top of page
  • Writer's pictureSteve Starcher

Our Pentecostal Heritage

Pentecostals are children of Azuza Street, baptized in the fire and the wind!



Pentecostals are children of the Azuza Street revival, baptized in the fire and the wind. Listen to the words of this Lanny Wolfe song:


“It wasn’t in a robe of purple that the Spirit of God chose to dwell, and it wasn’t in a sacred temple where the Spirit of God really fell. But in a quiet upper room in Jerusalem, the Spirit came rushing like a mighty wind as the 120 started speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost.


And we’re children of the upper room; we got the power like they did back then. Children of the upper room, baptized with the fire and the wind.


It wasn’t in a great cathedral that the Spirit of God chose to fall. And it wasn’t in a royal palace, nor was it in a governor’s hall. But in a little storefront on the wrong side of town, everybody passing by could hear a heavenly sound; as the Lord started pouring His Spirit out on the folks on Azusa Street.


And we’re children of Azusa Street; we got the power like they did back then. Children of Azusa Street, baptized with the fire and the wind.


Well, it has been about three generations since the Azusa Street revival began. And the fire that started in that little storefront has spread to every land.


Now you can get in this family if you take on his name, go down to the water, and when you come up again, you’ll be feeling the power like they did back then, the folks on Azusa Street.


And we’re children of Azusa Street; we got the power like they did back then. Children of Azusa Street, baptized with the fire and the wind.


We’re children of holiness; we’re children of righteousness; we’re children of godliness; we’re children of faith, children of light!


We’re children of Azusa Street; we got the power like they did back then. Children of Azusa Street, baptized with the fire and the wind, baptized with the fire and the wind!”[1]


Azuza Street was the foundational event for our Pentecostal faith. Although other events of the Pentecostal experience of the Holy Spirit’s baptism occurred early in the twentieth century, Azuza Street launched the movement into headlines and the world. Fortunately, W. J. Seymour’s The Apostolic Faith newspaper exists in several archives to understand its beliefs, aspirations, and the spirituality it spawned. The following citations are from the first edition in 1906.[2]

Azuza Street and Pentecostalism were born in prayer and Bible study seeking “true Pentecostal power.” “Churches have been praying for Pentecost, and Pentecost has come” was the sincere belief of the Azuza Street revivalists. They were not surprised that God chose the little Azuza Street mission for the outpouring of his Spirit. “Jesus was too large for synagogues…The Pentecostal movement is too large for any denomination or sect. It works outside, drawing all together in one bond of love, one church, one body of Christ.”

The Apostolic Faith Movement stood for “the restoration of the faith once delivered unto the saints – the old-time religion, camp meetings, revivals, missions, street and prison work, and Christian Unity everywhere.” They were “not fighting against men or churches, but seeking to displace dead forms and creeds and wild fanaticisms with living and practical Christianity. “Love, Faith, and Unity are our watchwords, and ‘Victory through the Atoning Blood’ our battle cry.”

Jesus “was born in a manger and resurrected in a barn,” the Azuza Street mission. God was “working wonders in this place.” “He recognizes no man-made creeds, nor classes of people.” The “power of God” was falling at Azuza Street and “preparing” the church for the last days and a witness to the world.

In 1906, The Apostolic Faith newspaper contained an extensive section outlining its faith with key supporting scriptures. Topics included repentance, sorrow for and confession of sin, restitution, faith in Jesus Christ, justification, sanctification, baptism in the Holy Spirit, and healing. They believed that for “ages men have been preaching a partial Gospel.” God has raised men “to bring the truth back to the church.” Luther brought back “the doctrine of justification by faith.” John Wesley established “Bible holiness in the church.” “Now he [God] is bringing back the Pentecostal Baptism to the church.” “Be glad, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: For he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain the first month” (Joel 2:23). “He gave the former rain moderately at Pentecost, and he is going to send upon us in these last days the former and the latter rain. There are greater things to be done in these last days of the Holy Ghost.” “God is now confirming His word by granting signs and wonders to follow the preaching of the full gospel in Los Angelos.”

The Apostolic Faith newsletter reflects the spirituality of the first Pentecostals that spawned and now sustain the Pentecostal revival. Their spirituality is consistent with the early Christians found in Luke-Acts. The “Welcome to Christosis” blog post presents the five critical elements of this spirituality, “1) prayer; 2) reading, listening, and obeying Holy Scripture; 3) the continued presence and ministry of Jesus through the Holy Spirit; 4) victorious spiritual warfare and signs and wonders, 5) the expectation of the return of Jesus and the establishment of the kingdom of God.” Let’s compare the narrative of Azuza Street with Luke’s description of events in the first chapters of Acts.

After the ascension of Jesus, the disciples returned to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place,” in the upper room where they were staying (Acts 1:12; 2, NRSV).[3] They “were constantly devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). The Pentecostals of Azuza Street were “praying for Pentecost.”

Luke goes to great lengths in Acts to show the disciples’ presence in Jerusalem resulted from following a commandment from their Lord, the incarnate Word. “While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5). Reading, listening to, and obeying Holy Scripture, the written word, the Azuza Street Pentecostals believed they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, “for the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:39). “Churches have been praying for Pentecost, and Pentecost has come.” The Azuza Street Pentecostals always presented their faith with supporting scriptures.

Luke is explicit about the relationship between his Gospel and Acts. “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen (Acts 1:1-2, NIV).[4] The purpose of Acts is to show that the ministry of Jesus continues in his disciples filled with the Holy Spirit. The Azuza Street Pentecostals believed that Jesus “was born in a manger and resurrected in a barn,” the Azuza Street mission. The “power of God” falling at Azuza street was a sign of the continuing ministry of Jesus as he prepared “the church for the last days and a witness to the world.”

Jesus promised that the coming of the Holy Spirit would empower the disciples to be “witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). They would continue his ministry (Acts 1:1-2). While going to the temple to pray, Peter and John encountered a beggar crippled from birth asking for alms. Peter said to him, “But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:6-8).

Following the healing of the beggar, the priests, temple guards, and Sadduccess arrest Peter and John and question their Gospel and miracle (Acts 4:1-2). Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly answers them. “Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 4:10). Peter, the disciple who was once fearful of the possible results of answering a question from a servant-girl (Luke 22:56-57), now exudes the Holy Spirit confidence prophesized by Jesus. “When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).

Confronted with the reality of a miracle and Peter’s Spirit-inspired defense, the captors gave Peter and John a warning and released them. They returned to their faith community and prayed for continued victory over the opponents of the Gospel. “And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” Acts 4:29-31). The first Christians witnessed the continuing ministry of Jesus in their midst by signs, wonders, and victorious spiritual warfare. Azuza Street Pentecostals saw God “confirming His word by granting signs and wonders to follow the preaching of the full gospel in Los Angelos.”

Jesus prepared the Apostles for his departure. “After his suffering, he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Jesus understood that they believed his life and ministry signaled the fulfillment of the hope of Israel, that God would establish his rule over all the earth. He had taught them to pray for the coming kingdom (Luke 11:2). In response to the Apostles’ question if the kingdom would arrive after their coming Spirit baptism, Jesus, “replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 6-8). God’s kingdom would not arrive by military power or political force but by the proclamation of the Gospel and the transformation of lives by the Holy Spirit. God’s kingdom is present in the person of Jesus and his ongoing ministry. Jesus “is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38).

The Azuza Street Pentecostals believed God was “bringing back the Pentecostal Baptism to the church” to do “greater things” … in the “last days” before the coming of the promised kingdom of God upon the earth. The spirituality of the Azuza Street Pentecostals mirrors the spirituality of the first Christians described in Luke-Acts. Both display five critical elements of spirituality, 1) prayer; 2) reading, listening, and obeying Holy Scripture; 3) the continued presence and ministry of Jesus through the Holy Spirit; 4) victorious spiritual warfare and signs and wonders, 5) the expectation of the return of Jesus and the establishment of the kingdom of God. We should cherish and follow our Pentecostal heritage to renew and sustain the Pentecostal revival in the twentieth-first century. We need to be “Children of Azuza Street,” baptized in the fire and the wind!


[1] “Lanny Wolfe, "Children of Azusa Street," by Hymn Time,” February 20, 2007, https://revnormanburnspresents.bandcamp.com/track/harvestime-songfest-silver-anniversary-07-lanny-wolfe-trio-children-of-azusa-street. [2] Consortium of Pentecostal Archives, "The Apostolic Faith, ” Consortium of Pentecostal Archives, October 6, 2021, https://pentecostalarchives.org/collections/apostolicfaith/index.cfm. [3] All Bible quotations are from the new Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted. [4] New International Version


Bibliography

Consortium of Pentecostal Archives. 2021.“The Apostolic Faith.” Consortium of Pentecostal Archives.” October 6. https://pentecostalarchives.org/collections/apostolicfaith/index.cfm.


Wolfe, Lanny. 2007. “Children of Azusa Street.” Hymn Time.” February 20. https://revnormanburnspresents.bandcamp.com/track/harvestime-songfest-silver-anniversary-07-lanny-wolfe-trio-children-of-azusa-street.

6 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comentarios


© 2022 by The Christosis Network.  All rights reserved.

bottom of page