Category Archives: Spirituality

Prominent Novelist Sven Lidman Shocked Sweden by 1921 Conversion to Pentecostalism

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This Week in AG History–March 12, 1927
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 12 March 2015

When Sven Lidman (1882-1960), one of Sweden’s most prominent authors, accepted Christ as Savior and was baptized at the leading Pentecostal church in Stockholm in 1921, it seemed as though the entire nation took notice.

Lidman was born into great privilege. He received a classical education and he earned a law degree from the University of Uppsala. He spent several years in the military and then studied the Italian language and literature. By 1920, he was an acclaimed author and had published 13 books and collections of poetry.

In fact, Lidman could have been considered a renaissance man. His writing explored family issues and sexuality, philosophy and ethics, and religion and politics. He cultivated relationships with the leaders of his day, and his early life was steeped in worldly pleasures.

Despite Lidman’s background, his conversion to Christ was not entirely unexpected. For years, he had experienced a deep spiritual struggle. He felt deep inner longings that could not be satisfied with brandy, tobacco, and women. He openly shared this struggle through his pen, most notably by authoring in 1920 an annotated translation of St. Augustine’s Confessions . Lidman closely identified with this fifth century Christian theologian who abandoned a life of youthful sin and who used his testimony to proclaim the transformative power of the Gospel. Lidman would soon follow in Augustine’s footsteps.

However, it came as a shock to many that Lidman cast his lot with the Pentecostals. Lidman could have easily joined a respectable Lutheran congregation of the State Church of Sweden. Instead, Swedish Pentecostal leader Lewi Pethrus baptized him at the Filadelfia Church.

Lidman’s conversion was widely covered by the nation’s press and became an ongoing topic of conversation at dinner tables across Scandinavia. The Christian press in other corners of the world also trumpeted this news.

Why did Lidman join the Pentecostals? Lidman’s conversion to Pentecostalism, according to a March 12, 1927, Pentecostal Evangel article, occurred because “Lidman is no half-way man.” Lidman would not settle for anything less than genuine, historic, biblical Christianity. “He believes in the power of Christ’s blood and redeeming death to save from sin,” the article continued. “He believes in a whole dedication to the Christian witness.”

Lidman rejected the notion that his conversion consisted merely of “a series of processes in the subconscious.” Rather, he maintained that “real conversion” to Christ was “the consequence of meeting with a supernatural power.” True Christians who have encountered and submitted to God’s power, Lidman wrote, are living sacrifices. “It is only upon the whole offering on the Lord’s altar that His fire falls,” he declared.

Lidman illustrated this theology of full consecration with his own testimony. At first, Lidman was not willing to surrender all of his ways to God. Early in his Christian life he defended his use of brandy and tobacco. But he recounted how his mind changed after an encounter with a man who had suffered the ravages of alcoholism. He realized he could not calmly stand before an alcoholic and say, “Drinking is an adiaphoron, a matter of indifference, and not a sin per se.” He could no longer in good conscience say, “There are many splendid and real Christians who are not abstainers.” Lidman came to believe that saving faith should permeate every aspect of a Christian’s life. Lidman submitted his destructive habits to God, and God took away his desire for alcohol and tobacco.

Although Lidman was an intellectual, he grew disenchanted with certain intellectual fads of his day. He had the independence of mind to challenge prevailing cultural assumptions and instead wanted something real. And reality, for Lidman, was the living Christian faith that he found in the Pentecostal church. The Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit, he wrote, “is a full-blooded reality and no pale intellectual ideal.”

Lewi Pethrus asked Lidman to become editor of the leading Pentecostal magazine, Evangelii Härold . Lidman accepted and served in that position from 1922 until 1948. Lidman became a popular Pentecostal preacher, and countless people accepted Christ through his voluminous writings. Lidman became the second best-known Pentecostal in Sweden, after Lewi Pethrus.

The article concluded by noting that Lidman encouraged both education and heartfelt faith. While some “rationalists” and “revivalists” seemed to believe that faith and understanding are mutually exclusive, Lidman asserted that Christians need both. “I know not how the forces of cold and darkness can ever be driven from the heart save through revival Christianity. They can never be cultivated away,” he wrote. “But after revival has gone ahead with its spring break-up of ice and frost the work of education begins.” According to Lidman, education is a work of the Spirit.

Sven Lidman’s profound influence on Swedish Pentecostalism may have faded from the memory of many American Pentecostals, but his testimony and writings continue to challenge readers to seek the fullness of God. Lidman had the world but found it wanting. Like Augustine before him, the Swedish novelist and intellectual found that only Jesus could satisfy his deepest longings.

Read the article, “The Witness of a Swedish Novelist,” on pages 4 and 5 of the March 12, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Reminiscences of a Faith Life,” by Marie Burgess Brown

* “African or Scriptural Brick,” by Arthur S. Berg

* “The Blood,” by J. Narver Gortner

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are 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

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E. S. Williams: 1937 New Year’s Message for the Assemblies of God


This Week in AG History–January 16, 1937
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 14 January 2015

While much has changed in the past 78 years, Ernest S. William’s New Year’s admonition to the Assemblies of God in 1937 remains strikingly relevant. Williams was the only veteran of the Azusa Street Revival to serve as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1929-1949). Known for his spiritual depth, he led the Fellowship during a period of significant numerical growth.

Williams took the helm of the Fellowship the same year as the Great Depression began. In 1929, the Assemblies of God reported 1,612 churches with 91,981 members. By 1937 those tallies had approximately doubled to 3,473 churches with 175,362 members.

“God has blessed our fellowship of Spirit-filled redeemed people with a phenomenal growth,” Williams acknowledged. However, he warned readers of “danger” that accompanied growth. With the increase in numbers, Williams cautioned, comes the temptation to rely on “human ideas and human methods, not all of which are sanctified to the glory of God.”

Christians are called to live and worship “in spirit and in truth” and “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” Williams wrote. Any substitute would cause the Assemblies of God to suffer “grievous loss.” He suggested that “prayerful watchfulness and entire consecration” were required to maintain this spiritual calling.

Williams encouraged believers to seek unity. He expressed his belief that the Pentecostal movement “would be a far greater service to God were it all united.” It may not be God’s will, he clarified, that this unity be expressed organizationally. In his view, believers should be united “in one spirit and Christian fellowship” and in “Christian love and worship.”

While Williams opposed divisions due to “sectarian causes,” he acknowledged that true Christian unity could only develop among believers who embraced solid doctrine and morals. “Let us therefore show Christian love and Christian fellowship to all of God’s children who love and do the truth, wherever they may be,” Williams wrote, “but let us continue an uncompromising stand against tolerance of evil wherever it is found.”

Williams concluded his New Year’s message with a missionary call. “The uttermost parts of the earth is our motto,” he propounded. “May the coming year be one of rich harvests in souls and in personal soul development.” This dual concern for deep spirituality and sharing the gospel continues to be central to Assemblies of God identity.

Read Williams’ article, “The Task That Is Before Us,” on page 4 of the January 16, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Leaving the Choice with the Lord,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “Power, Love and a Sound Mind,” by Donald Gee

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

– See more at: http://www.penews.org/Article/This-Week-in-AG-History-%E2%80%94-January-16,-1937/#sthash.uNUNChh6.dpuf

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

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Looking Toward the New Year


This Week in AG History–December 29, 1934
By William Molenaar

Also published in PE News, 31 December 2014

“Looking Toward the New Year,” by E. S. Williams was published in the Pentecostal Evangel on December 29, 1934. Williams wrote this article during the Great Depression, and noted how people felt uncertain in regards to the next year ahead. However, he encouraged readers saying, “It is a time for the Church, the Bride of Christ, to trim afresh her lamps, to replenish her vessels with spiritual oil, to look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble and defile us.”

Ernest Swing Williams (1885-1981), was a participant in the Azusa Street revival in 1906, and ordained with the AG in 1914. Later he became the general superintendent between 1929 and 1949. During his tenure he brought great stability to the Assemblies of God fellowship in the United States, during which the United States faced the Great Depression and WWII.

In the beginning of his article Williams asked, “If we have injured, or wronged any, may we at the beginning of the New Year make restitution?” To begin the New Year right, Williams quoted Matthew 5:23-24, pointing out the need for reconciliation in our relationships.

Williams also mentioned the need for the teaching of sound doctrine and going back to the Bible. He noticed that “many new and strange doctrines are abroad and some of God’s children are sorely perplexed by them.” He also noted that some were seeking some new way or novel path, but he assured his readers that, “We need no new gospel, we need no strange or startling novelty.” He goes on to say that, “While we should not despise prophesying, we should regard the holy Scriptures as of greater importance than all else for building and establishing the soul.”

Looking to the future, Williams was pleased to see the Assemblies of God moving forward and reminded readers that we are pilgrims and strangers on a journey toward “the Celestial City.” Williams said we must look beyond the enemy, temptations, and all hindrances to “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, seeing in Him our sufficiency even when our faith and our strength seem small.” Williams also casted vision for the Assemblies of God to advance evangelism at home, as well as in the foreign fields for the coming year. “This will require, not only desire, but money, strength, and purpose. No doubt each assembly can establish some new work during the year,” said Williams.

Williams’ final encouragement reads, “The World plunges madly into darkness and despair. To us has been given the light of life. May the New Year take us leagues ahead of where we have ever been before. The blessing of God be with you.”

Read the article, “Looking Toward the New Year,” on pages 1, 6, and 7 of the December 29, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Communion with God: New Year’s Message,” by an unknown author.

* “The Editor’s Notebook,” by Stanley H. Frodsham.

* “The Passing and the Permanent,” by an unknown author.

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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

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United in and with Christ


This Week in AG History–December 15, 1917
By William Molenaar

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 15 Dec 2014 – 8:44 PM CST

Ninety-seven years ago, today, an article was published titled, “United in and with Christ,” by Andrew D. Urshan. It was originally a message given at the Pentecostal Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and released in the December 15, 1917, issue of the Weekly Evangel. Urshan opens his message by singing, “Jesus only, Jesus ever; Jesus all in all we sing; Saviour, Baptizer and Healer, Glorious Lord and coming King.”

Andrew D. Urshan (1884-1967), was an early Assemblies of God missionary to Iran. He founded a Persian Pentecostal mission in Chicago in 1908 and was ordained by William Durham in 1910. Urshan wrote several articles in the Weekly Evangel between 1914 and 1918.

In this 1917 article, Urshan points out that the “Baptism of the Holy Ghost make Jesus real.” He also observes that the power of the Holy Spirit brings God’s children together from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Urshan states, “Since we have received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, there is a spiritual magnetizing power that draws us toward each other. There is a strange holy unity between God’s people.” Urshan goes on to encourage readers to walk in the Spirit, live yielded to Him, and to set our affections upon Him.

Based on Psalm 91, Urshan taught that seven blessings are given to those who truly love God: “(1) I will deliver him; (2) I will set him on high; (3) he shall call upon me and I will answer him; (4) I will be with him in trouble; (5) and honor him; (6) with long life will I satisfy him, (7) and show him my salvation.”

Knowing persecution himself, Urshan pointed out that being in deep loving communion with God will give one the strength and courage to face persecution. According to Urshan, it will also preserve one from falling for the world’s temptations, and prepare one for the coming rapture of the Church.

Read the article, “United in and with Christ,” on pages 4-6 of the December 15, 1917, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Hell and Who are Going There,” by William T. McArthur

* “Evangelizing the World,” by A. W. Orwig

* “Not Knowing,” by M. G. Brainard

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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

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Billy Bray: The Lively Methodist Preacher Who Had a Lifestyle of Thanksgiving

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This Week in AG History–November 24, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 24 Nov 2014 – 4:19 PM CST

Billy Bray (1794-1868), the fiery English Methodist preacher, spent the first 10 years of his adult life far away from God. A miner by trade, he was a drunkard and lived a riotous life. After narrowly escaping death in a mining accident in 1823, he began to think about eternal matters. After reading John Bunyan’s Visions of Heaven and Hell, he accepted Christ as his Lord, left behind his destructive ways, and became active in a Methodist church.

Billy Bray was an earnest young convert. He aimed to tell everyone he met about the gospel and how God changed his life. He soon became an evangelist and was known for his spontaneous outbursts of singing and dancing during his sermons. Few preachers of his era could equal his reputation for genuine joy and thanksgiving to God.

It was quite fitting, then, that the Pentecostal Evangel would publish an article about Bray for Thanksgiving in 1957. The article’s author, Raymond L. Cox (a noted educator with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel), used Bray’s testimony to illustrate why Christians should praise the Lord:

“Someone asked, ‘Billy Bray, why do you praise the Lord so much?’ The Cornish coal miner who had turned preacher eyed his questioner incredulously. Bray was astonished that such an inquiry should escape the lips of a Christian brother. ‘I bless the Lord constantly,’ he replied, ‘because my whole life is brightened by praising God.’ ‘But why must you do it aloud?’ queried the man. Billy answered, ‘I can’t help praising Him aloud. As I walk down the street. I lift up one foot, and it seems to say, ‘Glory!’ Then I lift up the other, and it seems to say, ‘Amen!’ And they keep on like that all the time I walk.'”

Cox recounted that Bray brought “his cheerful Christianity into the most desperate and dismal places.” He comforted those who were suffering and dying and spoke words of faith into situations that seemed hopeless. “The former Cornish coal miner was indeed a chronic praiser,” according to Cox. “The bells of blessing chimed constantly in the steeple of his soul. And often, although his voice was far from beautiful according to concert standards, Bray would be found going his way singing some hymn joyously and heartily.”

Billy Bray started life in a non-descript family of miners in England, but he ended life as a down-to-earth preacher who is remembered for bringing a joyful gospel message to countless thousands. The catalyst for his life-change was a near-death experience, which caused him to reassess his life priorities. He accepted Christ and spent the rest of his life cultivating a thankful heart that overflowed with praise.

Why should Christians praise the Lord? Cox suggested that the answer to this question is illustrated in the life of Billy Bray: “Praising God for our blessings extends them, Praising God for our troubles will end them.”

Read the article, “Why Praise the Lord?” by Raymond L. Cox, on pages 4 and 5 of the November 24, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Elijah in a Cave,” by Ruth Stewart

* “A Lesson in Thanksgiving,” by Robert W. Cummings

* “The Greatest Gift,” by David W. Plank

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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

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How to Tell if a Revival Movement is in Decline


This Week in AG History–September 29, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 29 Sep 2014 – 4:30 PM CST

“Has the twentieth century Pentecostal revival reached the zenith of its spirituality and usefulness, and is it now doomed to fade as a potent force from the modern spiritual scene; or do greater glories still lie ahead?”

This question was posed by Assemblies of God missions leader Melvin Hodges in a 1957 Pentecostal Evangel article. At the time, the modern Pentecostal movement was about 50 years old. Pioneers of the movement were passing from the scene, and memories of the early revivals were fading.

Hodges noted that previous Protestant revival movements originated in “deep spirituality, holiness and a sense of destiny.” However, they each “lost their fervor and one by one settled down to take their places in the ecclesiastical world as yet another denomination.”

He looked further back into church history, drawing parallels between the early church and Pentecostalism. “The New Testament Church,” he wrote, “gradually lost the purity and power that characterized her apostolic beginnings, and became adulterated by worldliness, greed and paganism as she increased in numbers and influence.” Would the Pentecostal church likewise stray from its biblical ideals and become corrupted by the world?

“We dare not ignore the lessons of history,” Hodges warned. He identified three characteristics of a declining revival movement: 1) a diminishing hunger for God; 2) a lack of concern for holiness; and 3) the loss of the sense of mission and destiny.

While spiritual decline over time is likely, Hodges suggested that it is not inevitable. He admonished readers to rediscover the deep spirituality common among early Pentecostals: “Let hunger for God to be reawakened in our hearts. May a walk in holiness, worthy of our vocation, be our goal, and let us consecrate ourselves anew to the fulfilling of our world destiny in the plan of God.”

If Pentecostals draw close to God and commit themselves to His mission, according to Hodges, they “can face the future with confident expectancy that the future holds still greater revelations of the glory of God.”

Read the entire article, “Danger Signals” by Melvin Hodges, on pages 4 and 5 of the September 29, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Taking Christ to the People,” by R. J. Carlson

* “The Silence of the Trinity,” by P. T. Walker

* “The Living Dead,” by Oswald J. Smith

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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

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Get Ready for “The Coming Revival” — Dr. Charles S. Price’s Prediction from 75 Years Ago!

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This Week in AG History–July 15, 1939
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 14 Jul 2014 – 4:26 PM CST.

Dr. Charles S. Price (1887-1947), an Oxford-educated Congregationalist pastor, used to mock Pentecostals. He had accepted Christ as a young man but then slid into theological liberalism, replacing biblical truths with the latest cultural fads.

In 1921, Price attended evangelistic services held by Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. McPherson had advertised that there would be prayer for the sick, and Price intended to expose her as a fraud. Price instead was convinced by the reality of God’s presence and the healings that he witnessed. He rededicated his life to the Lord, was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and went on to become a leading Pentecostal evangelist and author.

In an article published 75 years ago in the Pentecostal Evangel, Price predicted a powerful forthcoming revival and encouraged “the faithful few” to be prepared for this move of God that “will break even the most calloused hearts.”

The text of Price’s prophecy is below:

The Coming Revival

“Of one thing we are very sure. There will be a full restoration of the apostolic gifts and the full power of Pentecost before the coming of the Lord. To the faithful few who are true to God, to the overcomers, to them that place their all upon the altar of a full consecration, God will pour out in the fullest measure the power that was given to the disciples on the day the Church was born. We believe that there will be miracles of healing, supernatural manifestations of God’s mighty power, that will break even the most calloused hearts. There will be another outpouring, this time a cloudburst of the latter rain. We not only feel it in our Spirit, but the Word of God corroborates what we feel. Be true, my friends; keep tight hold of His hand. God has some wonderful things in store for you.”

Read Price’s prediction on page 5 of the July 15, 1939, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “My Jubilee Sermon,” by P. C. Nelson

* “The Prayers of the Prodigal,” by John Wright Follette

* “What Wonders Hath God Wrought,” by H. A. Baker

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

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

1 Comment

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