Seventy years ago, General Superintendent Wesley Steelberg opened the 24th General Council of the Assemblies of God with a heartfelt plea to remain true to “our dual spiritual heritage in Pentecost.”
Steelberg’s address, which was published in the Sept. 9, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, showed concern over the direction of the broader culture and church world. He prayed that “the Assemblies of God may not drift in the swift current of worldliness towards the precipice of apostasy.” He encouraged listeners to instead “stand true to God,” so that when the trumpet sounds, “we will all rise to meet him — an uncontaminated, untarnished host who believe in all the fullness of the Pentecostal experience.”
Even before Steelberg spoke, the platform was nearly filled with people on their knees in prayer. Delegates started singing, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” and God’s presence became palpable. Another article in the same issue reported that crowds at the altar “stood in God’s presence and lifted up their voices in united praise to the Lord.” According to the account, the prayer was reminiscent of the Book of Acts and sounded “as the mighty rush of many waters.”
The general superintendent took the platform and identified two important aspects of the Pentecostal movement’s heritage: 1) the gift of the presence of the Holy Ghost; and 2) the faith of our forefathers. He admonished hearers to not neglect this heritage.
Steelberg asked a question of the audience: “Are we as appreciative of the Holy Spirit and His presence in our individual lives, in our churches, in our districts, in our great worldwide Fellowship as we ought to be?” He reminded the ministers and lay delegates that it is frightfully easy to treat lightly that which has become familiar. According to Steelberg, Pentecostals must never allow themselves to be comfortable with the Third Person of the Trinity. He asserted that God did not intend for the Assemblies of God to be content to become “another in the long line of denominations.” Pentecostals must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, he cautioned, and not merely on the wisdom of men.
According to Steelberg, the faith handed down by Pentecostal pioneers should continue to characterize the Assemblies of God. “I have a firm conviction in my heart,” he declared, “that we are called to be a people for a specific service in a specific hour.” He characterized the Pentecostal heritage as a testimony more so than a tradition. The testimonies of Pentecostal pioneers, he spoke, “should be our testimony.” He pleaded with his listeners to pass on the fullness of the testimony of the Pentecostal experience to the next generation.
Concluding his message, Steelberg quoted Luke 18:8: “When Christ cometh will He find faith on the earth?” Steelberg prayed that succeeding generations would be able to respond to the question with a resounding, “Yes!”
Read Steelberg’s full address, “Our Dual Spiritual Heritage,” on pages 3-4 and 13-14 of the Sept. 9, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “What Happened in Atlanta,” a report of the 24th Biennial General Council
• “How to Be Healed and Stay Healed,” by Evangelist W.V. Grant
• “Famine in India,” by Maynard Ketchum
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.