January 1, 2012

How God Settled Me

My grandparents’ church roots go way back to late 1906 when they first came into contact with Florence Crawford. She was on her way from the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, to hold meetings in an old blacksmith shop. My grandparents threw in their lot with the Apostolic Faith organization at that time. My parents were also Christians, so I was born and raised in this old-time Gospel.

In my early twenties, while I was going through college for an engineering degree, I began to question and reevaluate my religious beliefs and teachings. God led me through a process that settled everything with me forever, and I would like to share it.

The first and most basic question I had was about the existence of God and the authority of the Bible. As a student engineer with a practical, mechanical type of personality, I was being told that only provable concrete facts really mattered. I began to wonder if all the religious training and experiences I had been taught (at one time, I had been truly saved, but by the time I was in college, I was no longer a Christian) were just emotions and things that could be worked up in one’s mind until they seemed real. Were God and His Gospel truly real? Just because I had been taught these things all of my life did not make them true or right.

As these types of questions were troubling my mind, I found myself at a Portland camp meeting sitting about halfway back in the tabernacle watching a late-night altar service. A young lady I was acquainted with was seeking for her baptism, and that night she received it. I saw it and heard her speak in a beautiful language that I knew she did not know. After awhile she came back to where I was sitting and spoke to me in this foreign language. I did not know what she was saying, but it was beautiful and flowing, not at all any kind of gibberish. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that it was a real language (it sounded like it may have been French) and that she had never studied it before. That night God confronted me with a supernatural event that could not be faked or worked up or passed off as emotion. I had to acknowledge that a supernatural Being had caused this. Therefore, I concluded that there must be a God of some sort and since this experience had come as a direct result of obeying Biblical instructions, there was a high likelihood that the Bible was true. Through the Holy Ghost, God had confirmed His existence and Word to me personally in a way that satisfied my “technical” mind and I have never doubted it since.

With that settled, Satan (who I now knew existed also) began to work on me in another aspect. Just because I had been born and raised in the Apostolic Faith Church, did that mean they were correct in their core doctrines? After all, many other churches out there have very convincing claims that their interpretation of Scripture is the correct one. I was no theologian and did not really trust myself to wade through all the conflicting arguments. I was not looking to attend church elsewhere, but in my heart was an honest desire to feel settled and convinced that my church was the right place.

I began to wish that God himself would step out and point to a church that He was entirely pleased with, saving me the “iffy” prospect of sorting out the Scriptures on my own, or simply taking other peoples’ word for it. Once again I was looking for something concrete and provable, beyond feelings. I certainly am not saying that God cannot give some very strong feelings and accurate advice from godly men, but in my particular case, I needed something more.

While I was struggling with this dilemma in my mind, God was faithful and merciful to me once more. Again He used the Holy Ghost to give me the answer I was looking for. He reminded me that He had already pointed out a group of believers with whom He was entirely pleased, and in an unmistakable way. I was directed back to our own Apostolic Faith roots in Bonnie Brae Street and Azusa Street, where God poured out His Holy Spirit in a remarkable way on a group of saved and sanctified people. Here was the fulfilled promise of Joel 2:28-29 that had been prophesied thousands of years before, given to a chosen group of believers.

I realized that there must have been thousands of churches and countless variations of doctrines that God could have chosen back there in 1906. However, He specifically selected those people. I could not imagine for a moment that God would have given this great gift to a group who had the wrong understanding on the core doctrines. No, I had to believe that He chose very carefully when and on whom He poured out that long-awaited fulfillment.

The languages that were evidence of the empowering of the Holy Spirit were not gibberish, but real languages never learned by the receiving individuals. They could be interpreted by someone who spoke the language.

Furthermore, the gift of the Holy Ghost given at that time was something concrete and provable, not something that could be faked or passed off as a worked up emotion. As God had pointed out to me earlier in my questioning, the languages that were evidence of the empowering of the Holy Spirit were not gibberish, but real languages never learned by the receiving individuals. They could be interpreted by someone who spoke the language. This was so simple, beautiful, and consistent with the Word of God that there was no need to argue the finer points of Scripture or theology. God knew exactly what I needed and I have never doubted this Apostolic Faith Gospel again in the more than forty years since then.

Now as I work in the church headquarters office I have the opportunity to pull out and read for myself the original publications printed from Azusa Street. (These are available on our website at www.apostolicfaith.org.) These papers explain in detail all the core doctrines held by that group of people in 1906, with Volume 1, Number 1 being published just five months after the first outpouring. The comforting part to me is that I can open our latest Apostolic Faith publication, the Higher Way magazine, and read there the core doctrines just as they were preached at Azusa Street. They are not just on paper; those doctrines are still taught and believed here today.

I know there are several other church organizations that claim to have the same roots in Azusa Street as we do, but their core doctrines do not match Volume 1, Number 1 of the Azusa papers. Within a year of the first Holy Ghost outpouring, the Azusa church began to have divisions and strife over doctrine, mainly the experience of entire sanctification. Many of the church organizations that claim an Azusa origin actually sprang from those divisions.

I want to “hang my hat” on the set of doctrines held to at the time God chose the church to receive that great gift of the Holy Ghost. I am not saying a person cannot get saved and make it to Heaven somewhere else, but I am convinced of the fact that I have the whole truth here at the Apostolic Faith Church, and know of no better place to help me make it from earth to Heaven.

apostolic faith magazine