by David K. Bernard
The purpose of the United Pentecostal Church International is to carry the whole gospel to the whole world by the whole church.
As a church, we are distinguished by our emphasis on the oneness of God and the absolute deity of Jesus Christ. Because we understand that God is one, we also realize that the church should be one in identity and purpose. The purpose of the church is to glorify the one God and to evangelize the world with His message. Therefore, we have dedicated ourselves to the supreme mission of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people.
The Old Testament declares, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Jesus taught that this is the first and greatest commandment (Mark J 2:28-30). The New Testament reveals that the Lord Jesus Christ is the human manifestation of the one true God (1 Timothy 3: 16). In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). He is “God with us,” who came to be our Savior (Matthew 1:21-23).
Jesus Christ was thus one with God in the sense of identity (John 10:30-33). He was the visible manifestation of the invisible Father (John 14:9). As a human He lived in complete obedience to the will of God. Thus according to His humanity He was also one with God in the sense of perfect submission and unity of purpose.
In this sense of oneness of purpose, Jesus bids believers to become one with God and one with each other (John J 7:21-23). As Christians, we are “called in one body” (Colossians 3: 15).
The early church was born in unity. On the Day of Pentecost, as the believers waited for the promise of the Spirit, “they were with one accord in one place” (Acts 2: J). They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. This common experience united them. “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (I Corinthians 12: 13).
The early church maintained unity as they “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42). They “earnestly contended] for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Thus the oneness of the church is based on both the Word and the Spirit.
While there are some differences of customs, practices, and personal convictions from one church to another and even from one believer to another, we maintain unity because we agree on the apostolic message: the oneness of God in Christ Jesus, the plan of salvation, and the life of holiness unto the Lord. Thus we work together, “endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” while continuing to grow into maturity “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:3, 13).
It is important for each believer to be part of a local congregation and to follow the leadership of a godly pastor. It is also important for each local church to be united with other churches for the sake of identity, fellowship, cooperation, and evangelism. In this way the church is one both locally and globally.
An important reason for the church to be united is to fulfill the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and 10, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19-20, NKJV).
We are to proclaim the only saving name of Jesus (Acts 4:12) and make disciples of Jesus throughout the world. Like the apostles, we must preach repentance from sin, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking in tongues, and living a transformed life in obedience to the Lord’s commands (Acts 2:38-40).
The United Pentecostal Church International is a human yet spiritual organization designed to promote and fulfill the biblical principles we have discussed. It is not equivalent to the body of Christ, but it is composed of people who are a significant part of the body of Christ. It is the most effective vehicle today for the worldwide proclamation of the apostolic message.
We call ourselves “United” because we value the unity of the body. We call ourselves “Pentecostal” because we embrace the experience and message of the apostles on the Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian church. We call ourselves “Church” because we are not only a ministerial fellowship or a religious organization but part of the church of Jesus Christ, composed of people of God everywhere. We call ourselves “International” because we believe in the unity of believers worldwide and in the global mission of the church.
We are one church, we serve one God, and we have one mission. As the UPCl constitution states, “The purpose of the United Pentecostal Church International is to carry the whole gospel to the whole world by the whole church.” GD
OCTOBER 2012 I PENTECOSTAL HERALD 7