THE EVOLUTION OF DENOMINATIONS
Since the day that the church of Jesus Christ was born into existence in 33 A.D. gradual migration from the original gospel has characterized the Christian community. Over time, this migration produced what is known today as “denominationalism”. From approximately 100 years after the death of the apostles, such departure has essentially evolved into two major denominational groupings that have now been in existence for centuries. The first of these is that of ROMANISM which flowered in the 4th century AD and is characterized by a radical deviation from the scriptures in order to formulate a system of doctrines and rituals too numerous to mention but known primarily by its elevation of Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the status of a mediator between God and man, along with a host of dead saints that serve in similar capacity. Although this group regards the Bible as sacred because of its relic value, it holds its leaders and founders to be the ultimate source of spiritual authority instead of the Bible.
The second of these groups is known as CALVINISM. This group originated during the reformation inaugurated by Martin Luther, a contemporary of the theologian John Calvin. It is characterized primarily by selective derivations from the writings of the apostle Paul, particularly the book of Romans, in order to formulate a gospel that circumvents the foundational apostolic message found in the book of Acts in favor of more user-friendly gospel that requires only a generic faith in the blood of Christ in order to be saved. Although most members of this group regard the Bible as the word of God, the majority are unfamiliar with the gospel of the early church and have been unknowingly brought under the far reaching influence of Calvin and his contemporaries.
Although there are many smaller “spin off” groups (or denominations), the theological positiions of these two major groups comprise the doctrinal basis for the vast majority of denominational Christians, including even those who classify themselves as nondenominational. Most members of both of these groups know nothing about the original gospel of Acts, and within the doctrinal parameters of each there is no requirement of true commitment to Jesus Christ. Hence, repentance is only an option, not a necessity, although many of their members truly love the Lord. The character of each group as divergent is easily established by comparing the respective “salvation plan” of each with that taught by the apostles of Jesus in the book of Acts. In one case salvation is dependent on the performance of a variety of complex rituals, while in the other case salvation is obtained merely by verbally acknowledging Christ as Savior (although this may be preceded by optionally reciting the sinner’s prayer). Although scripture is quoted in their respective gospel formulas, an examination of each of these huge groups reveals a significant omission of the original apostolic message.
As diverse as these two groups are, they are linked by a common thread in that they both espouse a polytheistic concept of deity as consisting of a group of three Godpeople known as “the triune God” or “the Holy Trinity”- a concept that carried over from the pre-Christian era- that dramatically opposed the common apostolic view that the almighty God was totally resident in the glorified Christ.
It is important to point out that within both of these groups there are many individuals who truly love the Lord and have a deep desire to know His word. What they HAVE learned only makes them want to know more. These are the people who will be reached by THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM.
FOR DENOMINATIONAL CHRISTIANS ONLY
The cornerstone of the New Testament church was set in place in the four gospels in their account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the rest of the foundation was not established until the apostles launched His church into existence in the book of Acts. The remaining books of the New Testament, as valuable as they are, are not foundational inasmuch as they were written to churches consisting of people who were already saved. Ironically, neither Romanism nor Calvinism regards the book of Acts as anything more than history, with little relevance for the spiritual needs of man in the 21st century. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Because there is a realm of spiritual discovery that can be experienced by those who desire to know and understand God in a way that goes far beyond the boundaries of Romanism and Calvinism. To search the book of Acts is to launch a journey that will revolutionize your understanding of Jesus Christ and what He is doing in the earth today. Indeed, to explore this magnificent book is to transcend basic historical fact and encounter apostolic perspective in such a way as to make you wonder “How did I ever miss this?” and make you want to share it with others. To plumb the depths of the book of Acts is to progressively absorb not only its message, but its passion and intensity, and to realize “This is what God has wanted for me all along!”
There can be no denial that the forces of darkness are global in their intensity and are assaulting the minds and hearts of men with an array of fiction that is in direct opposition to the gospel of the New Testament. The objective is to discredit the Bible and to prevent it from fulfilling the purposes of God. Truly, today is the time for Christians everywhere, of all denominations, to learn and personally experience the truth of Acts.
Will you be one of these?
THE TESTIMONY OF WAYNE HANEY
Wayne Haney was won to the truth of Acts by a simple ad placed in the Thrifty Nickel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM had not been fully developed at the time, but its prototype was used as the means to reach an open heart with the only gospel that saves. Over a period of several months this man was taught the message of Acts 2:38 in a manner that established apostolic truth and revealed denominational error with undeniable clarity.
“I am writing this testimony from a minimum security prison facility in Texas. I openly admit that my past life has been one of sin and lawlessness in the extreme, and although the details of my past are not important, I will candidly say that there is little that I have not done in my pursuit of drugs and the life style that prevails among hard core criminals. Even as I write, I am serving two life sentences- the result of my own lifelong disregard for all that is decent and Godly. But all that has changed, thanks to a God who knew how to reach me when I was at my worst. I give all thanks, praise, honor and glory to Jesus Christ for reaching into a life like mine and revealing truth and saving my soul. I truly believe that if God could save me, He can save anybody.
I grew up in the small oilfield town of Borger, in the North-central panhandle region of Texas. At an early age, I was introduced to conservative protestant Christianity. By early 1972, at the age of 9 years old, I had embraced the teachings of the baptist church. I had recited “the sinner’s prayer” and invited the Lord to come into my heart and save me, and thus became thoroughly entrenched in a gospel of comfort, convenience and easy believism. I was taught, “once saved, always saved” and that the gifts of the Spirit died out with the last Apostle. I held those erroneous views for almost 25 years and fully believed that my salvation was secure, no matter how I chose to live.
Following my assumed salvation experience of 1972, I soon forgot about God as a practical reality, especially during my adolescent years. In my own mind I was “saved” and free to sin as much as I pleased. Looking back, it seems strange that I would feel that way, but that is because of the teaching I had received in my former denomination. In 1980, at the age of 17, I entered the state penitentiary for the first time. I would make 5 more trips to the penitentiary over the next 16 years.
My true conversion experience came about under very unusual circumstances over an extended period of time. It was very clearly the work of God, for as I look back I can see the hand of God orchestrating the entire thing. I am very thankful to the Lord for causing my path to cross that of Bro. Glenn Howard, who was Pastor of Life Tabernacle in Albuquerque, NM at that time.
In March of 1996, I was literally on the streets of Albuquerque where I was hiding from a law enforcement fugitive warrant from Texas. I had nowhere to go, no money and no hope. In the early morning of March 30, I was bumming around with a “street” friend. After splitting up to “hustle” some money, I decided to call a number I’d seen in a Thrifty Nickel tabloid. The ad that I’d read earlier that morning read: “$1,000 to anyone who can prove from the Bible the existence of a group of three god-people called “the holy trinity,” along with a telephone number. My motive at that moment was purely avarice and pride- I thought to myself, “this is going to be an easy thousand bucks.” That simple phone call was the beginning of an incredible turn-around in my life, as well as a challenge beyond my wildest expectations.
When I say challenge, I mean challenge! Every aspect of my previous Christian experience and belief was challenged to the limit over the next several months. Looking back, I marvel at the love and patience Bro. Howard showed toward me during that time. I had never met anyone who was able to present the logic of the Scriptures with such clarity. He had an answer for everything as I tried to refute the message of the book of Acts. And yet, he never ridiculed me nor put me down. In time I began to realize that what he was saying made a lot more sense than what I had been brought up to believe.
The fugitive warrant was for a crime I had been accused of in 1992. I had already spent 2 ½ years in jail and prison awaiting trial (Aug. 1992-Jan.1995) In January I was released on Mandatory Supervision (a type of parole) from the state penitentiary in Texas, instead of being bench-warranted back to the county jail to continue to await trial. I found later that this was an error, and that I should have been sent back to jail. I was checked on a routine ID check on March 30, 1996 by the Albuquerque Police Dept. As the police checked my background on their computer they discovered my fugitive status and I was subsequently taken into custody and placed in Bernalillo County Jail in Albuquerque, NM to await extradition to Texas. When I had originally called Bro. Howard on the morning of March 30 I had made an appointment to meet with him, but I was unable to keep the appointment because I had been apprehended. At the jail I took a chance and called Pastor Howard. They would only allow collect calls, so I wasn’t sure if he would accept the charges. I had not met him personally-our only contact had been my phone call the morning of March 30th. To my great surprise he accepted my call, and I told him of my situation. Bro. Howard was very concerned and compassionate about my situation. I asked him if I could write him. He gave me his address and phone number and told me to stay in touch. I was extradited to Texas before Pastor Howard could make it to the jail to see me.
Upon arrival at the Tarrant County Corrections Center in downtown Ft. Worth, I immediately called Bro. Howard. He never turned me away- He was a friend when I needed a friend! Over the ensuing months we regularly corresponded and talked by phone (long distance) once a week (sometimes 2-3 times a week.- Pastor Howard accepted every collect call!) I stayed in jail another 5 months before going to trial in August 1996 (4 years and 10 days after I was initially accused and arrested for the charge), when I was found guilty. I was deemed to be a habitual criminal and subsequently sentenced to life in prison.
I entered the prison system in early September 1996 as “in-transit.” I stayed at a holding facility in Abilene for about 2 ½ months, all the while corresponding with Pastor. At some point during those many months of ministering- some of the substantive things that pastor Howard presented to me began to be revealed to me as the truth by the Holy Spirit. Believe me, it was a long time in coming! Early in our relationship I was antagonistic towards the things that Pastor Howard shared with me. I was totally opposed to the truth. I analyzed, rationalized, conceptualized and tried to explain away every teaching that Pastor Howard presented to me. But somehow something clicked, and I began to realize that what he was telling me was the truth.
The miraculous account of my conversion took place on November 28, 1996- Thanksgiving morning at 2 a.m. in a dark, lonely prison cell while I was still in Abilene! I had been praying and had told the Lord that if everything I had been learning from Bro. Howard was real, then I wanted to know the truth, and I surrendered myself to the Lord Jesus that early morning! After I finished praying, I began to praise the Lord in song. In a few minutes something came over me, and I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy! I began to laugh- I tried to staunch the laugh, but I could not. Words or syllables began to come into my mind that I was not familiar with- I was absolutely awestruck! I tried to keep it all inside, but the joy was too overwhelming! All I could do was call upon the Lord. When I surrendered my tongue and my mind He immediately baptized me with His Spirit and I began to speak in tongues. I was incredulous. The very thing that I believed could not happen was now happening to me. After the anointing of the Spirit of God subsided, I immediately wrote Pastor Howard and told him of my experience! I was amazed at what had happened. There was simply no way that I could explain this away!
Pastor Howard’s response was one of encouragement and assurance that what had transpired was indeed of God! My life took on a new meaning! God began opening up His Word to me! I had a confidence (and still do) that I never had about the truth of God. I know that I have truly been changed.
On March 6, 1997, after having been transferred to my final destination in east Texas, the prison officials allowed me to obey the Lord, and I was baptized in Jesus’ name by Pastor Darrell McCoy of First Pentecostal Church, Port Arthur, Texas.
I give the Lord Jesus all the praise, honor and glory for my testimony as none of these miraculous events would have been possible without Him! The Lord is working continuous miracles in my life! I wish to encourage those who have sought God and are currently seeking God, to persevere! God will give His Spirit to all who ask Him (Luke 11:13).”
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