Throughout its 100-plus year history, the C&MA has always been known for its distinctive, scripturally grounded views on a number of topics held within the Christian faith.
Listed below are several of these points that have been approved by the Board of Directors and/or General Council of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. These articles present the official stand of The Alliance on these topics.
The topic of gender raises questions for the church today in an unprecedented manner. A biblical and traditional understanding of man and woman is no longer assumed in our culture, embedded in our laws, or reflected in many forms of media. As a result, parents, pastors, school administrators, and camp directors face challenges that were never before considered.
It is critical to recognize that gender identity challenges are different than those stemming from sexual orientation and therefore need to be considered differently.
An understanding of the ever-expanding and evolving gender definitions is not only helpful but necessary to engage with those identifying in nonbiblical/traditional ways. Emerging Sexual Identities by Mark Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky provides a constructive list. The following definitions can be a good starting point.
- Transgender/Trans: Umbrella terms for various ways people express their gender identity when it does not correspond to their birth (or biological) sex.
- Trans man: A biological female who identifies as male.
- Trans woman: A biological man who identifies as female.
- Gender Dysphoria: Experience of significant distress caused by the incongruence when the gender someone identifies with does not match their biological sex.
- Affirmed gender: Culturally defined as the sex/gender with which a person identifies.
- Assigned gender: The sex category (i.e., male, female, intersex) that is identified for an infant at birth by medical professional and parents.
- Intersex: A rare group of conditions when a person is born with a discrepancy between their external and internal genitals.
Sex, gender, and masculinity or femininity all play a role in understanding gender.
Sex is determined by whether a person has an X and Y chromosome (a man) or two X chromosomes (a woman). God created men and women with significant differences. The primary distinctions present at birth are the complementary sexual organs and reproductive systems between men and women. A variety of secondary characteristics develop later, including differences in height, muscle mass, body hair, and bone density.
Gender, according to the modern world, is not determined by physical distinctions but rather by how you feel inside and how you express yourself. Gender could align with your biological sex, be the opposite sex, be both, neither, and/or something entirely different.
Masculinity and femininity are another point of controversy. Characteristics considered masculine or feminine can vary widely between cultures or across generations. These different representations have led to a belief that masculinity and femininity are more socially constructed than determined by our biological sex. In modern culture, masculinity and femininity, as social constructs, are thought of as categories that can be deconstructed and then reconstructed to fit a person’s affirmed gender.
What does The Alliance believe?
We believe that God created people as male and female and that we bear his image (Genesis 1:27). We believe that our created body is an essential part of who we are and is good. We believe that we are to honor God with our body (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). As such, we believe that God’s design is that our created biological sex determines whether we are male or female.
We believe that God’s purposes in his creation are often beyond our understanding (Isaiah 55:8) and that we can trust his design for each human being (Psalm 139:13–16), including their created sex.
We believe that God graciously and mercifully offers redemption and wholeness to everyone who repents and submits to him. We believe that God has committed to us the message of reconciliation to those who don’t yet believe (2 Corinthians 5:19).
We believe that while Christians are set free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:1–14), we are still impacted by our fallen nature and will continue to be transformed until we enter eternity (2 Corinthians 3:18).
As we engage people with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ (John 1:17), we must be people of prayer who seek biblical wisdom through the guidance of the Holy Spirit (James 1:5). We believe that the gospel compels us to accept and welcome everyone with respect and warm hospitality, regardless of their gender identification. However, we believe that acceptance is not the same as affirmation. Acceptance recognizes and cares for others as created image bearers, while affirmation of their gender choices may lead us to honor something not honored by God (1 Cor. 13:6).
Responding to gender issues requires pastoral wisdom and discernment and will vary depending on the specific facts and circumstances. What should we expect from someone for church membership, baptism, or those serving in significant leadership and teaching positions? Is it pleasing to the Lord to use pronouns that don’t match their biological sex? How do we determine bathroom use? How will the church respond to and love someone who has had reassignment surgeries, later repents, and yet cannot undo the physical transformation? Can this person serve as an elder or a Sunday school teacher? These decisions provide opportunities to glorify God and love those who are part of our church family.
Finally, as is the case for all ministry, it’s important to provide wise pastoral leadership, guidance, and support to all who are in relationship with a transgender person.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to love our neighbor without conditions. Many of us have close relationships with people who are wrestling with their gender identity or other issues related to their sexuality. That should cause us to show Christlike empathy toward others involved in similar struggles. We may be the answer to the prayers of a believing family member of a transgender person when they move into our neighborhood or visit our church. Our opportunity to exercise spiritual influence is dependent on treating these individuals with love and respect as fellow human beings created in the image of God. In so doing, we honor Jesus.
Written by the C&MA President’s Cabinet and endorsed by the Board of Directors to guide and encourage Alliance leaders to shepherd in both truth and love.
Following is an excerpt from a positional paper authored by former Alliance president Louis L. King, who led the denomination with cutting-edge initiatives of establishing self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating national churches that have become the hallmark of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
The Source of Our Knowledge of Mankind’s Lostness
Our knowledge of people’s lostness if they are outside of Christ is derived exclusively from the Bible. Philosophy does not help us. This knowledge cannot be learned by reasoning or by research. It cannot be established inductively or deductively. God Himself reveals the fact in His Word. It is an article of faith. We perceive it only by divine enlightenment.
People’s lostness is a Spirit-taught truth that those without the Spirit cannot receive (1 Corinthians 2:14). Their darkened understanding is not capable of this awareness by their own reasoning powers (Ephesians 4:18). This knowledge comes only through revelation by the Spirit. Indeed, everything of a spiritual nature depends upon the Supreme Revelator, Jesus Christ. What we believe about Him, who He is, and what He teaches will ultimately determine how we regard our fellow beings who do not share in our knowledge of Jesus.
Who, then, is Jesus Christ? The apostle John writes: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, author’s translation). Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17b). Jesus Himself declared: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6a, NIV). From these three texts we learn that Jesus Christ is the truth, that He is full of truth, and that He brings truth to us.
The King of Truth, Jesus Christ, taught the Bible’s divine inspiration, its impregnable truth and its complete authority. He declared of the Old Testament Law, “Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law” (Matthew 5:18). Later He rebuked two of His followers for not believing “all that the prophets [had] spoken” (Luke 24:25). In a confrontation with some of His fellow Jews, Jesus emphasized that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
Kenneth B. Kantzer, former editor of Christianity Today, writing in The Church’s Worldwide Mission, has said of those statements:
This testimony of Jesus Christ validates directly the Old Testament, but indirectly it includes the New Testament as well. Our Lord constituted His disciples as His witnesses who should follow Him. He promised to guide them into all truth (John 16:13). He assured them of confirming signs of their apostolic authority in predictive prophecy and miracles. After His death and resurrection, His apostles claimed to represent their Lord and to have the right to speak with authority in the Church of Christ (Galatians 1:2). Their claims were confirmed by diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 2:4).
Since the question of people’s lostness outside of Christ is an article of biblical faith, we go back to the basic question: “What do we think about Christ?” Do we accept Him as the King of Truth? Do we accept His position on the inspiration and authority of Scripture?
If we do accept Jesus as Truth, to be consistent we must accept and submit to His teachings and those of the fully attested Word on this so-important subject of mankind’s lostness. If we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord and Truth, we must accept the Scriptures He enjoined upon us. They are the means we have of learning the Lord’s will. Furthermore, His teachings have complete, final, and binding authority over us as His disciples.
Conversely, to ostensibly accept Christ as sovereign Lord and Supreme Teacher and at the same time reject what He says about the Bible and mankind’s lost condition is grossly inconsistent.
Indeed, to quote William G. T. Shed:
The strongest support of the doctrine of endless punishment is the teaching of Christ, the Redeemer of Man…. Jesus is the person who is responsible for the doctrine of eternal perdition. He is the Being with whom all opponents of this theological tenet are in conflict.
We must accept, therefore, the Bible’s presentation of man’s condition without reservation. We must require no other validation. On the basis that Jesus is Lord and Truth, we must accept the Bible as our only but completely authoritative and trustworthy source of knowledge about people’s spiritual condition.
The Present State of People without Christ
Jesus likened lost people to a lost sheep for which the shepherd searches in the thorny wilderness. The sheep has severed itself from the one who was its guide; it has removed itself from the fold, gone its own way and become lost. It is devoid of any bearings and without homing instinct (see Luke 15:4-7).
At other times, Jesus pictured lost people as patients on whom the doctor gives up (Luke 5:31); worse, like criminals on whom the sentence of death is carried out (Matthew 13:40-42). He compares their lostness to death (Luke 15:24), to destruction (Mark 12:9), to damnation (John 5:28-29). Jesus thus presents lost people as going astray and being condemned, lost in such a way that it requires more than that they simply be found – they must be awakened to eternal life and saved.
The whole of Jesus’ mission was to find lost people, to rectify their sinful acts, to place them in the right path. He came for this purpose. Jesus, King of Truth, taught that His mission to earth was “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Indeed, His mission cannot be defined without speaking of people as being lost.
Spiritual gifts are supernatural empowerments given by the Holy Spirit to the followers of Christ so that they can do the work of building up the body of Christ, that is, the church, and extend the Kingdom of God throughout the world.
Spiritual gifts are not innate, natural talents, like an ear for music or the ability to draw, but rather they are empowerments that the Holy Spirit gives to a believer to minister to the body in ways that were not possible by mere natural effort apart from the Holy Spirit. In the ministry of the apostles in the book of Acts, we see that they performed miracles, healed people, preached, and spoke in tongues, which they had not been able to do apart from Christ.
Spiritual gifts are empowerments for building up the church and extending the Kingdom of God. In 1 Corinthians 14, the Apostle Paul instructs this congregation on the function of spiritual gifts. He repeats several times that they are to strengthen or build up the church.
But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3).
…try to excel in gifts that build up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12).
…All of these things must be done for the strengthening of the church (1 Corinthians 14:26).
Of course, it must also be noted that Paul suggests that spiritual gifts can have a witnessing function to non-believers.
But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:24–25).
Who can have spiritual gifts?
The Holy Spirit is the owner and dispenser of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7,11). As believers, we are stewards of the gifts of God (1 Peter 4:10). Every believer can expect the Holy Spirit to minister through him or her with spiritual gifts. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… (1 Corinthians 12:7; emphasis added). This protects us from a static view of spiritual gifts and leads into a more dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit where we can expect Him to move through us in multiple ways for His Glory as He sees fit.
Spiritual gifts can be experienced immediately following conversion, but are often received at various moments subsequent to conversion. Paul encourages Timothy, “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you” (1 Timothy 4:14). It is not clear exactly when this happened in Timothy’s spiritual journey, but it was probably when he was commissioned by the church to begin his ministry. This also suggests that gifts can come by impartation from spiritual leadership. This is not some kind of “magical” touch, but instead the culmination of a relationship of discipleship accountability and submission to authority. It is also clear from Scripture that spiritual gifts can be received when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 10:44–48; 19:6).
How do spiritual gifts work?
As we read the book of Acts, we see that spiritual gifts were very much a part of the ministry of the New Testament church. We also see them in operation in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus did His miraculous deeds in His Spirit empowered humanity (Acts 10:38). He asked his disciples to do the things that he had been doing (Luke 9:1). Since his ministry was a demonstration of spiritual gifts through a fully surrendered man, then he could with confidence say to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you” (John 20:21). Our founder, A. B. Simpson said,
When Christ healed the sick while he was on the earth, it was not by the Deity that dwelt in his humanity. He said, If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come upon you (Matthew 12:28). Jesus healed by the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted” (Luke 4:18). The Holy Spirit is the agent, then, by which this great power is wrought. We should especially expect to see his working in these days because they are the days in which it has been prophesied that there shall be signs and wonders (The Fourfold Gospel, p. 48).
A.W. Tozer recognized this dynamic when he said, “While our Lord Jesus was on earth, he did not accomplish his great deeds of power in the strength of his deity. I believe he did them all in the strength and authority of his Spirit-anointed humanity” (Jesus, Our Man in Glory, chapter 6). Though the focus of Acts is on the ministry of the Apostles, we also see that lay people exercised spiritual gifts (Acts 6:8; 8:6–7; 9:17–19; 10:44–46; 19:6–7). Thus, every believer can expect God to work through him or her with spiritual gifts.
Various passages in the New Testament mention a variety of gifts, principally 1 Corinthians 12:8–10, 29–30; Romans 12:4–8; Ephesians 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:10–11. It is not easy to define or describe each of these gifts. Some seem to be quite evident in their nature. The Scriptures do not indicate that the list of spiritual gifts is exhaustive. The number of spiritual gifts is not important, but rather the understanding of what they are and how they are to be used.
Spiritual gifts should work together, complementing each other. There is a need for them to be active in the church. Paul exhorts the Corinthian congregation to eagerly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1). This does not mean, however, that gifts should be used to exalt the individual or to feed an immature desire for attention. He repeats in v. 12 that they should try to excel in gifts that build up the church. Spiritual gifts must be used in love (1 Corinthians 13; Romans 12:9; Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 4:8). If they are not used in love they will be abused and cause trouble in the body, rather than blessing (1 Corinthians 13:1–3). Love, when used with spiritual gifts is like oil in a machine. It makes all the parts work well together. We must also remember that our “comfort zone” is not the same as spiritual discernment, and at times even a gift manifested in love may make those ignorant of it uncomfortable. Therefore, patient teaching on the gifts and their manifestations is a necessity (1 Corinthians 12:12–27; Romans 12:4, 5; Ephesians 4:12,15,16).
Is one spiritual gift more important than another?
All the gifts are needed in the body of Christ. All the gifts are equally valid. In 1 Corinthians 12:12–26, the Apostle Paul instructs the church that no one should despise his/her own gift by comparing it to the gifts of others. And he also says that no one should despise someone else’s gift as being less than his/her gift. Some gifts are more apparent than others, but each gift is important.
Paul indicates that the gift of prophecy is an important gift, one to be desired (1 Corinthians 14:1). First Corinthians 14:1–25 compares the gift of prophecy and the gift of speaking in tongues in the context of public worship. The clear indication is that the gift of prophecy is more profitable for building up the body of Christ than the gift of speaking in tongues is, unless the tongues are interpreted (1 Corinthians 14:5, 27–28). The context of the ministry is what determines the value of a particular gift. Speaking in tongues is a valid gift for today. However, in the public ministry setting, the gift of tongues must have someone to interpret for it to be profitable for strengthening the body. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God (1 Corinthians 14:27–28, emphasis added). This would indicate that if there is no interpreter present, tongues should be used in a personal prayer to God for which no interpretation is necessary. This, of course, is also of value to the individual believer’s edification and ultimately for the edification of the church and must not be considered a lesser gift.
What is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit?
There are some who believe that the gift of tongues is the “initial, physical evidence” of being filled with the Spirit. Again, we affirm tongues as a valid gift for today. But we do not believe that the Scripture supports tongues as the only evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Paul, as he writes to the believers in the Ephesian church, commands them to…be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). “Filled with the Spirit” is a frequent expression in the Book of Acts describing the source of the mighty power of God working in believers in Christ. This expression implies being under the control of the Holy Spirit. We believe this is still a valid command for today, and every believer should seek to be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. So, what is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit?
Though there is a record of people receiving spiritual gifts when they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 10:44–48; 19:6), there are other instances of people being filled with the Holy Spirit where there is no mention of spiritual gifts (Acts 4:8, 31; 8:15–17; 9:17–18; 13:9, 52). Though some may speak in tongues when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, others do not. While rejecting the “initial evidence doctrine” we must be careful to say there “should be” and “will be” evidence that a person has been filled with the Holy Spirit. As Tozer strongly notes, “no one ever received the Holy Spirit’s power without knowing it” (Keys to the Deeper Life, p. 57). A creed of power without the experience of power is worthless. One phrase that could describe our posture in this encounter with God is “Expectation without Agenda.” It would seem to be a dangerous thing to try and convince someone they have been filled with the Spirit if there is no manifest evidence in their lives. Our expectancy should be that God will meet His people in a powerful way. However, it would be equally dangerous to demand a specific agenda or manifestation in that moment. Again, we should come to the Lord with great expectation, while seeking to free ourselves from human agendas or motives.
Regardless of the gifts or manifestations a believer may experience, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, as described in Galatians 5:22–23 is the primary evidence of the Spirit-filled life. These qualities are produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The fruit of the Spirit shows that the Holy Spirit is in control of the believer’s life.
Another strong evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is a fruitful ministry. In Acts 1:8 Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would give power to be His witnesses. We often mention the scope of our ministry–Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, but we also need to focus on the source of power for our ministry–the Holy Spirit, who wants to fill us for a holy life and effective service.
Finally, 1 Corinthians 12 lists a variety of manifestations that occur when the Holy Spirit is ministering. We have no reason to believe this is an all-inclusive list of manifestations or evidences. Weeping, for instance, is not mentioned. Yet many believers have experienced tears as a manifestation of the Spirit’s work and power. Others may experience a manifestation of “joy unspeakable” and God’s love, but never shed a tear. Rather than demanding a single gift or manifestation as the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit, we ought to gratefully embrace all the gifts, manifestations and fruit that the Lord desires to bring into our lives.
Have some spiritual gifts ceased to exist?
No. Because spiritual gifts were given to build up the church, the body of Christ, as long as the church is under construction, spiritual gifts are needed. A day will come when spiritual gifts will no longer be needed (1 Corinthians 13:8). However, we do not believe that this day has yet come. It will come when perfection comes (1 Corinthians 13:10). Some interpret this “perfection” to be the completion of the canon of Scripture (the Apostolic Age). However, this is not a good rendering of the Greek text. We believe that this refers to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the church, the bride of Christ is complete and perfect, that is when spiritual gifts will no longer be necessary.
How can I discover my spiritual gift(s)?
It is possible for a person to neglect a spiritual gift. Paul warns Timothy not to neglect his gift (1 Timothy 4:14), and he also encourages him to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hand” (2 Timothy 1:6). Therefore, it is a biblical necessity that believers discover and move in the arena of spiritual gifts. It has been said that Christians are not primarily natural beings having temporary spiritual experiences. Rather, we are spiritual beings having a temporary natural experience. We live in a spiritual, Kingdom reality.
If the Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts, then their discovery must by nature be a spiritual experience. When we walk in obedience, we must trust that the Holy Spirit will respond with the revelation of His gifts in our lives. Having said this, there are some diagnostic instruments that may help us uncover what God has given.
What kind of ministry do you enjoy the most and shows the most fruitfulness? That probably indicates where there are spiritual gifts operating in your life. If you enjoy teaching and find that people are edified through your teaching ministry, it is likely that the Holy Spirit has given you a gift of teaching. If you find that the Lord puts people in your path who are ready to surrender their life to Christ, you probably have a spiritual gift of evangelism. If you enjoy inviting people to your home, either for a meal or to stay, you probably have a gift of hospitality.
There are “tests” available that might indicate your spiritual gifting. However, some of them measure more what a person’s natural talents and preferences are, rather than truly identifying one’s spiritual gifts. These inventories also focus on past experience and are not always a good indicator of what the Holy Spirit might lead us into in our future ministry.
A better way of confirming a person’s spiritual gifting is through the local congregation and its leadership. What do the leaders and the local body think that you do best that contributes to the welfare of the congregation? That is probably your spiritual gift. A person does not need to announce or advertise his/her spiritual gift. The local congregation will recognize and validate genuine spiritual gifts as the gifted person’s ministry contributes to the building up of the local church body. Of course, this requires the individual believer to step out in faith and obedience to God’s Word. The gifts of the Holy Spirit operate through obedient and faith-filled disciples.
We, in The Christian and Missionary Alliance, believe that spiritual gifts are supernatural empowerments given by the Holy Spirit to believers in Christ to build up the church and extend the Kingdom of God. Our standard as we approach God for the release of His empowerment in our lives and the lives of the people to whom we minister should be “Expectation without Agenda.” Jesus is our focus and completing His mission is our mandate. The gifts of the Spirit are to serve His purposes in the church and in our world. With the guidelines we have been given in God’s Word, believers everywhere should embrace the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and move out to fulfill our Lord’s Commission.
The person and work of Jesus Christ are summed up in a name given to Him before birth: Immanuel, which means “God with us” Matthew 1:23. As God, Jesus has “life in Himself,” eternally the same, with all power and authority over heaven and earth Matthew 28:18. Revealed to us as God’s Son, He is everything the Father is, without exception or limitation.
It is written of Him: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1). As “God with us,” Jesus became the full revelation of God expressed fully in human form, losing none of His divine characteristics. In the words of Scripture:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” John 1:14.
The heart of The Alliance is the Fourfold Gospel, which focuses on Jesus as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King.
Jesus Our Savior
The Scriptures tell us, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Luke 19:10; Acts 16:31). Because Jesus is our Savior, we have been justified or made righteous in God’s eyes. We are forgiven (Acts 2:38), our guilt is gone (Romans 8:1), and we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). We also have eternal life—an inheritance that can never fade (John 3:16; 1 Peter 1:4). When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we become “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38â39). That truth, that promise, is at the core of who we are as The Alliance.
As our Savior, Jesus is not just one of many paths to God; He is the only way to know the Father and to experience eternal life. We read in Acts 4:12 that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus Our Sanctifier
Jesus also is our Sanctifier. According to John 1:29â33, Jesus is the one who takes away the sin of the world and who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Through Christ’s death on the cross, He not only delivers us from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin. Therefore, we have freedom from death as well as freedom to live for Him. Jesus tells us in John 15 that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Because of our relationship with Him, we will “bear much fruit…and our joy will be complete.” This happens only through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us; we can’t make ourselves holy any more than we can make ourselves saved. The Holy Spirit is given by the Father so that Christ will be glorified in the believer: “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth…. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16: 13,14).
The steps to a Spirit-filled life include surrendering fully to Christ (Rom. 6:11; Rom. 12:1â2), accepting Him as our Sanctifier (Col. 2:6; Gal. 2:20), and maintaining a continuous relationship with Him by abiding in Him and obeying His Word (John 15:1â11). This opens the way for God to equip the believer with power to serve Him effectively, leading others to Jesus.
Jesus Our Healer
Our founder, A. B. Simpson, knew from experience that Jesus is our Healer. Jesus’ wonderful, compassionate willingness to reach out and touch people’s physical needs demonstrates that salvation is not just future tense but present tense. Salvation starts now. Jesus heals in this life, in this moment, in anticipation of something much more complete as eternity rolls on. Disease is a result of a fallen world and therefore can be overcome only through Christ’s victory over sin by His death on the cross: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). In the gospel accounts, Christ’s power to heal proved that He had invaded Satan’s territory, shackled him, and snatched from his grip those who were trapped by sin and its consequences.
Healings did not end with Jesus. He told his disciples they would do greater things than He did (John 14:12). The power to heal in Jesus’ Name was passed on to His followers. The first recorded miracle after Pentecost was the healing of a paralytic by Peter, when he said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). Christ continues to heal the sick because He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The power to heal comes from Jesus, and the purpose is to bring Him glory. It is not to meet our needs, to make us feel better, or relieve us of pain—though those are nice side benefits. When the disciples with Jesus encountered a blind man, one of them asked, “Who sinned—the man or his parents?” Jesus explained that neither the man nor his parents had sinned but “this had happened so that the work of God would be displayed in his life” (John 9). Healing is all about glorifying Jesus. It’s not about us—it’s all about Him!
Divine healing is a blessing not to be taken for granted or automatically assumed. Like all other aspects of Christ’s perfect salvation, it is a mystery wrapped in the loving ways of a wise and good God, whose thoughts are as high above ours as the heavens are higher than the earth. Jesus performed many signs and wonders during His earthly ministry, but the greatest miracle He does is in the hearts of those who have been transformed through a relationship with Him. Jesus longs to see us restored—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. At times, our prayers for healing may not be answered exactly the way we expect. In those instances, Jesus often gives us deeper understanding into His character and person—all to His glory and praise.
Jesus Our Coming King
The final pillar of the Fourfold Gospel is “Jesus Christ, Our Coming King.” That expression captures the same passion exemplified by the apostles and millions of other devoted followers of our Lord throughout the centuries. It is, to use the words of the Apostle Paul, “our blessed hope.”
Belief in the Second Coming of Christ is rooted in the experience of Jesus’ followers who, a few days before Pentecost, gathered on a mountain to listen to the last teaching of the resurrected Christ. He commissioned them to be His “witnesses” to the entire world, and then, as they watched breathlessly, He ascended into heaven. While they stood gazing at the sky, two angels appeared and delivered this message: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11b).
Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting for that moment in time when He will come again. When will that happen? No one knows the day or the hour, but because Christ is coming, we need to be ready—living lives that are pure, steadfast, prayerful, holy, and reverent. We also need to finish the task He has given us: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Taken from the writings of John Soper, former vice president for Church Ministries.
From its earliest days to the present, The Alliance has been blessed by the faithful and fruitful ministries of women both in the United States and around the world.
Today, women serve with distinction in The Alliance on local church ministry staffs; as international workers, chaplains, and professors in our educational institutions; and on leadership teams in local churches, district executive committees, and the Board of Directors.
In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came upon believers in a new way — both men and women. Peter explained the Pentecost experience in this way: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). The Holy Spirit has been poured out on women and men in the same way and for the same purpose: so that we will all be empowered to live in a manner that demonstrates the character of Christ and fulfill our roles in the mission Jesus has assigned to His Church. The gifts the Spirit gives that equip believers for ministry in and through the local church are distributed to both women and men. The completion of Jesus’ Great Commission calls on all believers, male and female, to be released and mobilized to put those gifts into action. While desiring both genders to be mobilized to exercise their gifts in a variety of ministries and leadership roles, The Alliance continues to affirm its understanding of Scripture that elders are male members of the local church. This includes the elected elders of the local church and the senior/lead pastor.
At Council 2023, delegates voted to merge the ordination and consecration tracks into one, so that both male and female official workers who successfully complete the process outlined in the Manual are now “Consecrated and Ordained,” receiving the designation “reverend.” The use of the designation “reverend” for both men and women is left up to the local church, as is the use of the title “pastor” by a female official worker. Female official workers are empowered to serve in church and other related ministries which include preaching and teaching the Word of God, administering the ordinances under the oversight of the lead pastor and elders, and providing leadership to the church and its ministries. In addition to local church ministries, such service may include district evangelists, workers in educational institutions, and federal and institutional chaplains. An earlier Alliance statement on women in ministry continues to appropriately state: “Women may fulfill any function in the local church which the lead pastor and elders may choose to delegate to them consistent with the Uniform Policy for Accredited Churches and may properly engage in any kind of ministry except that which involves elder authority.”
—Terry Smith, Vice President for Church Ministries, June 2023