I was born into a Pentecostal church 56 years ago, was raised there, was educated in one of their colleges, and pastored 3 of their churches. I think this gives me a degree of knowledge and familiarity with the movement and its history... I also had the privilege of meeting with and conversing with some of the Pentecostal pioneers while they were still alive. In addition, I have owned a number of Frank Bartleman’s books for years. This is not to put myself forward as an expert, but to let you know that what I say next is not said from a vacuum of ignorance, assumption, and speculation.
The Pentecostal movement was born out of the holiness movement. Many of those who were involved in its birth were people of holiness who had died to self, had picked up their crosses and were following Jesus Christ as He directed them by His Spirit and His Word. The multitudes of transformed lives, the miracles, and the persecution were very real. We can thank God for those pioneers who – under the move and hand of God – paved the way for a renewed freedom and move of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s Church. The problems which arose were not with the move of the Spirit or with many of those who sought the Lord and came into the Baptism and life of the Spirit. Mostly the problems arose – as they do today – from those who wanted to avoid the cross. These were people who wanted the blessings of life in the Spirit, but who did not want to die to sin, flesh, and themselves.
As early as 1907, Frank Bartleman wrote of his dismay over these types of people who infiltrated the Pentecostal movement. Many flocked to Pentecostal movements all over the continent seeking the blessings of the spirit, but not wanting holiness, confession of sin, brokenness before the Lord, and taking up of the cross. We have the same root problem with us today. The modern church is filled with selfish, sinful people who want God’s blessings, but who do not want to go the way of the cross.
The problem has been further compounded by those false preachers, prophets, and teachers who refuse to preach the cross and what it costs to be a follower of Christ. Instead today’s “Christian” heaps to himself preachers, teachers, and prophets who tickle his flesh and make it feel comfortable – those who have become experts at creating a brand of “christianity” which seems to marry the flesh with the Spirit. This CANNOT be, however, since the flesh and the Spirit are enemies against each other. Scripture makes it clear that one must follow one or the other – God or mammon.
It is the shame of many Pentecostal/ Charismatic churches – although, not all (... the mistake of generalizing) – have abandoned the preaching of the cross, holiness, separation from the world, and the true full Gospel. Much of the modern church has abandoned the Christ of the Bible in favor of a “new and improved Christ” who has no cross, but only “love;” who has no holiness, but only “grace;” who has no justice, but only “blessings;” and who is not Judge, but merely a cosmic Santa Claus.
How we need those who will die to self, take up the cross, and be witnesses of the true Christ! How God longs for those who will live godly in Christ Jesus – in spite of the persecution! How we need those who choose to reject the world, who hate sin, who fear none but God; those who will do what He wants, speak what He says, and be molded into the image of Christ by the Word and the Spirit that Christ may have human representation of Himself to a lost and dying world. This is the Church of Jesus Christ.
May God help us. Brothers and sisters, work while it is yet day, for the night is coming when no man can work. Labor faithfully with Him. Fear not what man thinks or what man can do unto you, but fear Him who is your Redeemer and your King.
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