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Thomas F. Zimmerman
General Superintendent 1959–85

STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH

From the earliest days of human history, God has given man a body of truth to be believed and obeyed. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve a simple command to refrain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

On Mount Sinai, God gave Israel the moral and ceremonial law. Following Christ's atoning work on the cross, God gave the New Testament—or new covenant.

But Satan has also been active from the earliest days trying to get people to reject or distort the faith. In New Testament times, he tried to get the infant Church to mix the truth with human philosophy, tradition, or ceremonial law. This is why God inspired Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith.” The faith of which Paul wrote has many facets; three of which are: doctrine, lifestyle, and ministry.

Let us determine to stand firm in the faith that sees the Bible as the inspired Word of God. The Bible speaks of Christian experiences, and we are grateful for them. The Bible also speaks of emotional reaction to the assurance of salvation, and we are thankful for the joy of the Lord. But nothing can ever take the place of God's Word as the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.

God raised up the Pentecostal movement with a message that included holiness. Preachers were not ashamed to preach boldly about holiness. Today we need to remind ourselves that a biblical lifestyle is not optional, but mandatory. When people are genuinely born again and live according to Scripture, there will be a change in the way they live. Besides, holy living has always been one of the secrets of spiritual victories.

Today we need to renew our determination to stand firm in the faith that requires holiness of life. It is too easy to let the world influence the lifestyle of believers instead of believers being the light and salt of the world.

We also need to determine to stand firm in the faith that provides power for spiritual service. The believers in the Early Church never lost sight of the Great Commission.

In themselves they could not overcome the opposition and persecution the Church faced. But these believers never forgot that Jesus promised power commensurate with the task (Acts 1:8). As a result of being filled with the Spirit, these early believers filled Jerusalem with their doctrine. They spread out to Judea and Samaria, and eventually reached the uttermost parts of the earth. The world could not understand this kind of commitment. These people were beaten, imprisoned, stoned, and tortured, but they were not ignored. Every believer became a preacher. It never occurred to them that evangelization should only be assigned to the clergy.

In his book, Pentecost Is Dynamite, W.T.H. Richards observed that the five powers governing society are eloquence, learning, wealth, rank, and the army. The Church in its early days had none of these—in fact, all five were against her. When we come to God in complete dedication and stand firm in the faith, we too will continue to triumph as believers did in the early years of the Church.


Thomas F. Zimmerman was general superintendent from 1959–85. He served on numerous boards and committees: National Association of Evangelicals, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, and the American Bible Society. This address is from the 41st General Council in San Antonio, Texas, 1985. It is adapted from the Pentecostal Evangel, September 29, 1985.

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