I have been in this thing for a while. I have had the Holy Ghost for 20 years, this year, and never regret one moment of it. While I am an Apostolic Pentecostal, the older I get, I find that there are some majorly differing opinions on many issues among Apostolic churches. We do agree on (some sort of) holiness standard, the Oneness of God, Acts 2:38 as the plan of salvation, but something else has crept in, sadly.
I go back and forth on how I feel about material outside of Pentecost. We do have many Apostolic authors that write on a slew of different topics, which makes me question why someone would go outside of doctrinal boundaries to read non-Apostolic material. But then again, I have/do. Definitely not on doctrine though. But all that aside, now, and I believe that outsourcing is one of the major reasons for this, you have doctrines creeping into the church (2 Timothy 3) and leading people astray. Here are some of the doctrines I have seen in some of the churches:
- Hallowing of Hell
- Easy believism
- Name it and claim it
- Guaranteed healing
- Generational curses
Along with some of these very damaging doctrines slipping into the churches, it seems there is a lack of holiness, both inward and outward. Nowadays, it seems among ministerial circles (the younger ones) discussing standards is a VERY bad thing. It is almost impossible to even talk about it. You have churches that are focusing on programs more than advancing the kingdom. These would be the “liberals” for lack of a better word.
But the other side of the coin doesn’t really make up at all for this. The “conservative” side of Pentecost is definitely not without its problems. I haven’t seen a lot of these false doctrines or lack of standards come in, but I have seen a very ugly spirit:
- You’re not holy enough (looking)
- Our camp is the only camp – I’ve literally heard a radio commercial for a conservative Apostolic evangelist claiming that the “First Apostolic church in (city) is being born,” while they have a complete established work in this country.
- Pastors abusing their authority
- The other side is losing everything
Now, before we go any further, ALLLLLLLLLLLLL people groups on this planet have drama. All of them split off when they get upset, as this isn’t just for religious folk.
Justifying not being a part of God’s kingdom because of drama isn’t legitimate. Paul and Barnabas couldn’t get along, so they separated from each other. So even in the Bible, there was drama. I could go into a lot on that but won’t.
I hear the complaints of saints, both young and old. I hear a lot of people, including myself, say: “I remember when…” And we all talk like those days are over. And like I said before, people groups are drama.
It comes down to a choice. Do I go the way of the liberals or the conservatives? Neither is wrong (in my opinion) foundationally. But the attitudes and slander from both sides get tiring.
I go to an independent Apostolic Pentecostal church. We are not “conservative independents” and we aren’t “charismatic” either. I’ve heard people say that our church doesn’t have standards, preaches trinity (LOL) steals saints, etc. None of which is true, but since we don’t subscribe to a certain organization, we are out in limbo. When people leave their local churches that are in an organization, they usually stop by our church, because of the disconnect. In all honesty, the reason I ended up at my church 5 years ago, was for that very reason.
There are two portions of Scripture that have been on my mind quite a bit lately. The first is 1 Samuel 4:21:
And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
The Bible says that Ichabod means: the glory is departed. The Hebrew word for Icabod is אִי־כָבוֹד and has a definition of: having no glory, inglorious.
What a name to be named. Poor Ichabod, named after such a tragic event. The Philistines captured the Ark and this was the response in grieving of the mother over the loss of the presence of God. She created a memorial for when the presence of God left them. What a sobering situation. I never want to grow complacent about God’s glory.
The other portion of Scripture is found in Revelation 3:1:
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Sardis was a booming city, claimed to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Sardis translates to “the red ones.” It is believed to be the first city in Asia Minor to be converted to Christianity under the ministry of John. Sardis was also believed the first city to revolt against Christianity, the first to lay in its ruins and now is churchless and has no ministry. Very sad.
Jesus told the church of Sardis that they have the reputation of being alive, but in reality, they are dead. Very very dead. They somehow gave the impression that they were lively and had the Spirit of God in their land. (I remember something about having a form of godliness and denying the power thereof?) Jesus goes on to say that they need to strengthen the things that remain. They were good on doctrine, but they were dead. I love doctrine. Anyone who knows me, painstakingly knows that I love our doctrine, ie the doctrine of the Bible. I will do anything to keep the doctrine. But what good would that be if I only love doctrine, and never experience the power and things of God? This is the situation the Sardis church found themselves in.
I find it interesting that Jesus said to strengthen that which remains. I take that as, they had doctrine, but it wasn’t strong. They had the right things, but they were weak and lose.
Verse 4 says that some remain clothed in white. There was a remnant that hadn’t gotten their garments spotted by the world. When I first read that, it broke my heart. Could you imagine being in a church that claims to be Apostolic, but the Holy Ghost isn’t anywhere to be found?
How do these connect?
It seems like I have two separate thoughts going on here, and I do. Let me try to wrangle them together to make some sort of sense.
Our goal as Christians is to get to heaven and take everyone we can with us. (Matthew 28:19) How can we do this if we are fighting over standards or allowing false doctrine to come in? As people of the Name and holding the Truth of God’s Word, we have a charge to go unto all nations preaching and baptizing them in the Name of Jesus. The two components to have revival are:
Outside of that, we have no accord. Inside of that lies right doctrine, fellowship, right living (righteousness), etc.
I hope to encourage you today, that if you find yourself in a church situation where you aren’t “good” enough for the churches around you, that we have an obligation to our lost and our saints. We must have the glory of God in our churches. We must have unity among the True body of Christ. I don’t care what organization you do or don’t belong to, these are Scriptural truths that we MUST adhere to. Let me never be found labeled Ichabod. Let me never be found among the church of Sardis.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:5
We are closer now than ever to the return of Jesus Christ. This is no time to give up what remains, but we must strengthen what remains.