and is in our midst.  But there is a people that will come out of a people!   We will stand for the truth and we will not compromise!
"If God be for us then who can be against us".

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