Assemblies of God
What is the Assemblies of God? What do members Assemblies of God churches believe? These are two of the common questions people have about the Assemblies of God denomination.
In the wake of the Azuaa St. Revival, the need for denominational organization became apparent to many when established Christian churches largely rejected Pentecostal adherents. Holiness bodies, such as Wesleyan Methodists and the Salvation Army, disassociated themselves with Pentecostals, leaving the later without acceptance into any kind of already-established ecclesiastical structure. Certain fundamentalist teachers, such as H.A. Ironside, rejected Pentecostals as well. Some churches even considered the Pentecostal movement an urban cult. Others called it nothing more than emotional fanaticism without corrective leadership.
The movement’s habit of renting buildings and erecting tents gave it the perception of impermanence to many outsiders. Moreover, that few Pentecostal leaders were trained in Bible schools gave the perception of ignorance. And some said that Pentecostals projected an air of spiritual superiority over and above Christians that didn’t have similar experiences. For these reasons and others, if Pentecostals were going to formally organize, it would be on their own.
The Push Toward Organization
As early as 1908, some Midwestern Pentecostal churches were informally working together. Ministers reviewed each other’s sermons. Congregations met together for camp meetings. Yet challenges existed that motivated others to continue to push for formal organization.
Advocates for organization were also met with opposition from within their movement. Some believed that their Pentecostal experience had liberated them from denominationalism and they didn’t want to return to what they thought was a rigid structure.
Others argued that there were challenges that a denominational structure could help meet. One challenge at the time was con men, who would claim to be Pentecostal preachers, only to flee the church that was hosting them with the congregation’s money. This demonstrated the need for a system by which ministers could be credentialed. Another challenge was that Pentecostal missionaries going overseas found work more difficult without the support of a denomination. Still another challenge was that doctrinal disagreements were occurring because there was no articulated Pentecostal belief statement.
The First General Council
On December 20, 1913, the Pentecostal publication “Word and Witness” called for a “General Convention.” It was advertized as an opportunity for Pentecostal churches to meet in love and peace, not in disharmony. Certain discussion questions set the agenda: (1) What would God have us teach? (2) How do we conserve the work? (3) How do we allocate missions’ money (4) How do we get federal recognition? (5) How do we lay the groundwork for a Bible school?
The opposition to organization was strong. Critics labeled it as “popery,” meaning that like the Roman Catholic Pope, some Pentecostals were trying to put themselves in a position to govern the entire movement. Others warned against wasting their time and having denominational pride. Ignoring the accusations of their critics, the call for a General Convention was repeated two times in early 1914, and was answered in April, 1914.
From April 2 to 12, 1914, the first General Council of the Assemblies of God was held in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Over 300 people met from over 20 states. At an attempt for unity - since those who opposed denominational organization were also present - the first three days were devoted to preaching, prayer, and fellowship. Advocates for formal organization won over the constituency. The group adopted the name “Assemblies of God” when referring to the united bodies and would eventually incorporate under the name “General Council of the Assemblies of God.” Among the outcome of the first meeting was a system by which ministers could be regionally credentialed.
Although future meetings would produce doctrinal statements and elect governing officials, there is no doubt that in April 1914 the Assemblies of God was born. (Read the "16 Fundamental Truths" of the Assemblies of God below the links.)
More on Pentecostal Christianity
- Assemblies of God
- Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)
- Church of God in Christ
- International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
- Oneness Pentecostalism
- Origins of Pentecostalism
- Pentecostal Christianity Comparison Chart
- Summary of Pentecostal Theology
- Association of Vineyard Churches
- The Asuza St. Revival
- The Charismatic Movement
- Third Wave
- Speaking in Tongues
- Snake Handling
Assemblies of God 16 Fundamental Truths
The 16 Fundamental Truths were articulated in 1916 at the 4th General Council is large part to combat unorthodox teachings entering their churches.
STATEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS
The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith and practice. This Statement of Fundamental Truths is intended simply as a basis of fellowship among us (i.e., that we all speak the same thing, 1 Corinthians 1:10; Acts 2:42). The phraseology employed in this statement is not inspired or contended for, but the truth set forth is held to be essential to a full-gospel ministry. No claim is made that it contains all biblical truth, only that it covers our need as to these fundamental doctrines.
1. The Scriptures Inspired
The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21).
2. The One True God
The one true God has revealed himself as the eternally self-existent “I AM,” the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer of mankind. He has further revealed himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10,11; Matthew 28:19; Luke 3:22).
The Adorable Godhead
(a) Terms Defined
The terms trinity and persons, as related to the godhead, while not found in the Scriptures, are words in harmony with Scripture, whereby we may convey to others our immediate understanding of the doctrine of Christ respecting the Being of God, as distinguished from “gods many and lords many.” We therefore may speak with propriety of the Lord our God, who is One Lord, as a Trinity or as one Being of three persons, and still be absolutely scriptural (examples, Matthew
28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 14:16,17).
(b) Distinction and Relationship in the Godhead
Christ taught a distinction of persons in the godhead which He expressed in specific terms of relationship, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but that this distinction and relationship, as to its mode is inscrutable and incomprehensible,
because unexplained (Luke 1:35; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Matthew 11:25-27; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3,4).
(c) Unity of the One Being of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Accordingly, therefore, there is that in the Father which constitutes Him the Father and not the Son; there is that in the Son which constitutes Him the Son and not the Father; and there is that in the Holy Spirit which constitutes Him the Holy Spirit and not either the Father or the Son. Wherefore, the Father is the Begetter; the Son is the Begotten; and the Holy Spirit is the One proceeding from the Father and the Son. Therefore, because these three persons in the godhead are in a state of unity, there is but one Lord God Almighty and His name one (John 1:18; 15:26; 17:11,21; Zechariah 14:9).
(d) Identity and Cooperation in the Godhead
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are never identical as to person; nor confused as to relation; nor divided in respect to the godhead; nor opposed as to cooperation. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son as to relationship. The Son is with the Father and the Father is with the Son, as to fellowship. The Father is not from the Son, but the Son is from the Father, as to authority. The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son proceeding, as to nature, relationship, cooperation, and authority. Hence, no person in the godhead either exists or works separately or independently of the others (John 5:17-30,32,37; 8:17,18).
(e) The Title, Lord Jesus Christ
The appellation Lord Jesus Christ, is a proper name. It is never applied in the New Testament either to the Father or to the Holy Spirit. It therefore belongs exclusively to the Son of God (Romans 1:1-3,7; 2 John 3).
(f) The Lord Jesus Christ, God With Us
The Lord Jesus Christ, as to His divine and eternal nature, is the proper and only Begotten of the Father, but as to His human nature, He is the proper Son of Man. He is, therefore, acknowledged to be both God and man; who because He is God
and man, is “Immanuel,” God with us (Matthew 1:23; 1 John 4:2,10,14; Revelation 1:13,17).
(g) The Title, Son of God
Since the name Immanuel embraces both God and man, in the one person, our Lord Jesus Christ, it follows that the title Son of God describes His proper deity, and the title Son of Man, His proper humanity. Therefore, the title Son of God
belongs to the order of eternity, and the title Son of Man to the order of time (Matthew 1:21-23; 2 John 3; 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 7:3; 1:1-13).
(h) Transgression of the Doctrine of Christ
Wherefore, it is a transgression of the doctrine of Christ to say that Jesus Christ derived the title Son of God solely from the fact of the Incarnation, or because of His relation to the economy of redemption. Therefore, to deny that the Father is a
real and eternal Father, and that the Son is a real and eternal Son, is a denial of the distinction and relationship in the Being of God; a denial of the Father and the Son; and a displacement of the truth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (2 John 9;
John 1:1,2,14,18,29,49; 1 John 2:22,23; 4:1-5; Hebrews 12:2).
(i) Exaltation of Jesus Christ as Lord
The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, having by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, angels and principalities and powers having been made subject unto Him. And having been made both Lord and
Christ, He sent the Holy Spirit that we, in the name of Jesus, might bow our knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father until the end, when the Son shall become subject to the Father that God may be all in all
(Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 3:22; Acts 2:32-36; Romans 14:11; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
(j) Equal Honor to the Father and to the Son
Wherefore, since the Father has delivered all judgment unto the Son, it is not only the express duty of all in heaven and on earth to bow the knee, but it is an unspeakable joy in the Holy Spirit to ascribe unto the Son all the attributes of deity, and to give Him all the honor and the glory contained in all the names and titles of the godhead except those which express relationship (see paragraphs b, c, and d), and thus honor the Son even as we honor the Father (John 5:22,23; 1Peter 1:8; Revelation 5:6-14; Philippians 2:8,9; Revelation 7:9,10; 4:8-11).
3. The Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. The Scriptures declare:
a. His virgin birth (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31,35).
b. His sinless life (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).
c. His miracles (Acts 2:22; 10:38).
d. His substitutionary work on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
e. His bodily resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:4).
f. His exaltation to the right hand of God (Acts 1:9,11; 2:33; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3).
4. The Fall of Man
Man was created good and upright; for God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” However, man by voluntary transgression fell and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death, which is separation from God (Genesis 1:26,27; 2:17; 3:6; Romans 5:12-19).
5. The Salvation of Man
Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
a. Conditions to Salvation.
Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man
becomes an heir of God according to the hope of eternal life (Luke 24:47; John 3:3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 2:8; Titus 2:11; 3:5-7).
b. The Evidences of Salvation.
The inward evidence of salvation is the direct witness of the Spirit (Romans 8:16). The outward evidence to all men is a life of righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24; Titus 2:12).
6. The Ordinances of the Church
a. Baptism in Water.
The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded in the Scriptures. All who repent and believe on Christ as Savior and Lord are to be baptized. Thus they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 10:47,48; Romans 6:4).
b. Holy Communion.
The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements—bread and the fruit of the vine—is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4); a memorial of His suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26); and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26); and is enjoined on all believers “till He come!”
7. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). This experience is distinct from and subsequent
to the experience of the new birth (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9).
With the baptism in the Holy Spirit come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 4:8), a deepened reverence for God (Acts 2:43; Hebrews 12:28), an intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work (Acts 2:42), and a more active love for Christ, for His Word, and for the lost (Mark 16:20).
8. The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-10,28), but different in purpose and use.
Sanctification is an act of separation from that which is evil, and of dedication unto God (Romans 12:1,2; 1Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:12). Scriptures teach a life of “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). By the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to obey the command: “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15,16). Sanctification is realized in the believer by recognizing his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and by faith reckoning daily upon the fact of that union, and by offering every faculty continually to the dominion of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:1-11,13; 8:1,2,13; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:12,13; 1 Peter 1:5).
10. The Church and Its Mission
The Church is the body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of her Great Commission. Each believer, born of the Spirit, is an integral part of the general assembly and church of the
firstborn, which are written in heaven (Ephesians 1:22,23; 2:22; Hebrews 12:23).
Since God’s purpose concerning man is to seek and to save that which is lost, to be worshiped by man, and to build a body of believers in the image of His Son, the priority reason-for-being of the Assemblies of God as part of the Church is:
a. To be an agency of God for evangelizing the world (Acts 1:8; Matthew28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16).
b. To be a corporate body in which man may worship God (1 Corinthians 12:13).
c. To be a channel of God’s purpose to build a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 14:12). The Assemblies of God exists expressly to give continuing emphasis to this reason-for-being in the New Testament
apostolic pattern by teaching and encouraging believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. This experience:
a. Enables them to evangelize in the power of the Spirit with accompanying supernatural signs (Mark 16:15-20; Acts 4:29-31; Hebrews 2:3,4).
b. Adds a necessary dimension to a worshipful relationship with God (1Corinthians 2:10-16; 1 Corinthians 12-14).
c. Enables them to respond to the full working of the Holy Spirit in expression of fruit and gifts and ministries as in New Testament times for the edifying of the body of Christ (Galatians 5:22-26; 1 Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 4:11,12; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Colossians 1:29).
11. The Ministry
A divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry has been provided by our Lord for the threefold purpose of leading the Church in: (1) evangelization of the world (Mark 16:15-20), (2) worship of God (John 4:23,24), and (3) building a Body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son (Ephesians 4:11,16).
12. Divine Healing
Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the Atonement, and is the privilege of all believers (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16,17; James 5:14-16).
13. The Blessed Hope
The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; Romans
8:23; Titus 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52).
14. The Millennial Reign of Christ
The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on the earth for one thousand years (Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:27,30; Revelation 1:7;19:11-14; 20:1-6). This millennial reign will bring the salvation of national Israel (Ezekiel 37:21,22; Zephaniah 3:19,20; Romans 11:26,27) and the establishment of universal peace (Isaiah 11:6-9; Psalm 72:3-8; Micah 4:3,4).
15. The Final Judgment
There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 19:20; 20:11-15; 21:8).
16. The New Heavens and the New Earth
“We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21,22).