Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place

Below are of some of life's most important decisions.

  1. Forgiveness and Grace
  2. Salvation
  3. Baptism in the Holy Spirit
  4. Importance of Family as God Intended


Forgiveness and Grace

This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.

Does the Assemblies of God believe God will forgive any sin regardless of the severity? Are there limits to God’s grace?

Though it is difficult for the human mind to comprehend, no sin is beyond God's ability and willingness to forgive. This confident belief is based on the inspired Word of God, which we believe and trust implicitly. According to Ephesians 4:32, God for Christ's sake has graciously forgiven us. He has also promised, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17). The gracious Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son is a perfect example of forgiveness extended even after one has been shunned and exploited (Luke 15:11-32).

There is only one sin for which one is not promised forgiveness: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. "I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin" (Mark 3:28,29). Much has been speculated and written on the meaning of this blasphemy, but it seems certain to be some deliberate persistence in evil and a conscious rejection of God's provision of salvation after one knows the reality of redemption. God forgives any sin for which a person desires to be forgiven. He will not forgive sin for which one has no desire to be forgiven (see question 10, the unpardonable sin).

The words of a revered gospel song read, "Such love, such wondrous love . . . that God should love a sinner such as I, How wonderful is love like this." God's loving forgiveness grows out of His remarkable grace. "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more" (Romans 5:20). Faithful believers are chosen by God's grace; "and if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11:5,6). The basic meaning of grace is that God is for us. Grace is summed up in the person of Jesus Christ, God’s free gift for mankind's salvation. There is no limit to God's love and grace; it reaches beyond the scope of our comprehension.

CONCERNS:

As recipients of God's grace and forgiveness, Christians have a responsibility to do more than experience God's love for themselves. When we accept Christ, we are to participate in His love through biblical living and sharing. Just as there is no limit to God's forgiveness to us, there should be no limit to our forgiveness of those who wrong us. In response to Peter's question to Jesus about forgiving a brother who might sin against him, Jesus said, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:22). Our forgiveness of others should be as limitless as God's forgiveness is toward us. Just as God's grace and forgiveness is incomprehensible to finite mankind, so is the expectation that we can repeatedly forgive others. But when God asks us to do something, He gives the help of His Holy Spirit to do it.

The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching. The official delineation of this position is found in Statement of Fundamental Truths, Section 5, The Salvation of Man.



Life's Greatest Decision


Two great moments in our lives are when we are born and when we discover why we were born. We were created for a reason—a divine purpose. Our lives are not accidents or fate. God has a personal plan for each of us. His purpose in our lives can only be accomplished because of Jesus Christ.

Two great moments in our lives are when we are born and when we discover why we were born. We were created for a reason—a divine purpose. Our lives are not accidents or fate. God has a personal plan for each of us. His purpose in our lives can only be accomplished because of Jesus Christ.

The life of Jesus Christ is the turning point of all history. Our calendar is hinged on His birth. Who was this man from the small town of Nazareth in the Middle East? Hundreds of years before He came, prophets announced His coming. Many great men have appeared in this world, yet none were divine and announced beforehand, except this one man—Jesus.

Were Jesus’ followers telling the truth about Him? The proofs that Christ came back to life from death were so convincing, the early Christians gave their lives rather than deny that Jesus was the Son of God.

The apostle Peter was a fisherman who traveled with Jesus for more than three years, listening to His teaching and observing His life. Peter was one of Jesus’ first followers and became one of His closest friends. In a letter Peter wrote to churches late in his life, he said, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."1

The Book of Acts in the New Testament, records a simple and clear presentation Peter gave about Jesus Christ to a Roman named Cornelius:

I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached — how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.2

Peter said that God wants to forgive us and bring peace into our lives. Jesus Christ opens the way to peace—peace with God and peace with others. Other people have sinned against us, and we have sinned against other people. We can do something about both—by asking God to forgive our sins and forgiving others for their sins against us.

The life of Christ calls for a decision. Was He just a great teacher and spiritual leader? Or was He who He claimed to be — the Son of God who has the power to forgive sin and grant everlasting life to all who will believe on Him? Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life."3

Life has only two roads, and we are on one of them. One leads to death and eternal punishment—the other to everlasting life.

Jesus Christ taught that every person will exist for eternity. The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."4 He also taught that being saved from sin’s penalty is simple: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."5

We all know in our hearts that we have sinned. Even if we have never read a Bible or do not understand what it means to sin against God we can know we are sinners, because God created each of us with a conscience. We know what we don’t want others to do to us. We don’t want them to steal our possessions, lie about us or be unkind to us. When we do to someone what we don’t want done to us, our conscience lets us know we have done wrong.

The penalty for sin is death. That is why all people die. But 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God, became a man. For 33 years He lived without sin. Then He was killed. He paid the penalty for sin without committing the crime. So death had no power over Him. After three days, He came back to life again.

He is alive! And now He offers forgiveness of sin and the gift of everlasting life to everyone who will ask Him.

You can receive Christ as your Savior right now, this moment! You don’t have to be in a church or special place, or have the help of a minister or priest. (If you need a better understanding before you make this decision, to read more find the links titled "Following Christ" under Lessons and The Life of Christ on this Web site.)

You can pray now, wherever you are. God is listening. Tell Him in your own words that you are sorry for your sins and that you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Ask God to help you change your heart and life. It’s your prayer He wants to hear. You can pray the following prayer, but it is not enough just to say the words. You must mean it from your heart:

"God, I know I have sinned. I believe Your Son, Jesus Christ, died to take the punishment for my sin. I believe Jesus came back to life from death and has the power to forgive my sin and change my life. Forgive me. Come into my life and change me. I want to live for You and follow Your plan for my life. I believe You have forgiven me, and I thank You for hearing my prayer, in Jesus’ name."

God has forgiven you if you prayed this prayer and meant it from your heart. God knew before you were born that you would receive His Son as your Savior. Now you can begin the life He has planned for you! Step by step God will lead you to what He has chosen for you. He will show you the way to live and will teach you each day as you grow spiritually and become the person He planned for you to be.




Baptism in the Holy Spirit

This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.

Why is the Assemblies of God so committed to the doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues?

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a vital experience of the Christian life. It is a special work of the Spirit beyond salvation. On the Day of Pentecost, disciples who had already made a decision to follow Jesus "were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues" (Acts 2:4). Paul asked the Ephesians disciples if they had received the Holy Spirit, after which "the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues" (Acts 19:2). New Testament believers were constantly challenged to be filled with the Spirit (Acts 1:4,5; Ephesians 5:18). The Assemblies of God is committed to the baptism in the Holy Spirit because the experience is such an important focus of New Testament Christianity.

Though many non-Pentecostals teach a baptism in the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues, the position of the Assemblies of God is clearly declared in Section 8 of its Statement of Fundamental Truths: "The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4)." The evidence always occurred (and still does today) at the time believers were baptized in the Spirit, not at some indeterminate future time.

Speaking in tongues is the only phenomenon mentioned every time Scripture supplies details concerning the Baptism experience. Of the five instances in Acts which recount the experience of believers being baptized in the Spirit, three supply details. Speaking in tongues is the only one that occurs each time (Acts 2, 10, 19). In the Acts 10 account, tongues is specifically mentioned as proof that "the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues" (Acts 10:45, 46). The relationship between the phenomenon and the experience cannot be ignored.

In the two cases where details are not supplied, circumstances strongly imply that speaking with other tongues accompanied the experience. In Acts 8 Simon saw something (most likely tongues) that prompted him to offer money for the power to impart such a gift. In Acts 9 Saul (who became Paul) is filled with the Spirit without the mention of any details. However, Paul later testified, "I speak in tongues more than all of you" (1 Corinthians 14:18). It is logical to conclude that he began speaking in tongues when he was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

We believe the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in other tongues is the promise of the Father to every Christian who desires the experience.

CONCERNS:

Pentecostals have a legitimate concern about those who oppose the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Opponents claim narrative portions of the Bible, like the Book of Acts, are not sufficient support for tongues as the initial evidence of the Baptism. But if critics can pick and choose the portions of Scripture to be given divine authenticity and authority, who then determines which portions are most meaningful? Certainly we must take to heart the words of Paul to Timothy, "All scripture is God breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16).

We also have a concern that some Pentecostals look on the Baptism and tongues as ends in themselves rather than as means to a much greater end. The Baptism is the entry experience introducing the believer to the beauty and power of the Spirit-filled life.

In the Assemblies of God we believe the Spirit is at work in all Christians, whether they have been baptized in the Spirit or not. God can also use and does use Christians who for one reason or another have not received the Baptism experience. We must never depreciate their ministry. Yet we recognize the baptism in the Holy Spirit will make one’s life and ministry even more effective.

So for every believer the command is sounded, "Be filled [Keep on being filled] with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).

The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching. The official delineation of this position is found in Statement of Fundamental Truths, Sections 7 & 8; affirmed in Position Paper, "The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit," 1981.


Family - A Biblical Institution

This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.

What does the Assemblies of God believe the Bible teaches about the institution of the family? Is there a biblical model?

The family is not merely an invention of society, but an institution founded by God himself. The family is God’s agency for populating the earth with people who would love God and be loved by Him. It is to be formed exclusively through a loving lifelong marriage covenant between a man and a woman (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18,24). This is in clear contrast to the view of many outside the church that the family is nothing more than an archaic institution that we moderns may dispense with.

The Bible is filled with teaching on the family and stories that tell of the triumph and tragedy of families. Both the Old and New Testaments contain numerous reflections on the roles of father, mother and children. The clear message of Scripture is that individuals and families suffer when lives are not lived in accordance with God's standards. Numerous biblical tragedies are played out in the context of families (e.g.: sibling conflict: Cain and Abel; marital strife: Jacob and Rachel; adultery: David and Bathsheba). When people fail to fulfill their proper functions in the family, they and their families suffer.

What does God expect of the husband/father? The husband is first and foremost called by God to lovehis wife (Ephesians 5:25, 28-32). The self-giving love of Christ for the Church is the model that the husband ought to emulate. Secondly, the husband is called to honor his wife (1 Peter 3:7). Many family problems between spouses and parents and children would be resolved if these two principles alone were practiced. A husband must remember that his wife is a joint heir with him of the grace of God. She is an expression of God's favor and grace (Proverbs 18:22). Every Christian husband should view his wife from this perspective of God’s extended love towards him.

The husband is to provide leadership as he models the Christian faith (beliefs and way of living) before his family. He is to reflect in his life the character and virtues of the Christian faith. This happens when he lives a life of integrity, faithfulness, and obedience to God. The physical, material, emotional and spiritual needs of the family are to be met by the husband and father to the very best of his ability. He is to provide security and protection for his family. There is no biblical justification for not meeting these needs. It is his duty before God (1 Timothy 5:8).

Both husband and wife are to lovingly fulfill each other’s sexual needs (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Each should seek to understand the sexual needs of their spouse. The God-given gift of intercourse in marriage is much more than a physical act. It brings a deep intimacy and oneness that unites a couple and enriches the marriage. This intimate union in the marriage has a positive and profound impact on the family and is to be shared only with one’s lifelong marriage partner.

The wife is called by God to love, respect, and be faithful to her husband (Ephesians 5:22,23; Titus 2:4,5). As a wife and mother she is to be a role model of godliness and do her best to meet the family’s needs (Titus 2:4,5; 1 Timothy 5:14; Proverbs 31:10-31). The Bible calls her inward character her beauty. She is to model purity and possess a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:1-7). She is to manage her home, speak with wisdom, and demonstrate prudence (Proverbs 12:4; 31:26,27). She is to assist her husband in nurturing their children. If the father is not a Christian she is to take the full responsibility to rear her children in the ways of the Lord.

Both parents are called by God not only to meet the material and physical needs of the family but also to instruct children in the things of God (Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Proverbs 22:6). This will necessitate that parents discipline their children. Appropriate discipline is not abuse, but an authentic expression of love and concern (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 29:15, 17; cf. Hebrews 12:5-11). Yet parents need to be sensitive, not reacting harshly in anger, avoiding expressions of discipline that would mar the spirit of the child (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).

Within the family parents should model appropriate masculinity and femininity before their children. Research has shown that in order to develop properly children need both strong male and female role models. In situations where only one parent is living in the home, the church can help model proper male and female roles for children through the ministries of the church.

What about the children? Do they have any responsibilities toward their parents? The Scriptures indicate they do. They should obey and honor their parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; Exodus 20:12). Honor is not merely a verbal affirmation of the parent, but a lifelong pattern of living that does not bring distress, embarrassment, or reproach, but rather happiness, pride, and respect for the parent. Throughout the lives of their parents children are under divine obligation to be a loving support system for them (1 Timothy 5:8).

The Christian family ought to be one where all members care for each other. The emphasis of the biblical model for the family is one of reciprocity (mutual sharing, giving, and receiving). This occurs out of love, respect and concern for others from within the family.

Concerns:

The church is troubled by the lack of spiritual focus in the homes of many Christians. Family time once used for prayer and Bible reading has given way to excessive television viewing, career enhancement, entertainment, and other activities that threaten the home. This shift has had a traumatic impact on the collective values of today’s Christian family. For families to think a few hours of weekly church attendance will provide the needed spiritual nourishment for members of the family, counter-balancing the world’s immoral influence, is a serious mistake.

Spiritual growth is fostered in the home through Christlike living and regularly scheduled times of family Bible reading and prayer. This family forum will provide each member opportunity to experience Christ at the center of life. The Assemblies of God encourages each Christian father to lead his family in the practice of daily family devotions. Should the father refuse to take this responsibility, or be absent from the home, the mother is to fill this role in nurturing her children in the ways of the Lord. The Bible says "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6). This biblical directive was made first to parents, not to the Church.

The Church is also concerned about many families who as a result of death or divorce have only a single parent living in the home. The Church must recognize that single parents are faced with the difficult challenge of fulfilling both parental roles; providing income, and meeting the physical and emotional needs of the entire family. How does one parent handle finances, shop, fix meals, clean, do laundry, make home repairs, maintain a car, pay bills, transport kids, arrange medical care, rear children, and more? Certainly the role and loneliness of a single parent can be overwhelming.

As the Church we must reach out to all such families. This can be best accomplished through servant actions such as baby sitting, helping with finances, offering rides to church and community functions, prayer for and with them, watching out for them and opening our houses and hearts to them. There are hundreds of ways to show single parents God’s love. The Assemblies of God calls its members to awareness and servant action in meeting the needs of single-parent homes.

The above actions only support our position on marriage and the family. The first goal of all families must be to keep their marriages intact and work through marital difficulties. While we strive to maintain God’s ideal of lifelong committed marriages and two-parent homes, we recognize that many experience divorce. Those from broken homes are looking to the church for answers and support. As the body of Christ we must reach out with love and compassion. We must love and accept those who have been effected by it. We must do this allowing the pain we see to reinforce in us the truth that God hates divorce and calls those who are married to the high standard of lifelong monogamous marriage.

The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching. The official delineation of this position is found in the Assemblies of God position paper "Divorce and Remarriage" under the "Biblical Principles of Marriage" section approved by the General Council of the Assemblies of God, August 1973.



All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.