Understanding the Articles of Faith

A. AMPLIFICATION

Introduction – Historical

The first four paragraphs in our “Articles of Faith” together with number 6 as it now appears in the present arrangement were incorporated into our Discipline(Manual) in 1929 under the above title. The remaining paragraphs of our present Articles of Faith were then carried under the title “Basis of Union,” and constituted our statement of faith in 1911, upon the mutual acceptance of which the Fire-Baptized and Pentecostal Holiness Churches consolidated in that year.

In the 1941 General Conference, steps were initiated calling for a vote of the local churches authorizing the grouping of the Articles of Faith and Basis of Union under one heading as “Articles of Faith,” with a renumbering of the section accordingly and the removal from it of any item not specifically an article of faith. The vote was duly taken as provided in “Changes in Articles of Faith,” and at the 1945 General Conference the said changes were incorporated into the Discipline.

The first four of these Articles are the same in substance as the first four “Articles of Religion” (of which there are twenty-five) of the Methodist Church, which are, in turn, substantially the same as those adopted, with slight variations, by John Wesley from the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England.

Hence, it will be seen that in the great, basic fundamentals of our faith, we stand upon common ground with a vast element of the Christian Church. In fact, our teachings about God; Christ; the Holy Spirit; about sin and the atonement; the birth, death and resurrection, ascension and coming again of Christ are in line with the great stream of doctrine and theology as stated in the various creeds and articles of faith of the evangelical Christian Church through the ages, embodying as they do the great doctrinal statements that issued from the Protestant Reformation and the Wesleyan revival. In fact, some of our Articles are similar in thought, and in some instances identical in word, with certain sections of the historic Augsburg Confession. This is particularly true of the first and second Articles.

Moreover, they expand and elucidate the doctrinal tenets as set forth in the Apostles’ Creed. This statement is particularly applicable to the first four of our Articles. It is in the next nine that our doctrinal distinctives appear more definitely.

We shall comment upon our Articles of Faith by paragraph as they are numbered in the Manual. Please read carefully all Scripture references in the order given.

1. God and the Trinity

We are Trinitarian, as opposed to Unitarian, in our faith. We do not believe in “three Gods” as the Unitarian, or “Jesus only,” teaching maintains that we do; but we believe there are “three persons, of one substance, of eternal being, and equal in holiness, justice, wisdom, power, and dignity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Not three Gods, but one God, subsisting in three persons, the Trinity in unity (Matthew 3:16, 17; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 5:7).

2. Christ

We believe in the incarnation of Christ through the virgin birth, which we hold without question, as written in the Word of God (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:26-35). We believe He was a perfect, sinless human being in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9), that He was very God and perfect man. We believe He lived a sinless life and died upon the cross as an all-sufficient atonement for our sins, for our personal transgressions and also for original sin.

3. Christ’s Resurrection

We believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, in His triumphant ascension into heaven, and that He (in His glorified body, as a complete human being, with all things appertaining to the perfections of man’s nature) now sits at the right hand of heaven’s Majesty until He shall return to judge the world at the last day. Perfect, sinless humanity is at the heart of the moral universe, participating in the government of creation and interceding for His saints, until He shall come to judge the living and the dead in the end of the age (Luke 24:1-7; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

4. The Holy Spirit

We believe the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God. We believe the Holy Ghost – or Holy Spirit – is a person and that He is the executive agent of the Godhead in the dispensation of grace; that He anoints the preaching of the Word, convicts of sin, and applies the benefits of the atonement; that He is our Teacher, Comforter, and Guide, taking the things of Christ and revealing them to us, glorifying Christ, guiding us into all truth, and showing us things to come; that all of these ministries are based on and function in accordance with the written Word of God (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-11, 13-15).

5. The Holy Scriptures

The International Pentecostal Holiness Church has from its inception believed the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; John 10:35). For many years we carried a statement respecting the Bible in our General Rules. Then, in 1965, the Fifteenth General Conference voted to include the language of paragraph 5 in our Articles of Faith. This action was duly ratified by our local churches.

6. The Future of Believers and Unbelievers

We believe we have eternal life through faith in Christ (John 3:14-16, 36); and that Christ has prepared a place for His own in Heaven (John 14:1-3). This is a “portion of the reward of the righteous,” though “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Dreadful as this truth may seem, we believe, and must so believe because of the consistent teaching of God’s Word, that “everlasting banishment from the presence of the Lord and unending torture (or punishment) in hell is the wages of the persistently wicked” (Psalm 9:17; Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 18:9; 23:33; 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:23-25; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:11-15; 21:7, 8).

7. The Efficacy of the Blood of Jesus

We believe in the efficacy and sufficiency of the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins committed in the past: for the regeneration, or new birth from above, of penitent sinners, and for salvation or deliverance from sin and sinning (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; Acts 20:28; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; Colossians 1:14, 20; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5; 5:9; 1 John 2:1; 3:5-10; 5:18; Romans 6:22; 7:24, 25; 8:1-4).

8. Justification by Faith

We believe, teach and firmly maintain the scriptural doctrine of justification by faith alone (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:4-7). We do not believe that any sort or degree of good works can procure or contribute toward our justification or salvation. This is accomplished solely and exclusively on the basis of our faith in the shed blood, the resurrection, and the justifying righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 4:23-25; 5:1-11, 20; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

But we do believe in good works as a fruit or product of salvation. We are not saved by, but unto, good works (Ephesians 2:10). When we believe on Jesus Christ as our Savior, our sins are pardoned, we are justified, and we enter a state of righteousness, not our own, but His, both imputed and imparted (Romans 4:22, 25; 8:1-4).

9. Cleansing

We believe Jesus Christ shed His blood, not alone for our justification and the forgiveness of actual transgressions, but also for the complete cleansing of the justified believer from all indwelling sin and from its pollution, and this transaction takes place subsequent to (or after) regeneration (the new birth) (Acts 26:18; Ephesians 5:25-27; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:13, 14; 10:10, 14-22; 13:11, 12; 1 John 1:7, 9). This is the negative side of sanctification – the cleansing or taking away of the sin principle – the circumcision of the heart to make it possible for us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul (Deuteronomy 30:6). It is the crucifixion of the “old man” (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22-24; Galatians 2:20), the destruction of the “carnal mind” (Romans 8:5-10), the purging of the fruitbearing branch so “it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2). It is the “cleansing from all sin” – “from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9).

10. Sanctification

Sanctification in the sense of the above cleansing, and in the sense of a complete dedication to God, including a full and unreserved “setting apart” or “consecration” of the life to God, is a definite, instantaneous work of grace, obtainable by faith on the part of the justified believer. (See Romans 5:1, 2: “... justified by faith ... peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice....” Also see 1 John 1:9: “... to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Note also Titus 2:14: “... redeem from all iniquity and purify...” and Acts 26:18: “... forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified.” Also refer to the following Scriptures for those who “are sanctified”: Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6-10; Hebrews 2:11; 10:14; Jude 1).

This is purity and dedication; it is not maturity, but the crisis experience that marks the beginning of the sanctified life, in which there is certainly room for development, progress, and growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). But remember we must get into this grace before we can grow in it.

It is not absolute perfection, not angelic perfection; not “sinless perfection,” if the term is used to imply the impossibility of a sanctified person’s falling into sin. We do not believe it is impossible for the sanctified to commit sin; but we do believe it is possible for a sanctified person not to commit sin (Luke 1:73-75; Titus 2:11, 12; 1 John 1:7; 2:1, 6; 3:5-10; 5:18). We are aware of John’s statement in 1 John 1:8, but these words apply to those who deny the need for cleansing, not to those who have experienced it and are living the sanctified life.

This is Christian perfection – in which we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31); in which we love Christ and keep His commandments (John 14:15), among which is this, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2:1).

The sanctified life is one of separation from the world, a selfless life, a life of devotion to all the will of God, a life of holiness in accordance with Romans 6:22; 12:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 5:23; Hebrews 12:14; James 1:27; and 1 Peter 1:15, 16. It is a life controlled by “perfect love” which “casteth out fear” (1 John 4:16-21).

11. The Baptism With the Holy Ghost and Speaking With Other Tongues

We believe the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire is obtainable by a definite act of appropriating faith on the part of the fully cleansed believer (Luke 11:13; 24:49; Acts 1:5, 8; 2:38, 39).

We believe this great blessing, which provides the enduement of power to witness for Christ, is available to all believers whose hearts are cleansed from sin by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since the Bible teaches that our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) – and that the temple of God is holy, which temple ye (believers) are (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17) – we do not believe God will fill an unclean temple or vessel with His Holy Spirit. In other words, we believe, because the Bible teaches and requires it, that to receive the baptism with the Holy Ghost, a person must have a clean heart and life as a prerequisite for this great blessing. Remember, the blood of cleansing must first be applied, then the oil, which is a type of the Holy Spirit (Leviticus 14:14, 17).

Moreover, we believe that to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power and possession, one must continue to live a clean and consecrated life, free from sin, strife, worldliness, and pride, and must avoid attitudes and actions that tend to “grieve” or “quench” the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:29-32; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

We believe the “initial” (or first) evidence of the reception of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance (John 15:26, 27; Acts 2:1-4; 8:17, 18; 10:44-46; 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12:7). We do not believe this is the only evidence of the Spirit’s baptism, but it is the initial evidence, just as it occurred in the repeated accounts of the Spirit’s outpouring in the Acts of the Apostles. But other evidences will be spelled out in our lives – the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23), power to witness for Christ, power to endure the testings of faith and the oppositions of the world. We believe the initial evidence of speaking with tongues is for everyone who receives the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Spirit, and we distinguish between this initial manifestation and the gift of tongues, which is not given to every Spirit-filled believer.

The International Pentecostal Holiness Church believes in the gifts of the Spirit as set forth by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14. We believe these gifts are “set in the Church” by the Holy Spirit; He retains custody and control of said gifts or “enablements,” distributing or operating them “severally as He will.” And we desire that our people may so live under the control of the Holy Spirit that these gifts may be manifested or used through consecrated individuals in the worship services where, when, and as they are needed, but all to the glory of God and the edifying of the body of Christ, and in accordance with the directions and decorum set forth in the chapters referred to above.

12. Divine Healing

We believe provision was made in the atonement for the healing of our bodies as set forth in the following Scriptures: Isaiah 53:4, 5; Matthew 8:16, 17; Mark 16:15-18; James 5:14-16; Exodus 15:26; to which we would also add Romans 8:26-28. And, while we do not condemn the use of medical means in the treatment of physical disease, we do believe in, practice, and commend to our people the laying on of hands by the elders or leaders of the church, the anointing with oil in the name of the Lord, and the offering of prayers for the healing of the sick.

13. The Second Coming of Jesus

We believe in the imminent, personal, premillennial second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word imminent means the second coming of Christ is near; it is impending, likely to occur at any moment (Matthew 25:29-44; Mark 13:32-37; Titus 2:13).

The word personal means “the Lord himself” shall return (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18); the “same Jesus” who was “taken up into heaven shall so come in like manner” as He was seen to “go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

The word premillennial means He will come before the millennium during which the “blessed and holy” of the “first resurrection” will live and reign with Christ “a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

The second coming of Christ will occur in two stages; the first for the purpose of catching away His saints who are prepared for the Rapture before the Great Tribulation period (Matthew 24:40-44; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 3:10, 11; 4:1, 2); and the second at the end of the Great Tribulation, when He shall come back with His saints to destroy the armies of the Antichrist, to judge the nations of the world, and to inaugurate the millennial reign (Matthew 25:31-33; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-6).

The proper attitude of Christians toward the coming of Christ should be to love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8), watch and pray always to be accounted worthy to escape the things that will come upon the earth during the Great Tribulation (Luke 21:36), pray for His coming (Matthew 6:10; Revelation 22:20), and faithfully “occupy” until He comes (Luke 19:13).

Many signs point to the soon coming of Jesus. The following Scriptures set forth several of these signs: Ezekiel 36 (the return of Israel to her land, etc.); Daniel 12:4; Nahum 2:3, 4; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:25-36; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-8, 13; 4:3, 4; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Peter 2 and 3; and the Epistle of Jude.

14. The Great Commission

The first thirteen of our Articles of Faith state what we believe as a church. Article 14 defines for us “what we are to do about it.” Our Lord’s last command on earth was to charge every believer with the responsibility of taking the gospel to all nations. We can never be content just experiencing God in Christ for ourselves. We must also be actively involved in spreading the gospel to others – to the ends of the earth.

– by Bishop Joseph A. Synan