The church that Christ built (and is building): a Pentecost reflection

pentecost doveI’ve had some swirling thoughts today that I wanted to spit out in reflection on Pentecost Sunday. If you’ve read my About page, you’ll know that I’ve gone through quite a theological transformation. My Christian life began with prosperity oriented, Word of Faith, Pentecostal based teaching. I read the Bible in a very fragmented fashion that led to all kinds of erroneous beliefs about Christian faith and practice. I then went through a dispensational/baptistic phase because I started reading the Bible in a more holistic manner and came to recognize the connectedness in Scripture. That evolved in a solidly Reformed position.

I couldn’t help but think of this trajectory as I listened to the sermon today on Acts 2:14-36. In my earlier Christian days, the focus of Acts 2 had been about the evidence of tongues as proof of the Holy Spirit’s work. It demonstrated the miraculous work of the Spirit that moved people to prove their Christian position through extraordinary events. In this view, the Spirit moved individuals to do whatever it is they believed God called them to do based on some existential, individualized perception.

Since 2006, I’ve come to see that Acts 2 is but a reflection of the Christ-oriented nature of Scripture and God’s redemptive plan for his creation. The baptism of the Spirit had less to do with extraordinary events but had everything to do with the testimony and proclamation of Jesus Christ and our empowerment to proclaim him. After all, in John 14-16, Jesus had promised the Spirit after he was no longer with the disciples. Specifically, he said;

But when the Helper comes whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me and you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)

A good trinitarian understanding will negate seeing the Holy Spirit as a rogue agent that propels us to focus on the Spirit’s work apart from the work of Christ. The Spirit’s role is to glorify Christ and point to him according to the Father’s good purpose that he has already revealed. So while it might seem plausible to focus on the the extraordinary works of the Spirit, the central character of Acts 2 is not the 3rd person of the the Trinity, but the 2nd person – Jesus the Christ. (Also, regenerating hearts to believe the gospel IS a miraculous event.) This is wholly demonstrated in Peter’s speech in our sermon passage today, vv. 14-36. Continue reading