The Pentecostal Experience And The Apostolic Way
By Dr. Melvin Boyd
Pastor, Grace Apostolic Church, Inc.
Director, South-Central Region, AWCF
The first four verses of the second chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles record a very miraculous first . . . the unprecedented outpouring, infilling and indwelling of the Holy Ghost on those believers who waited in the city of Jerusalem.
This upper room event marks the birth of the New Testament Church and the beginning of Pentecostalism. Acts 2:1-4 is the born again experience in its essentiality. From this point in history when “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance,” until now, we who have been endowed with the blessed gift of God’s Spirit on the inside are proudly Pentecostal! We don’t ever have to deny it, and we certainly cannot let the devil make us flee from our Pentecostal heritage because of “false Pentecostals.” We’re saved – full beneficiaries of Pentecostalism – joined in our experience with men from every nation under heaven!
In the gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus says, “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” His words, “the PROMISE of my Father,” stress that the Spirit’s coming is not an afterthought but an integral part of God’s eternal purpose. Those who are endued with power are not simply to expect a momentary change in their tongue, but should fully anticipate being clothed with God’s empowerment and enablement from on high.
Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is a message of salvation for all. He preached the pure, unadulterated gospel, then gave a call for all present to come partake of the Pentecostal fire. When listeners were pricked in their hearts they intently inquired of Peter and the Apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s brief response in Acts 2:38 explains how to become Pentecostal. This life altering experience can literally happen overnight (more specifically in a matter of moments!) However, an individual cannot become Apostolic overnight!
Pentecostalism is an absolute prerequisite to being Apostolic. One must have the blessed assurance of the operation of the Spirit of God. Yet, it is how closely one embraces the Apostolic Doctrine (teaching) which fundamentally makes that individual Apostolic. Though one may be soundly Pentecostal, being a member of an Apostolic Church doesn’t make him Apostolic any more than being in Japan makes him Japanese!
As noted in Acts 2:42, being Apostolic entails time invested and continuing in what is being taught and what will be taught in the future. It is the believer’s responsibility to constantly seek to understand and believe true doctrine, while rejecting what is in disagreement with the word of God. In this vein, the questions are asked in Isaiah 28:9, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine?” Hearing the doctrine taught is not an assurance that one understands it, regardless to the number of times teaching is heard. The answer to these questions is that there must be a maturation process; only “them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts,” will be made to understand doctrine. In comparing a spiritual newborn to a natural babe, we readily see striking similarities. The infant that cries once emerging from his mother’s womb is very much alive, yet must totally depend upon his mother in order to be fed and to receive other basic necessities. One would hardly expect the baby fresh from the amniotic sac to know how to walk, talk, dress himself or get along in the world to any degree. Likewise, the spiritual newborn, depending upon his mother, the church, must yield to the ongoing learning process.
New converts may be “crybabies” initially, perhaps wailing “I’ve heard what we teach, but I don’t understand it!” However, those who continue to walk with God and persevere in Apostolic Doctrine, will eventually be balanced. Many who have come into this way as extremists have grown to understand what was not clear to them as babes. Unfortunately, too many Apostolic organizations have attempted to explain what they don’t understand. This only brings about division, conflict and shipwreck!
In St. John 7:16 Jesus clearly states, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” In St. John 17:8 he further declares in prayer, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gayest me; and they have received them.” Jesus delivered his doctrine to the apostles – their doctrine is one in the same!
From whom am I to receive my knowledge and understanding of the doctrine? Jeremiah 3:15 answers, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” The root word for pastor is the same as for shepherd, whose primary duty is to feed the flock of God over which the Holy Ghost has made him overseer. It is certainly not the ability of the man (pastor) that is showcased; this is simply God’s order and His way of providing what each of His children needs (not what they want) so that they may fully develop spiritually. Proper teaching of God’s precepts by pastors will sharply contrast with erroneous teaching, namely false doctrine, doctrines of devils and men’s doctrines.
Local churches under local pastors are to place themselves under God’s authority by accepting doctrine and the discipline of the word of God. The rightful proclamation of Apostolic Doctrine is positive, developing holy beliefs and life styles. Even when believers must be confronted and rebuked for sin, the discipline of Apostolic Doctrine will correct the error and bring individuals back in line with the truth.
There are certain scriptural hallmarks of Apostolicism that cannot be denied:
* fellowship with those of like precious faith
* breaking of bread a strong prayer life
* empowerment by God of the preachers
* sincere concern about one another
* going to church on a regular basis (they continued daily!)
* having favor with all people (a spiritual maturity prevails that abolishes cliques!)
I firmly believe that out of those 3,000 souls who became Pentecostal at one time, the Lord actually added to the church those who continued in the Apostolic way. We witness the same in our day. On a daily basis, a few (who have already become Pentecostal) trickle into the Apostolic way. Unfortunately, many who have been Pentecostal for years may not be Apostolic yet! Not all who choose to discount the doctrine leave the church. Yet, if we have not accepted doctrine and teaching, we are not Apostolic.
From the doctrine are born holy standards. It is the standard of the church that fights the enemy, as referenced in Isaiah 59:19. The standard is not doctrine . . . the doctrine is the core, and the standard is the fence which keeps the enemy from attacking our doctrine.
The gospel message is for all men. The promise of the Holy Ghost is for everybody. The Lord demonstrates his ability to save anybody. He even gives the Holy Ghost to those who won’t appreciate or use it. However, it is only those who eagerly hold to the tenets of the Apostolic way and receive the word who learn how to live as saints of God.
Let us continue to witness to the lost about their opportunity for a new beginning and a life with God. Encourage them to freely receive the Pentecostal Experience. Don’t try to help the natural man embrace the Apostolic Doctrine . . . that will come. As Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free!”
It is my sincere prayer that God will continue to help us and strengthen us to hold on to our Apostolic heritage and never to compromise our message, nor our walk with Him.
The Above Material Was Published By Clarion, May 1998, Pages 11, 12. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.