The following is a WELS pastor's response to a question about the differences between the Assemblies of God church and confessional lutheran beliefs. In my own confessional lutheran church, the good points of any denomination are always emphasized and we are encouraged to view non-confessional lutherans as fellow christians. So, in true christian love, the Wisconsin Lutheran Synod (WELS)pastor begins his answer be emphasizing the areas we agree on.
The Assemblies of God are fundamentalists who believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Holy Scriptures. They confess the doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ along with his virgin birth, substitutionary work on the cross, his bodily resurrection from the dead and his exaltation to the right hand of God.
They teach that faith is a condition of salvation rather than teaching that faith is the way God has chosen for us to receive salvation. The implication is that an unconverted, sinful human being must "decide" for Christ. The Wisconsin Synod teaches that people by nature are dead in their transgressions and sin and therefore have no ability to decide of Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 5). We do not choose Christ, rather he chose us (John 15:16) We believe that human beings are purely passive in conversion.
They teach that baptism and Holy Communion are ordinances whereby Christians declare to the world that they have died with Christ and share in the divine nature. They do not believe that the sacraments are means of grace through which the Holy Spirit works to create or strengthen faith. They deny the Real Presence in the Lord's Supper. They insist that the only legitimate way to perform baptism is by immersion. That is undoubtedly why the congregation in your community goes down to the lake to baptize. The Wisconsin Synod teaches that baptism and the Lord's Supper are means of grace through which the Holy Spirit works to create or strengthen faith (Titus 3:4-7, John 3:5-6, 1 Peter 3:21, Matthew 26:26-28). We believe that Christ's true body and blood are truly present in the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:26-28, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29). The Bible does not madate the mode of baptism. The water in baptism can be applied in the name of the Triune God by sprinkling, pouring, immersion or submersion.
The Assemblies of God are premillennialist. They believe that Christ will return and reign physically, visibly, and politcally for 1,000 years on earth. The Wisconsin Synod rejects the teaching that Jesus will return to establish a political reign here on earth (John 19:36, Romans 14:17, Colossians 1:13-14).
They are a perfectionist church body. According to the official web site of the Assemblies of God, they believe that "by the power of the Holy Ghost we are able to obey the command: 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.'" Holiness/perfectionist church bodies often seem to make rules where God hasn't and to call things sinful which God has not forbidden. The Wisconsin Synod teaches that although we will strive for Christian perfection, we will not attain it in this life (Romans 7:14-25, Philippians 3:12). We are careful not to call things sinful which God has not called sinful (1 Corinthians 10:23-33, Romans 14:1-23).
The Assemblies of God believe that every believer is entitled to "baptism in the Holy Spirit" (an experience separate from water baptism) with the inital evidence of speaking in tongues. They also practice faith healing. They teach that such "divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers." The Wisconsin Synod does not teach a "baptism in the Holy Spirit" separate from and subsequent to water baptism. We do not see speaking in tongues and faith healing as normative for Christians today.