Acts 1:8 declares, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
The fulfillment of that prophetic word is recorded in Acts 2:4 when a rag-tag group of refugees met in an upstairs room in Jerusalem. It states, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. I guess these could be called "the first Pentecostals."
The First Century Church was given this supernatural power in order to evangelize the world, and evangelize the world they most certainly did! From tiny Israel to Asia, Europe and around the world, this revival company became a channel through which the message of salvation was given to a lost and helpless humanity. The Book of Acts records the massive revival that swept the known world by those whose souls the Holy Spirit had set on fire. Millions were swept into the kingdom of Heaven because of their powerful witness.
This Holy Spirit - endued group aroused the fury of Hell. All-out-war was savagely waged against them. The Hebrews 11 records, "....(They) were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, and, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tried by temptation, they were killed with the sword. They went from place to place in sheepskins or goatskins, enduring want, oppression and cruelty ... of whom the world was not worthy; in deserts wandering, and in mountains, and in caves, and in the holes of the earth..." The more the dark forces of Hell killed, the more the Early Church grew. What a legacy drenched in their blood they have left for the church of the 21st Century!
What have the Pentecostals of the 21st Century done with this legacy? For many of their televangelists, the message is PROSPERITY! The message of self-sacrifice, of giving all for the salvation of others has been replaced with "seed faith," a self-centered creed that encourages people to give to God (or their ministries) in order to get back even more. It is an appeal to one of the baser elements of the fallen nature of man......greed.
Michael Scott Horton, teacher at a seminary in California, made this observation:
"Some of these people are charlatans. Others are honestly dedicated to one of the most abhorrent errors in religious theology."
Quite a spectacle on television today! On our tv screens, we see miracle water being offered that will cure all, books, tapes, dvds for sale full of secret scriptural codes on how to get rich and prosper, and televangelists' appealing to give to their "ministry" with a certainty to receive much more financial gain in return. While "speaking in tongues," a female televangelist "prophetically" stated that God had given her the number 777. She told the people who were viewing that "God told her" that they needed to quickly give to that particular "ministry" money according to those set of numbers.... $777, $7777, and on up. They were promised a great return on their "seed faith investment." Another televangelist labeled people as stupid who question his prosperity doctrine. He declared, "Hell will be full of these stupid people." He further stated, " I can handle the flames (of Hell) but not being with stupid people for eternity."
"Can't pay your bills, you rent, utilities, and medical bills? The appeal is, "take what you have and send it in right away!! Within a few days, you will receive a hundred-fold, more than enough to pay all of those bills! It is like playing a "divine lottery" in the hopes to get rich quick. Sadly, gullible people give by the millions.
Quite a contrast between the early Pentecostals and those of the 21st Century.
The first were revolutionaries filled with a holy fire to bring the message "Jesus Saves" to a lost, dying generation. They counted it an honor to give away all and expect nothing in return in order to save a lost soul.
Beatings, imprisonment, mockings and even death for the sake of the Gospel were signs of spiritual prosperity for them.
Designer clothes, upscale homes, sleek cars, huge bank accounts and living the good life were not measures of spiritual success. Instead, sheep skin and goatskin rags, wandering in the desert, mountains and living in caves and the holes of the earth, suffering and even death for the sake of Christ were evidences of real prosperity for them. Hell feared and trembled before them. Satan sought to destroy them. Selfless sacrifice was the banner that was raised high over them. Multiple millions were transformed by their message. The world was turned upside down by them.
What about this latter group of Pentecostals?
Their message is "gain is a sign of Godliness." They invite you to give sacrificially in order to be wealthy. Wear the finest, drive the best, live in the upscale in order to demonstrate to the world that you are blest of God!
Heaven weeps over them, Hell laughs at them, and the world is lost because of them.
They preach "another gospel," which is beamed around the world. Millions are being led astray by their apostasy. Multitudes end up on the trash heap of disillusionment when their false theology does not work. They are blind guides leading the blind. They have disgraced the precious Holy Spirit and His gifts. They mock and blaspheme Him and use His gifts in error. They teeter on the brink of blasphemy. They have trampled under foot the legacy given and paid for by the blood of martyrs.
THEY HAVE BETRAYED THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!! THEY HAVE BETRAYED PENTECOST!!!
The cry of the hour is, "Oh that YOU would rend the Heavens and come down!" Restore your church, Lord!! Raise up shepherds after your own heart!!
My heart yearns for what the prophet of old longed to see:
"O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known."