Small Group-The Church & Denominations-02/07/18
Question: What is Pentecostalism?
Pentecostalism is similar to evangelicalism in many ways. The point of departure is associated with the work of the Spirit. Pentecostals emphasize the teaching of the “full gospel” or “foursquare gospel”.
Question: Why do you think they use the term ‘full gospel’ or ‘foursquare gospel’?
- The term foursquare refers to the four fundamental beliefs of Pentecostalism:
-Salvation in Jesus alone (John 3:16)
-Being Baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4)
-Christ death not only heals sin but heals sickness (James 5:15; Isaiah 53:5)
-Jesus is coming again to receive those who are saved (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Question: What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit according to Pentecostal teaching?
- Second work of grace
- This is an empowering experience distinct from baptism into the body of Christ. It is a sign of maturity in Christ and is accompanied with speaking in tongues.
The majority of Pentecostals believe that at the moment a person is born again, the new believer has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. While the Spirit dwells in every Christian, Pentecostals believe that all Christians should seek to be filled with Him.
- The Spirit’s “filling”, “falling upon”, “coming upon”, or being “poured out upon” believers is called the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
- The main purpose of the experience is to grant power for Christian service.
Gift of healing
Question: What is the gift of healing to the Pentecostals?
Pentecostalism has the belief that Jesus is Healer and that’s one quarter of the full gospel. Pentecostals cite four major reasons for believing in the gift of healing:
- It’s found in the Bible
- Jesus’ healing ministry is part of His atonement (His work on the cross) The whole gospel is for the whole person; spirit, soul, and body
- Sickness is a consequence of the Fall of Man and salvation is ultimately the restoration of the fallen world.
Most of us have heard of faith healers. They exist almost exclusively within the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement and claim to be divinely gifted to supernaturally heal the sick.
Question: Who are some who claim to be ‘faith healers’?
- Joseph Prince, Kenneth Hagin teach that physical healing is the right of all believers, something they can simply “confess” into reality.
- Joyce Meyer expands on that idea, arguing that Satan is involved in the illegal activity of inflicting “sickness on us, and there is no good reason to let him do it.”
- A. Allen, Kathryn Kuhlman, John Wimber, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Fredrick Price, Jerry Seville, Charles Capps, Norville Hayes, Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, Larry Lee.
Question: What do Pentecostal’s say about the relationship between faith and healing?
In Scripture, we find that healing is sometimes related to faith and sometimes not, in the NT.
- Many scriptures can be found where Jesus says “Your faith has made you well” or some other similar phrase.
- But other passages don’t mention faith at all.
So, we cannot make an absolute relationship between faith and healing.
Let’s look at the Bible at someone who, from a Pentecostal view, must not have had enough faith to heal people.
Read: 1 Timothy 5:23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
Read: 2 Timothy 4:20 Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.
Question: Who was it that couldn’t heal Timothy and Trophimus?
Question: Why didn’t he heal Timothy, or Trophimus if Jesus said His disciples would have the power to heal?
- There are is limitations on the gifts/abilities He has given us.
- God sometimes chooses not to heal, for reasons beyond our understanding.
Now it’s rather revealing that so many leading faith healing get sick, stay sick and even die of that sickness. Did they just not have enough faith?
In order to salvage the Pentecostal doctrine of the gift of healing, we are forced to conclude that Paul lacked adequate faith with Timothy and Trophimus.
The Gift of Healing
1 Corinthians 12:9 mentions the gifts of healing, among the listing of many spiritual gifts. Then 1 Corinthians 12:11 states, All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills. That tells me healings are not earned by our faith but rather, given to us by God as a gift, when and as He wills. This is distinctly different from having a divine “right” or “privilege” to be healed by God.
Is Healing Part of the Atonement (Isaiah 53)?
Question: What do Pentecostals mean when they teach that physical healing is part of Jesus’ atonement?
Read: Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.
Because the word healed can mean different things, it is essential to arrive at its meaning through context. We cannot lift it out of its surrounding passage, as if each verse (in this case, one-fourth of a verse) exists in a vacuum.
And the context (Isaiah 53:5-6) is undeniably directed toward the atonement for sin, not toward a doctrine of physical healing per se.
- Verse 5 mentions our transgressions, iniquities both non-physical concepts.
- Verse 6, reads, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
- Verse 8 mentions our transgression
- Verse 11 mentions our righteousness and iniquities
- Verse 12b (the last in the chapter) states, …He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Since the whole passage concentrates on the atonement for sin, and since the word for healed can mean pardon, it is logical to interpret the phrase in question as by His stripes we are saved.
Read: 2 Chronicles 30:17-20
For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the Lord. For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
Simply, healed in these passages is a poetic way of saying that our sins are forgiven.
John Piper’s view
Jesus Christ came and died to purchase our redemption, to demonstrate the character of that redemption as both spiritual and physical, and to give us a foretaste of it.
Please listen carefully, for this is a truth badly distorted by many faith healers of our day.
- The prophet Isaiah foretold the work of Christ like this in Isaiah 53:5–6 (a text which Peter applied to Christians in 1 Peter 2:24)
- The blessing of forgiveness and the blessing of physical healing were purchased by Christ when he died for us on the cross. And all those who give their lives to Him shall have both of these benefits.
Read: 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
Read: Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Question: Think about the salvation history timeline… When are we guaranteed in Scripture that we will be healed? When will our bodies no longer be enslaved to corruption?
- At Jesus’ second coming/rapture of the Church.
The ministry of Jesus was a ministry of healing and forgiveness. He said to the disciples of John the Baptist
- And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. (Matthew 11:4–6)
Offense? Why would anyone take offense at one who raises the dead and brings in the long expected kingdom? Easy…Jesus only raised three people. He left hundreds in the tombs all around him. Why? Because not enough relatives had faith? No!
The answer to why Jesus did not raise all the dead is that, contrary to the Jewish expectation, (and the teaching of faith healers today… my addition) the first coming of the Messiah was not the consummation and full redemption of this fallen age.
The first coming was rather to purchase that consummation, illustrate its character, and bring a foretaste of it to His people.
- Therefore, Jesus raised some of the dead to illustrate that he has that power and one day will come again and exercise it for all his people.
- And he healed the sick to illustrate that in his final kingdom this is how it will be. There will be no more crying or pain anymore.
That means the benefits purchased by the cross (Jesus’ atonement) can be enjoyed in measure even now, including healing. God can and does heal the sick now in answer to our prayers. But not always.
The faith healers of our day, who guarantee that Jesus wants you well now and heap guilt on the back of God’s people asserting that the only thing between them and health is unbelief, have failed to understand the nature of God’s purposes in this fallen age.
- They are guilty of trying to force into this age what God has reserved for the next.
Notice the flow of thought in Romans 8:23–24a: And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.
Because of Christ’s purchased redemption, believers already have received the Holy Spirit. This is like a down payment of our full redemption, but it is only the first-fruits, a foretaste. And when Paul stresses that we, even we ourselves, who have this Spirit groan awaiting the redemption of our bodies, you can tell that he is warning against the false teaching that because we’ve been saved, therefore our groaning with decaying bodies is over.
So he goes on to say in verse 24, For we have been saved in hope. Our salvation is not finished; it is only begun. And it is true physically; we wait for the redemption of our bodies.
Miraculous Spiritual gifts
Pentecostals believe that all of the spiritual gifts, including the miraculous or “sign gifts”, found in 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, 12:27–31, Romans 12:3–8, and Ephesians 4:7–16 continue to operate within the Church in the present time.
They teach that spiritual gifts are received as a result of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
- Those opposed say: As gifts freely given by the Holy Spirit, they cannot be earned or merited, and they are not appropriate criteria with which to evaluate one’s spiritual life or maturity.
Tongues and Interpretation
‘Speaking in tongues.’ According to Pentecostal theology, the language spoken
- May be an unlearned human language, such as the Bible claims happened on the Day of Pentecost. In this case, tongues could work as a sign to the unsaved.
- It might be a heavenly (angelic) language. In this case, tongues are used for praise and prayer when the mind is superseded and “the speaker in tongues speaks to God, speaks mysteries, and … no one understands him”.
Within Pentecostalism, there is a belief that speaking in tongues serves two functions.
- Tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and in individual prayer serves a different purpose than tongues as a spiritual gift.
- All Spirit-filled believers, will speak in tongues when baptized in the Spirit and, thereafter, will be able to express prayer and praise to God in an unknown tongue.
This type of tongue speaking forms an important part of many Pentecostals’ personal daily devotions. When used in this way, it is referred to as a “prayer language” as the believer is speaking unknown languages not for the purpose of communicating with others but for “communication between the soul and God”. Its purpose is for the spiritual edification of the individual.
Question: Where do the Pentecostals get their view of Tongues?
Read: Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
- Pentecostals believe that the Spirit intercedesfor believers through tongues; in other words, when a believer prays in an unknown tongue, the Holy Spirit is supernaturally directing the believer’s prayer.
There is a huge problem with using this text… context. They completely leave out Romans 8:19-24.
Read: Romans 8:19-23 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Context… The same word groaned in For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now is connected directly to our groaning by the next verse And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Context… the same Greek word is translated groan in both cases… earth and us.
- To be consistent in Pentecostal theology that would mean, if we speak in tongues by the work of the Holy Spirit when we groan, then the earth has to speak in tongues by the work of the Holy Spirit when it groans.
Besides acting as a prayer language, tongues also function as the gift of tongues. Not all Spirit-filled believers possess the gift of tongues. Its purpose is for gifted persons to publicly
- speak with God in praise
- to pray or sing in the Spirit
- or to speak forth in the congregation (tell others what God wants them to hear)
Pentecostals are agreed that all public utterances in an unknown tongue must be interpreted in the language of the gathered Christians. This is accomplished by the gift of interpretation, and this gift can be exercised by the same individual who first delivered the message or by another individual who possesses the required gift.
- Honestly, that rarely happens. I know that personally and so do some here by an experience we had on Easter morning.
If a person with the gift of tongues is not sure that a person with the gift of interpretation is present and is unable to interpret the utterance him or herself, then the person should not speak.
It’s revealing that at the end of Paul’s discussion of tongues and interpretation of tongues this is what he says: I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14:18–19)
Question: What do you know about Charismatic teaching?
It’s basically Pentecostalism (light) and has stayed within the parent denomination.
Question: What do you know about Liberalism?
Also known as ‘modernism’. Its basic premise is to adapt religious ideal to modern culture and modes of thinking.
- They believe that the times have changed since the Bible was written and that it is incomprehensible for us to think that everything as it is written still applies today.
- They also believe that the Bible is not the only authority. All beliefs must pass through the sieve of reason and experience and one’s mind must be open to new truths wherever they come from.
- The Bible was written by people limited by their time. It is not infallible nor supernatural. It does not possess absolute authority.
- They believe that mankind is getting better as time goes on.
- They will often advertise as ‘Welcoming’ ‘Inclusive’.
Conclusion: Many of these theological schools have points which seem sound. That is the hook. It is not until you get involved and dependent on the church, fall in love with the people, and are involved in ministry, that you find out what they really stand for.
- Be careful to study fully a doctrinal statement and ask questions that you may think are taken for granted.
- Know what you are getting involved with before you get involved!
BTW, many Assembly of God churches as well as other Pentecostal churches will not have Assembly of God or Pentecostal in the name and it may be hard to find in their literature or web site…