Assemblies of God 16 Fundamental Truths
#7: The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
All believers are entitled to, 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.
#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 in tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is in essence the same as the gift of tongues, but is different in regard to purpose and use (1 Corinthians 12:4-10, 1 Corinthians 12:28).
“Jesus is my Savior, Baptizer, Healer and Coming King!”—The four-fold ministry, commonly known as the Full Gospel. Rev Dr Lum presents.
“Jesus is my Savior, Baptizer, Healer and Coming King!” This was a familiar refrain in the early years of the Pentecostal movement in North America, a declaration that sums up the four-fold ministry of Jesus and commonly referred to as the Full Gospel. It was a catch-phrase that embodied the key beliefs of nascent Pentecostalism. Subsequently, the Assemblies of God enshrined these beliefs as cardinal doctrines within our Statement of Fundamental Truths. What is the significance of these core beliefs to us today? Are they part of a creed to which we are merely called to mentally affirm? How do they shape our churches and mold those within our movement?
I have found a proposal by Pentecostal scholars John Christopher Thomas and Kenneth J Archer to be useful in understanding the significance of our cardinal doctrines. 1They assert that the four-fold gospel stands as the center of Pentecostal theology and enables the integration of our beliefs, virtues and practices. Living out each of these doctrines will result in the Pentecostal community of faith bearing distinctive characteristics. These doctrines also form spiritual dispositions in each believer, which I have chosen to describe as Pentecostal virtues. It is even possible to integrate the four-fold gospel with the four functions of the church.2 Let us consider how this is possible by examining each doctrine.
First, all Christians readily proclaim Jesus as our Savior. It is through the cross and the resurrection that we receive atonement for our sins and enjoy a new, transformed life. We are not only reconciled in our relationship with God; but we are also brought into a vibrant fellowship with a community of faith. The church forms a community of the redeemed, rejoicing together over our shared new life, and celebrating the ‘koinonia’ (Greek: fellowship) within the community. The experience of Jesus as our Savior cultivates the virtue of joy, most evident in our songs of praise and vibrant community life.
The church also bears an apostolic function as a community sent into this world to model Kingdom life, in sharp contrast with the fallen world. The redeemed community proclaims that the Kingdom of God is here!
Second, Pentecostals have restored a biblical understanding of Jesus as our Baptizer. The baptism in the Holy Spirit as a subsequent and separate crisis experience from conversion is our most cherished doctrine. Spirit-baptism is the vocational empowerment for servant ministry and makes us a charismatic community. Signs, wonders, miracles, divine healing, prophecy and tongues mark our Kingdom life. More importantly, our experience and encounter with the living God cultivates God’s ‘agape’ (Greek: God’s perfect love) love within our hearts. It is this love, which motivates and guides our charismatic ministry. This is essential as power without love inevitably leads to abuse. The church as a charismatic community thus performs a prophetic function as it serves as a channel for God’s divine love to touch the world.
Third, we believe Jesus is our Healer. Jesus seeks to heal not just our bodies but also our mind and emotions. We preach a holistic understanding of healing, which points toward the perfect healing we will ultimately enjoy. This healing cannot rightfully take place in isolation, but must come via integration with a relational community. Thus, we become a healing community where the foretaste of healing begets the shalom of God in our lives. For this to be effected, the church must assume its pastoral and teaching functions to drive spiritual growth and maintain spiritual health.
Finally, we proclaim Jesus as our Coming King. Jesus has not abandoned us; He is returning soon for His bride. This present world is not our home and we acknowledge this truth by journeying together as a missionary community. The world may plod along in anguish and despair, but we know that heaven is our eternal abode and our hearts cry out “Maranatha!” The vision of our final destiny fosters the virtue of hope and allows us to triumph over temporal troubles and adversity. This truth also leads us as a missionary community to fulfill an evangelistic function, calling on others to repent, for the Kingdom of God is near.
In this short article, I have tried to present Thomas’ and Archer’s proposal on the significance of our cardinal doctrines. The four Gospels provide a framework to integrate our beliefs, practices and character virtues. Because Jesus is our Savior, we are a redeemed community marked with joy, fulfilling the apostolic function of the church. With Jesus as our Spirit-baptizer, we become a charismatic community motivated by love, performing a prophetic function in God’s Kingdom.
The reality of Jesus as our Healer transforms us into a healing community embodying peace, nourished by the pastoral-teaching function of the church. We proclaim Jesus as our Coming King, acknowledging that we are a missionary community, cultivating hope and living out the evangelistic function of the church. Ultimately, all our theology must end in doxology, so may God be glorified as we live out our identity as a Pentecostal community of faith.
1See John Christopher Thomas, “Pentecostal Theology in the Twenty-First Century,” Pneuma 20, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 3-19; Kenneth J. Archer, “The Fivefold Gospel and the Mission of the Church,” in Toward a Pentecostal Ecclesiology, edited by John Christopher Thomas (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2010) 7-43. Their proposal embodies the theology of Holiness Pentecostal churches and includes sanctification as one of the core beliefs. This article presents their proposal with some modifications.
2The four-fold offices of the church are found in Ephesians 4:11 and these are interpreted here as its functions. While some see five offices listed, the Greek suggests there are only four.
About Rev Dr Dennis Lum
Rev Dr Dennis Lum is the Dean of the School of Theology (English) at TCA College. He specializes in Pentecostal and charismatic studies as well as practical theology. He is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God and also serves as a pastor in Trinity Christian Centre. He has a powerful teaching anointing, and shares the Word of God with great passion, clarity and practical insight.