THE APOSTOLIC MOVEMENT
Bishop George W. Ayers, Ph.D., International Presiding Prelate
I would like to take a few minutes to introduce you to the great Apostolic Movement. The A.O.H. Church of God is a significant part of this movement. The three letters have a significant meaning and promote a doctrinal understanding of the Apostolic Church.
The "A" stands for Apostolic. God's Church embodies the Apostles doctrine. When Jesus finished his earthly pilgrimage, He left the work of the church in the hands of His eleven chosen leaders. Peter, the chief Apostle, was entrusted with the keys to the kingdom to unlock the door to the Church of God. In Luke, Chapter 24, we are told how Jesus imparted to His disciples the doctrines and tenants of His church. The power of the church is the power of God Himself. The church is not a building or a physical structure; it is the mystical body of Christ manifested in the world.
The "O" stands for Overcoming. To every man is granted one opportunity to overcome the lesser, more carnal self, called by St. Paul of Tarsus, the outer or outward man. Inside of man is a far richer, purer, and more powerful nature: the inner man-the inward spirit, the "soul" if you please; the spiritual man, the celestial spark of Divinity created by God for Himself. This eternal being must overcome the flesh. Paul stylized this confrontation as a "war within my members."
The "H" stands for Holy. God's ultimate desire is for a "race" of people who aspire and perfect "Holiness." Holiness is a most unique and divine principle: a true attribute of the Godhead; that is, a characteristic of God Himself. The "Word" says, "Be ye holy, for I am Holy" God is holy. God calls for and demands true holiness. God told Moses to loose the sandals off his feet for the ground whereupon he stood was holy.
The Apostolic Overcoming Holy (A.O.H.) Church of God preaches the fundamental unity of the Godhead: Jesus Christ being the express image of the invisible God. Faith can see Him. Hope can touch. Love can speak to His unseen power. Peace is His cloak, and he rides the winds of righteousness. Joy is the basic expression, a true unity with His spirituality. To know Him is to feel Jesus as the only God that you will see. To know Him is to feel the warm healing presence of His eternal personhood. In His presence the poor man has a richness untold, unshackling him forever from the throes of poverty. The young become one with the old. Whites feel the burdens of blackness, and no man is an island.
The A.O.H. Church of God truly celebrates pentecost. The church was born by the Spirit of God on the 50th day after the Passover. This Apostolic church is a result of the latter Holy Ghost rains that fell upon the United States at the turn of the 20th century. At this time Bishop William Thomas Phillips, a young Black man from Alabama, received the revelation of Water Baptism in the Name of Jesus. Bishop Phillips testified that at the early age of 18 in 1912, a very noted evangelist came to Birmingham, Frank Williams. It was during the preaching of Evangelist Williams that Bishop Phillips received the message of Holiness. He believed and accepted it and was filled with the Holy Ghost. Prejudice was such that Blacks could not, at the time, worship with Whites.
Bishop Phillips was ordained in 1913, and became an evangelist in 1916. It was during this year that Bishop Phillips founded the A.O.H. Church of God. His first inclination was to make this church strictly a Black religious movement. But being propelled by God, he soon realized the inadequacy of any spirituality that was defined and controlled by "racialistic denominationalism," inasmuch as, holiness is not racial, it is Biblical. Apostolic is not denominational, it is the very root of the New Testament Church. If God, in truth, is universal, then His spiritual body in the world must bear the same across cultural and multi-cultural emphatic devotion to a universal dialectic. The Apostolic Church is universal.
Man, although elevated in God's sight, is not a god. God is once and forever divine. Man shall always be human. Jesus was the first and last God-man. We have "good men," but there is but one God-man. As we experience Him we leave our human for our divine. We walk pass self into time. It is this timeliness that will someday make the Saints of God one with the eternal God.