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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 Three)

June 22, 2014

Stand Firm in the Faith

Thomas F. Zimmerman
General Superintentendent 1959-85

From the earliest days of human history, God has given man a body of truth to be believed and obeyed. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve a simple command to refrain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

On Mount Sinai, God gave Israel the moral and ceremonial law. Following Christ’s atoning work on the cross, God gave the New Testament — or new covenant.

But Satan has also been active from the earliest days trying to get people to reject or distort the faith. In New Testament times, he tried to get the infant Church to mix the truth with human philosophy, tradition, or ceremonial law. This is why God inspired Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith” (KJV). The faith of which Paul wrote has many facets; three of which are: doctrine, lifestyle, and ministry.

Let us determine to stand firm in the faith that sees the Bible as the inspired Word of God. The Bible speaks of Christian experiences, and we are grateful for them. The Bible also speaks of emotional reaction to the assurance of salvation, and we are thankful for the joy of the Lord. But nothing can ever take the place of God’s Word as the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.

God raised up the Pentecostal movement with a message that included holiness. Preachers were not ashamed to preach boldly about holiness. Today we need to remind ourselves that a biblical lifestyle is not optional, but mandatory. 

When people are genuinely born again and live according to Scripture, there will be a change in the way they live. Besides, holy living has always been one of the secrets of spiritual victories.

Today we need to renew our determination to stand firm in the faith that requires holiness of life. It is too easy to let the world influence the lifestyle of believers instead of believers being the light and salt of the world.

We also need to determine to stand firm in the faith that provides power for spiritual service. The believers in the Early Church never lost sight of the Great Commission.

In themselves they could not overcome the opposition and persecution the Church faced. But these believers never forgot that Jesus promised power commensurate with the task (Acts 1:8). 

As a result of being filled with the Spirit, these early believers filled Jerusalem with their doctrine. They spread out to Judea and Samaria, and eventually reached the uttermost parts of the earth. 

The world could not understand this kind of commitment. These people were beaten, imprisoned, stoned, and tortured, but they were not ignored. Every believer became a preacher. It never occurred to them that evangelization should only be assigned to the clergy.

When we come to God in complete dedication and stand firm in the faith, we too will continue to triumph as believers did in the early years of the Church.

THOMAS F. ZIMMERMAN was Assemblies of God general superintendent from 1959-85. He served on numerous boards and committees: National Association of Evangelicals, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, and American Bible Society. This is Zimmerman’s keynote address during the 41st General Council in San Antonio on Aug. 8, 1985. It is adapted from the Sept. 29, 1985, Pentecostal Evangel.


Knowing His Heart!

G. Raymond Carlson
General Superintendent 1986-93

To be a shepherd after God’s own heart and to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and fellowship of His sufferings are the loftiest of goals. For me to consider knowing the heart of God would include knowing Him as being all powerful, all loving, all wise, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

To Know His Boundless Love

The Cross gives us the greatest sense of God’s personal love. Jesus did not die for mankind as a mass, but as Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, Christ “loved me, and gave himself for me” (KJV). This is the essence of the gospel: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10).

After the Fall, a lonely God, whose eternal heart ached for the fellowship of one created in His own image, went looking for a fugitive and guilty Adam in the Garden. 

God could not choose evil, but He could choose the alternative, to suffer. He was not responsible for the fall of man. But God’s suffering began with the Fall. Man, the created, chose evil; but God, the Creator, chose suffering. He could do no other, for He is not only holy, He is also love. Since God is love, He must choose to provide redemption for His God-imaged creature to be true to His nature.

To Know His Matchless Grace

God is a holy God — a thrice-holy God (Isaiah 6:1-3). His holiness provides the background for His justice and judgment. But turn from God’s holiness, which awes us, to His grace, which draws us. Herein is our only hope to find ourselves standing in God’s presence.

Each member of the Trinity is full of grace. The Father is the fountain, the source of grace; the Son is the channel, the medium of grace; the Holy Spirit is the administrator who makes the grace of God realized in our lives.

Grace is God’s presence and love through Christ Jesus given to the believer by the Holy Spirit, imparting mercy, forgiveness, and the desire and power to do God’s will.

To Know His Consuming Compassion

Compassion means “suffering with.” One of the striking things about Jesus was His compassion toward those in need. The lost, the lonely, the lovely, and the unlovely can all sense His compassion.

In contemplation of all that Christ had done for him, the apostle Paul said, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10). 

All of us want to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection. To participate with Him in His suffering and death is another matter. In Galatians 2:20, Paul presented the picture of the believer’s death with Christ and his rising to walk in resurrection life. Let that truth grip and control your life, and you will prove that Christianity is the outliving of an indwelling Christ.

I am committed to sound doctrine, to the solid ground of Scripture. But I also want to experience the dynamic of knowing God with a passion. I want to know God’s heart, His boundless love, His matchless grace, and His consuming compassion. I want to know Him whom to know is life eternal.

G. RAYMOND CARLSON was Assemblies of God general superintendent from 1986-93. He was also an author, former pastor and educator. He helped launch the Decade of Harvest and served on a number of boards and committees including: the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, the Pentecostal World Conference, National Association of Evangelicals, and the World Pentecostal Assemblies of God Fellowship. This is Carlson’s keynote address during the 44th General Council in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 6, 1991. It is adapted from the Sept. 15, 1991, Pentecostal Evangel.

Prepare Thy Chariot

Thomas E. Trask
General Superintendent 1993-2007

Pentecost’s sound — “a sound of abundance of rain” (1 Kings 18:41, KJV).

Pentecost has a sound all its own. The believers in the Early Church did not build a practice upon waiting for the wind or the cloven tongues like as of fire; they built a practice of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.

God wants His church to experience the thrill of Pentecost. Laughter may accompany the experience of being baptized in the Spirit; one might be slain in the Spirit; one might dance in the Spirit. But we don’t build practices on those manifestations. The reason for the physical evidence of speaking in tongues is the enduement of power.

The result of the Pentecostal experience is that Jesus is glorified (Acts 2:11). If the experience satisfies only the flesh, we will need to find something else when the newness wears off. But if the experience results in a revelation of and a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, the result will be the same as what happened to those in the Early Church: they turned their “world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

The church must have spiritual maturity to determine what is of the Spirit. If we will allow our worship to result in a revelation of who Jesus is and a relationship with who He is, the church will continue to move under the dynamic of Pentecost. God will accomplish His purpose and the supernatural will happen effortlessly and so miraculously that only Jesus will receive the praise.

Pentecost’s prayer — “he … put his face between his knees” (verse 42).

Travailing, prevailing prayer must be an important part of what God is doing. Elijah was in a cave when the Lord came to him: “The Lord passed by … but the Lord was not in the wind … and earthquake … a fire.” After the still, small voice, “Elijah heard it … and wrapped his face in his mantle” (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Pentecost’s persistence — “Go up now, look” (verse 43).

There’s timing in God for those who will walk in obedience — those shut in with God. The Holy Ghost will birth faith in your heart. For “faith is the substance [title deed] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Persistence was rewarded. At the seventh time Elijah’s servant went, he said, “Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand” (1 Kings 18:44). Not very big — except when it’s God’s hand.

Pentecost’s preparedness — “Prepare thy chariot” (verse 44).

You have to hunger. You have to desire. You have to thirst. You have to pursue God. If you draw nigh to Him, He will draw nigh to you (James 4:8).

Preparation time becomes a time of purifying. There will never be a revival in the church until first it is pure and holy. When Isaiah confessed he was a man undone (“ruined,” NIV) and a man of unclean lips and that he dwelt in the midst of a people of like character, then a live coal from off the altar was laid upon his mouth (Isaiah 6:5). God will expose sin.

We need to get our chariots ready, so when the rain comes in torrents our wheels won’t come off — we won’t be caught up in some fleshly exercise that profits nothing. Be ready to fulfill the purpose for which God raised us up.

THOMAS E. TRASK served as Assemblies of God general superintendent from 1993-2007. Prior to being elected superintendent, he was general treasurer for five years. This was Trask’s keynote address during the 45th General Council in St. Louis on Aug. 8, 1995. It is excerpted from the Oct. 22, 1995, Pentecostal Evangel.

The Mark of a Messenger

George O. Wood
General Superintendent 2007-PRESENT

Haggai’s sermon series [in the book bearing his name] includes three big Ds — Delay, Discouragement and Defilement — that keep us from accomplishing the fourth big D — Destiny.


What matters to God most right now? What does He want us to do as individual believers and collectively as the Assemblies of God?

We have our fourfold reason for being: evangelism, worship, discipleship and compassion. For the local church, we have the Acts 2 Model of a Healthy Church: connect, grow, serve, go, worship. For strategy we have five Core Values: passionately proclaim Christ, strategically invest in the next generation, vigorously plant and revitalize churches, skillfully resource our Fellowship, and fervently pray.

What have you started that you have stopped? What vision did God put in your heart at one time that has been put on the shelf? What dreams did the Lord give you that now seem dead?

The Spirit, through Haggai’s preaching, turns our focus away from our circumstances to the God who is all-powerful and able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

What is the antidote to defeat? What is the jumpstart for a people or a minister who has begun a good work but not progressed? The antidote is this: “The One who is I Am has sent you.”

“I Am” is the word God gave to Haggai to arouse a defeated people from their slumber. It’s the same word He gives to you: “Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: ‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord” (1:13, NIV).


It’s not long, however, before the second D sets in — discouragement.

We are so often better at starting than finishing.

It’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t see progress.

The enemy knows it’s much easier to defeat a ministry, an outreach, a building program when it’s in the concept stage, the start-up period. So he’s going to throw the kitchen sink at you in order to discourage you and make you quit.

Today, I see God at work powerfully in our midst. A whole new generation has emerged with a great passion for the Lord, and they are going to fulfill the vision our founders declared at the Second General Council in Chicago in November 1914: “We commit ourselves to Him for the greatest evangelism the world has ever seen!”

The cure to discouragement is to stop listening to the naysayers and start listening to Him — the Lord of hosts, the Lord Almighty!


Haggai looks back to the time before the people had begun their rebuilding effort. They were neglecting God’s work. Their priorities and hearts were not right; whatever they offered God was defiled.

But, Haggai says, “Things are different now.” The people have demonstrated months of commitment to the work of restoration. Responding to Haggai’s passionate preaching, the people had repented.

What a great word to speak to a demoralized and declining church that has repented for not fulfilling God’s intention for it: “From this day on I will bless you” (2:19)!


Haggai’s shortest sermon — the destiny sermon — is just three verses long (2:21-23).

Haggai’s closing words are amazing. God chooses Zerubbabel, the grandson of the disgraced Jehoiachin.

It is God’s way of saying, “I’m not done with the line of David after all.” That signet ring of royalty, proverbially speaking, is handed down from one generation to another by those in the genealogy recorded in Matthew’s Gospel until … it stops on the finger of Jesus.

Jesus emphatically declares at the end of His ministry, following His crucifixion and resurrection, as He prepares to ascend to heaven: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).

Those are the words of One who holds the signet ring of God — the One who has authority to forgive sin, heal diseases, baptize in the Holy Spirit, cleanse hearts, deliver addicts, open prison doors, and raise the dead to life. And He shall reign until all enemies are under His feet.

As we stand on the brink of the future, I want to encourage each of you: Now is not the time to draw back. This is God’s hour. The Spirit has put something deep into your own heart. Don’t delay in responding! Don’t let discouragement keep you from staying at your task! Don’t let others’ bad example or negative attitudes defile you!

From this day on, God is here to bless you. May the Holy Spirit empower each of us to make our mark in our service to Christ!

GEORGE O. WOOD has served as Assemblies of God general superintendent since 2007 and is also currently the chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship. He has written extensively for the Pentecostal Evangel, dating back to his years as a pastor, Southern California District official, and AG general secretary. This is Wood’s keynote address during the 54th General Council in Phoenix on Aug. 2, 2011. It is excerpted from the Oct. 23, 2011, Pentecostal Evangel.


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