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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. ...

Leaders of the AG — The First Century (Part Two)

June 22, 2014

Fellowship With God and With One Another

Ernest S. Williams
General Superintentendent 1929-49

We should be thankful that in this present confusing night we have the privilege of heralding the Word of Life — warning people about the direction current history is leading them, and causing them to flee the wrath that is to come.

As we read of the events about us, it seems that the dams holding back divine judgment are already breaking. It is our duty as heralds to lift our voices like trumpets, and warn the people to flee from the wrath to come, making their calling and election sure through the grace of Christ.

We cannot meet the present need through human intellect, or by earthly eloquence or power. With the apostle Paul, we say, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”

This dark hour is also a time to rejoice in the privileges of spiritual showers, and of proclaiming our Savior, “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” May the Lord strengthen and brighten our hearts, deepen our convictions, give fresh courage and inspiration, and if there be one whose limbs have begun to wax feeble, may such a one be strengthened and renewed.

In connection with our duty as heralds, we have a responsibility as contenders. Jude saw the danger and wrote, “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” If we maintain our place as successful heralds, we must, as successfully, be contenders against unbelief, against hindrances seen and unseen, against all that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this. As we are armed with the faith of our fathers, the citadels of Satan cannot prevail against us.

We have God’s message, but it needs the support of our conduct. People are not only listening to us; they are watching our lives. We are called to separation not only from gross evil, but from many pleasant things as well. It requires self-sacrifice, but as a church we must make it. May we be strengthened against personal contentment, selfish desire, and all of self that crowds our Lord into second place. May we see our Savior and His cross, catch a fresh vision of salvation for all, and may our determination be renewed to wage untiring warfare against the gates of hell. Because God is with us, we cannot fail.

We cannot speak too carefully about the need in our inner lives. We need to contend not only for power in our message but also for power in our lives that our hearts may be preserved from all evil.

We are a cooperative Fellowship, and I hope we may ever be. May we never deteriorate to merely an organization.

God has set certain offices in the Church that should be respected. At the same time, our Lord reminded us that we are all brethren. Those who have providentially been placed in a position of rule must avoid lording it over God’s heritage and choose rather to be servant of all. Let us go forth bound together in Christian love, cooperation, and unity, praying that God may make us a mighty torrential force to carry forward the great work of God to which we have been called.

ERNEST S. WILLIAMS was Assemblies of God general superintendent from 1929-49. He was baptized in the Spirit at the Azusa Street Mission and later served as pastor of Highway Tabernacle in Philadelphia before his election as general superintendent. This is Williams’ keynote address during the 17th General Council in Memphis, Tenn., on Sept. 2, 1937. It is adapted from the Oct. 2, 1937, Pentecostal Evangel.


Our Dual Spiritual Heritage in Pentecost

Wesley R. Steelberg
General Superintendent 1949-52

Our heritage may be divided into two legacies: our inheritance from divine sources, and our inheritance from human sources.

We are all aware of what the glorious Holy Ghost outpouring means to our lives. The divine gift of God is an experience in one sense of the word. But the experience is only an entrance into an intimacy of communion and an association with the divine that is beyond description.

The demands of God are sacred and great. It is only through the help of the Holy Spirit that we can meet the demands of God and of this hour. If we would be representatives, ambassadors, of the Most High God in the fullest sense, we must continually be Spirit-filled, Spirit-dominated, Spirit-controlled men and women.

The perpetuation of this testimony depends on the Holy Spirit having access to our lives and every chamber of our being. Quickening the thoughts of our mind, inspiring us, stirring us emotionally, using us as instruments on which He can play a hymn of praise and through whom He may sound out fearlessly the Word of the living God. It is not we who use Him; it is He who uses us. There is no place for pride or pomp or display of the natural, but in all humility we say that what we are, what we hope to be, God does through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

The person of the divine Holy Spirit himself has brought forth doctrinally the truth of His ministries and granted us an experience and given us a message. This, our spiritual heritage, is the distinct and accentuated supernatural manifestation of the eternal God.

I have a firm conviction that we are called to be a people for a specific service in a specific hour. We are made for a designed purpose to the glory of God. The apostles felt it so keenly that they were willing to become martyrs.

Our latter-day leaders received and have left for us not a tradition but a testimony. God grant that every one of us may be able to pass on the fullness of the testimony to every succeeding generation that shall rise until Jesus comes. All the fullness of the experience that was the privilege of the 120 in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost is our privilege. This is what our forefathers contended for.

I am glad I don’t have to read the Bible as history and say, “This is what our fathers possessed; this is what took place in the generations past.” I can say, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” The faith of God imparted to us — faith to believe that God will not only perform miracles and confirm His Word but faith to believe that God will supply every need.

God grant us the courage to be true to our conviction, to let nothing sway us from our purpose — that we may stand true to God [until] the trumpet sounds.

WESLEY R. STEELBERG was Assemblies of God general superintendent from 1949-52. In his early years of ministry, he organized youth rallies and is given credit for helping originate a youth program in the AG. When Revivaltime was created in 1950, Steelberg became the speaker. This is Steelberg’s keynote address during the 24th General Council on August 16, 1951. It is adapted from the Sept. 9, 1951, Pentecostal Evangel.


Balance in the Spiritual Life

Gayle F. Lewis
General Superintendent 1952-53

I would like to lay a foundation for these few thoughts. First, I would like to define the word “balance.” Balance means a “counter balancing weight force, or influence; a state equipoise between different elements or opposing forces to produce equilibrium or steadiness.” Opposing forces brought to bear upon our lives have a tendency to bring us into a place of complete stability in this life.

In the physical realm, balance is the ruling principle of life. We can only have health when there is a proper balance of diet. Work must be balanced with rest and relaxation. In the financial world, many a good man has been ruined because he was unable to balance expenditures with income.

What is true in other realms is true in the spiritual realm. True greatness is not determined by the position a man holds, neither by the church he pastors; it is determined by his [her] ability to keep balance in every phase of his [her] Christian life. True greatness depends on balance — that state of equilibrium, which despite all the forces that are brought to bear on us, will keep us steady and stable in every phase of our Christian life.

God has given us His Word to produce that very effect upon our lives. In 2 Timothy 3:16,17 we read, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (KJV). God has given us this Word so all of these elements might be brought to bear on our lives to produce balance and stability in our Christian life. It isn’t enough to know the doctrines of God; there must be other influences brought to bear upon our lives.

You will remember how the Lord Jesus Christ was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, and Satan came and tempted Him. Jesus found that place of equilibrium by balancing one Scripture against another Scripture and stood unwavering and unmovable. If opposing forces are brought to bear on our lives, it’s all right; God has ordained them that  rium and stability in Him.

We must keep balance between the spiritual and the material realm. Our desire for material things must be balanced with consecration to the will of God. Many a man has fallen because he lost his balance along material lines.

We need to keep balance between our prayer life and our study of the Word of God. If we are only praying and not studying, we are out of balance. If we only study and do not pray, we are out of balance. Knowledge must be balanced with spirituality.

In all of our life and efforts, in all of our growth, we must counterbalance them with prayer; we must counterbalance them with the Word; and we must counterbalance them with the moving of the Spirit of God. Without balance, tragedy is sure to come.

GAYLE F. LEWIS was Assemblies of God general superintendent from 1952-53, filling the unexpired term of Wesley R. Steelberg, who died in office July 8, 1952. Among other activities, Lewis was involved with the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, serving as its chairman and member of the board. This is Lewis’ keynote address during the 25th General Council in Milwaukee on Aug. 27, 1953. It is adapted from the Sept. 27, 1953, Pentecostal Evangel.

A Call to Conquest

Ralph M. Riggs
General Superintendent 1953-59

It is not too much to say that Pentecost has come to the Kingdom for such a time as this. When the Lord was launching the first great effort for world evangelism, He specifically instructed His disciples not to go out of Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high.

Now the end of the gospel age has come. God intends that there be a glorious climax, a full cycle, completing this age with a great burst of Pentecostal power.

Revelation 14:14-20 gives us the picture of two harvests at the end of the age. One harvest is of the vine of the earth, which is cast into the winepress of Armageddon. The other harvest is reaped and gathered into the garner of heaven. It is God’s eternal ordination that there shall be Holy Ghost rain both at the beginning and at the end of the gospel age.

On the Day of Pentecost, God poured out His Holy Spirit on the waiting, willing disciples. They received, prophesied, and preached everywhere — the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following. The hour of God’s visitation in the last days is upon us. As with the former rain, there must be receptive hearts and willing co-workers with God.

We have received as on the Day of Pentecost. We must present our bodies, our lives, and our all on His sacred altar to carry this holy flame to the ends of the world. Pentecost is tailored of God for this very hour. Beloved, it is powerful and altogether sufficient for the need. Let us march under its banner and its cloud of blessing to God’s appointed victory.

Christ’s own life was a succession of miracles. His birth was miraculous. Miracles attended His ministry. His resurrection was a mighty miracle. And His ascension also was miraculous. We follow in His train. Supernatural birth, supernatural righteousness, supernatural healing, supernatural gifts, supernatural power, and supernatural translation.

Beloved friends, we stand today upon the threshold of a mighty land of promise. A worldwide revival is ours for the asking and the taking. The conquest we face and to which we are invited is not of material walled cities or a literal land of milk and honey. It is a harvest of never-dying souls that await a Holy Ghost reaping. God is far more interested in seeing this harvest reaped than He was in giving Canaan to the Children of Israel. He is just as able to level the giants before us as He was to fell Goliath. He is the living God. Shall we run to meet our enemies in the name of the Lord of hosts, or shall we slink back to our comfortable homes, our feathered nests, and our personal security? It only remains for us to arise in His faith and in His name, gird our loins, step out in faith, and proceed firmly and triumphantly to the world revival that awaits us.

RALPH M. RIGGS was Assemblies of God general superintendent from 1953-59. He was also a faculty member of Bethel Bible Training School, Central Bible Institute, and Bethany Bible College. He authored several books and was instrumental in establishing Evangel University. This is from Riggs’ keynote address during the 24th General Council in Oklahoma City on Sept. 2, 1955. It is adapted from the Sept. 25, 1955, Pentecostal Evangel.

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