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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. ...




1910s – 1950s

1910s

In the early years of the Pentecostal Evangel, and the Assemblies of God, a major need was foundational teaching on some of the basics of Pentecostalism — the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. It was a day when “wildfire”— an unchecked enthusiasm not informed by the teachings of God’s Word — was a distinct threat. The AG met this challenge with solid teaching and a call for balance.

The following article confronts the error of thinking that by receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, a Christian had “arrived.” It is excerpted from The Weekly Evangel of June 23, 1917.

Mrs. Frank Hodges (first name unavailable) ministered with her husband in England during the early 1900s.

"Exercised Senses”
Hebrews 5:12-14


By Mrs. Frank Hodges

Nowhere in the Word of God do we read of a readymade, completely finished experience, even in the baptism of the Holy Spirit.


The Pentecostal Baptism is a Gate, not a Goal.

The Apostle Paul in Hebrews 5:12, 13, 14 warns his converts of the danger of their remaining in the state of spiritual babyhood, and one mark of that state, he says, is undeveloped and unexercised senses. In these days of advanced education and instruction of the young, every faculty and sense is trained and developed. Children are being taught through the exercise and development of their senses of sight, hearing, touch, memory, etc., and by reason of constant use and discipline, their faculties are quickened, enlarged, and trained for future use and service, in the years to come — though the capacity will be greater in some natures and lesser in others.

As we apply this spiritually, we see that God has given to us spiritual senses, even as in the natural, and that He expects us to put to use, in the power of His Spirit, the senses He has given.


I. The Sense of Hearing.

It takes time and cultivation to hear, to distinguish the Spirit’s voice. There are many voices that clamour for a hearing. The voice of false teachers; the voice of our own imagination, and desires; the voice of some well-meaning friend, who would hold us back; but the mark of the true sheep of Christ’s fold is that they hear and know His voice.

How can we distinguish and know the voice of the Holy Spirit? It is a voice that brings quietness to the spirit and rest to the heart.

The voice of the Spirit always speaks in harmony with the written Word of God.

The power to hear and distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit will come most easily to the one who cultivates the habit of silent waiting upon God.


II. The Sense of Touch.

What power there can be in a touch! A kindly sympathetic touch. And much more in a Spirit-inspired one! Jesus, as He touched the sick and afflicted, carried with that touch healing, restoration, life. We need to be daily so in living “touch” with Him and “charged” with the power of the Holy Spirit that as we only take the hand of another, currents of life will flow (it may be unconsciously) from us into them.


III. The Sense of Smell or Scent.

Spiritually, we should cultivate this fine sensitiveness, and so go on to inhale the perfume, the sweet odor of the presence of the Lord, that wherever we go we shall exhale a fragrance all around us of His love and grace.


IV. The Sense of Sight.

Spiritual vision. We are told in the Word of God that one result of the Holy Spirit’s coming was to reveal to us the mysteries hidden in the Word; to show us things to come; to reveal Jesus in our hearts; to give us revelations of the coming King and kingdom, that the eyes of our heart may be illuminated, so that we may know more deeply than the human mind and intellect can grasp the wonderful fullness in Christ for us and His wonderful purposes in this present age and dispensation.


V. The Sense of Taste.

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” “How sweet are Thy Words to my taste, yea sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalms 34:8; and 119:103. The sense of spiritual taste can be developed under the instruction of the Holy Spirit.



1920s

Charles Elmo Robinson served as an associate editor of The Pentecostal Evangel for 25 years. He wrote a number of books that were published by Gospel Publishing House, including Praying to Change Things and several children’s books. He also served as a consulting attorney at the Assemblies of God national offices, and was named General Treasurer for the 1929-31 term.

The following article is excerpted from The Pentecostal Evangel of Sept. 24, 1927.

How Faith Springs Up

By Charles Elmo Robinson


THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT

The manifestation of the Spirit, the diversities of the gifts of the Spirit, are divided “to every man, severally as He will.” When you see a moving of the Spirit, it is an outward indication of the presence of the Spirit in the assembly. Look for, ask for, seek for a more intense activity of the Spirit, for the purpose of the Spirit distributing the gifts of the Spirit. There is a more intense activity of the Spirit at the time of the distribution of the Spirit’s gifts. Pray for an intense working of the Spirit.

Peter and John were recipients of the outpouring of the Spirit, and they saw the man healed, the 5,000 converted, and there was a general working of the Holy Spirit; but they prayed for a more intense manifestation of that working (Acts 4:29,30). At a time that the Spirit of God was working they asked for more. To him that hath shall be given. Why have the gifts not been in manifestation when the Spirit has been poured out? Because people have been content with a general manifestation of the Spirit.

God put into the heart of Peter and John and the assembly a divine dissatisfaction with the manifestation of the outpouring of the Spirit up to that time. They were not content with the upper room experience and subsequent blessings. God was pleased with their dissatisfaction. Ask largely, ask for an intensification of manifestations, a concentration, a doubling up.

“Elisha, won’t you be content if you have what Elijah has? Won’t you be content with calling down fire from heaven, closing the heavens, opening the heavens, with water and fire coming from heaven? Won’t you be satisfied if you can do the like?”

“No, I want a double portion. I want a double portion of what you, Elijah, have.”

Did Elijah say, “Oh, Elisha, you are greedy, you are avaricious”?

Indeed no!

You shall have a double portion if you will meet the conditions as Elisha did.

In the fourth chapter of Acts we see Peter and John in the assembly in prayer for a doubling up. God wants you to do the same today, to have an audacious faith, a desire for the scriptural manifestations and fulfillment of the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, verses one to twelve.

Who put the desire in Elisha’s heart for a double portion? Could not those sons of the prophets have had the same? But they did not follow after Elijah as Elisha did. Elisha was determined to get, and he got. He was determined to obtain, and he obtained. Ask largely, ask freely, ask believingly, ask persistently, that you may be full. God is not impoverished by giving, but the impoverished church has failed to receive from her Lord that which He wants to give.

The gifts must be given, the recipients must be found. Where are you, and what is your attitude? The gifts are obtainable when the Spirit is working in intensity; therefore the necessity of praying for rain in the time of the latter rain, for an intensity of rain in the time of rain, for a double portion of the Spirit, the Spirit in greater measure for the greater work.


1930s

Ernest S. Williams served as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God from 1929-49. He experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit at the Azusa Street Mission, site of the early 20th-century revival that was foundational to the formation of the Assemblies of God. He served as pastor of Highway Tabernacle in Philadelphia before his election as general superintendent. Following his retirement, Williams continued to write for The Pentecostal Evangel, and was perhaps best known for his regular column that answered readers’ theological questions.

The following article appeared during Williams’ tenure as general superintendent in the Jan. 18, 1936, issue of The Pentecostal Evangel.

Some Things a Pastor Cannot Do

By Ernest S. Williams

The pastor has his duties to perform and is responsible to the Lord for doing them consistently and in the fear of God. But there are some things he cannot do. The pastor cannot do the praying of his people for them. Many expect to have blessing upon the services, to see souls saved, believers filled with the Spirit, and the work of God prospering; but they either do not pray, or if they do pray, they do not hold on in earnest intercession until the Spirit answers.

How much unjust criticism is often heaped upon the pastor because things do not move as they ought, when were the time spent in finding fault devoted to earnest intercession in his behalf and in behalf of the work, all would be so different. People sometimes forget that the pastor is human, just a fellow Christian, Beloved. He feels pressure as well as others. He knows heartaches and discouragement. And when the spiritual tide is low, he likely feels it more keenly than any of his flock. While some in the pews may be sitting back and finding fault, he is wrestling in prayer, seeking to pull, at times, an almost “unpullable” load, and he must be actively engaged, seeking to lead the service up into the atmosphere of God; searching the Scriptures and trying to minister the Word, while unsympathetic hearts may be hindering his message by their unresponsiveness, their lack of spiritual burden, prayerlessly failing to co-operate with him in his conflict against the unseen powers of darkness.

How different it might be if the saints all took the work to heart and earnestly upheld him with loving sympathy and prayer. We hear much about the sermons of Spurgeon. But back of his message was a united official board which were in prayer in an adjoining part of the building while he preached. Much emphasis is put upon the preaching of Mr. Finney and the great results. But concealed in his bed chamber was the little man of prayer, wearing his life away in wrestling against the forces of evil that the Word of the Lord might run and be glorified.

If only the people knew the load it lifts off a pastor’s heart to see an appreciative smile or hear the earnest petitions of the saints in behalf of his humble ministry, surely they would pray more. But go into many of our churches before the service begins. Instead of the quiet hush or the earnest prayer, we find the people looking about or idly talking until the opening song is announced. No burden, no apparent concern! They have likely come from prayerless homes for a service, and expect the man behind the sacred desk to bring the power to flood the room with glory, and at the impulse of his word a revival to ensue. Then if the results are not forthcoming, instead of taking things to the Lord in prayer a whisper starts its round — “We need a new man here, one that can meet the need, for things are drying up.”

Then, too, after the pastor has toiled in preaching, when he seeks to bring souls to the altar and get them through to God, the church becomes a babble of voices. No burden, just greeting one another and having a little social time; while a few faithfully try, amid the confusion, to help some wanderer into the fold, or to hold on to God in prayer. Such a church is far from revival. And instead of laying the blame on him who has stood between the living and the dead, it needs to bewail its own indifference and unbelief.

The pastor cannot exercise faith that his people should exercise. Do you not know God answers faith? Years ago when but a young preacher, I confided to a man of mature years that when I found it difficult in preaching I felt like stopping and sitting down. To this he answered that when he found it difficult to preach he believed it was Satan trying to hinder because there was someone there who needed the message, and he often found some were saved at such times. This was a new viewpoint and helped me much. When it seems most difficult to plow through, it will often be found that, as the church looks to God in faith, He honors the Word with souls.

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him” has just as much to do with the success of our services as with anything else. The success of Peter and of the other apostles was as much the result of the united faith and faithful prayers of the believing church as it was of their own consecrated labors. What preacher could not succeed with such backing as these men had when the church lifted its voice with one accord and said, “Lord, Thou art God; and now grant unto Thy servants that with all boldness they may speak Thy word.” The place was shaken where they were assembled, not by the praying of Peter and the other apostles, but by the united believing prayer of a consecrated and sympathetic church.

Too many in our churches require that the pastor have all the faith. Some expect him to trust for his salary whether they contribute to his support or not; expect him to pray them well when sick; to accomplish every other requirement of faith; and if he fails, or they think he fails, they do not blame themselves but put the blame on him, seeming to think he can do the impossible. No, my friend, there is a limit to the pastor’s faith as well as to yours. Paul knew his need of faithful brethren, and said, “That our hearts might be comforted through the mutual faith both of you and me.” And the pastor needs the prayerful faith of a faithful church if his ministry is to be a success.

The pastor cannot do our personal work for us. We go to church and hope for a crowd — that is, we go if the weather is fair. And if the crowd is not there, we think our need is a pastor whose pulpit ability will draw them in. How much have we done toward trying to interest the people? Many during the entire week have not invited one soul. What the church needs is live, wide-awake, believing, praying men and women who will become personal workers, going out into the highways and hedges, giving forth the gospel, inviting the people in.

Many of us are almost entirely asleep to our calling and opportunity. The Bible has not said, “Sinner, come to the church and be evangelized.” It says to the church, “Go ye, preach the gospel to every creature.” We cannot get every creature into the church to hear, but we can go outside the church to every creature. The major part of the success to be reaped by the church is the fruit of personal ministry. People will pay evangelists, spend hours in meeting, seeking a good time for themselves, when they do not give one hour to personal evangelism. Then they wonder why there is not a revival. They are too selfish, too much wrapped up in seeking their own good time, and too unconcerned about their fellowmen. People saved are fruit. And most of them (often the best of them) are hand-picked. Paul preached publicly and from house to house, and while the church neglects the house-to-house and heart-to-heart aspect of evangelism it need not look for great revival.

Much of this personal evangelism is impossible to the pastor. If he is a faithful shepherd, by the time he has ministered to the sick, called on the bereaved and other members of his flock, together with a multitude of other duties which his congregation cannot share or realize, he is pressed for sufficient time to prepare his message for the congregation. The principal part of personal evangelism must therefore be carried on by the faithful church. Then, having gotten the people into the house of worship, while the united church prays in faith, God makes His Word quick and powerful; and the fruit of our united labor is revival. And joy of our own hearts.

Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, and go ye to every creature.



1940s

During the tumultuous years of World War II, the Pentecostal Evangel offered readers the unshakeable hope found in God’s Word. Following the ?war, the Evangel continued to high-light the spiritual need of men and women serving in the armed forces.

The following article appeared in The Pentecostal Evangel of Sept. 1, 1945.

Harvest Time

A selection from the Servicemen’s Department publication, Reveille

During the war years, our Assemblies of God pastors, chaplains and servicemen’s workers have ministered to the armed forces through the country, spreading the full gospel message under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Servicemen’s Department, for the past twenty months, has ministered to hundreds of thousands of men. A great many have been converted and the seed has been sown in the hearts of untold thousands. Those who have already been won to Christ are only a small part of the tremendous harvest we can reap.

Your Servicemen’s Department has been ministering in behalf of every local Assembly of God, offering encouragement to the men from our churches, corresponding with them regularly, providing Bible Study Courses and every spiritual aid. The unsaved have been evangelized through REVEILLE, correspondence, the Victory Service Centers, and camp evangelism. It has been a great task and a glorious one, as God has given a fruitful harvest.

Our chaplains have been realizing marvelous services and spiritual encouragement. God has been blessing their ministry. Chaplain Cyril Homer reports from Okinawa that unusually large crowds of men have been attending their services every night. He writes, “I had a grand service this morning. Even though it rained up until starting time, there were around three hundred out. It was the most inspiring service yet. I had more liberty in preaching than I have enjoyed since coming into the army. Last night we had six decisions. This week eighteen have given their hearts to the Lord. We shall have a baptismal service tomorrow at Yonabaru Bay.” Other chaplains are having similar experiences as the outpouring of the Spirit of God is directing them in their conquest of souls.

Our task is not complete — a great responsibility remains. Those who have found Christ and have been encouraged in the Christian life are now confronted with an even greater danger — the riotous aftermath of victory, that will involve unending celebrations and spiritual letdown in the attitudes of some. This is the thing from which we must preserve our men.

Further, those who have been encouraged in Christ will be facing the problems of readjustment to civilian life. In these problems again they are going to look for guidance to us who have helped them in the past.

As these men are transferred, reassigned and returned home, it is our purpose to continue to correspond with them and to assist them in getting into action with their local churches and Christ’s Ambassadors groups. Some will be going to Bible School to prepare for full-time ministry. A few are already making arrangements to remain in foreign lands as missionaries. The task ahead of us will require the prayers and backing of every congregation and local C.A. group.

The next twelve months will spell the eternal destiny of the lives of many of our men. We are counting on the prayerful assistance and offerings of those who will stand back of us for a final great harvest of souls among our loved ones in service.



1950s

The Eisenhower era coincided with the introduction and rapid expansion of the Assemblies of God’s Revivaltime radio broadcasts. From 1950-53, less than 100 stations carried the first prerecorded broadcasts, with messages preached by AG leadership. In 1953, Revivaltime transitioned to live broadcasts with C.M. Ward on ABC Radio. The ministry exploded in its reach and in listener response.

Numbers of Ward’s sermons appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel. The following message was printed in the March 28, 1954, issue.

“Spirits in Prison”

By C.M. Ward

The ministry of Jesus is a ministry of deliverance. He said in the synagogue at Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. ... He hath sent me ... to preach deliverance to the captives.”

Was this what Jesus was doing in those silent hours between Good Friday and Easter, when heaven and earth seemed hushed and in suspense?

We know where His body lay. It was there in the rock tomb of Joseph. But what was the spirit of Jesus doing? Where was He? We are told that He was “crucified, dead and buried.” Must He not have followed the course of all the sons of men? Paul records the fact that Christ “descended first into the lower parts of the earth,” and that “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens.” Peter tells us that Christ was “put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.”

Oh, I would like to ask with you, “What was Christ’s mission? What news did He bring to the place of the departed dead? What message did He proclaim? What story of Calvary did He tell? Did a voice of thunder cry out against this underworld fortress —

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in”?

And can we imagine that the keepers of Sheol trembled at the cry; and that, as the bolts and bars which held fast the doors began to give way, they inquired —

“Who is this King of glory?”

And that the whole domain of darkness shook, and the gates went crashing, as there arose and echoed and re-echoed the cry —

“The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory.”

Can we imagine the scene? Can we picture this visit of the Victor of Calvary in the abode of departed spirits?

I ask you again, “What deliverance did Christ bring that weekend to the spirits in prison?” Here is a secret that awaits the day when we stand around the throne of God. The entire mystery of all that happened that Easter weekend will be revealed to us that day.

But what of today? What is Jesus doing now? The answer is this: He is still descending to a world where spirits are in prison. He is still preaching deliverance to captives. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Here is my message to you. Everywhere around us there are people that are bound — “spirits in prison.” See it as it is written on their faces. Look at the world’s prison-house and listen to the cry of the tormented — “Who can deliver us? Who can lift these ‘everlasting doors’ and set us free?” And then believe with me now that Jesus can do it — that God has sent Him to bring deliverance to the captives.

I ask with you now, “What are some of the great imprisoning forces of life to which Jesus holds the key of deliverance?”

First, there is the prison-house of drudgery. Look at the empty lives around you! Their dreams are shattered and all that is left is a dull resentment. They are like a caged bird. Life is monotonous and dull. Their nerves are shrieking, and slowly they are being driven to the precipice of an overdose of sleeping pills. Who can reach these “spirits in prison”? The answer is, Jesus can. It’s in that testimony-hymn that you will hear thousands of Assemblies of God people sing as they give voice to their own experience:

“What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart;
I have light in my soul for which long I had sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart.”

and then this verse:

“I’m possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure,
Since Jesus came into my heart;
And no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure,
Since Jesus came into my heart.”

That’s more than a song, friend. That’s a fact based on a million testimonies. Christ has brought a purpose to living. Christ has filled that void and cast out a devil that would say, “What’s the use anyway?” I like the way that Paul, the apostle, speaks of it when he describes Jesus as “ ... the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” Paul never got through testifying about what Jesus had done for him. He strove as few men have ever striven to find the answer to life. He sought it in a pursuit of knowledge. He sought it in strict religious observances. He sought it in family pride. He sought it in murder and bodily injury. Later on, in testifying about his early life, he said he had been “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.” But there was an empty place in Paul’s life until he found Jesus. Jesus filled that place and kept it filled. And you will never find the answer to your heart’s longing until you find it in Jesus. He will take the “hurt” away. He will take the restlessness away. He will take that lonely feeling away and give you peace.

Now I want to speak of a second imprisoning force from which Jesus can deliver — the imprisoning force of the pressure of this world. What a paradox! Everywhere people imagine they are free when all the time they are being held captive — captive to the spirit of this age that says, “Stop worrying about morals, about religion, about judgment day. Eat, drink and be merry because when you’re dead you stay dead for a long time.” Friend, let me tell you that such talk is the foolish thinking of a world that is whistling in the dark to give itself courage. But men are being bound by such philosophy today. It’s at the very root of our juvenile delinquency problem. It sends a generation pell-mell to seek a freedom that is only a mirage — a freedom from the laws of God. And as a generation runs from God their slavery becomes more wretched and the heart-cry coming from our boys and girls in America’s prisons today becomes all the more anguished. I know, because letters of that kind pass over my desk every day.

What is the answer? Let me tell you this: “The answer is not in a stilted, cynical, bloodless, Christless religious philosophy preached in a lifeless fashion.” This generation has turned thumbs down on that. Witness the thousands of darkened churches on a Sunday night. The key that Jesus Christ holds in His hand to unlock this prison is the key of the supernatural. Men thirst for the supernatural. They want to know that Jesus and the Bible are real — that there is something they can believe. They want a taste of heaven. They have fed too long on earthy stuff. There is a “thirst” in this generation that only Jesus can quench.

Another imprisoning force of which I must speak is the tyranny of sin. Oh! the prison-house of a dark conscience — of an overpowering sense of guilt! After you are through blaming heredity, environment, social conditions, and unemployment you find you have yourself to blame. You stand guilty! The plain fact is that we have done things we ought not to have done and have left undone things we ought to have done. And our trespasses have left a mark on us. We cannot change by stern resolving. Our strongest oaths and covenants will not help us. We need something beyond self-reformation.

Who can let us out of this prison-house? The answer is, Jesus can! And what is the key in His hand to unlock this prison? The answer is, the forgiveness of God. Listen, friend! Just as Jesus once stood in front of Lazarus’ grave and cried with a voice that rang right down into the depths, “Lazarus, come forth!” so He stands now in front of your prison — in front of the grave of all your hopes and aspirations — with resurrection power at His command. God is at peace with us. Nothing need hinder, nothing need separate us from Him. Freedom is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ. Paul calls it “the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Christ’s pierced hand is on the door of your prison-house. It awaits your faith. If I had not believed 28 years ago that God for Christ’s sake had freely forgiven my sins, I might still have been in the prison-house of my guilt today.

And finally, there is the imprisoning force of the fear of death. Christ’s gospel includes deliverance from this — He came to “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Have you ever heard full gospel Christians sing:

“Death hath no terrors for the Blood-bought one,
Oh, glory, hallelujah to the Lamb!
The boasted victory of the grave is gone,
Oh, glory, hallelujah to the Lamb!”

and this verse:

“We seek a city far beyond the vale,
Oh, glory, hallelujah to the Lamb!
Where joys celestial never, never fail,
Oh, glory, hallelujah to the Lamb!”

I have come to believe that folk don’t fear death as a physical thing, so much as they fear that death ends it all and that life has been a huge mockery. Let me point you in this closing moment to the experience of the apostle John, imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos — the rocky Alcatraz of his day. He is praying and he hears a Voice crying amid the barrenness of that prison:

“Fear not! I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore ... and have the keys of death and of Hades.”

In the hand of Christ is the key of immortality. The New Testament says that Jesus Christ our Saviour has “abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Death does not end it all. Death cannot destroy love. It is stronger than the grave. Death cannot erase man’s work. The contribution you and I have made will always be a part of God’s ultimate — a part of His eternal purpose. Death cannot eliminate you or me. “Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That victory belongs to me and not to death!

Are you afraid? Are you being tormented by a guilty conscience? Are you being harassed? Are your nerves on edge? Are you engulfed in a sense of “What’s the use anyway?” Are you tempted to say,

Email your comments to pe@ag.org.