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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Building A Foundation for Life

By Wes Bartel
June 13, 2010

We all need something to remind us of important things. For the Assemblies of God, these are especially our core beliefs and our Pentecostal heritage. We need to be clear on what we believe about God and know why we believe it.

To the casual observer it was just a pile of stones. They had been there on the banks of the Jordan River since Israel had first crossed into the land of Canaan. However, to the father and his son, they meant more … much more. This simple pile of stones had been placed there by direct command of God (Joshua 4:1-9). They provided an indispensable bridge from one generation to the next.

Seated beside his father, the son would hear the exciting stories of the miraculous exodus of God’s people from Egypt. He would hear about the years of wandering in the wilderness and of God’s miraculous provision.

The father could point to a place on the opposite bank where the priests had entered the water and describe how they had miraculously crossed into the Promised Land on dry ground. Then, nodding toward the pile of stones, he would describe how they had been stacked on the bank of the Jordan to serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. His instructions to his son would be clear: “Remember! Don’t ever forget what God has done!”

The word remember is very important in our language. It is also a very important word in the Bible. It is used 168 times — first in Genesis 9:15 and finally in Revelation 3:3. The Hebrew meaning of the word translated “remember” is unique. It literally means “a stone of remembrance.” The story cited above is perhaps the clearest example of that meaning.

However, the admonition to remember is not a unique responsibility reserved for the Children of Israel. Every generation and every culture needs a “stone of remembrance.”

Anyone visiting the Assemblies of God national headquarters in Springfield, Mo., is confronted with a visual reminder of the Fellowship’s four core beliefs. Our “stones of remembrance” are four paintings by artist Ron DiCianni commissioned by our leadership in 2006.

In the scenes selected by the artist, viewers witness four key events in the life of Christ. The paintings depict Christ as Savior, Healer, Baptizer and soon-coming King.

In the amazing scene of Jesus Christ on the cross, we witness redemptive truth. He is “God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4, NIV). At the cross, every person is forced to confront the reality of personal sin and their need for a Savior. We must never forget that the doctrine of salvation is central to our faith and must be reaffirmed and embraced by each generation.

We then view Jesus Christ as the Healer. It is important that we center this great teaching in the work of Christ, because it is through His death and suffering that divine healing is provided. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). We are commanded, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (James 5:14,15). Divine healing is a gift to be received by anyone who, like the woman in Luke 8, reaches out to touch Christ.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the third core belief portrayed. It is unique in that we do not see Christ himself depicted in the scene. Yet we know Him as the Baptizer. The apostle John testified of Christ: “After me will come one more powerful than I. … I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7,8). The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a promise to all believers and is vitally important if the church is to be effective in sharing the gospel with a lost world (Acts 2:1-21).

The night before Christ died He made a promise. He said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. ... I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

A fourth painting represents Christ in all His glory. The promise of Christ’s return is not science fiction but is a divine promise that will be fulfilled someday. Christ’s return offers hope and expectation that must be passed from one generation to the next, and it brings us full circle back to the foot of the cross. After all, the cross is what prepares us to be a participant in this great event.

Four pictures function in the same manner as that ancient pile of stones. The pictures and the events referenced provide an opportunity we dare not miss: “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘… He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God’” (Joshua 4:21,22,24, NIV).

WES BARTEL is director of Discipleship Ministries for the Assemblies of God.

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