Throughout this essay you will be reading quotes in neon. I've placed a link at the end of each quote so that you can go and see the entire essay where I found it on the web.
"The first 'pentecostals' in the modern sense appeared on the scene in 1901 in the city of Topeka, Kansas in a Bible school conducted by Charles Fox Parham, a holiness teacher and former Methodist pastor. In spite of controversy over the origins and timing of Parham's emphasis on glossolalia [tongues], all historians agree that the movement began during the first days of 1901 just as the world entered the Twentieth Century. The first person to be baptized in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues was Agnes Ozman, one of Parham's Bible School students, who spoke in tongues on the very first day of the new century, January 1, 1901. According to J. Roswell Flower, the founding Secretary of the Assemblies of God, Ozman's experience was the 'touch felt round the world,' an event which 'made the Pentecostal Movement of the Twentieth Century.'
As a result of this Topeka pentecost, Parham formulated the doctrine that tongues was the 'Bible evidence' of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He also taught that tongues was a supernatural impartation of human languages (xenoglossolalia) for the purpose of world evangelization. Henceforth, he taught, missionaries need not study foreign languages since they would be able to preach in miraculous tongues all over the world. Armed with this new theology, Parham founded a church movement which he called the 'Apostolic Faith' and began a whirlwind revival tour of the American middle west to promote his exciting new experience.
It was not until 1906, however, that
pentecostalism achieved world wide attention through the Azusa Street
revival in Los Angeles led by the African-American preacher William
Joseph Seymour. He learned about the tongues-attested baptism in a
Bible School that Parham conducted in Houston, Texas in 1905. Invited to
pastor a Black holiness church in Los Angeles in 1906. Seymour opened
the historic meeting in April, 1906 in a former African Methodist
Episcopal (AME) church building at 312 Azusa Street in downtown Los
Angeles." --Vinson Synan, Ph.D.
In my research I've read that William Seymour came to Los Angeles having witnessed people being filled with the Spirit, and very excited about that experience, and convinced of the validity of the experience. But, he himself, was still seeking for that fullness, with the evidence of the Heavenly language. He did finally receive, some days after others in Los Angeles had received, as a result of his preaching that truth. And so if I have my facts straight, Seymour came preaching of something he had not yet received. He had to tarry until he did receive.
I might add that it is my position that tarrying for the fullness is necessary, but that the length of time for tarrying depends on the individual, and can be from minutes to years. One of the many reasons I believe that "tarrying" for the Holy Spirit is mandatory is that our Lord Jesus spoke of "importunity" (which is the quality of being "overly persistent in request or demand") in the teaching in which HE said, that the Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those that ask!" [See Luke 11:8,13] How can we NOT make the connection that Jesus taught that it is necessary to persistently besiege Heaven for the fullness of the Holy Spirit?? -- clint
"The outpouring of the Holy Ghost at Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, California was a revival that occurred in the early twentieth century. It began April 9, 1906 and lasted until 1909. This revival is considered to be the beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement. From it, many Pentecostal denominations were formed and the Holiness-Pentecostal movement spread to the far reaches of the world. This revival was also characterized by an absence of racial prejudice.
The revival began in prayer services
conducted by William J. Seymour in the home of Richard Asberry. This
revival occurred after Seymour was expelled from the Church of the
Nazarene mission pastored by Julia Hutchins. On April 9, 1906, while
conducting prayer service, Seymour and seven other attendees fell to
the floor and began speaking in tongues. This occurrence frightened
Asberry's daughter, who fled through the kitchen door."
It was very difficult for Phineas Bresee, pastoring the Mother Church of the Nazarene denomination, (Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene) to believe that these poor blacks could possibly be experiencing a new move of God. His congregation had sponsored the original little mission church for the blacks, that had to be closed when Seymour showed up teaching about a gift of tongues as a part of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In fact it was difficult for many in the holiness movement to accept that Entire Sanctification might be the spring board into deeper and mightier moves of God. If only Bresee himself had been the one to receive this revelation, instead of poor blacks, then perhaps more holiness people would have taken a closer look. But God has a way of using what men consider "foolish things...to confound the wise." [See 1st Corinthians 1:27] Nazarenes were reading about Azusa Street in their newspapers on the East coast. So many questioning letters arrived at Rev. Bresee's office that he finally had to write something about Azusa Street. The next paragraph is an excerpt from that article. You can read the whole essay at the web address printed at the end of the excerpt:
"Locally it is of small account, being
insignificant both in numbers and influence. Instead of being the
greatest movement of the times, as represented--in Los Angeles,
at least--it is of small moment. It has had, and has now, upon the
religious life of the city, about as much influence as a pebble thrown
into the sea; but what little influence it has had seems to have
been mostly harmful, instead of beneficent. It seems not only to have
had at least some of the elements of fanaticism, but to be trying to
inculcate such erroneous or heretical [sic] doctrines as mark it as not
of the Spirit of truth. The two principal things which are emphasized,
and wherein they claim to differ from others, is, that Christians
are sanctified before they receive the baptism with the Holy Ghost,
this baptism being a gift of power upon the sanctified life, and that
the essential and necessary evidence of the baptism is the gift of
speaking with new tongues." -- P.F. Bresee
Sadly Bresee had no idea that he was writing about the most earth shaking event in Christianity during the 20th Century, an event that would end up populating the world with over 400 million Pentecostals and Charismatics. That "pebble thrown into the sea," as Bresee called it, surpassed all segments of Protestantism, making it the second largest grouping within Christianity, Catholicism being number one.
Nevertheless it is absolutely necessary that every person, who calls them self a Pentecostal today, understand that the Pentecostal Movement was brought about by God within the Holiness Movement. The holiness people were about 2 million strong in 1906. God had revealed to them a second work of Grace which many called Heart Purity, Second Blessing Holiness, Perfect Love, among other names. A hundred and fifty years earlier John Wesley had been one of those few believers, at the end of the "dark ages," to receive a revelation concerning the experience of Perfect Love and Heart Purity, through working of the Holy Spirit.
Parham's Topeka, Kansas holiness college and later the Azusa Street people were led further. It was divinely revealed to them that the second blessing holiness experience was a doorway to more. And the next experience was the immersion in the Holy Spirit of God, and the gift of being empowered to pray in a manner that was totally directed by God's Spirit. This new level of prayer would always be in God's perfect will. This deeper level released the believer into the School of the Holy Ghost where unlimited growth in God was possible. The gift of tongues proved to be a doorway to many other gifts and callings of God. The Topeka and Azusa groups were convinced that God wanted to totally in dwell those who sought for all the fullness of God, and that this could happen at the same levels as had been experienced in Jerusalem in 33 A.D.
By the way, about ten small holiness denominations did come into the Pentecostal movement. Two of these holiness denominations, still around today, are the Pentecostal Holiness denomination and the Church of God Cleveland Tennessee. These two have kept the original Azusa Street belief in Entire Sanctification and tarrying for the fullness, even to the present. However, Bresee's denomination, and the bulk of holiness people, have thus far adamantly denied that there truely is anything to the revelation that the Azusa Street movement proclaimed. And to this day they warn their people to stay away from the Azusa position, believing it to be a dangerous false teaching.
The Azusa Street movement was used by the Lord to produce 11,000 denominations and millions of converts, world-wide, in less than a generation! At first many of the groups and denominations hardly knew each other! A large number of the groups were directed by the move of the Holy Spirit. Those that kept the original beliefs of Azusa Street didn't need man's coordination, and didn't coordinate until years later. They were simply Divinely led.
The original, pure Azusa Street movement grew unbelievable from 1906 to 1915. Truly the original doctrine prospered far better. In fact from 1916 to 1947 there was a slow down, compared to the first nine years. I believe that slow down came as a direct result of the removal of Entire Sanctification from the foundation of the movement. Read below about those first, amazing nine years!
"'By 1908, the movement had taken root in over 50 nations. By 1914, it was represented in every American city of 3,000 or more, in every area of the world, from Iceland to Tanzania, and Pentecostals were publishing literature in 30 languages.'
By 1909 Pentecostalism had also spread as far as China through missionaries connected with Azusa Street. By 1909 the Pentecostal revival had also prospered in South Africa, as previously mentioned, under John G. Lake, and in central Africa the revival had taken root by 1915 through English missionaries. Pentecostal manifestations appeared in Chile in 1909, as previously noted, and also in Argentina, and then in Brazil in 1910 though two young Swedes from the United States, Daniel Berg and Gunnar Vingren." http://www.immanuels.org/ministries/pastors_pen/doctrinal_writings/floods/chapter_11.htm
In 1910 and 1911 we see the first hint of men over-ruling the direction of the Holy Spirit. A group split off, doctrinely, rejecting Entire Sanctification as a second crisis experience, and also moving away from inter-racial worship. This splinter group would later produce the Assemblies of God, and the Four Square Church. Then the split off group had two groups split from it. These split off groups from the Assembly of God came against the Doctrine of the Trinity. They believed only in Jesus. They called their belief the "Oneness" doctrine. The United Pentecostal Church is one of those Oneness denominations that still exists today. They still reject the belief in a Triune God. Thankfully the Assembly of God rejected the false "oneness" teaching.
But the loss of Entire Sanctification did not, at the time, appear to take a major toll on the movement. The Assembly of God went on to grow into the largest denomination within the movement. I don't believe anyone thought there was any connection between dumping Entire Sanctification and the forming of two heretical groups. But it is my opinion that there was a connection. It is my opinion that Entire Sanctification is essential as a preparation for more of God. It is essential for believers to have the fruit of the Spirit before they receive power. Power without purity is a catastrophe in the making.
The Assemblies of God quickly became the largest group in the new movement. It's leading numbers sealed the disappearance of Sanctification as a second work of grace from most of the Pentecostal scene. It is my belief that the Assemblies of God had some very solid people in the beginning who kept their experience vital. But slowly, ever so slowly, the loss of the teaching of heart purity, perfect love and holy living, which bloom out of Entire Sanctification began to take a toll.
The Pentecostals in the pew and some in the pulpit forgot all about the Movement's roots. They lost the mighty truths that had been revealed by God within the Holiness movement. The emphasis began to shift from the Giver to the gifts, and from the fruit of the Spirit to manifestations and miracles. Some people within the movement began to experience spiritual pride and superiority over groups and churches who were not aware of, or accepting of the "full gospel" message.
By the 1960s and 70s there were even some who called themselves Pentecostals who would covertly infiltrate non-Pentecostal churches. They would start a Bible study and begin to try and lead people into the gift of tongues. If they were able to get a group going they would sometimes vote out the leadership of the church and establish a Pentecostal church. Or, if they couldn't do that they would split off part of the church. Sometimes they would clean out the organ, furniture and bank accounts leaving a perplexed non-Pentecostal denomination with an empty building. Authentic Pentecostals know that God never subverts, never forces, never deceitfully infiltrates. That is not God's way. The loss of Entire Sanctification from mainstream Pentecostalism did something outrageous to the purity of part of the Movement.
The truly vital saints in the Assembly of God, by the Spirit of God began to foresee bigger problems to come. A saint from the 1950s tells me that the senior saints of that era were warning their fellow believers that the Movement's desire to become acceptable and respectable was not a Heavenly goal. Instead, they warned that the direction of the biggest denomination and most popular part of the movement was heading for serious spiritual cooling. They foresaw that the Holy Spirit, Himself, was going to be by-passed as the leader of the Movement. I think you can catch a hint of this in a quote from an old time Assemblies preacher. The old preacher notices that there has been a spiritual decline. Here is that quote from 1998:
** AT NEARLY 90, HE'S STILL "PASTOR CAMPBELL"
W.E. Campbell of Houston, Mo., has been a Pentecostal preacher since 1932, has memorized vast portions of the Bible, and still pastors Peace Chapel A/G a congregation of 60. At the age of 89, he is one of the oldest A/G pastors still in the pulpit.
"I figure on preaching as long as the Lord gives me strength," he says. "At every business meeting I tell them to get a younger pastor, but they put me back in." Campbell never went to college, but knows the Word inside and out. "I've memorized quite a bit so I can quote it," he says, rattling off several Psalms in their entirety.
In the 1930s, Campbell says people spent more time TARRYING in prayer than today, and experienced the power of God.
"It was common for many people to be slain under the power of God," he says. "We would stay all night in prayer. Now we still have moves of the Holy Spirit, but maybe not like then."
Campbell is still working for the Lord in his rural church, preaching under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
"God has brought me this far, and like I say when I pray, as long as He gives me strength, I'll use it for His glory," he says.
--the "Pentecostal Evangel"
--------------------------In the United States, at least, Pentecostalism's largest communion was able to wash itself of the "holy roller" stigma. One of the by-products of getting free from the "holy roller" image was a growing embarrassment of those days when people fell under the power of God and/or uttered ecstatic prayers and praise in languages unknown. The embarrassment was dealt with in two ways. Today when you step into many Pentecostal Churches only the name on their sign gives you a hint that they are Pentecostal. Their Sunday morning service is no different from a non-Pentecostal church! They dealt with their embarrassment by emulating non-pentecostal worship styles.
Another way the embarrassment problem was dealt with happened in smaller and independent Pentecostal groups. They tried to avoid any temptation toward the first solution by attempting to excel in all things thought Pentecostal. When you step into this kind of extreme congregation you find yourself in a place that makes many very uneasy. People are called out of the congregation, on the cuff, to be ministered to, actually to be embarrassed. You don't want to be a visitor in a church like that! Visitors are fresh meat for MINISTRY. Shy people are frightened to go to churches at this opposite extreme, while certain kinds of extroverts are attracted to these extremely "put you on the spot" churches.
How did this happen? Why is it that many Pentecostal Churches today are so different from their "Azusa Street" heritage, a heritage that Pentecostals so reverently refer to?? They know the name of Azusa Street, but few know the full story of 1906.
About 1940 some in the Movement began to cast off the practice of tarrying or waiting on God for the fullness of the Spirit. And when they began to make that change and to teach that new doctrine, they inadvertently rejected another core belief from Azusa Street!
The new doctrine taught that the Apostles tarried once and for all, and now the Holy Spirit has arrived on Earth. All the believer has to do is believe and receive...and you get it, the fullness of the Spirit of God. As that teaching has spread, the quality of the Baptisms in the Spirit and the moving of the Holy Spirit of God has ebbed in the United States and Canadian Pentecostal churches. I cannot speak of the rest of the World since I am only familiar with North American Pentecostalism. Also holy living has become a more and more liberally interpreted thing. I believe this is because Sanctification was removed early on in mainstream Pentecostalism.
My question is, Did they need to change their doctrine? When you read the articles and teachings of modern Pentecostals today you hear a very strong, resounding denial of the validity of tarrying for the fullness of the Spirit. And, you hear VERY, VERY LITTLE about holy and pure living. Many say that tarrying for the Spirit is totally against what the Bible teaches.
Paul had to fast and pray three days before he received the fullness. The Centurion, Cornelius, at Caesarea prayed so long for something more that God finally sent an angel to tell him that God had heard his prayers and that he was to call Peter to come and preach at his home. Then his household received the fullness. The whole city of Samaria had a great revival under the Spirit-filled preaching of Philip the evangelist. But no one received the Baptism. Not one received in Samaria until Peter and John arrived. It is at that point we read of one man who wanted to buy the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with money. He certainly needed to tarry for awhile.
I want you to see for yourself some of the background concerning the early days of the Pentecostal movement. I think you will be surprised how different the original Pentecostals were compared to we in the movement today.
"It is a continual upper room tarrying at Azusa Street. It is like a continual camp meeting or convention. All classes and nationalities meet on a common level. One who came for the first time said, 'The thing that impressed me most was the humility of the people, and I went to my room and got down on my knees and asked God to give me humility.'"
"The altars are filled with seekers. Sometimes the meetings go on all night. People are slain under the power of God and sanctified or rise up speaking in new tongues. In the meetings, you see the holy joy of the Lord in the countenances, and people are melted in the presence of the Lord, filled with His praise."
"We acknowledge Christ only, His truth, His Word. We must tarry much before Him. We must acknowledge that He is in our midst, walking among the golden candlesticks, pruning, purging. He who moved among the golden candlesticks, is moving in our midst now. We must recognize Him alone as Head over all, and know no man after the flesh. The Spirit of God will teach us, if we keep low in love and humility before Him. Our Lord says, 'I smile upon you, when you are seeking My will, My glory only. There must be no glorying in names or orders or systems, only in Myself alone. All fullness is in me, all power is in My Gospel.'"
"In Toronto, a number have received the
baptism. Bro. O. Adams went there from Los Angeles. He had not yet
received his Pentecost, but told them about what God had done in Azusa
Mission and other places. They went right to tarrying
before God. A company stayed after meeting to pray through and the
Spirit fell and three were filled with the Holy Ghost."
In a short time God began to manifest His power and soon the building could not contain the people. Now the meetings continue all day and into the night and the fire is kindling all over the city and surrounding towns. Proud, well dressed preachers come in to 'investigate.' Soon their high looks are replaced with wonder, then conviction came, and very often you will find them in a short time wallowing on the dirty floor, asking God to forgive them and make them as little children.
It would be impossible to state how many have
been converted, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost. They have
been and are daily going out to all points of the compass to spread
this wonderful gospel. ""
"PENTECOST IN SAN DIEGO.
San Diego, Cal., Nov. 28th.
"We are praising God for victory in San
Diego. Bro. Love and I came down here last Thursday to see if the Lord
was preparing to take out a people for Himself in this city by the
sea. On arriving in the city, we were not long in finding my old friend
and brother, Geo. Reilly, who was earnestly tarrying
for the Pentecost. We appointed a meeting at his house the same night
and he was gloriously baptized with the Holy Ghost and spoke with
tongues. We met again the next evening and two more received their
Pentecost with Bible evidence. Hallelujah! The Lord had already laid it
upon Bro. Reilly to open up a mission on this line. He had secured the
building and we had it ready for service by Saturday night. The people
came out and nearly filled the seating capacity and we had a most
wonderful meeting. Some were justified and sanctified and blessedly
anointed. Interest is increasing. Some falling under the power of
the Holy Ghost and mighty conviction of the people. We believe the
Lord wants Azusa Street Mission duplicated to this city. We expect to
stay here till the Lord says, 'Flee ye to another.' He has showed us
that He has much people in this city. Hallelujah! Pray for us and San
Now I would like to share some quotes from Pentecostal historian Vinson Synan and other sources as well.
"It was inevitable that such a vigorous movement would suffer controversy and division in its formative stages. Though the movement has been noted for its many submovements, only two divisions have been considered major. These involved teachings concerning sanctification and the Trinity.
The sanctification controversy grew out of the Holiness theology held by most of the first Pentecostals, including Parham and Seymour. Having taught that sanctification was a "second work of grace" prior to their Pentecostal experiences, they simply added the baptism of the Holy Spirit with glossolalia as a "third blessing." In 1910 William H Durham of Chicago began teaching his "finished work" theory, which emphasized sanctification as a progressive work following conversion with baptism in the Holy Spirit following as the second blessing.
The Assemblies of God, which was formed in 1914, based its theology on Durham's teachings and soon became the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. Most of the Pentecostal groups that began after 1914 were based on the model of the Assemblies of God. They include the Pentecostal Church of God, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (founded in 1927 by Aimee Semple McPherson), and the Open Bible Standard Church."
A more serious schism grew out of the
"oneness" or "Jesus only" controversy, which began in 1911 in Los
Angeles. Led by Glen Cook and Frank Ewart, this movement rejected the
teaching of the Trinity and taught that Jesus Christ was at the same
time Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and that the only biblical mode of
water baptism was administered in Jesus' name and then was valid only
if accompanied with glossolalia. This movement spread rapidly in the
infant Assemblies of God after 1914 and resulted in a schism in 1916,
which later produced the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and the
United Pentecostal Church." --Vinson Synan
"This first wave of Pentecostal pioneer
missionaries produced what has become known as the "Classical
Pentecostal Movement" with over 11,000 Pentecostal denominations
throughout the world. These continued to proliferate at an amazing rate
as the century came to an end. In retrospect, the pattern established
in South Africa was repeated in many other nations as the movement
spread around the world. That is, an enterprising Pentecostal pioneer
such as Lake [John G. Lake] broke
the ground for a new movement which was initially despised and rejected
by the existing churches. This phase was followed by organized
Pentecostal denominational missions efforts which produced fast-growing
missions and indigenous churches." --Vinson Synan, PhD,
Here's a short quote from a web page about John G. Lake, who God used so mightily:
"Another truth and experience which received
priority was the baptism in the Holy Spirit. As in the early church,
it was expected that people who were born again should also receive
the gift of the Holy Spirit. New believers were prayed with until they
received this blessing. During the first 3 to 4 decades a regular
service was held once a week in every assembly of the AFM called a
"Tarrying Service" where new believers were
prayed with until they were filled with the Holy Spirit. This
explains why very few of the members in the church during the first
decades were not baptized in the Spirit."
READ MORE ABOUT JOHN G. LAKE at this URL:
The following quote is so very, very important. This quote from the Encyclopedia of Religion and Society exposes the issue that has truely plagued, distorted and harmed the Pentecostal Movement, in a very sad way!
"One of the main cleavages in the
pentecostal movement was between those who adhered to a Wesleyan
Holiness view of the doctrine of sanctification and those who adopted
a non-Wesleyan ("Reformed") position. Early pentecostalists working
within the Holiness tradition as modified in the Fire-Baptized Holiness
Movement saw baptism of the Spirit as the third step in the Wesleyan
formula of justification--sanctification. Reformed Pentecostalists,
in contrast, came to see salvation as sufficient, as "a finished work of
grace" that frees the believer from the guilt of sin. Sanctification,
which flows from conversion, is an ongoing process that frees the
believer from the power of sin. Spirit baptism, in this view, is not
dependent upon a "second blessing" assuring sanctification."
Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor
Compared to the auto world Azusa Street Pentecostalism started out as a Checker Taxi Cab, very peculiar, but well built. (For those of you who have not heard about the amazing "Checker" taxi, I can tell you that these cars were often driven a million miles or more before they were retired. They were very soundly put together. But they were considered peculiar by many in appearance.)
However, along the way Pentecostalism modified some of it's beliefs and became a Ford Mustang, eye-catching, glitzy, jazzy, fast, trendy but not of such high quality as before. The change had to do with the rejection of Entire Sanctification as a second work of grace and the dumping of the doctrine of "tarrying" for the Spirit of God that was such a cornerstone of the early days.
The old-time men of God all were strong proponents of tarrying for the in-dwelling of the Spirit of God. Smith Wigglesworth even gives us an example of why tarrying is so important, as one seeks for the fullness of the Holy Ghost:
"I remember being at a meeting where there
were some people tarrying for the Baptism-seeking
for cleansing, for the moment a person is cleansed the Spirit will
fall. There was one man with eyes red from weeping bitterly. He said to
me, 'I shall have to leave. It is no good my staying without I change
things. I have written a letter to my brother-in-law, and filled it with
hard words, and this thing must first be straightened out.' He went home
and told his wife, 'I'm going to write a letter to your brother and ask
him to forgive me for writing to him the way I did.' 'You fool!' she
said. 'Never mind,' he replied, 'this is between God and me, and it
has got to be cleared away.' He wrote the letter and came again, and
straightway God filled him with the Spirit."
The whole purpose of tarrying is not to call the Spirit of God from Heaven, but to prepare the believer's temple to be filled. Just as a husband desires a wife who is in total unity with him, so the Spirit of God seeks to fill those who are made willing, made ready, in full agreement, and cleansed. The tarrying process has a way of raising up unfinished issues to the surface, things that must be dealt with. Below you will read a letter from the very early days telling how a group was tarrying for the fullness, and God brought a man of God along to their aid, because they had some bondage that was blocking the way. I believe their tarrying prayer helped bring the man of God with an answer for them. Then they broke through to the fullness.
"PENTECOST IN LAMONT, OK
"Dear Saints, Greeting!
"Left Los Angeles December 4, and arrived in Oklahoma just one week later, making a few stops on the way. Quite a number were tarrying and waiting for Pentecost when I arrived, but much had to be done before God could pour out His Spirit. The people had been in much bondage. Eating pork, wearing neckties, drinking coffee, and wearing a moustache were taught to be very sinful, and except you were circumcised to these you were lost.
"After about ten days of prayer and holding up the Blood, God begin to break them up and they began to beg pardon of one another and their neighbors. In a short time, in a cottage prayer meeting, God poured out His Spirit in slaying power and nearly all went down, one woman coming through speaking in tongues. God now began to work and souls were saved, backsliders reclaimed, and believers sanctified at nearly every service. The country was stirred for miles around. Some came 100 miles to get Pentecost and healing.
"One woman who had been a Free Methodist was reclaimed, sanctified, and baptized with the Holy Spirit. She speaks and sings in tongues. She began to sing at home in tongues, and her husband got under such conviction he could scarcely do his work, and in a few days came to the altar and was beautifully saved. 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.'"
"The Lord told me to move on, last
Sunday. Meeting closed Sunday night with many seekers at the altar. The
saints will go right on and push the battle."
Tarrying was so important at Azusa Street that they
had a room set aside for that purpose!"Another
upstairs room was designated as the 'tarrying room'. It
was the place where persons went who desired to be baptized in the Holy
Ghost. The 'tarrying room' contained a sign that read,
'No talking above a whisper.'"
William Seymour, the black preacher of Azusa Street, wrote this:
"Dear loved ones, it is not by might nor
by power but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. 'Tarry
ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on
high. John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with
the Holy Spirit not many days hence.' These were Jesus departing
words. May you tarry until you receive your personal
Pentecost. Amen. --WJ Seymour"
When I interviewed a saint who had been discipled by the old time Pentecostals, from the 1920s and 30s, I was told that seekers after the Spirit of God were taught in the following manner:
You must not seek for the fullness unless you are very, very serious. Hebrews 6:4-8 tells us that entering into the fullness of God is a one way trip. Those who later backslide out of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost put themselves in deadly jeopardy of being eternally lost. Determined backsliding out of the fullness is to divorce the Holy Spirit. Such a break terribly grieves the Spirit of God. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a spiritual marriage between God's Spirit and our spirits. Jesus said that there is no forgiveness for sinning against the Holy Spirit. [See Matthew 12:31] Since the Holy Spirit is the carrier of all the graces to the believer, grieving the Spirit by divorcing the Holy Spirit can be fatal. It is like burning the only bridge across a great river. And so for that reason the old-timers counseled seekers to be very, very sure and very serious about receiving the fullness of the Spirit. That is another reason why tarrying for the Spirit of God is important. Those who tarry will discover if they are truly willing and truly ready to die out to the world, the flesh, and the sinful nature.
With the removal of the doctrine of Entire Sanctification and the jettisoning of the practice of tarrying for the Spirit, modern Pentecostalism turned to a "name it and claim it" kind of Spirit Baptism. I remember hearing a pastor of a thousand plus member Assembly of God Church preach about how he sought and sought and sought for the fullness, but he couldn't seem to find it. Then he had a mental breakthrough. All he had to do was make those tongues come forth. So he just did it. He just spoke in tongues. I heard him tell his congregation that this was the secret. A few months after that sermon he left his wife and ran off with another woman, leaving the ministry and returning to a lucrative business he knew in the past. He sought for the gift instead of the Giver! The newer "name it and claim it" Baptism in the Spirit seems to focus more on the gift than on the Giver, more on the tongues than on receiving a heart purified by God, more on outward manifestation than on a heart freshly filled with all of the fullness of God.
I'm concerned because what is commonly defined as Pentecostalism today, in the United States anyway, is a distorted and atrophied mutation of what existed on Azusa Street. I cannot understand why something God orchestrated, that was so wondrous a move from Heaven, needed to have it's foundational underpinnings reformulated.
When I read the history of Pentecostalism I see that something purer, deeper and richer came from what the Holy Spirit did, at that time, than what exists today. The later versions of the movement produce numberous weaklings. Purity, humility and real power have been less apparent. Today God has had to send especially anointed workers amongst us because local churches don't always have enough of God. Hungry Pentecostals must often flock to a mass meeting to witness the move of the Holy Spirit. Or, they have to call in a special speaker with a special anointing, because the local believers have so little anointing. Most Pentecostal churches today are no more empowered than their non-pentecostal brethren.
I am more concerned because I sense that what is practiced as Pentecost today would probably not be recognized by the 120 in the upper room as "that" which worked so miraculously "...in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth," back in the First Century. [See Acts 1:8]
Finally, I'm concerned, because when I read my Bible I can't find one Bible basis, anywhere, to explain why those who came after Azusa Street needed to take it upon themselves to abandon Entire Sanctification and tarrying, or waiting upon the Lord, for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I recognize that some people are more well prepared to receive the Baptism in a moment. But I also recognize that it can take days, months and even years for other people to get all of their issues surrendered to the Lord, that the Holy Ghost might be poured out upon and within a purified temple.
I see no reason in the Bible or anywhere else to throw away the revelations God gave to the Holiness Movement. For it was from that Movement that God Almighty saw a people HE could pour out greater things upon. Holiness seems to be the foundation on which God poured out a fresh Jerusalem move of the Spirit of God. Tarrying for purity and power is a Bible teaching that has always proved itself very rewarding. As I said at the beginning of this essay, Jesus taught "importunity" in the same Scripture passage that HE taught praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit. [See Luke 11:8,13] "Importunity" is equivalent to "tarrying," waiting before God, asking, seeking, knocking. It is outrageous to throw away revelation! Lord, forgive we Pentecostals for being so presumptuous with YOUR truths.
I will not give up my belief that the Bible tells me that Christians seeking more of God need to tarry, seeking to be Sanctified Holy (in order for the fruit of the Spirit to be released). And that they also need to wait or tarry in HIS presence until God deems them ready to be immersed with the overflow of the Spirit, with the evidence of a Heavenly prayer language. That is GENUINE AZUSA STREET PENTECOSTALISM! Yes, and sometimes the Holy Ghost pours unlearned languages of this Earth through lips of clay. My wife prayed in Spanish and Japanese the first time she experienced the overflow of the Spirit of God. Now she has a Heavenly prayer language known only to God.
You can read how my wife and I came into Pentecost here:
Pentecostals Made Me SO MAD!
July 3, 2005 (Last major edit was January 5, 2006. Checking back in May of 2007 I sadly see that many web page references I gave links to have disappeared from their former locations.)