I’ve been in the Assemblies of God since I was born…thirty-one years ago. I’ve never known Christianity divorced from a Pentecostal background; the two are inseparably combined in my own mind, though the Assemblies themselves have only been around for 100 years, a relative newcomer where denominations are concerned.
I’m working toward my credentials in the Assemblies of God, and the course I’m currently working through is a presentation of the history of the AG. As I’ve gone through the course, I’ve noticed a few themes or patterns that I think we all need to be reminded of. So, without anymore instroduction, let’s get to it.
Acts 2 to 29: The Story Continues
As I read through my course book about the earliest stages of the Pentecostal revival in the United States, I was struck by how similar it sounded to the story of the “first Pentecost” in Acts 2.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4
The picture painted here is one of unity among people being honored by God’s presence. In the nascent moments of the Pentecostal revival, such as at Azusa Street, we saw this unity as the racial barriers that divided the rest of the US fell away among spirit-filled believers…only for those barriers to return far too quickly. To me, this is one of the greatest elements of Pentecost—the reversal of the curse of Babel—that we’ve lost.
The story of Acts 2 goes on to show us the passion, the mission-first mentality of the early church. This same mentality characterized the early Pentecostals. Many packed themselves into wagons or automobiles and began travel the country, evangelizing as they went. Others went immediately to the mission field, only lacking training, financing, language skills, and a whole host of other practical elements that make today’s missionaries successful. Now, I really don’t want to sound critical of these individuals because they did what almost none of us do now: they took their commitment to Christ so seriously that there was literally nothing else that could get between them and fulfilling the Great Commission.
That same passion motivated the early church. The love of Jesus filled their hearts and set them fire, so much so that they developed a new kind of community, a community that was uniquely placed and empowered to change the world. Were there miracles? Yes. People lived in peace together, shared, evangelized, and were firm in their commitment to Jesus while still having the favor of outsiders. Not the miracles you were expecting, I’m sure, but believe me, these were the greater miracles. The human body will heal, and while miraculous healings are rare and incredible, they’re nothing compared to the healing of our broken human nature which generally pulls us away from others, away from the “common good,” and toward our own, selfish good.
These are the miracles we saw when Pentecost was restored in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, as we stand in the 21st, I’m praying for those same miracles to be displayed among not just Pentecostals but all Christians.
Conclusion: Add Your Paragraph
The main thing I’d like you to take away from this first post is that the story of Pentecost is still going. Yes, the cannon is closed. We won’t be adding a new chapter to the book of Acts, but the same Spirit that empowered them seeks to empower us. Let’s purpose our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with relentless passion, desiring His presence more than anything else, and in response, He will surely do as He has done before and pour out His Spirit upon us so that we might be fully and finally empowered to add our paragraphs to the story of Pentecost.