On Faith: What's your flavor?
In the course of my life, I have been blessed to have numerous opportunities to experience the various flavors of Christianity. I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, attended Vacation Bible School with a Dutch Reformed friend and experienced the beauty of Eastern rites. I have preached and lead worship in Assemblies of God, Baptist, Evangelical Free, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ churches. I have pastored a German congregational church and three Assemblies of God congregations. I hold my credentials with the Assemblies of God. So why did I choose to be a part of this fellowship?
First and foremost is our adherence to the inspiration and authority of the Word of God. We believe that God's Word (the Bible) is inerrant in its original manuscripts, infallible in its teaching and the final authority over every area of our lives. We believe every word of Scripture has been breathed out by God.
The Assemblies of God is a Trinitarian monotheistic faith. We believe that there is one eternal God who as revealed Himself to humankind in three Persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We accept the historic creeds of Christendom.
To quote Ron Olson, a professor of Christian theology and ethics at Baylor University's Truett Seminary, "(Ours) is a theology that God is unconditionally good, God was revealed in Jesus Christ and that God does not want anyone to go to hell." As such, He became a man in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, lived a sinless life, and died a torturous death on the cross, fully paying the penalty for our sins. Because Jesus was sinless, He rose from the death on the third day, ascended into heaven and will return again one day. We understand that forgiveness is available to all who believe that He is who the Scriptures declare Him to be, causing them to repent of their sins and to receive Him into their lives.
I am a member of the Assemblies of God because we preach the full Gospel — salvation by faith, divine healing as the prerogative of every believer, the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues as an empowering of the believer for service and the second coming of our Lord Jesus.
I love to worship the Lord. Our common worship is a blend of liturgy that is hundreds of years old and a freedom of worship that the Church experienced on the Day of Pentecost and continues to experience today. We endeavor to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth both in our personal lives and our weekly gatherings.
The Assemblies of God is the fourth largest international Christian group of denominations and the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world with 68 million members and adherents in 212 countries and territories. This missional emphasis is the primary reason the Assemblies of God was formed in 1914. We exist to reach the world for Christ. I am honored to be a part of a fellowship that is actively fulfilling the Great Commission and sending people out into the worldwide harvest.
All that being said, I know that no Christian can claim to fully know God and understand correctly all truth. There are true believers in every church and fellowship as well as those who simply attend because it is the socially acceptable thing to do. In reality, there is only one Church- the whole body of Christ on earth and in heaven. The world knows who we are by the love we have for each other and for Jesus. It is important for us to step out of our flavor, our comfort zones, and work together for the glory of our Risen Lord and for the good of our brothers and sister in Christ as well as the whole world.
On Faith is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.