Category Archives: Spirituality

The Prosperity Gospel and Worldliness: A Warning from an Early Pentecostal Leader

GAston

W. T. Gaston, circa 1927

This Week in AG History — August 16, 1953

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 17 August 2017

Will the Pentecostal movement follow “the path of gradual surrender to carnal forces” like most Christian renewal movements before it? This question, posed by former General Superintendent W. T. Gaston (1925-1929) in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, remains strikingly relevant.

Gaston wrote that history’s “tragic lesson” is that a church’s solid foundation does not prevent corruption from “fleshly elements within.” He offered this warning at a time when certain media-savvy Pentecostal healing evangelists had been exposed for their ungodly lifestyles, but who continued to promote themselves and their unbiblical message that God guarantees financial prosperity to believers.

Gaston suggested, “If we are to have a future that is better or even comparable and worthy of our past, we will need to learn over again some of the lessons of yesterday.” One of the important lessons to rediscover, he wrote, was the importance of promoting “pure, undefiled” religion.

He recalled that many early 20th century Pentecostal pioneers were bi-vocational ministers, that often met in homes or rented buildings, and that most were not very impressive by the standards of the surrounding culture. However, they did not need worldly goods and accolades in order for the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things through their lives and ministries.

Gaston wrote that he witnessed an “utter disregard for poverty or wealth or station in life” in the early Pentecostal movement. Yet “those rugged pioneers,” he noted, “had something that made them attractive and convincing.” The contrast between the attitudes of the world and the early Pentecostals was striking. According to Gaston, early believers were “completely satisfied without the world’s glittering tinsel, and content to be the objects of its scornful hatred.”

Believers must carefully guard their hearts, Gaston warned, or face a dissipation of this consecration and sacrificial spirit. He noted, as an example, that some ministers in the 1950s seemed to “project themselves and their projects instead of promoting the common cause and sharing equally in the honors and sufferings of the common brotherhood.”

Gaston identified a love of money as a danger to the Pentecostal movement and an impediment to the gospel. We “must draw the line against all comers with a money complex,” he asserted, in order “to retain its good sense and religious balance.” He lamented that certain high-profile evangelists promised God’s blessings to those who would give money to their ministries. He wrote, “Ministers of the gospel who lay up treasure on earth while they preach that people should lay theirs up in heaven are neither consistent nor worthy.” Gaston suspected that the “selfless, lowly Jesus” would “refuse to go along” with such ministers.

Furthermore, Gaston was troubled by sensationalism promoted by some of the big-name preachers in his day. “Full-orbed religion throbs with sensation,” he wrote. However, he warned against “unbridled sensationalism,” which could easily bring “disillusionment and disintegration” to those who have not developed a strong faith. Gaston concluded with “a simple appeal for consistency and reality in our religious approach,” praying that the Pentecostal movement would “purge itself of practices or propaganda patterns which are not compatible with the spirit and letter of the New Testament.”

Gaston’s article offers several important lessons to 21st century Pentecostals. First, Pentecostals should carefully guard their hearts. History demonstrates that selfishness and worldliness tend to creep into the church, and that even Christian renewal movements can drift from their founding ideals. Second, early Pentecostalism grew amidst widespread scorn and persecution as believers joyfully embodied consecrated, holy living. Third, Pentecostals can avoid the dangers of extremism and sensationalism by being solidly grounded in Scripture and biblical values.

Read W. T. Gaston’s article, “Guarding our Priceless Heritage,” in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Eternity-Proof,” by Arne Vick

* “Sunday Schools around the World”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now:

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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A.G. Ward: The Pentecostal Pioneer Who Was Converted During His Own Sermon

AG Ward

Donald Gee, A.G. Ward, Helen and Frank Boyd, and Stanley and Alice Frodsham at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri; circa 1929

This Week in AG History — June 22, 1946

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 22 June 2017

A.G. (Alfred George) Ward (1881-1960), a Pentecostal pioneer in Canada, was an example of an unconverted minister. According to his own account, he began in ministry as a Methodist circuit-riding preacher — before he became a Christian. He later converted during his own sermon!

Ward shared this humorous anecdote in the June 22, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He became a prominent Canadian camp-meeting speaker and evangelist, but was possibly best known as the father of longtime Revivaltime speaker C.M. Ward.

A. G. Ward took great care to preach about the importance of having a vibrant spiritual life, as he knew from experience how easy it is to possess a form of religion without having the substance. His sermons frequently focused on the threefold theme of his life: salvation, consecration, and divine healing, all accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. His messages resonated with listeners across North America.

A.G. Ward’s father, an alcoholic, died when his son was only 2 months old. The strain of struggling alone to raise four children took its toll, and Ward’s mother died when he was 13. Just before his mother’s death, he attended a Methodist revival meeting. Although he felt a desire to become a Christian, the church leader who spoke with him only encouraged him to believe the Scriptures. Ward did not have an understanding of repentance or the availability of power to live a Christian life.

Nevertheless, young Alfred wanted to be a preacher. After finishing high school, he was appointed as a Methodist circuit-rider on the western frontier of the Canadian Rockies. At the time, young preachers were expected to receive practical experience as ministers before receiving education. During these early meetings, he preached the Bible; but he did not truly know God. His preaching lacked power, conviction, and results.

In the Pentecostal Evangel article, he recalled, “On my second circuit as a Methodist preacher … during a series of special meetings while I was doing the preaching, I was converted. I was the only convert in a week’s meetings, but I have always been thankful and a few others have been saved since, as a result of the preacher getting converted.”

It was not long after this experience that Ward met a group of Methodists in northwestern Canada who taught holiness and believed that Jesus healed people in answer to the prayer of faith. Ward met Christian and Missionary Alliance founder A.B. Simpson, a teacher of divine healing.

Simpson sent Ward to begin an Alliance work in Winnipeg, where he met and married a Mennonite evangelist, Mary Markle. In 1907, at a holiness prayer meeting in Winnipeg, they both received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This ended their affiliation with both the Mennonites and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

A.G. and Mary took a step of faith and, in 1909, organized one of the first Pentecostal camp meetings held in Ontario. The young evangelists had no money to give in the offering at the camp meeting. However, they felt impressed to physically place their infant son, Charles Morse Ward, in the offering basket as their gift to God’s work. They did so, and young C. M. grew up with a calling to the ministry from a young age.

After the meeting, Ward raised funds by selling his tent to another young Canadian evangelist, future International Church of the Foursquare Gospel founder Aimee Semple McPherson, and began holding meetings in schoolhouses, churches, and other places across Canada and later throughout the U.S.

Ward not only preached consecration, he modeled it in his own life. C.M. Ward, in a Revivaltime booklet titled “Intimate Glimpses of My Father’s Life,” described his father’s deep spiritual life. The younger Ward wrote, “I would rather have been born in such a home than have the honor of sitting in the White House.”  C. M. credited the example of his father’s message of holy consecration, lived out through the power of the Holy Spirit, as his own model for ministry.

Read the full sermon “Christ or Self — Which Shall It Be” on page 3 of the June 22, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel here.

Also featured in this issue:

“Signs of the Times,” by Ralph M. Riggs

“A Harvest of Souls in Jamaica,” by Harvey McAlister

“How to Have Revival,” by George T.B. Davis

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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50 Years Ago: Students at Filipino Bible College View America as a Foreign Mission Field, Commit to Pray

Filipino BBI

U.S.A. Prayer Band at Bethel Bible Institute, Manila, Philippines, 1966

This Week in AG History — May 14, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 11 May 2017

Missionary prayer bands (groups of believers who gather regularly to pray for missions) have long been an integral part of Assemblies of God churches and Bible schools. Countless church members in America have dedicated themselves to pray for specific missionaries or countries. However, it may surprise readers that some believers outside the United States have viewed America as a mission field, forming missionary prayer bands for the specific purpose of praying for America.

In an early example of this reverse-missionary work, students from Bethel Bible Institute (BBI), an AG school in Manila, the Philippines, decided to band together in the 1960s to pray for the United States.

BBI was founded in 1941, and the school had organized missionary prayer bands since its earliest days. But the establishment of a group dedicated to praying for the United States was something new. The new group attracted the attention of American Pentecostals and was featured in the May 14, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

In 1967, the group of Filipino students who had dedicated themselves to pray for America consisted of six people. Harold Kohl, the American missionary who served as BBI’s president, asked the students, “What is the main reason for forming the USA prayer band when some of the other fields seem to be more needy?”

While the students’ responses varied, two themes were predominant: a deep appreciation for the positive influence of American Christians on the world, and a deep concern for the future of Christianity in America.

Eliza Navalta responded, “I chose the USA band because I was saved by the help of missionaries from the United States. Also without the leadership of the USA in spreading the gospel, maybe the other Christians would fall from their faith.”

Pacencia de Ocampo added, “I have a burden for the USA because I know they need our prayers at this time. I believe God will answer prayer and somehow bring Christ to unsaved Americans. I also pray that God will pour out His blessings upon the Christians because they are faithful givers to missions.”

Kohl continued his interview, and several students expressed concern that the modern American way of life had a negative effect on Christians.

Elisa Tibung observed, “Americans seem to be so busy in their daily lives that they aren’t concerned about the gospel of Christ. Americans are so busy!”

Pacencia de Ocampo agreed, noting “They are busy for their material needs but not for their spiritual needs.”

Fifty years ago, these Filipino students identified harmful trends that, today, have become much more manifest in American culture. The answer to these problems, they believed, could be found in prayer. According to Pacencia de Ocampo, “there is no distance in prayer.” They prayed that the American church would experience revival, develop a continual sense of God’s presence, and train dedicated gospel workers.

Read the article by Harold Kohl, “Filipinos Pray for the USA,” on pages 22-23 of the May 14, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Revival Center to Open in Harlem,” by Paul R. Buchwalter

• “Receive Ye the Holy Spirit,” by Marie E. Brown

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Archived editions of the Pentecostal Evangel are provided by the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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“America Must Choose”: A Warning from 1968 about the Christian’s Response to Social and Political Unrest

Scott Charles P14338

Charles Scott and his wife, Gertrude

This Week in AG History — March 24, 1968

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 23 March 2017

1968 was a year of social and political unrest. American race riots, the war in Vietnam, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy grabbed the world’s attention. Cultural uncertainty and rumblings of revolution were on everyone’s mind.

In the midst of this cultural chaos, an article in the March 24, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel encouraged readers to remain grounded in their Christian faith.

Assemblies of God leader Charles Scott, in an article titled, “America Must Choose,” expressed concern that “we have permitted ourselves to become blind to the grave dangers that are gnawing at the very vitals of America.” Scott recalled that Marshall Henri Petain, who led France during the Nazi occupation, surmised that France’s downfall was rooted in the “immorality, alcoholism, and irreligion” of the French people. Scott suggested that these three evils were likewise threatening America. He went on to detail the moral decay in America, pointing out that violence, sexual immorality, and drug addiction were hurting children and undermining families.

At a time when many were drawn toward political solutions and extremes, Scott instead recognized that the nation’s woes, at their root, were spiritual. He recommended a spiritual solution to the problems enveloping the nation. He encouraged Christians to choose “to abandon these evils and to walk the path of righteousness.”

How should Christians work to spiritually rebuild America? According to Scott, Christians should dedicate themselves to worshipping God — corporately as families and churches, and also individually. He described the need to rebuild family, church, and private altars. This was a common theme over the years in Scott’s articles and sermons — he felt called to remind Christians about the importance of developing specific times and places to worship God corporately and individually.

“America must choose,” Scott wrote, how to respond to the dangers besetting the nation. While not rejecting political action, he believed that true, lasting change could only occur through spiritual renewal. “True patriots,” Scott suggested, are people who seek “to destroy corruption, intemperance, wickedness, and selfishness” in their own lives. Others, seeing their example of humility and faith, would turn toward God, and America would then be strong and “a blessing in the earth.”

Read Charles Scott’s article, “America Must Choose!” on pages 2-3 of the March 24, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Warning on Worldliness,” by Larry Hurtado

* “How to Teach the Bible,” by James H. McConkey

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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The Azusa Street Revival: What Frank Bartleman’s Eyewitness Account Reveals about the Worldview of Early Pentecostals

Azusa collageThis Week in AG History —March 11, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 9 March 2017

It was an unlikely location for an event that would change the face of Christianity. In the summer of 1906, revival erupted in the newly formed congregation meeting at the small, run-down Apostolic Faith Mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Critics attacked the congregation because its mild-mannered black Holiness preacher, William J. Seymour, preached racial reconciliation and the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts. The Azusa Street Revival, as it became known, soon became a local sensation, then attracted thousands of curiosity seekers and pilgrims from around the world.

The spiritual intensity of the revival was red hot for more than three years, making Azusa Street one of the most significant Pentecostal centers in the early twentieth century. Just over 110 years later, the Pentecostal movement, broadly construed, now claims over a half billion adherents, the second largest grouping within Christianity after the Catholic Church.

Frank Bartleman, one of the participants at Azusa Street, wrote down his account of the revival and the precipitating events. In 1916, Bartleman wrote an article with his recollections of the revival that was published in the Weekly Evangel (the predecessor to the Pentecostal Evangel). He later wrote a book, How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles (1925), which became a widely-read portrayal of the Azusa Street Revival. Bartleman’s eyewitness account captured fascinating details about the revival, which give insight into the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals.

Bartleman noted that the Azusa Street Revival did not occur in a vacuum. The immediate catalyst for the revival happened in the summer of 1905, when Joseph Smale, pastor of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, returned from a visit to Wales. He had attended meetings during the great Welsh Revival, during which entire towns experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Smale witnessed countless people repent of sin and turn toward God, and he prayed for God to do a similar work in Los Angeles.

Smale opened up his church for daily intercessory prayer meetings. Spiritually hungry people came from across Los Angeles and cried out to God for revival – praying specifically for a new “Pentecost.” Bartleman was among those who gathered at Smale’s church. He experienced a burden for “soul travail” – he sensed that God was calling him to win lost souls to Christ.

The prayer meetings attracted large numbers of people. However, some Baptist leaders opposed the spontaneous character of the prayer. They forced Smale to resign as pastor. He formed a new congregation, The New Testament Church of Los Angeles, which became a hub for people who committed themselves to pray for revival.

In the fall of 1905, Smale preached a series of sermons titled “The Pentecostal Blessing.” He encouraged believers to seek a restoration of the spiritual blessings described in the New Testament. Under Smale’s ministry, countless people developed a great hunger for God and engaged in deep prayer and Bible study.

When William Seymour came to Los Angeles in the spring of 1906 and began encouraging believers to seek biblical spiritual gifts, he found fertile ground for his message. People from varied backgrounds and from numerous churches – including Smale’s church – crowded into the Azusa Street Mission to experience the modern-day Pentecost for which they had been praying.

Bartleman offered some cautionary advice regarding the history surrounding Azusa Street. “It would be a great mistake,” he wrote, “to attempt to attribute the Pentecostal beginning in Los Angeles to any one man.” Bartleman stressed that the early Pentecostal revival was a sovereign move of God that had developed over time. He wrote, “Pentecost did not drop down suddenly out of heaven. God was with us in large measure for a long time before the final outpouring.”

Still, Bartleman reserved a special place in Pentecostal history for the Azusa Street Mission. He observed that the Pentecostal revival began “in earnest” under Seymour’s leadership at the humble, run-down location on Azusa Street.

Bartleman noted multiple ironies regarding the revival. The Azusa Street Mission, he wrote, took place in a dilapidated building and was led by “a quiet colored man, very unassuming.” Yet the revival attracted people from across the racial divides and news of the outpouring quickly spread across the world. Bartleman also noted that Seymour initially preached about the gift of speaking in tongues without having had the experience himself. Seymour did not receive the gift until several weeks into the Azusa Street Revival. Finally, Bartleman observed that many respectable Christian leaders looked down upon the revival because of its humble origins and interracial character. However, many of these critics ended up losing their own church members to the Azusa Street Revival.

The Azusa Street Revival has become iconic, symbolizing Pentecostal identity. Its emphasis on the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts certainly played a significant role in the early movement. Furthermore, the revival’s egalitarian character – men and women from varied racial and social backgrounds were both leaders and participants – is very appealing to our own twenty-first century egalitarian assumptions.

However, there is a danger that modern readers will boil down historic Pentecostal identity to consist merely of spiritual gifts and egalitarianism, while failing to understand the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals. The early Pentecostal worldview, at its core, encouraged believers to seek full consecration to Christ and His mission. The consecrated life, as illustrated in the Azusa Street Revival, was lived out through holy living and spiritual disciplines. Early Pentecostals committed themselves to prayer, fasting, and Bible study. They demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, no matter the cost. Importantly, they avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, insisting that their heavenly citizenship should far outweigh any earthly allegiances.

With each year, we become further removed from the generation that birthed the prayer movement that became Pentecostalism. Testimonies from the iconic Azusa Street Revival provide insight into the spirituality that sparked the Pentecostal movement. Perhaps these testimonies will inspire future generations to likewise seek to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission.

Read Frank Bartleman’s article, “The Pentecostal or ‘Latter Rain’ Outpouring in Los Angeles,” on pages 4, 5 and 8 of the March 11, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Five Judgments,” by S. A. Jamieson

* “A Great Opportunity in the Mexican Work,” by H. C. Ball

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Melodies of Praise: 60th Anniversary of a Favorite Assemblies of God Songbook

melodies-of-praise

The Melodies of Praise hymnal and orchestrations made their debut in 1957. Pictured here are Assemblies of God Music Division staff members Lorena Quigley (left), Marie Salisbury (center), and Edwin Anderson.

This Week in AG History — February 10, 1957

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 2 February 2017

Early Pentecostals commonly believed that two books were essential for revival: the Bible and the songbook. Fervent, spiritual singing has been a distinguishing characteristic of the Pentecostal movement from its inception, alongside powerful anointed preaching.

In the few first decades of the movement, Pentecostals used and promoted a great variety of songbooks published by non-Pentecostals, such as R. E. Winsett. However, at the 1920 General Council of the Assemblies of God, a recommendation was made that “in addition to the Sunday School literature … a Pentecostal Song Book, to be used universally throughout the Assemblies of God, be prepared and published.”

When Chairman J. W. Welch asked how many ministers would use a uniquely Pentecostal song collection. nearly all the ministers raised their hands. This recommendation was met with the 1924 release of Songs of Pentecostal Fellowship, the first Assemblies of God effort to produce a songbook that was distinctly Pentecostal.

Songs of Pentecostal Fellowship was followed by other songbooks, such as Spiritual Songs (1930), Songs of Praise (1935), and Assembly Songs (1948). These collections consisted mainly of gospel songs which were popular at camp meetings and revival services. They also featured songs by Assemblies of God authors and began to bring unity to the congregational singing of the churches.

The 1950s brought a “golden era” to Pentecostal music. Quartet conventions began featuring more Pentecostal groups such as the Blackwood Brothers, and the Assemblies of God established the Music Division of Gospel Publishing House. One of the Music Division’s first duties was to produce a songbook for congregational singing that would also encourage the use of orchestrations for instruments. 

This new songbook, Melodies of Praise, made its debut 60 years ago in the Pentecostal Evangel, and it was formally introduced at the General Council later that year. It was the first Assemblies of God music publication to be released in both round note and shaped note editions, giving it a broader appeal for use in the southern singing schools. Melodies of Praise kept the gospel songs that were popular in churches but also incorporated more traditional hymns, such as Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Conversely, the compilers also sought to expose more church members to newer writers, such as Ira Stanphill, with the inclusion of songs like Mansion Over the Hilltop and Suppertime. It also incorporated a newer genre of church music with its introduction of choruses like Everybody Ought to Know, I Shall Not Be Moved, and Isn’t He Wonderful. 

Another change the Music Division made was to release a companion edition with instrumental orchestrations. Most Pentecostals embraced the use of instruments in worship and, for the first time, church instrumentalists could participate in the accompaniment of song services with the aid of properly composed notation.

Melodies of Praise was well received and sold 77,410 copies in its first year. By 1986, almost 2 million copies had been sold. Even after it was replaced in 1969 by the popular Hymns of Glorious Praise, it continued to sell well. Pentecostals have long known the power and importance of good church singing. The songs of the church teach and affirm biblical truth, are a spiritual expression of our affection toward God, and a testimony of His work in our lives. They also serve as a unifying factor. With the publication of a denominational hymnal, an Assemblies of God church member from Kentucky could visit a church in California and instantly feel at home during the congregational singing.

As the 60th anniversary of the release of Melodies of Praise is celebrated, it is a time to recognize the Assemblies of God’s rich history of worshiping through song. Even as times have changed, and many churches have moved to electronic projection of songs rather than printed hymnals, the Assemblies of God is still known as a people who embrace the musical language of worship with fervent passion.

New copies of Melodies of Praise are available through My Healthy Church.

See the original advertisement for Melodies of Praise on page 10 of the Feb. 10, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Prophet’s Shattered Home” by J. E. Harris

* “What is Communism” by Frank W. Smith

*”First Graduating Class at Rhodesian Bible School” by H. B. Garlock

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Waiting for Christ’s Return: A Warning from 1941 about Biblical Prophecy

prophecy-chart

Assemblies of God evangelist Ivan D. Rayborn and his prophecy chart, circa 1950s.

This Week in AG History — December 13, 1941

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 8 December 2016

On the first Sunday after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Assemblies of God church members opened their weekly magazine, the Pentecostal Evangel, to an article by Iowa evangelist (and later Kansas City pastor), William E. Long, asking them, “Can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

Long laments that when he was younger he possessed more Bible knowledge than he did in later years. When he started in ministry he “knew” the identity of the Antichrist and could easily ascertain the meaning of the 144,000 of Revelation 14 and the Man-child of Revelation 12. He recalled the sermons he had heard proffering various identities of the Beast of Revelation, among whom were Kaiser Bill, Woodrow Wilson, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler.

Long also recollects the fear of a dear old saint greatly disturbed about a sticker on the back of his car displaying a Blue Eagle (the symbol of President Roosevelt’s “National Recovery Administration”). She met him in front of the church in tears and, pointing to his sticker, exclaimed, “Oh, Brother Long, you have taken the Mark of the Beast!”

Looking back as an older, more experienced preacher, Long had good advice for the Evangel readers of 1941 and for Pentecostal believers today. He cautions against two extremes in handling biblical prophecy. The first being that we would be “carried away with every foolish idea that blows our way.” As Pentecostals we are anxious to see the prophecies of the Bible fulfilled and, in our enthusiasm, can fall prey to absurd and short-sighted teachings.

The second extreme is that these “wild, weird ideas” would lead to a reluctance to preach prophetic sermons. Neglecting biblical prophecy is just as alarming as the first extreme, according to Long. He pleads, “We must keep preaching the second coming of the Lord and not quit just because some have read into the Bible prophecies things that were not there.”

After World War I, the “war to end all wars,” Long states that many American preachers have “stood before large audiences and said they wouldn’t insult their audience by believing there would be any more wars.” Saying we have “beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks,” these preachers forgot Jesus said that right up until the time of the end “there shall be wars, and rumors of wars.” Having heard their president declare war on Japan that very week, his words took on a somber tone for Evangel readers.

Long also points to Jesus’ proclamation that the Jews “shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9) and reminds his readers that “in America today there are clubs and beaches and areas with signs which say, “For Gentiles Only.” Even though Long and the rest of the western world did not yet know the fullness of the atrocities of the Jewish Holocaust happening at that very moment, he warns this would be a sign of the nearness of Christ’s return.

He also mentions that Pentecostals should learn from the Jews who watch for the appearance of Messiah and who await the fulfillment of “the return of the Jews to their own land,” a reference to the Zionist movement for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. “The Jews are looking for Him and praying that Messiah will come. But let us ask ourselves this question: are we really anxious for Jesus Christ to return? We in America are not so anxious to have Him come. We have good jobs, we live in luxury, we have comfortable homes, we still enjoy peace.”

Long ends his exhortation to remember the urgency of Christ’s second coming with an application from His first coming. He hearkens back to Luke chapter two and Simeon, a man who lived his entire life longing to see Jesus, yet who only saw the Lord for a few short moments. “Why lament because we did not have the privilege of knowing Jesus as the shepherds did, and Simeon, and John? We are going to be in His presence forever! … My prayer is ‘Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!’ Is that your prayer, too?”

Read Long’s article, “Signs of the Times,” on pages 2 and 3 of the Dec. 13, 1941, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Are You a Fruit-Bearing or a Withered Branch,” by Clara A. Grace

* “A Scientist Meets the God of Science,” by James R. Graham, Jr.

* “News from our School and Orphanage in Syria”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
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Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
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