The Christian church began over 2,000 years ago when, as told in the Bible, the apostles were gathered together waiting and praying for what Jesus had called, “the promised of the Father”. Moments later they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. This experience is known as the “Pentecostal experience”that first occurred on the “Day of Pentecost”- a Jewish festival day. The Bible gives many other examples of people receiving the Holy Spirit in exactly the same was demonstrating that this experience was normal in the early Christian Church.
Three hundred and sixty years after Pentecost, Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople wrote, “whoever was baptised in Apostolic days he straightway spoke in tongues for since on their coming over from idols without any clear knowledge or training in the scriptures, they at once received the Spirit for he is invisible,but God’s grace bestowed some sensible proof of his energy”. Miracles, healings, signs and wonders were an integral part of the church life for several centuries.
In the year AD312 the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. But as Christian principles were mixed with pagan ritual and idol worship, many fundamentals of the Christian faith including this Pentecostal experiences were lost. The churches quickly became lifeless and powerless. No healings, no miracles and no clear evidence of the Holy Spirit in the church. Church heads became less concerned with the original salvation message and became political.
They control governments and empires, ordered massacres and quickly rid themselves of dissenters. Right down through the ages however ordinary people continued to experience this infilling of the Holy Spirit with the Bible evidence of speaking in other tongues. Many were persecuted and even martyred for their faith.
Martin Luther, great reformer of the 16th Century was known to have had the Pentecostal experience. He challenged the church leaders of the day on many issues. But at the centre was the issue of personal salvation itself. According to Sover, writer of the history of the Christian Church, “Dr Martin was a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues and interpreter in one person endowed with all the gifts of the Spirit”.
Similar experiences occurred amongst the Quakers, Pilgrims of Britain and other lesser known Christian groups. Wesley and other great men of God spoke of such things. Whilst many of the great revivalist enjoyed the Pentecostal experience, few of their followers have not done or seen the necessity for it.
The early 1900s saw another great Christian revival. Thousands of men and women world-wide started receiving the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of speaking in other tongues. Many drew away from or were put out of their mainline churches and began what we now call “Pentecostal churches”in which the infilling of the Spirit with the sign of speaking in tongues was common. Tens of millions of people world-wide enjoy this experience today.
A major Pentecostal movement began in Australia just after the Second World War with a number of new churches emerging. These churches drew large numbers of people from a wide cross section of the community – some from other churches and many with no church background at all.
From these beginning, assemblies in Victoria and South Australia aligned themselves in their common experiences and doctrine and the church grew throughout the country. Today there are over 100 assemblies throughout Australia and overseas including New Zealand, Great Britain, Europe, America, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, West Papua and Papua New Guinea.