Preserving Apostolic Truth
Preserving Apostolic Truth
by Jasmin Michelle Smith
To understand the importance of preserving apostolic truth, we must start by understanding the true meaning of doctrine. Doctrine can be defined simply as any rule or principle. More specifically, doctrine is a rule, principle, or body of principles taught for acceptance or belief, by a religious, political, scientific, or philosophic group. The Lord has supplied us with very clear doctrine within His Holy Word as the foundation for how we as Christians are to live and conduct our lives.
John 8:31-32 (KJV) – 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 (KJV) – 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
This doctrine – this truth – is provided to us to set us free, save us, and keep us safe, which in turn allows us to become his disciples; sharing the truth with others, leading them to the Lord and a life lived for Him. It is for this very reason that we need to be sure that we not only know the truth, but that we are not quick to forget it or fail to uphold it, that this Apostolic doctrine may be preserved for future generations.
According to David L. Butler, in his book The Last Generation of Truth: The Sectarian Cycle, first generation believers of a religious movement (including our own) receive an understanding of truth that prompts “a genuine (unrestricted) dedication to God, a priority on the things of God, a God-centered piety, […] a continual desire for personal spiritual growth, [… and] a lifestyle in which working for the cause of God is more important that anything else” (p. 57-58).
In contrast, by the third generation, believers are characterized by their “greater dedication to themselves than to God” (p. 74) earning them the title of “the last generation of truth” (p. 17). They develop a spirit of complacency, “compromise certain standards and develop a code of conduct characterized by self-justification [… providing] excuses for diminished aspects of commitment” and ultimately abandoning truth for something that “feels” better to their flesh (p. 77). The doctrine – the foundation our grandparents’ spiritual lives, and their natural lives as a direct result, were built upon – is all but lost by the third generation; a scary thought considering that Apostolic truth is the foundation for everything that is eternal.
It is important to take notice of the shift that occurs between the first and “last” generation of believers in order to combat it, especially within the United Pentecostal Church International, as the majority of our current believers are third generation. We need to be careful to keep God at the forefront of everything we do, to hold truth above all else, and to seek a first generation mindset.
This requires us as second and third generation Apostolic Pentecostals to “press into spiritual dimensions in prayer and fasting,” relinquishing our “personal agendas, plans, desires, and ambitions,” allowing God’s will to reign over our own, in order to grab hold of and maintain a first generation mindset and lifestyle for ourselves (p. 96-97).
Though the truth will never fully die, because God will always seek out individuals hungry for it, we must actively preserve Apostolic Doctrine to protect our own salvation, to remain free, and to continue to bring others into the hope of eternal life that can only be obtained by way of this truth.