Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Disciplines of the Pentecostal/Holiness Church


Acts 6:1-8

1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.


It is my intention with this message to deal with the disciplines of the Pentecostal Church.  In dealing with those disciplines I want to look at them from four distinct viewpoints:

          1.       What did Jesus say about the Discipline?

2.       What was the practice of the 1st Century Church as recorded in the Book of Acts?

3.       What was the practice of the early Pentecostal Movement in America (Azusa St. and other notable outpourings)?

4.       And last, what is the practice of the Pentecostal Church today?

I believe that you will see that there is a vast disparity between what Jesus said, what the early Church practiced, what the early American Pentecostal Movement did, and what we are seeing practiced today.

In order for the Pentecostal Movement of today to be a vital movement we must once again return to our roots.  Many times you will hear people in our churches talk about “the good ole’ days” of yesterday.  It is also common to hear preachers say that they are “Old Fashioned” and that we need to go back to the “Old Paths”.  None of this is wrong.  We just need to define, especially for the younger generation, what is meant by “Old Fashioned”.  How far do we need to go back?  Fifty years?  One hundred years?  Two thousand years?

I have identified six major disciplines that are necessary for the Church to be healthy (there may be more but these are the ones that I will focus on at this time).  Our attitude towards these disciplines will determine our future.  These disciplines are:

1.       The Discipline of Prayer (prayer meetings, daily prayer, prayer for the sick, and worship).

2.       The Discipline of the Word (study, memorization, preaching, and teaching).

3.       The Discipline of The Assembly (for both of the above to take place in an ordered structure, the gifts of the Spirit, maturity, growth, ministry, faithfulness to the local assembly).

4.       The Discipline of Evangelism (witnessing, preaching, sending missionaries, helping the needy, and building churches).

5.       The Discipline of Giving (tithes and offerings, service to help those in need, the means of spreading the Gospel).

6.       The Discipline of Holiness (maturity, perfection, growth, sanctification, separation from the world).

Now, let’s look at each of these six disciplines in turn.


There can never be enough said about prayer.  Prayer is the centerpiece of the Church.  Without prayer we could not dare call ourselves a Church.  Prayer is what defines us as the People of God.

What did Jesus say about Prayer?  Did Jesus leave us an example of prayer?

1.       In Matthew 21:13 Jesus made it clear that God’s House was to be a “House of Prayer” and not a “Den of Thieves”.

2.       In Matthew chapter seventeen Jesus was able to deliver a boy from a devil.  When his disciples questioned why they were not able to deliver the boy Jesus said, “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting”.

3.       Jesus taught frequently on the subject of prayer and he gave us The Lord’s Prayer as a model.  He also taught the power of Secret Prayer in Matthew chapter six.

4.       Jesus left us many examples of His Prayer Life.  In Luke 6:12 he departed to a mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer.  In the Garden Gethsemane he prayed with such passion that his sweat became as drops of blood. 

Did the early church of the first century continue this pattern of prayer?  Here are a few scriptures from the Book of Acts:

Acts 1:14

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.

Acts 3:1

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer.

Acts 6:4

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Acts 12:5

Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

Acts 4:31

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together

Did the early American Pentecostal Movement give itself to the discipline of prayer?  Here are a few references from history:

Agnes Ozman, arguably one of the first to be baptized with the Holy Ghost in this modern outpouring, was filled while in a prayer meeting.

Frank Bartleman wrote this about the Revival at Azusa Street, “A volume of believing prayer is ascending to the throne night and day”. 

Every recorded meeting in the early days of the Pentecostal Revival in America was characterized by prayer.  All Night Prayer Meetings were common.  Fasting and Prayer were normal functions in the life of every believer.

Every Church had altars and they were full of seekers after every service.  At the Azusa Street Revival they started every day by 10:00 am and lasted to well after midnight.  Some volunteered to stay each night to keep the prayer fires burning until a new group would arrive in the morning.

William J. Seymour, the leader of the Azusa Street Revival only wrote one book, “The Doctrines and Disciplines of the Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission” and this is what he said about prayer in this book: “Prayer: private, family and public, consisting of deprecation, petition, intercession and thanksgiving.  Do you use each of these?  Do you forecast daily, wherever you are, to secure time for private devotion?  Do you practice it everywhere?  Do you ask everywhere: Have you family prayer?  Do you ask individuals: Do you use private prayer every morning and evening in particular? (page 107)  Do you miss your prayer meeting? (page 108).

What about today?  What is the modern Pentecostal Church’s attitude toward prayer? 

We still hear a lot about prayer in our Churches today but when it comes down to it there is very little actually being done.   Altar services usually last five minutes or less in most churches with the majority of the people remaining seated while just a handful pray.  And if you call a prayer meeting you will find yourself very lonely.

When is the last time you heard of an all night prayer meeting?  We claim that our health prevents us from fasting but we seem to be healthy enough to hunt, fish, shop, and go on vacation.  To sick to pray but not sick enough to play!


Like Prayer, the Word of God is also central to everything in the Church.

Did Jesus teach and preach the Word?  The answer to this is too simple to ignore.  Not only did Jesus teach the Word, He is the Word.  He taught and preached it from boats, in the houses of tax collectors, on street corners, in the Synagogues, from mountains, and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

John 8:31-32

 31 If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Did the 1st Century Church continue in the Word?

1.       The Apostles said, “we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

2.       The Book of Acts tells in 12:24 that “the Word of God grew and multiplied”.

3.       These early disciples were absolutely committed to preaching and teaching the Word of God at all costs.

When you look at the early Pentecostal Movement in America you will see the same pattern as in the 1st Century Church.  They loved the Word of God.  They were committed to the Word of God.  This is what William J. Seymour said about the Word of God:

“Searching the scriptures.  First: Reading; constantly some part of every day; regularly, all the Bible is order; carefully, with prayer; seriously, with prayer before and after; fruitfully, immediately practicing what you learn there.  Second: Meditating; at set times; by rule.  Third: Hearing, at every opportunity, with prayer before, at, after.  Have you a Bible always with you?”

What about the Pentecostal Church of today?

There is still preaching in our churches today?  But this preaching has degenerated into a soft, insubstantial goo that has very little resemblance to the preaching that was in the beginning.

One preacher resigned his Pastorate and the people told him, “You need to get a positive message like Joel Osteen.  He preaches on faith and hope.”  What Joel Osteen is preaching is not the Word of God – it is an Amway sales motivational speech!

I am not saying that we do not need encouraging messages – I preach those kinds of messages myself, but what I am saying is that we must also rebuke sin.  Paul wrote to Timothy and told him to “Preach the Word.  Be instant in season and out of season.  Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine”.  Reproof and Rebuke are negative.  Exhorting is positive.  From this I believe that 2/3 of our preaching needs to be corrective in nature and 1/3 encouraging.

The trend today is moving to a Hollywood style service.  Many churches are removing the pulpit and placing couches, stuffed chairs, and coffee tables on the platform.  The pastor sits in his recliner and gives a Bible lesson.  They have guest speakers and the Pastor interviews them while they sip their espressos.  They don’t want preaching – what they want is Good Morning America!  They want the Oprah Winfrey Show!

Almost all of the big mega-churches have a “Fine Arts Minister” on the staff now.  Their job is to put together plays, skits, musicals, cantatas to entertain the masses.  It used to be that we went to the Assembly of the Saints to hear old-fashioned preaching but today most people are bored with that.  They want something else!

 I love this verse for it says it so well concerning the preaching of the Word:

Titus 1:3

But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

Preaching is still God’s grandest way of revealing Himself!  There is no substitute!


What I mean by, “The Discipline of the Assembly” is the coming together of God’s people to have what we like to call, “Church”.  The writer of the Book of Hebrews said:

Hebrews 10:25

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Jesus constantly was gathering people together to teach and preach to them.  His greatest revelations were given to the Apostles when they gathered together to hear Him share them.

In the Book of Acts it was no different.  They continued this Discipline.  How frequently did they meet?  Look at these scriptures:

Acts 2:1

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Acts 2:46

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Acts 4:31

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Acts 11:26

And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Acts 20:20

And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,

Nothing changed in the early Pentecostal Movement in America.  They continued in frequent meetings. 

1.       The Azusa Street Revival lasted for 3 ½ years without interruption. 

2.       Revival Meetings would often last for weeks, and sometimes even months.

3.       Campmeetings were everywhere and people traveled from afar to support these meetings.

4.       The trend was to have as many church meetings as possible.

What has happened today?

1.       The trend today is “Less is More”.

2.       Most churches have already turned out their mid-week service and many more are now eliminating the Sunday night service.

3.       No prayer meetings.  No revivals.  No Campmeetings.

4.       In Polk County, Texas, where I live, a Campmeeting that lasted for 34 years was closed down due to a lack of interest among the ministry and the laity.  Bro. B. H. Clendennen used to preach to several thousand people at this Campmeeting.  In later years the attendance dropped and people stopped coming.  So what did the preachers in charge of it do?  Did they call a prayer meeting to fix the problem?  No!  They just closed it down!  Today this great Campmeeting is only a memory to those of us that were so privileged to attend.

5.       Some churches still have Sunday night services but they only have half the crowd on Sunday night that they had on Sunday morning and if they have a Wednesday night service it halves again.  People today have lost the discipline of the assembly!  They are no longer faithful to the attend Church services!


It almost goes without saying to say that Jesus was evangelistic.  He was always sharing the Gospel.

1.       Jesus said that He came to “seek and to save that which is lost”.

2.       He commanded His disciples to do the same and said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”.

The 1st Century Church did just that.

1.       On the day of Pentecost 3,000 souls were added to the Church (Acts chapter two).

2.       Shortly thereafter another 5,000 souls were added (Acts 4:4).

3.       In the Book of Acts “The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.”

4.       The 1st Century Church was unashamedly evangelistic.  They went everywhere preaching and sharing the Gospel.

The early American Pentecostal Church was no different.

1.       They actively spread the Gospel everywhere they went.

2.       New converts and churches spread across America like wildfire. 

3.       It was recorded that 30,000 people were added to the Pentecostal Church in the Revival in Houston, Texas that was conducted by Charles Parham.

4.       There is no way to estimate how many were added at Azusa Street but it most likely was in the hundred’s of thousands.

5.       Missionaries spread out from America and went into “all the world”.

Today the Modern Pentecostal Movement is still growing.  Foreign Missions are still a major emphasis.  The problem is that much of what is called missions work today is more “Community Organization” than actual preaching.  Many so-called “Missionaries” today are no longer preachers and teachers but are “Secretaries”, “Bureaucrats”, and “Organizers”.


Giving has always been a part of the Church.  We believe in tithing, special offerings, missionary offerings, and giving of one’s self to the Kingdom of God.


Jesus said much about giving:

1.       Matthew 6:2

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

2.       Mark 12:42-44

42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

          3.       Luke 6:38

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

The 1st Century Church continued this trend and they gave.

1.       Acts 4:34-35

34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

          2.       Acts 2:44-45

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

The early American Pentecostal Church gave of all of their possessions to spread this gospel.  William J. Seymour said this of giving, “We must support the Gospel or the Gospel will die on our hands and the enemy will get in and destroy the flock of God”.

Today giving has dropped off in many Pentecostal Churches.  Most major Pentecostal denominations report that only 20% of their memberships pay tithes.  Giving to foreign missions has also dropped off.


Did Jesus teach his followers to live holy and separated lives from the world?

1.       Matthew 5:48

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

2.       Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

3.       Matthew 23:25-26

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Did the 1st Century Church continue the discipline of Holiness and Sanctification?  You need only read the writings of the Apostles to get your answer.

1.       2 Corinthians 6:14-17

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

2.       Hebrews 12:14

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

3.       2 Corinthians 7:1

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Did the early American Pentecostal Church believe in Holy Living?

1.       They taught that going to theatres was wrong.

2.       They taught that listening to worldly music was wrong.

3.       They taught that dancing was wrong.

4.       They taught that immodest dress was wrong.

5.       They taught that mixed bathing was wrong.

6.       They taught that gambling was wrong.

7.       They taught Alcohol use was wrong.

8.       They taught a distinction between the sexes in dress and hairstyles was appropriate.

9.       They taught that young couples did not date without a chaperone.

10.     They taught tattoos and body piercing was wrong.

What about today?  Where do I start?

1.       Today anything goes.

2.       Today’s Pentecostal drink socially. 

3.       They dress in shorts and even go to church this way.

4.       They go to theatres.

5.       They listen to worldly music.

6.       They tell dirty jokes.

7.       They dress so immodestly and indecently that it is appalling.

8.       They get tattoos, pierce their bodies, and dress in the same clothes that punk rock groups dress in.

9.       There is very little to distinguish the modern Pentecostal from anybody else on the streets.

10.     Today there is “Christian Rock” in many so-called Pentecostal churches.

11.     There are “Christian Night Clubs” where the “spirit-filled” patrons drink cocktails and dance the night away to “Christian Pop”.

12.     Some Churches offer Christian tours to go gamble in Las Vegas.

13.     Hollywood Celebrities are welcomed in the pulpits of some spirit-filled churches.

14.     Nightclub singers sing at the Church on Sunday and at the nightclubs on Friday and Saturday.

15.     Nothing is sacred.  If you stand up and proclaim that God demands holiness then you will be labeled a “Legalist” or a “Pharisee”.

What happened to the discipline of Holiness?  Today when you talk about Holiness and Sanctification you will be accused of Legalism.  I would rather be legal than illegal!  Jesus still expects us to be Holy!

In Conclusion

As you can no doubt tell, there is much difference in what is being seen in some churches today as compared to the original Church of the Book of Acts.  Oh, I know there is truth today and there is a holy remnant that has remained faithful to God.  I am proud to be a part of that remnant. 

There is a great challenge for those of us that faithfully adhere to the disciplines of the Pentecostal and Holiness churches.  We must not compromise!  We must show this world the truth!  No matter what it may cost us the truth still sets the captives free!

And if you are one of those that has compromised and given in to the worldly trends that are taking place in so-called Pentecostal churches today let me leave you with these scriptures to consider:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Revelation 18:4

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

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