Dr. Howard Arthur Swancy
Bishop Howard Arthur Swancy is Pastor and Founder of Peace Apostolic Church and President of Aenon School of Theology & Bible College. Prior to his work in the ministry, Swancy pursued a career in broadcast media sales and became an accomplished Account Executive for KCBS, the owned and operated local CBS station in Los Angeles. Early in his seventeen-year career at KCBS, the Lord began to tug on his heart, which led him on a path to salvation. Feeling an urgency to know God in a personal way, he began meeting with his grandmother-in-law, Willie Ann Tucker, in her Watts, California living room. Willie Ann, a devoted Christian for decades, directed Swancy to the Apostolic Faith Home Assembly in L.A’s West Adams district where the late Bishop Frank R. Bowden was the pastor. At the Home Assembly, Howard and his wife Cynthia were baptized in Name of Jesus Christ according to Acts 2:38. Two weeks later, on October 20, 1971, Howard, with Cynthia kneeling at the altar beside him, received the precious gift of the Holy Spirit with the initial sign of speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4). From then on, the pair was known as the “Holy Ghost twins” and together they vowed to always serve God and do the work of the Lord.
Immediately after receiving salvation, Swancy became an ardent student of the Scriptures, always attending weekly Bible classes and seeking private tutoring from his pastor and the wisest elders in the church. He began his formal theological studies at Aenon Bible College where he graduated at the top of his class in 1978, earning a bachelor’s degree in Religious Education, and later a master’s degree in Theology and a doctorate degree in Divinity. But during his undergraduate years, Swancy first began to feel a calling from the Lord to minister to others and was later ordained as an Elder by the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.). Under the leadership of Bishop Bowden and later Bishop G. Grady Benton, Swancy became an active member of Home Assembly’s ministerial staff, after having served as a member of the church choir and other various auxiliaries. As a temple minister, he taught Sunday school, preached sermons and evangelized to the most vulnerable amongst us in nursing homes, hospitals, disenfranchised areas and prisons.
After serving in the ministry for ten years, the Lord compelled Elder Swancy to pastor a new flock that would be saved under his leadership. On Mother’s Day of 1981, Elder Swancy first opened the doors of the Peace Apostolic Church. Since that inaugural service on May 10, 1981, supported by his wife and three young daughters, the Lord has faithfully anointed Elder Swancy to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Dubbed the “Soul Saving Salvation”, thousands have been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit over the past four decades. Elevated to Bishop in 1998, Bishop Swancy has seen God expand the reach of Peace Apostolic from its first location in his home’s living room to its current location in the South Bay community of Carson, CA. Unapologetically Apostolic, Bishop has remained steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Bishop Swancy counts it a blessing to have all three of his daughters, the founding members of Peace Apostolic, and his sons-in-law serving by his side in the ministry. His eldest daughter, Sister Tamara Swancy-Prince serves as the Executive Director of Auxiliaries, while her husband Deacon Martin Prince, a retired educator and sports management professional, is a senior member of the Deacon Board. His youngest daughter, Sister Natalie Lamb, a licensed counselor and life coach, is the Director of Counseling Services, while her husband Minister Andre Lamb, a sound engineer and editor, is the Minister of Music and a Sunday school teacher. His middle daughter, Sister Monique Chenault, a journalist and veteran television producer, serves in the church’s Media Ministry; her late husband Minister Alec Chenault, also a television producer, was a member of the ministerial staff. A proud grandpa, Bishop Swancy is also blessed to have the support of all his grandchildren; Zoe Lamb, Sophia Chenault, Liya Prince and Talia Lamb. After 35 years of marriage to Bishop Swancy and 21 years of tireless service to Peace Apostolic Church, Co-Founder and First Lady Cynthia Swancy was called home to heaven. Bishop Swancy is now married to Sister Patricia Swancy, a retired teacher and school counselor in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She remains by Bishop’s side as he tenaciously persists in spreading God’s word and preparing anyone who will listen for the soon coming return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
WE BELIEVE that the Bible is the inspired, infallible (unalterable) Word of God written by holy men of old, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
WE BELIEVE in one God who is infinite in power, holy in nature, attributes and purposes, as well as omniscient and omnipresent.
WE BELIEVE that in Jesus dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, for it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fullness dwell.
WE BELIEVE in the Virgin Birth: Jesus was both human and divine; He was God manifested in the flesh.
WE BELIEVE in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We believe that He ascended on high and has sent His spirit, that Holy Ghost, which was poured out at Jerusalem over 1900 years ago, and it is this same Spirit that is filling the hearts of those who diligently seek HIM today.
WE BELIEVE in baptism in water by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and in the baptism of the Holy Ghost, speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. This constitutes the new birth.
WE BELIEVE in a holy, sanctified life. We believe in divine healing, communion and foot washing. We believe also in the glorious catching away (the rapture) of the saints when Jesus returns in the clouds in glory to take His people to Heaven.
OUR CHIEF AIM is to glorify our Savior, who is Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Why We Baptize in Jesus’ Name
The subject of water baptism has long been called a great issue and no doubt has been made such by many church leaders of the past and present. In our study of it, let us first consider its importance, or the necessity of being baptized.
The Importance of Water Baptism
Christian water baptism is an ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ. If it is not important in the plan of God, why did Jesus command it in Matthew 28:19? And why did Peter follow up by saying, “Be baptized every one of you,” and by commanding the Gentiles to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 10:48)? We must remember two points about the importance of water baptism. First, whatever Christ definitely established and ordained cannot be unimportant, whether we understand its significance or not. Second, Christ and the apostles showed the importance of this ordinance by observing it. Jesus walked many miles to be baptized, though He was without sin, saying, “For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” (See Matthew 3:13-16.)
It is true that water itself does not contain any saving virtue, but God has chosen to include it in His plan of salvation. Peter explained, “Baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 3:21). According to Luke 7:30, “the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized.”
The Mode of Baptism
According to the Scriptures, the proper mode of baptism is immersion. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16). “And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38). “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death” (Romans 6:4). A corpse is not buried by placing it on top of the ground and sprinkling a little soil on it, but by covering it completely.
According to the World Book Encyclopedia, “At first all baptism was by complete immersion” (vol. 1, p.651). And the Catholic Encyclopedia states, “In the early centuries, all were baptized by immersion in streams, pools, and baptisteries” (vol. 2, p.263). Immersion was not convenient after the Catholic church instituted infant baptism; thus the mode was changed to sprinkling. (See Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 3, pp.365-66.)
Repentance identifies us with the death of Christ, and baptism identifies us with His burial. Coming forth from the watery grave of baptism and receiving new life in the Holy Spirit identifies us with His resurrection.
The Formula for Baptism
Jesus commanded His disciples to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). He did not command them to use these words as a formula, but He commanded them to baptize in “the name.” The word name is used here in the singular, and it is the focal point of the baptismal command. The titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost describe God’s relationships to humanity and are not the supreme, saving name described here, which is Jesus. “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus is the name in which the roles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are revealed. The angel of the Lord instructed Joseph, “She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus said, “I am come in my Father’s name,” and, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,…the Father will send in my name” (John 5:43; 14:26). Thus by baptizing in the name of Jesus, we honor the Godhead. “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
Luke 24:45-47 records that just before His ascension, Jesus opened the disciples’ understanding. It was necessary that their understanding be opened, and many today need this same operation in order to understand the Scriptures. Then Jesus said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” The disciples had their understanding opened so that they could grasp the vast importance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Verse 47 describes the commission that Jesus then gave: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations [Jews and Gentiles], beginning at Jerusalem.”
Peter was one of that number to whom Jesus had spoken and whose understanding had been opened. After having listened to these instructions, a few days later he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to preach on the Day of Pentecost. The hearts of the hearers were pierced and, feeling condemned, they cried out to Peter and the other apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter did not hesitate but boldly answered, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
Some say that Peter told them to be baptized in Jesus’ name because they were Jews and this baptism was to make them acknowledge Jesus Christ. But let us go with Peter to the house of Cornelius several years later. Cornelius and his household were Gentiles, yet there again Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). (Most translations actually say, “In the name of Jesus Christ.”) If Peter was wrong on the Day of Pentecost, he surely had ample time to be corrected before he went to the house of Cornelius.
Was Peter wrong on the Day of Pentecost? When the hearers were prickled in their hearts, they spoke to Peter and to the rest of the apostles (Acts 2:37). This included Matthew, who wrote Matthew 28:19. Moreover, when Peter preached, he stood up with the eleven Acts 2:14). Matthew was there, yet we find no words of correction from him. He surely would have spoken up if Peter had disobeyed the Lord. But all the apostles understood and carried out the Lord’s commission. As Jesus said in prayer, “I have manifested thy name unto the men [the apostles] which thou gavest me out of the world…and they have kept thy word” (John 17:6).
The Samaritans, who were not Jews, were also baptized in the name of Jesus. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them….”But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women…. They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:5, 12, 16).
Let us see how Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, baptized. He went to Ephesus many years after the Day of Pentecost and found some disciples of John the Baptist there. “He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:2-5). Although these disciples had already been baptized, the name of Jesus was so important as to cause them to be rebaptized in His name.
We do not believe that Paul changed the formula or mode of baptism when he baptized Lydia and her household (Acts 16:14-15) or the Philippian jailer. The latter came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas, saying, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And he took them the same hour of the night [shortly after midnight], and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway” (Acts 16:30-33). How can we doubt that Paul baptized these people using the same mode and formula that he used elsewhere, that is, immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Paul was not with the apostles when Jesus gave his finial instructions to them in Matthew 28:19 and Luke 24:47, yet Paul baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. How did he know what to do? He said that his gospel was not a tradition of men but a revelation from God. “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). Paul was chosen to bear Jesus’ name to the Gentiles, and he wrote many divinely inspired epistles to the church. To this apostle, God revealed the mystery of the church, “which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5). Paul claimed to have divine authority: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (I Corinthians 14:37). And Paul wrote, Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Water baptism is done in both word and deed. We cannot afford to overlook this command to the church.
The church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). The apostles not only preached baptism in Jesus’ name, but they practiced it. Nowhere can we find that they baptized using the words “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Instead, we find them baptizing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In baptizing in Jesus’ name, they fulfilled the command of the Lord in Matthew 28:19. Paul said, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Let this be a solemn warning to us.
Some say that they will accept the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 but not those of Peter in Acts 2:38. But Peter spoke on the Day of Pentecost under the anointing of the Holy Ghost. Peter was one of the apostles, and to him had been given the keys of the kingdom, so we have no right to discredit his words.
In Mark 7:8 Jesus said, “Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men.” History tells us that it was not until many years after the apostles that the mode and formula of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ were changed. (See Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 1, p.241.) Which means more to you, the command of the Lord or the tradition of men?
Taken from the Word Aflame Tract “Why We Baptize in Jesus’ Name” #6109
Why Did God Choose Tongues?
He was a deacon in a fashionable church, but he did not believe in the Pentecostal doctrine relative to the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Yet he had been exposed to that belief through members of his immediate family. One night, at the close of an Evangelistic service in an Apostolic church, he went forward to pray and was overwhelmingly filled with the Spirit of God. He spoke in other tongues fluently and was so inundated in the Spirit that even hours later he could not speak English. Definitely, this was a biblical experience accompanied not only by speaking in another tongue, but also by the joy and peace of the Holy Ghost.
Millions have experienced this same baptism in the Spirit. Wherever this message is proclaimed, the question is asked, “Why did God choose speaking in tongues as the initial, physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost?” There may be many answers to this question, and perhaps we do not know them all. Several key points are apparent, however.
The Sovereignty of God
First, we must recognize that God is not accountable to us for what He chooses to do. Isaiah asked, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counselor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14). We have no license to question God’s ways or to dispute His actions. His purposes are supreme, His promises sure, His performances sane and sensible. The following passages of Scripture, when studied prayerfully with a hungry heart and an open mind, show that there is a definite connection between speaking in tongues and the baptism of the Holy Ghost: Isaiah 28:11-12; Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; 19:6; Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:6.
Why did God choose blood as the basis for atonement? Why did God choose water as the element in baptism? Why did God choose gold as the overlaying metal for the ark of the covenant? Why did God choose stone as the material upon which to record the Ten Commandments? Why did God choose Jerusalem as the site for the Temple? Why did God choose dust out of which to form mankind? There is divine purpose behind these choices, although we may not understand all the reasons. We certainly cannot deny or disavow God’s sovereign right to do as He pleases and to choose what He wishes.
An Immediate, External Evidence
One vital reason why God chose other tongues as the initial sign of receiving the Holy Ghost is that speaking in tongues is an immediate, external evidence. There are many other evidences of the operation of the Spirit of God in a person’s life, but it is a matter of time before they are manifest. For example, the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 follows in the wake of the spiritual infilling.
Peter and the six Jewish Christians who went with him to Caesarea knew that the Gentiles had received the Holy Ghost, not because of longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, or temperance, but because they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God (Acts 10:46). Peter specifically pointed to speaking in tongues as the irrefutable evidence (Acts 10:46-47).
Speaking in tongues is an outward, external evidence, instantly observable and heard. By contrast, peace, joy, righteousness, and spiritual fruit are inward, internal results of the infilling that become evident with the passing of time.
A Uniform Evidence
Another reason why God chose other tongues as the initial sign of receiving the Spirit is that speaking in tongues is a uniform evidence. It applies to everyone, regardless of race, culture, or language.
Some people quote 1 Corinthians 12:30 in an attempt to prove that not all speak in tongues when they are filled with the Spirit: “Do all speak with tongues?” However, this verse refers to the gift of tongues, that is, speaking a public message in tongues to be interpreted for the congregation, which is a spiritual gift that a person may exercise subsequent to the infilling of the Spirit. Though both tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and tongues as a later spiritual gift are the same in essence, they are different in administration and operation. For example, the regulations regarding the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 did not apply to the conversion accounts in Acts, where many people spoke in tongues simultaneously, without interpretation, as the sign of being filled with the Spirit.
Some people may question this distinction between the initial use of tongues at the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the later use of tongues as a spiritual gift in a Christian’s life. But the same distinction is apparent with regard to faith. To be saved, everyone must have faith (John 3:16; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8). Yet 1 Corinthians 12:9 reveals that there is a special, supernatural gift of faith that can operate in a Spirit-filled person’s life over and beyond the faith necessary for salvation. Saving faith and the spiritual gift of faith are the same in essence but different in administration and operation.
In speaking about the birth of the Spirit, Jesus emphasized the uniformity of the experience: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Moreover, Jesus placed emphasis upon the accompanying sound, not on sight or feeling. The sound of the wind blowing is evidence of its presence.
Some people conclude that Jesus referred only to “the sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” on the Day of Pentecost. But this sound of wind is never mentioned again in the later accounts of receiving the Holy Ghost, while speaking in tongues is. Speaking in tongues by itself caused the Jewish Christians to recognize that the experience of the Gentiles at Caesarea was identical to theirs on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 10:44-47; 11:15-17). Hence, the important, conclusive evidence of the Spirit’s manifestation at Pentecost was speaking in other tongues. The sound of wind was impersonal, but the speaking was personal. Speaking in tongues was the first evidence of each individual infilling.
At Caesarea all who heard the Word were filled, and all who heard the Word spoke in tongues. If some of them had not spoken in tongues, would the Jewish Christians have accepted their experiences? Clearly not. All twelve men mentioned in Acts 19:6 had a uniform experience. If ten of the twelve had spoken in tongues and the other two had not, would Paul have believed that the two had received the Holy Ghost just as the ten? Certainly not. Paul would not have accepted their experience if they have failed to exhibit the uniform evidence.
A Symbol of Complete Control
Speaking in tongues symbolizes God’s complete control of the believer. Perhaps this is one of the strongest reasons why God chose speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. This symbolism becomes apparent when we study James 3, which provides more information on the tongue than any other chapter in the New Testament.
First, the tongue is capable of defiling the whole body. If so, is it incredible to claim that the tongue is also capable of symbolizing the sanctification of the whole body?
Second, though the tongue is a smaller member, it has never been tamed by humanity. It is the most unruly member of the body. If so, is it not necessary for the tongue to be tamed before the whole body can be consecrated to God? James illustrates the importance of the tongue by comparing it to the bit in a horse’s mouth, which gives the rider complete control over the horse, and to the helm of a large ship, which gives the pilot full command of the vessel. In other words, whoever controls the tongue of a person controls him. And a person cannot tame his tongue by himself; only God can tame it for him.
According to Matthew 12:29, before someone can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, he must first bind the strong man. The strong man of our house is the tongue. We can tame every member of the body but this one. When God tames a person’s tongue, that person comes under God’s full control. He is in the hands of the Almighty. He has been conquered by Christ, endued with a spiritual force from on high, and empowered for God’s service.
Humanity’s Greatest Expression
The tongue provides the greatest expressions of the human spirit. We humans are spiritual and emotional beings, and as such we must give expression to our emotions. The ability and power to coordinate thought and tongue into intelligent speech is one of our highest prerogatives, elevating us above the beasts of the field. This ability makes us superior to the rest of God’s creation on earth, and it is the most distinguishing feature of our being.
The tongue becomes the vehicle of expression for the spirit. All of the emotions such as love, hate, anger, sorrow, joy, happiness, relief and serenity are communicated through the tongue. The tongue is the gateway to the heart, feelings, attitudes, and spirit.
All these things being true, it is not difficult to see why God has chosen speaking in tongues to express the greatest, most wonderful experience that we mortal humans can receive. In the baptism of the Holy Ghost, His Spirit and our spirit become one. He uses our tongue and voice to express this union. It is a wonder of wonders, chosen not by humans, but by God, the sovereign ruler of the universe.
Why fight against Him? Believe His Word, accept what He says, and you too can be baptized with the Holy Ghost, for God will give the Holy Spirit to all who repent and ask in faith (Luke11:13; Acts 2:38-39).
*Taken from the Word Aflame Tract “WHY DID GOD CHOSE TONGUES” #108