Volume 20 Issue 2
The greatest force in the context of Christianity today is Pentecostalism. Wherever you look: in Latin America, Africa, Great Britain, South America and, believe it or not, even here in North America, the Pentecostals are the major force of evangelism.
This is easy to document. A Google search will harvest hundreds of references to the Pentecost phenomenon. Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion, Washington D.C., gives expression regarding the Pentecostals of Latin America that is typical of the remarks being made about Pentecostalism on every continent in the world:
It’s a combination of immigration in which a lot of Latinos are already Pentecostal and the conversion taking place in the Catholic Church among those converting to Pentecostalism Its really evangelism on Steroids. This may well be the most dynamic religious movement in the world in terms of growth and breadth and scope
As Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals, we often see such statements and wonder if this includes us. It is hard to document the real growth of Apostolic believers because we are so diverse and gathered under hundreds of organizations, and we have failed in the documentation of our movement and its various outgrowths over the past decades. But most all of the experts to whom I have spoken agree that the growth of Pentecostalism in general is inclusive of those holding the Apostolic Doctrine. And in some areas Oneness Apostolics are leading the charge.
The growth of Pentecostalism is due to a desire for an authentic experience with God. My purpose in this short piece is to suggest three primary things that I will present as necessary if we are to continue to be a major part of this present groundswell of religious hunger.
First, let’s admit that the forest is thick with roaring lions of false doctrine. And doctrine matters. Truth matters. We must be confident in our Apostolic foundation. But confident in this sense: that we go beyond the gates, beyond our comfort zone to preach the Apostolic message. We must launch out into the deep to combat the present dangers and darkness. Fearlessly.
However, we face new challenges. Living in the past will provide one with reminiscence but not revival. This decade has opened with shakings. Political powers are shaking, financial foundations are shaking, moral foundations are shaking. None of us will survive on human wisdom; we must believe in the Word, preach the Word, in season and out of season. We must build on the foundations of the Apostles and Prophets, not on human philosophers and false spiritual pretenses.
We will err if we try to predict the future based on our analysis of the present situation, as if we know how things will play out. We don’t know how revival will unfold. Losses may bring gains. Defeats may bring victories. Only God knows. He always tests His people to see if they will stand on the foundations of Truth (Deuteronomy 13:3). Let us stand and see Gods holy drama unfold before our eyes.
Secondly, we will need to stop our reluctance to admit that there is a devil. Demonic spirits are at work. Satan is real. He may have been wearing sheep’s clothing for a while in North America but he is beginning to manifest himself, especially in the area of media and entertainment. There are dark spirits behind the menu of trash that is being dished out to our children and teens. It is as compelling as it is dark and only Satan deals in darkness and evil. Jesus taught us to pray, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
The devil is not a danger to me, you say. But who seduced Eve and brought about Adams God-rejecting response? Satan. Who entered into Judas? Satan. Who brought Christ to the Roman Authority to be destroyed? Satan. And who causes men to believe they can sin, fornicate, engage in homosexuality and still preach and sing without consequences? Satan.
The principalities and powers of darkness are real. Satan loves to make us believe he does not exist. Our education and western sophistication causes us to imagine ourselves too smart to believe in the devil. But ask your missionary friends and they will tell you that the strength and reach of their revivals depends a great deal on the Church’s willingness to confront Satan on his own territory and in his own neighborhood. The Apostle Paul faced the darkness of Rome, the capital of unbelief and so must we. The power of God can crush the Devil. He can take every intended evil and bring forth good. Satan is determined and evil, but he’s not all that smart. Just take a look at 1 Corinthians 2:8.
Thirdly, to meet this age, to see and understand this powerful and important moment in time, we must seek His presence. We must wait for His anointing, and live and walk in the Spirit. Often, our church services are becoming too rushed, too scripted, and too programmed. Our preaching is too often performance without passion; our music about music and not the reason for the song. A return to waiting upon the Spirit and depending on the Spirit is vital. In that regard, our Pentecostal fathers had it right. By waiting on the Lord they rocked this nation and built congregations in almost every city; and this they did with little money, limited education and modest talent.
People are entertained to death. They want and deserve a church service that touches their heart and soul. While we may want to relate to sinners, if we are not careful our efforts will be nothing more than spiritually juvenile parties, popcorn, coffee and cake that leaves the sinner cold and lost. We may have provided community and relationship, but by His Spirit, God would have provided power, presence, revelation, hope, salvation, redemption, a stirring transformation and deliverance. Now that, dear reader, is the kind of Pentecost that will bring about Evangelism on Steroids, as Lugo put it.