by David Bernard
We often use the term “revival” to describe renewal of believers, evangelism of unbelievers, and growth of the church. Growth is characteristic of every living organism, and growth must be a high priority for the church of the living God. What kind of growth are we talking about? Colossians 2:19 tells us how the right kind of growth comes: The church, which is the body of Christ, “holds(fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God” (NKJV). True church growth, which encompasses both numerical growth and growth in spiritual
maturity, will only come as the church remains closely connected to Jesus Christ. As it does, it will grow with the increase that comes from God, not an increase that comes merely from human ability and ingenuity.
The church of the first century grew phenomenally as it remained connected to the Lord in doctrinal truth, unity, and fellowship among believers, prayer, and worship. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers …. 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, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:42,46-47).
It is exciting to be part of a worldwide fellowship of apostolic believers who adhere to the same goals. The United Pentecostal Church International staunchly af- firms the message and experience of the apostolic church of Acts 2.
The word “United” in our name reminds us that the organization was founded with the desire of uniting all brethren of “like precious faith” under one banner for the cause of proclaiming “the whole gospel to the whole world.” The word “Pentecostal” refers to our determination to emulate the pattern established in Acts 2 on the Day of I Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian church. Our Fundamental Doctrine advocates the salvation message of Acts 2:38-repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Our commitment to holiness of life is likewise a vital aspect of adherence to the apostles’ doctrine, for as the apostle Peter exhorted in Acts 2:40, we must save ourselves from our perverse, corrupt generation.
The word “Church” reminds us that we are not just a collection of individuals, whether ministers or lay members, but an integral, vital part of the body of Christ that exists to worship God, proclaim the gospel, and train disciples. Our World Network of Prayer helps to harness our energies for prayer, and our numerous meetings, camps, and conferences continually ignite and renew our worship. The word “International” confirms that we have formed a worldwide fellowship to which the Lord is adding daily. We now have constituents in 192 nations. Because of our commitment to these apostolic priorities, God has indeed blessed us with the growth that comes from Him. From 521 churches in 1945, we have grown to over 4,000 in the United States and Canada and 25,000 in the rest of the world.
Of course, neither the name nor the organization is necessary or sufficient for salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith, purchased by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and experienced by all who obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. We cannot claim to be the only group who embraces truth and has an experience with God. Nevertheless, we should be thankful to belong to a fellowship that has a leading role in evangelizing the world, preserving the fullness of the apostolic message, and contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). As such, we should expect, pursue, and experience the growth that comes from God.