I have to begin with a confession. When I first came to this particular knowledge, to the Apostolic doctrine, I spent a lot of time studying. Not to understand it. No, I spent a great deal of time trying to refute it. I never outright told anyone, but still, I had to know. I had to find out if these “strange new ideals” were actually the truth or just legalism lying in wait.
Why it couldn’t possibly be right, could it? It went against everything I’d ever learned. Everything I thought was right and proper for Christian living! Everything was different! The way they worshiped, the way they prayed, the way they believed crazy things, some of which I’d never even heard of.
I didn’t even know where to start. It seemed like an entirely new world for me – and it was – so I just started with the basic tenets that I’d heard the most about. Acts 2:38, for example…
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.Acts 2:38
Can I just tell you, this is a loaded Scripture! Yes, it’s just one verse, but OH what a verse it is!
It made sense to me, though, because I knew even looooooong before I’d ever stepped foot inside an Apostolic church. I knew that the way baptism was depicted through church bylaws in certain places, just couldn’t be right. I won’t attempt to claim that I know exactly what they are, denomination by denomination because I don’t. But I’ll tell you one thing right now. I knew it was more than just an “outward expression”.
Turns out, the more I studied it – in my attempt to find the “hole” in the philosophy that I thought I could find – the closer I got to finding out that it was EXACTLY what I’d heard from the Apostolic people I was starting to get close to! Baptism not only really, really mattered, but it served a purpose that you just don’t hear about everywhere.
The same was true for everything that I studied about the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues. I could probably write a book based on my study notes for that alone! Again, not that I claim any kind of self-righteous knowledge. Because I certainly have none. Like everything, I always begin with a very simple prayer. Simple, but gut-wrenching in sincerity…
Lord, if the information I’m being led into is false… if it’s not TRUE to the very core of what Truth is… if it’s not the way You want things to go, then please knock me off this pathway right now! Show me, in Your Word, the Truth behind what these people are saying, or show me in Your Word that it is false, and let there be no variableness or swaying. Convict me, one way or another, with an assurance that rocks me to my very soul!
I expected, soon after saying that prayer for the first time, to find that these things in the Apostolic “doctrine” had holes in it.
But that’s not what happened.
As I began to study, I actually began to find that the Word was rampant in backing it all up. Over the next few months, I extended my study past the Bible alone, looking into history to find out where these other ideas came into play. What I found was amazing, but certainly far too large a scope to cover in this blog post. I touched on it in a blog post I wrote some time ago called, From the Gospel to the Council. But that still doesn’t scratch the surface.
If you are in a place where you’re not sure about bylaws, doctrine, theology and so forth, I can only offer you one piece of advice. STUDY. Use word searches, concordances, and make notes. But before you do any of that, make sure you pray that God will open up the Scriptures to you. Pray for revelation knowledge. And remember a few key things:
Every doctrine should have its BASE in Scripture, not some man-made, watered-down version of “what that verse means”. If something is TRUTH, by Bible standards, you’ll find it in more than one place. For instance, I could easily take one or two Scripture verses out of context and make it look as if the Bible condones killing our children for disobedience. However, closer study reveals that that’s simply not the case. And so it is with many things you’ll find in the Word. That’s why the Bible tells us to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15). YOU study. HE will lead.
Be willing to allow God to correct you about falsely perceived doctrines. “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die” (Proverbs 15:10). AND “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (1 Timothy 3:16). I realized, for far too long, I had itchy ears that rather enjoyed the tickling of easy to digest doctrine. However, Paul warned us about staying on the MILK of the Word: “For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.” (Hebrews 5:13).
In this type of deep study, unless you’ve been a part of the Apostolic faith – the New Testament Church – (not the emotional, charismatic movement that feigns its teaching on loose truth), you can expect to have your foundations shaken. Truly, you MUST build your “house” upon the rock, and not the sand! I am convinced. I refuse double-mindedness. If there’s a hunger you can’t seem to satiate with anything else, I encourage you to begin your own study.
If you want to get started for yourself, try visiting the UPCI website. Scroll down to the “Church and Ministry Locator” and type in your information. Ask about a Bible Study. You’ll be well on your way.