Ben's Apostolic Experience
I have your website listed in my "Favorites" on my computer. I would like to share my experiences with you. I too have been victimized by extreme legalistic standards that I felt were unscriptural. Maybe I can help someone else, who may, like me, remain 'Apostolic' in doctrine, but have been freed from unscriptural, traditional restraints.
I did not come up under the extreme ideas of some of the present-day Apostolics. I personally believe that we do have the truth. However, I do not rule out that there are 'saints of God' Sheep, if you will, in other faiths. I was taught this from my childhood. I was taught at my mother's knee, and by even my 'Jesus Name' Sunday-School teachers, that you DO NOT JUDGE other people.
I even heard my Extremist former-pastor, telling a distressed church member, whose loved one died, not in the good graces of the church, "The bottom line is, if they have the Holy Ghost, they are saved."
I received the Holy Ghost in 1964, in Murfeesboro, Il. at the UPCI youth camp. I was baptized in Jesus' Name in Centralia, IL in 1957. For many months, after my initial experience in the Spirit, I was very confused about the Godhead issue. There were some Assembly of God folks who came occasionally to our church. One day, while the Spirit was moving in our church, the lady of this family gave a beautiful message in tongues. I have long forgotten the interpretation, but while she was speaking, I was worshipping, and I had the most beautiful vision in which I saw clouds roll back, and on the far shore I saw the gates of Heaven. I was going through such a terrible trial, in which I had not been able to feel God's presence for many weeks. She was baptized in Jesus' Name a few years later. If we had "set her down" or told her she was lost because of her Trinitarian background, she may never have come in.
Pay attention, here. I sought God for many months on the godhead. I asked him "If it does matter, then show me the way it is. Show me the Truth." The "Holy Spirit" lead me on a "verse chase" through the Old and New Testaments. Verifying that there Is ONE GOD, and His NAME ONE. I am thoroughly convinced for myself, that Jesus' Name is the correct formula. Yet one day many years ago, God pointed a young man I had previously not known at all out to me, showing me that he was 'One of His'. He was an Assembly of God minister. I didn't know him at all. God had spoken similarly to him, concerning me.
I could go on and on with similar stories, concerning Apostolic, and Charismatic people, where God had shown us each other's spirit. God spoke to a young Spirit filled Baptist man concerning a crisis I was going thru. I had never spoken to him on this matter. At this same man's funeral a few months later, God spoke to me that it was well with this young man's soul. I personally saw a miracle in that man's life that was completed at that funeral. Isn't God good?
Oh Praise God for his goodness, His mercy MERCY! David said "His Mercies endureth for ever." Oh God, Bring All of your True people together, Let us see each other's spirit, YOUR Spirit, Only YOU, LORD.
In 1968, feeling a need for 'deeper holiness', I moved to another state, and to a very strict church. I love holiness, I still do, but for different reasons. In time, we were taught that the pastor was the final authority. He was not to be questioned, even if his behavior contradicted his own 'Holiness Standard'. Sometimes, you found yourself being kind of 'shunned' and were told, "You better talk to the pastor." More than once, when working on a project instituted by the pastor, suddenly everyone abandoned it, all except me. I was left "holding the bag." He had told everyone else that it was called off, but not me. Everything was all hush-hush. Everyone was looking at me like I was in disfavor. I was the one who had to call people, with whom the pastor and I and another minister had conferred on this project and I was left to take the blame for cancelling it. The other minister 'blamed' me, for 'obeying my pastor.'
I saw people shunned because they couldn't afford to get their kids a haircut (boys) or their kids came to church in a T-shirt and jeans. (They were too poor to afford better.) I was told I was going to hell, because I had on a short-sleeved shirt. It was a sin to listen to country music, and sometimes, I think it really is, but it was ok to go to Branson or Nashville on a trip with the church group, and listen to it. Double standards. I could talk all day on this. You can't sing in the choir because you need a haircut, but a big tithe payer can get up there with hair to his shoulders, and sing a solo, and is considered a member in good standing. I believe in tithing. It is God's prosperity plan, but I don't think God blesses misused tithes. When a pastor lives in a palace, and more than half of his members are out of work, and eating beans and bologna.......
Being told you can't visit another church because they don't have as good a holiness standard, your church isn't growing, it's shrinking, the preaching has gotten repetitive and dry, the church across town is having runaway revival, reaching people you have been trying to reach for years, but who have been put off by the 'Holier than thou' attitude of your church.
These are the things that have made me reassess my ideas. What is Holiness, anyway? Is it not a condition of the heart? If people truly receive Christ into their lives, isn't God capable of showing them how to talk, act, think, and yes, dress? I think so.
Yours in Christ, Ben
Posted March 4, 2002
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