Understanding several things in the teachings of Christianity
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BELIEVING that the moral issue of abortion is more than a question of the freedom of a woman to control the reproductive functions of her own body; and
BELIEVING that it is rather a question of those circumstances under which a human being may perform the sovereign right of taking the LIFE of another; and
BELIEVING that ALL LIFE is an expression of God’s love, so that neither the life of the unborn fetus nor the mother may be taken lightly; and
BELIEVING that God Himself, in Holy Writ, has told us what our attitude must be towards the unborn through specifically stating in Psalms 139:13, 16, and in Luke 1:31, 32, 33, 41, that He conferred Divine blessing upon unborn infants and provides penalties for actions which result in the death of unborn babies;
The INTERNATIONAL PENTECOSTAL CHURCH OF CHRIST issues this statement of its basic position addressing this subject; and
CONDEMNS in the strongest possible terms the role and influence of the Federal Judiciary which has made it legal to terminate a fetus for no better reason than personal convenience or sociological considerations up to and including the last trimester of pregnancy:
AFFIRMS our conviction that abortion on demand for social adjustment or to solve economic problems is morally wrong, and expresses its firm opposition to any legislation that will legalize abortion for those reasons;
ASSURES the Christian community that at the same time we recognize the necessity for therapeutic abortions to safeguard the health or life of the mother, as for example, the possibility of tubular pregnancies, which are considered by most doctors to be fatal unless terminated;
CALL UPON the committed Christian who may experience other pregnancies, such as those resulting from rape and incest, which may require deliberate termination, to arrive at the decision only after there has been extensive medical, psychological and religious counseling of the most sensitive kind realizing the final decision remains that of the woman, and when such determination has been reached, the individuals involved should not be subjected to censure; and
CHALLENGES our pastors and church leaders to speak out strongly in favor of the Biblical standard that upholds the sanctity of life.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has become the number one public health problem in the world. Currently, there is no cure for AIDS; the disease is always fatal. The Surgeon General of the United States of America has called AIDS “the most serious matter any health official of any nation has ever faced.”
Although there is the urgent need for more education regarding AIDS, education without reference to values ignores the moral dimensions of the problem. Government or private sector programs that subtly advance the idea that AIDS is not anyone’s fault — the virus is to blame — serve only to remove the moral element of the problem by pretending there is none. While there are innocent victims of the disease, the fact remains that in the United States two groups of individuals are the primary victims — homosexual men and drug addicts who share needles. The nexus between immoral behavior and the spread of the AIDS virus is self-evident.
Furthermore, AIDS is first and foremost a public health concern, not a civil rights issue. Hence, any proposed legislation that would confer special “civil rights” on persons afflicted with AIDS, but threaten the health of others, is totally unacceptable. We believe appropriate legislation regarding AIDS would require testing of high risk groups and reporting of those with the disease to the public health officials on the same basis as other sexually transmitted diseases.
But legislation and the best efforts of public health officials have its limits. Our Christian faith offers not only hope for the victims of AIDS, but a realistic way of life that will curb the spread of this tragic disease. For this reason, the International Pentecostal Church of Christ (IPCC) calls upon their constituents to witness the hope that God has provided in Jesus Christ. He is our ultimate source of confidence — not human wisdom or medical science.
We urge therefore, that Christian compassion, not judgment, be extended to victims of AIDS. Judgment is in the hands of our Heavenly Father, who is just and merciful. Seldom has there been such an opportunity to witness of Gods’ forgiveness and salvation
ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, & DRUGS
Why have holiness and Pentecostal churches advocated abstinence concerning the use of alcohol, tobacco, and narcotics (drugs)? Why not allow moderation?
First Corinthians 6:19, 20 has historically been held in high regard by holiness and Pentecostal Christians. ou not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.s and other passages warning against drunkenness have been considered sufficient reason for advocating complete abstinence from the use of alcohol, tobacco, or narcotics. Not only is the human body the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is not to be defiled; but there are other reasons for complete abstinence: (1) contemporary society is plagued with the destructive consequences of these three addictive substances and (2) even moderate use of the substances, especially alcohol and drugs, leads too often to destructive addictive habits.
Alcohol. The Scriptures speak often of the destructive power of alcohol. Noahunkenness brought shame to his family (Gen. 9:20-27). Lotunkenness resulted in an incestuous relationship with his two daughters (Gen. 19:30-38). An inebriated Xerxes sought to humiliate Queen Vashti publicly (Est. 1:9-22). The consumption of alcohol impairs judgment, inflames passions, and invites violence (Lev. 10:8-11; Prov. 20:1, 23:29-35, 31:4,5).
Alcoholism and the depression associated with it often leads to a breakdown of moral inhibitions, indiscreet or violent behavior, or loss of consciousness (drunkenness). Long-term drinking can terminally damage liver, pancreas, brain, or heart. Binge drinking on university campuses has caused instant death. It is estimated there are 14 million problem drinkers in the United States. Half of the fatal automobile accidents are caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. The annual cost of alcohol-related accidents, illness, violent crime, and loss of work time is estimated to exceed 100 billion dollars.
Illegal Drugs. Though drug use is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, its impact on the drug user and on society far exceeds the evil results of alcohol abuse. The addictive nature of certain drugs is so powerful that a single episode can hook an individual for life. Furthermore, the irreversible physical damage to one organs and mental capacities makes drugs extremely dangerous. The greatest danger is the all-consuming control of onefe, constantly interrupting oneযcus on work and destroying personal relationships and spiritual well-being. Beyond the personal toll of drug addiction is the disastrous burden placed on families and society.
Alcohol and illegal drug use are well documented factors in domestic violence, road and work rage, child abuse, suicide, and a variety of other socially destructive behaviors. Alcoholism and drug addiction present a national crisis threatening to destroy the fabric of our society. Paul admonished us to, this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…ilip. 2:5 – KJV) We can be sure that Christ never allowed his mind to be impaired by the intake of substances.
Tobacco. While smoking and chewing tobacco does not impair one dgment nor carry many of the relational side effects of alcohol and illegal drugs, tobacco has now proved to be a primary health concern. Yet young people year after year are becoming hooked on the habit through effective ad campaigns that deceptively associate smoking with maturity and popularity.
For many years the surgeon general of the United States has warned society of the dangers of smoking, even to the point of forcing tobacco companies to place the warning on their products. But not until the casualties of mouth and lung cancer and addiction to tobacco began to increase did people take the warning seriously. When it became evident that non-smokers were becoming victims of diseases caused by inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke, then society began mounting major opposition to the use of tobacco. While medical studies in recent years have shown conclusively that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, the church has long opposed the use of tobacco because it is a habit that is harmful to a Christian testimony as well as to a Christian dy, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
With these realities about alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, the argument for abstinence is well established. The Christian is called to a higher standard of self-control and self-denial concerning those things not beneficial to his physical and spiritual well being. To argue for any level of rate use alcohol, narcotics, or tobacco is to be insensitive to the weight of Scripture and the present perils of our society. Christians realize the pressing need for a pure testimony before our world. As the
apostle Paul said, lage you … in view of Godrcy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God詳 is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God෩ll is good, pleasing and perfect will mans 12:1, 2).
The use of alcohol, narcotics, and tobacco mentioned above exact a heavy toll, not only on the addicted person, but also on all of society. Drug abuse can make an addict incapable of being a productive individual in the larger society, thus increasing the financial burden on the rest of society. Medical treatment for injuries and illnesses caused by the addictions further consumes resources that could be put to much better use. And as drug abuse often leads to criminal activity, society pays a double cost in added insurance and law enforcement costs. We call upon all of society to fight these addictive substances used by Satan to keep individuals in bondage to his power over their lives. We also call upon all International Pentecostal Church of Christ Churches to reaffirm our teachings on these addictive substances.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.
Permission to adapt position papers has been granted by the Assemblies of God to the International Pentecostal Church of Christ.
WHEREAS, Gifts of the Holy Spirit have been manifested by members of the historic Christian churches and such members have been allowed and sometimes encouraged to practice their beliefs within their respective denominations; and
WHEREAS, Some Charismatic groups have expressed an interest in fellowship and dialogue with the International Pentecostal Church of Christ; and
WHEREAS, We recognize that no existing organization fully represents the body of Christ; and
WHEREAS, We do not believe that for all true Christians – whether Pentecostal in doctrine and practice or not – to align themselves to an existing organization or a new one, will bring the unity of the Spirit; and
WHEREAS, We remind ourselves that relationships are built on agreements rather than on disagreements; and
WHEREAS, Excesses in practice of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit cannot be traced to any one segment of God’s Kingdom; and
WHEREAS, No corporate position of the International Pentecostal Church of Christ will meet the intricate circumstances of each local church and her situation;
THEREFORE, We the Policy and Finance Committee recommend that each local church scrutinize her own particular situation and set of circumstances and to evaluate her relationship and response to the Charismatic movement in true Christian love.
DIVESTITURE OF INVESTMENTS IN ISRAEL
Whereas, the International Pentecostal Church of Christ has historically been supportive of the State of Israel, and
Whereas, a number of the denominations of the World Council of Churches are encouraging the economic divestment from the Israeli-Palestinian disputed territory, and
Whereas, the crusade to divest in Israel is a blatant discriminatory assault against Jews and their nation. The end result of such a one-sided view of the occupation, the recommendation for divesting from businesses that transact business with the Jewish State, is no more than a form of collective economic punishment for nearly half of the Jews of the world and the Arab citizens who live in Israel. The history of boycotts against Israel demonstrate harm done to Jewish people across the world, making divestiture an anti-Semitic act, and worsens the level of poverty among Jew and Palestinian alike, and
Whereas, organizations urging divestment have taken no comparable action against Palestinian violence and have demanded no real concessions from the Palestinians. At best, they presume a moral equivalency between the indiscriminate terrorist violence against civilian men, women, and children and the effort of a free nation to protect itself by the pursuit and punishment of those who commit terrorist acts, and
Whereas, Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. In singling out Israel, these organizations are opposing the only democracy in the region and encouraging extremist Islamic terror states and homicide bombers by rewarding the senseless slaughter of innocents. Such organizations stand by silently when leftist, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and anti-democracy nations like North Korea, Libya, Sudan, Cuba or Belarus commit untold horrors, and
Whereas, divestiture effectively blames the Israelis for Palestinian slaughter of civilians by asserting that the occupation is the “root” of terrorism. This ruse ignores the reality that the Palestinian leadership opted for murder and violence as the tactic of choice well before there was any occupation, and that the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad have vowed to continue murdering Jews after the occupation ends, as long as the Jewish state exists. Some resolutions effectively call for the end of Israel by insisting on “the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.” This is a well-known disguise for turning Israel from a Jewish state into an Arab state with a Palestinian majority, and
Whereas, Christians who take a stand against Israel have lost the historic perspective that God gave Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their seed, who make up the Jewish people, an eternal covenant in Genesis 13 and Genesis 15, that the land of Israel would be theirs forever.” To oppose Israel is opposing what God has called His own inheritance and those people He calls the apple of His eye. Christianity acknowledges its foundation in Israel and the Jewish race. It was the Jewish people who gave to Christianity the Word of God, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the Image which gave us our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED
That the International Pentecostal Church of Christ recognizes the Biblical and historic right of Jews to their land and urges its churches and Christians everywhere to disregard any effort which may weaken the nation of Israel, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED While we acknowledge that Israel is a nation of people who are not perfect, we reiterate our support for the State of Israel to protect its right of self-governance and its existence which is the true target of extremists. We also submit that the existence of this democratic state in the region is not only good for Israel but also best for all people in the world.
Gambling is an activity which has gained a high level of acceptance in today’s society. Because of this fact, a Christian is pressed to view this activity in an effort to determine it’s acceptance or rejection in the life style of the Christ follower.
Gambling – What is it?
Gambling is any activity in which wealth changes hands, mainly on the basis of chance, involving notable risk on the part of the participant. It will be helpful to recognize three factors about gambling: 1) an incentive consisting of merchandise or money is offered, 2) the prize is acquired primarily on the basis of chance, 3) a payment of money or other consideration is required to become involved in the chance taken.
Gambling – What does the Bible say?
Obviously gambling involved little activity by God’s people in Bible days. Therefore it is not possible to find a direct command of Scripture such as, “Thou shalt not gamble.” Even though there is an absence of the direct command, there are numerous Scriptural principles that clearly indicate the evils of gambling.
- Gambling is evil because it is a disregard for Scripturally, responsible stewardship. (Parable of Talents – Matthew 25:14-30)
- Gambling is evil because it involves a chance of gain usually at the expense and suffering of others, thus failing to glorify God. (I Corinthians 10:31; Romans 6:16)
- Gambling is evil because it disregards the work ethic of Scripture. (Proverbs 12:11; II Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 28:20; 13:11)
- Gambling is evil because it is habit forming. (Galatians 5:23; Romans 6:16)
Gambling – What is the Christian Responsibility?
Anyone who chooses to live a life that will bring glory to God, honor to His church, and conformity to the Scripture will refrain from gambling activity in any form. Whether the practice is designated to raise revenue for charity, church or state it is avoided by the serious follower of Christ.
BELIEVING that the Bible speaks out strongly in condemnation of sin and unrighteousness in all forms; and
BELIEVING that the Scriptures explicitly pronounce judgment on sexual deviance, namely, the book of Romans, chapter one, which refers to the guilt of mankind expressed in shameful worship, perverted passions and corrupted minds; and
BELIEVING that increased public tolerance of homosexuality can be attributed to various factors, including the acceptance of moral relativism and the contraceptive ethic which separates sex from any natural or necessary connection to procreation thus serving to promote the legitimization of homosexual activity; and
BELIEVING that whether the result of moral laxity, social acceptability or physiological change, the number of homosexuals seems to be increasing to the point that both men and women belong to this identity, now, according to published statistics in the literature, equal or exceed twenty percent (20%) of our total population; and
BELIEVING we must always be cognizant of the fact that all men regardless of their sins need God’s redeeming love as expressed in Jesus Christ;
The INTERNATIONAL PENTECOSTAL CHURCH OF CHRIST issues this statement of its basic position addressing this subject, and
AFFIRMS that the infallible Word of God condemns homosexuality and believes this means of consensual activity between members of the same sex is not open for debate;
CONDEMNS the role and influence of the Federal Judiciary in the legitimization of homosexual conduct in the American society;
CALLS UPON professionals within our community for expanded research on the subject and urges our churches to extend the healing ministry to individuals who seek deliverance from this perversion and desire to feel the expression of God’s love and grace as demonstrated by a caring body of believers.
A need has surfaced among us for a straight-forward, scripturally sound response to the ever increasing extreme position of the confession doctrine, either positive or negative, as it relates to the believers in Christ.
We as Pentecostals have, from the beginning, embraced what we term as the Life of Faith. It is the theme of our teaching and preaching. It is the message of our song. It is the expression of our worship.
The writer to the Hebrews points out that without faith it is impossible to please God. Then he describes faith as believing two things – that God is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
All the blessings which God has for His people are received through faith. Salvation (Acts 16:31), holiness of heart (Hebrews 12:14; Acts 26:18), baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-17), divine preservation (I Peter 1:5), inheritance of the promises which include healing and provision of material needs (Hebrews 6:12, Hebrews 1:35,36), and motivation for witnessing (II Corinthians 4:13) are among the many provisions of God’s grace.
Today, as in every generation, it is important for believers to be mindful of the example in Scripture of being strong in faith (Romans 4:20-24). They must be on guard against anything which would weaken or destroy faith. They need to pray for its increase (Luke 17:5) and constantly seek to cultivate it through reading the Word of Romans 10:17). The life of faith is the life of victory (I John 5:4).
Now then, the fact that these extremes are brought into view does not imply a rejection of the confession doctrine. It is a vital, Scriptural truth. The Bible teaches people are to confess their sins (I John 1:9). Confession of our faults (shortcomings and failures) to one another (James 5:16). They are to confess Christ (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9,10). They are to maintain a good confession (Hebrews 4:14;:23, ASV).
But when people, in emphasizing a doctrine, go beyond or contrary to the teachings of Scripture, they do not respect that doctrine. Rather, they bring reproach upon it. Therefore, it is necessary to focus attention on these extremes and point out their conflict with the pure Word of God.
Some inconsistencies of the teachings of the Confession Position –
Confession is described as affirming something which is both spoken and believed. The view goes further in that the confession is divided into the negative and the positive. The negative is to confess the undesirable, while the positive is to confess the pleasant. The implication simply is that the unpleasant can be avoided by refraining from negative confession. The desirable can be realized by positive confession. By this often spoken mind-set on the part of the believer he is assured of a complete set of desirable circumstances. He will be sick only if he confesses he is sick. This view would suggest that God wants all believers to wear 5th Avenue suits and drive Lincoln Continentals. They are to enjoy the best of everything while knowing or experiencing nothing about hardship or suffering. This position is contrary to the Scriptural mandate of II Timothy 3:12.
It is not difficult to understand why people would readily embrace this confession teaching, since it promises a life free from hardships and trouble. The problems show through however, when it simply doesn’t work. When believers take Scripture out of context and ignore the hermeneutical correlation necessary to support a doctrinal issue, the teaching comes apart at the seams.
When believers consider and study the faith life and the victorious life which God has made available for His followers, it is important to find a balanced Scriptural support system for his position doctrinally.
The conclusion then is that any doctrine worthy of the believers embrace must be in harmony with the total teaching of God’s Word. Any doctrine built on a lesser foundation will only do harm to the cause of Christ.
Most of the mainline Pentecostal denominations have published statements and position papers on this subject. One of the better and more detailed is a pamphlet published by the Assemblies of God, “The Believer And Positive Confession,” Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, Missouri 65802.
REGISTRATION AND VOTING
Since presidential and congressional elections this year will determine the political philosophy that will guide the nation for years to come; and
The character of the Federal Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, will likely be shaped by the one occupying the Oval Office for the next four years; and
Issues of religious liberty and traditional values are at stake in this election; and Christ followers are called upon by their Lord to be the salt of the earth;
It therefore becomes imperative that Christians vote. The INTERNATIONAL PENTECOSTAL CHURCH OF CHRIST strongly urges its membership on both the clergy and local church level to register and vote in the upcoming national, state and local elections.