When I first became a fundamentalist Pentecostal believer I was 14 years of age and it was 1984. I was always told for as long as I could remember by my mother that the only true church of Christ was the Pentecostal church. I was eventually converted in my high school by a young man named Michael, he was always witnessing to whoever would listen either in the hallways or the lunch room where he eventually met me. It did not take long to convince me of the truth of his faith because I was already taught at home that God was real.
Although my mother did not attend church she claimed a firm belief in God based on her alleged personal supernatural encounters with the divine. She raised me on tales of having heard the voice of God, having dreams and visions where she saw herself in heaven, being miraculously rescued from dangerous situations by divine intervention, and seeing her name in a vision written in the book of life! What I did not know about my mother as a child was that she was a schizophrenic and had been diagnosed with a slew of other mental disorders. To this day she holds to her beliefs but lives as she pleases and is not a big fan of institutionalized religion. She claims she is saved based on her previous alleged experiences and does not give a damn about what anyone has to say about it. Not to mention that she knows nothing about what is really written in the bible, or what it has to say about some of her own contradictory behavior.
One of the things that distinguish the Pentecostals and other fundamentalist churches from some of your more mainstream sects of Christianity is the apparent signs and wonders (miracles) that accompany their teachings. They are referred to as charismatics because they have an extraordinary ability to attract others to their faith. There is lively music, dancing, and a huge emphasis on the so called gifts of the Holy Spirit. They speak in tongues and people swear that they have been healed of their sicknesses through nothing more than the prayers of the faithful or a gifted servant of the Lord.
Pentecostals base their beliefs on the miraculous aspects associated with their faith entirely on Mark 16:17,18
17 These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.'
What they fail to realize is that these verses are believed by most scholars to have been added to the text sometime later. Most scholars agree that the book of Mark ended with verse 8 which states that ‘the women came out and ran away from the tomb because they were frightened out of their wits; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.’ Here is a short article on why many scholars agree that Mark 16 ended in the eighth verse and that verses 9-20 are believed to be later additions to the text .
Pentecostals are also literalist when it comes to the scriptures so no matter how impossible or implausible a tale in the scriptures may be, their answer to the naysayers would be that nothing is impossible for God in accordance with Luke 1:37 and other similar passages throughout the bible. They also get support for their beliefs and practices in worship from 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 which specifically names 9 gifts of the Spirit: