What is the Foursquare Gospel?
The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (also known as The Foursquare Church) developed out of the evangelistic ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson. While she became the founder of the movement, she would have been the first to repudiate the idea that she originated the Foursquare message. Though the Foursquare movement, like all other Pentecostal and Full Gospel organizations, commenced in the twentieth century, the Foursquare message began in the Bible days!
The movement exists to promote proclamation, experience, and practice of the message. The aim or goal is nothing less than to recover for the present day church all the benefits and blessings which crowned with glory the apostolic church. The sermon, “Lost and Restored,” (by Aimee Semple McPherson) outlines, we might say, church history according to Joel and powerfully insists that the church of Jesus Christ need not climax with less power than she manifested when she commenced! Every Foursquare auditorium reflects this confidence by its display of Hebrew 13:8 as the denominational motto: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
The Foursquare Message
Perhaps the simplest Scriptural summary possible of Foursquare faith and experience would be the testimony, “Jesus saves us according to John 3:16. He baptizes us with the Holy Spirit according to Acts 2:4. He heals our bodies according to James 5:14-15. And Jesus Christ is coming again to receive us unto Himself according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.”
While the gospel received the name “Foursquare” in 1922, and while it had been proclaimed by the denominational founder for about fourteen years before the descriptive phrase was coined, the message itself, as was insisted earlier, is by no means novel. Foursquaredom strives to propagate the identical message, ministry, emphasis, and experience which formed the norm of the early apostolic church as described in the book of Acts and the New Testament epistles.
Old Testament Roots
Moreover, the roots of this message reach back into Old Testament times. You might hesitate to call Isaiah a Foursquare preacher, but the prophet certainly was a proclaimer of the Foursquare gospel. Isaiah prophesied concerning Jesus Christ as Saviour and Healer: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed: (Isaiah 53:5). The New Testament applies this very prophecy to Jesus as Saviour and Healer (cf. 1 Peter 2:24). Isaiah also foretold the phenomena of Acts 2:4 and the baptism of the Holy Spirit: “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people” (Isaiah 28:11). St. Paul’s application of this prophecy to speaking in tongues demolishes the objection sometimes presented that Isaiah 28:11 is not pertinent to the Pentecostal gifts (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:21).
Isaiah further foretold the Coming King: “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isaiah 40:10) How similar is that promise to the very words of Jesus, “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me” (Revelation 22:12)!
The message of Jesus the Saviour, Baptizer, Healer, and Coming King stands firmly rooted in the Old Testament prophecy. But it is when we turn to New Testament fulfillment that this gospel blazes in its brightest brilliance.
New Testament Roots
Paul perhaps outstripped all the other apostles in championing Jesus Christ as Saviour, Baptizer, Healer, and Coming King. In the book of Acts and in his epistles he proclaimed and promoted these truths and experiences. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” he challenged the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31). Sensing an emptiness in the experience of the believers he met at Ephesus he questioned, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” (Acts 19:2). They had not. But, “when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). The Apostle to the Gentiles moreover exercised a spectacular healing ministry and included “gifts of healings” in his list of the operations of the Holy Spirit which congregations ought to covet earnestly (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:9). And it was, of course, Paul who gave us the classic text about the rapture, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)…
…What is the Foursquare Gospel? The name was born in the white heat of Pentecostal revival in Oakland, California, 1922. The movement sprouted from the mighty move of God at Angelus Temple by which the Lord stirred the whole southland. But the message is millennia older than either the name or the organization. The message is identical to that of Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament.
(Portions taken from The Foursquare Gospel, Aimee Semple McPherson, compiled by Raymond L. Cox, Foursquare Publications, 1969)