So, you’re researching the different pentecostal churches in Sydney and perhaps trying to decide which one to attend. Here’s a bit of information on some of them and the differences you’ll encounter.
The first thing we believe is important is to find one that is aligned as closely as possible with biblical teaching. With the bible being our benchmark, we need to pay attention to what it says. After all, Christianity is based on what is taught in it.
Receiving the Holy Ghost is a very important part of Christianity and we as UPCA members believe that the bible teaches the infilling of the Spirit of God. My hope is that someone benefits from what is contained here in this article.
Receiving the Holy Ghost is one of the requirements of entering God’s kingdom, according to the words of Jesus in John 3: 1-5.
John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
John 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
In this passage of scripture, the setting is before the crucifixion and resurrection, so Jesus is talking in a prophetic way, as the Holy Ghost was yet to be given. It was given later, after the resurrection, at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
From the above verses we can see that receiving the Holy Spirit is not an optional extra for the super-spiritual, it’s a definite requirement for heaven-going. This “receiving the Holy Ghost” is also what is meant in scripture, such as when John the Baptist was teaching, as the “baptism of fire”.
John explained that he was baptizing with water, but the one who would come after him would baptize with fire. This is talking about Holy Ghost baptism, the inward dwelling of God within the believer.
The Old Covenant
In the old testament, the old covenant was in place. This is the law that was given through Moses after Israel had come out of Egyptian captivity. The law was to govern them and with God as their prime minister (known as a theocracy), this was his set of rules that the nation was to live by.
Within this law were instructions on how God was to be worshipped. As such, a portable tabernacle / tent was constructed and within this tent, God’s presence would dwell in the Holy of Holies (an inner section of the tent that only the high priest could enter).
The same was the case when Solomon built the temple, a permanent building for God to dwell in. A place of worship for the Israelites. Other nations had their idols and statues, the Israelites had a temple instead, where the living God would dwell.
The New Covenant
In the new covenant, that is, from the time the Holy Ghost was poured out on the day of Pentecost some 7 weeks after Jesus ascended, God dwells within the believer.
Whereas in the old covenant he would dwell in the Holy of Holies inside a physical building structure, now the believer is the temple. And for those that have received the Holy Ghost, he dwells within that person.
In the old covenant, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies and be in the presence of God while everyone else waited outside to see what would happen. In the new covenant, we are a “royal priesthood” and God dwells within us. With the Holy Ghost, we are able to communicate directly with God and he with us and it is in fact an indication that God has made a down-payment on our soul.
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
This verse clearly states that unless a person has the Holy Spirit/ Ghost, he is not a child of God. This reaffirms the statement of Jesus in John 3:5.
This is a bit of my interjection or opinion, but could possibly be the way it is. The salvation formula is:
2. Water baptism
3. Holy Ghost baptism
This can be seen in Acts 2: 38…
Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
It would be easy for a person to say, “Yes, I’ve repented and turned from my sins and living my way”, then get baptized. However, until a person truly has repented, I don’t think God gives the Holy Ghost to them. He is able to see the heart and the intentions therein. I suspect that baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is given by God, only follows a true repentance and willingness to live for God, his way.
Those are my thoughts and similar has been expressed to me by other people in the faith. You can fake it with men, but you can’t fool God.
Can’t Get The Holy Ghost?
A lot of people struggle to receive the Holy Ghost. Week in, week out, they turn up to church but don’t receive it. Could it be that there is something they are holding on to?
God requires we surrender ourselves to him when we repent. In water baptism, the old man is “buried” in Christ.
You have to let go of the old nature, because that person is dead and buried, hidden in Christ.
Let go of make-up, drinking, fornication and all the works of the flesh. Surrender your life unconditionally to God in true repentance and he will give you the Holy Ghost. He does not lie, it is a promise to you according to scripture. However, that same scripture says that you have to repent first.
Until you do truly repent, you won’t get the Holy Ghost and there are eternal consequences, such as being found to be “none of his” (Romans 8:9) on the final day, the white throne judgement.
Oneness Pentecostals like us believe that the initial sign of receiving the Holy Ghost is speaking in tongues, where the repentant, surrendered person has even surrendered control of their tongue, the “unruly evil”…
James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
…and now the Holy Ghost speaks a heavenly language through the person. The Spirit, when you pray, makes intercession for you. In other words, when you don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit does.
Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
This means that we really don’t know what we should pray for. By praying in the Spirit, that is, in tongues, we let the Holy Ghost do the talking and decision-making, even as to what we pray for. This is yet another example of surrendering our will to God. The very next verse explains that the Spirit re-aligns us with the will of God.
Rom 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Please contact us for some personal study on this subject.
The Oneness of God
God is one, not three. There is no “trinity”.
Jesus was asked which of the commandments is the greatest (the word in scripture is “first”, the meaning of which is “greatest” (protos) in the original text). His answer?
Creation Vs Evolution
Did man come from apes, or were we created “according to our kind” as the bible teaches?
Water baptism is clearly taught as a necessary step to salvation for the new covenant believer. It’s not just our opinion – it’s taught in the bible