Several questions have come up since I wrote that post a couple of weeks ago so I decided to respond in a Q&A format.
Q. Why wasn’t my response posted?
A. It could be one of several reasons. While I do genuinely value everyone’s opinion and support people “working out their own salvation”, I want my blog to remain free of bad language, arguments, harsh words and non-edifying statements. Some statements had no relevancy or decency at all, thus they were not approved. Some responses were not in regards to what was written but focused on a hurt the writer had suffered from someone within a church (and I will address these later in this post). Lastly, some of these responses were in direct contradiction with scripture (i.e. saying baptism is not necessary when scriptures show otherwise). Genuine questions about doctrine, however, have been approved as I want those seeking answers to have help finding them.
Q. Why didn’t you title the article “Why I Let the Apostolic Pentecostal Church and Why I Came Back”?
A. I did not realize that this post would receive the kind of recognition that it did. Previously, I had written for a small group of readers who follow me on Twitter and rarely publicize on Facebook or any other website. I originally felt like I should write this after searching for something on Google in regards to Apostolic small group lessons. Instead of finding what I was looking for, I found an onslaught of articles about why someone chose to leave the church.
Now, having been in the church, then out of it, then back in, I’m pretty familiar with just about every argument someone has for and against being Apostolic Pentecostal. I felt that if so many people would write their grievances, it only be fair to the many readers out there looking at these types of articles that they get the other side of the argument–especially from someone who left and then came back. That was my intended audience. Turns out the audience was a large group of people from many walks of life and differences of opinion.
Q. There are many churches out there that believe in one God (and that the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ Jesus), baptism in Jesus’ name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. Do you believe that only people associated with the UPCI are saved?
A. No. I believe anyone who follows the plan of salvation as laid out in the Bible and lives their best according to the Word is saved. Because I moved so much growing up, I have belonged to churches associated with the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI), the Worldwide Pentecostal Fellowship (WPF), and the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ (ACJC). I currently have no affiliation with any of these organizations but do belong to an Apostolic Pentecostal church and have friends in each of those. I also have friends in many independent Apostolic churches (not affiliated with a particular organization).
I think a good example lies in a story one of my old professors told once. There was a group of about 300 people in a Communist country who were following the plan of salvation as laid out in the Bible (Jesus died on the cross for us; in turn, the Bible teaches that in order to accept that salvation we must follow the plan He laid out for us–summed up in Acts 2:38, supported throughout the rest of the Bible). He heard about this group of underground Christians and through associations with many people was able to meet someone within that group. There was a language barrier but eventually the question could be understood through an interpreter: “How did you find out about the plan of salvation? Who came to you and taught you?” The man from the group earnestly replied, “Have you ever heard of the Holy Bible?” Organizational affiliations do not save a person; God saves the person who, in obedience to God’s Word, follows what He has commanded.
Q. I don’t go to an Apostolic church anymore because I was hurt once before. Some people were judgmental, my old pastor was too strict, I was disowned for doing something they didn’t like.
A. This is not a question but was the second most common response I had received. First, let me start by saying that I am truly sorry for the hurt you experienced and pray that God will eventually heal the wounds you suffered.
I, too, have been hurt by people within the church but by the grace of God was able to overcome it. A biological family member hurt many people and as a result most of the family is very bitter towards all Apostolic Pentecostals. That said, while his actions did cause many to feel that way I do not blame him for their decision to leave the church or to never go to begin with–the Bible teaches that each person must work out their own salvation. We are each responsible for ourselves and it is our duty to ourselves to live for God regardless of how others treat us.
That way of thinking is easier said than done, I know. When I first stepped foot into an Apostolic church after being out for a few years I was worried that people would treat me like that person did in the past and I made an agreement with myself that if such was the case I would not feel bad leaving and finding another church. I didn’t need to look elsewhere, though. These people were nothing like that family member–they were not judgmental at all, they believed in inward and outward holiness but understood that each person grows at their own pace, and the church was full of love.
The Bible also teaches that God places all of us in the body as it hath pleased Him. If the one thing that turned you away from the Apostolic church was an offense, I encourage you to–if still possible–seek out the person who caused the offense and let them know how you feel. As you find your way back you might be surprised at the love you will find. If that is not the case (that person is gone or you live nowhere near that church) I encourage you to find one in your area and visit. Again, you might be surprised at the love you will find. The many complaints read in the responses are not common to every church nor to most churches.
But please also remember, no matter what church you belong to (or even if you refuse to go to church now and associate only with non-church-going people), there are always going to be hypocrites, people who hurt you, people who are judgmental, etc. The question is, do you let that determine your destiny?
As more questions and comments come in I will update this post. I hope that the original post and the many questions and answers in the comments section there will help you find answers as you search the Bible and discover the fullness of its teachings.