Church membership : What should be required of members?
There has been an ongoing discussion among Pentecostals in both the Assemblies of God and the Church of God just what should be required of new members. In the days of old, these type cards were common. However, we do not use them anymore.
The question is what should we require? Personally, I think these cards were not strong enough in some areas and weak in other areas, let me explain.
Each candidate for membership shall be expected to give a clear testimony of having been born of the Spirit of God (John 3:5-8), and of have received the Holy Spirit or earnestly seeking to baptized in the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:2-4)
Right out the gate is my biggest problem with these old cards. Salvation is by grace, in faith alone and through Christ alone. However, the question here is not if they should be consider a believer or not but rather a member of the Assemblies of God (in this case). I have problems with the fact that you can be a member of the Pentecostal Church and not have the Pentecostal experience. Earnestly seeking is not cutting it for me. Sorry.
It is expected that each candidate will follow the scriptural command to be baptized in water by immersion in the name of Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)
Understanding this was written in the height of the “new issue” with Oneness Pentecostals, I get the thinking behind it. However, I don’t think it matters if someone is baptized in the name of Jesus or the Trinity. In fact, I personally see the biblical model for baptism to be in Jesus name. I do find it odd that we required you to be water baptized but not Spirit baptized.
The candidate must have a sincere belief in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God and the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
This sounds great but how does one really believe the Word is inspired but by the revelation of the Spirit? We expect people to not be baptized in the Holy Spirit that immunated the Word to believe it is inspired by the Spirit that they have not been baptized in? Honest question.
Association with the church should indicate cessation of worldly practices such as the use of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, narcotics, the practices of gambling, dancing, and attendance at theaters and other places of questionable amusements. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17; Romans 6:4)
This is the area that most people have trouble with it. I do not. We should be set apart. We should be a holy people. We do not do as the world does. There is no reason that a believer in Jesus and baptized in the Holy Spirit should be drinking or smoking anyways. As far as the movies go, 99% of them is trash that we should not feed on as believers. Let’s get real!
The candidate must have a hope and expectancy of the premillenial return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is another area people seem to have trouble. Oddly, they care more about this than they do the people are not even baptized in the Holy Spirit. I do not believe there is room in the Assemblies of God for partial preterism or Amillenialism. I would go as far as drawing a line in the sand for the Pre-tribulation view.
The candidate should develop the practice of daily prayer, Bible study, personal witnessing, and faithful attendance at worship and observance of the sacraments.
Here we are again asking people who might not be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be faithful in prayer and study of the Word? Why? Without the Holy Spirit, both are completely pointless! How can we witness without the Holy Spirit according to Acts 1:8?
At the end of the day, I can’t believe that we had ” earnestly seeking to baptized in the Holy Spirit” on the cards back in the day and we should require people to be filled with the Spirit if we are going to give them the right to vote on issues. Just saying.