Last week we learned that the book of Acts plays a key part in the unfolding drama of God’s work to restore his creation through Jesus Christ. As the church today we must, like the disciples in Acts, live faithfully, creatively and glocally. That is to say we must know where we are at in the drama (after Pentecost and before the second coming), creatively speak and act in keeping with where we are, and be mindful that the stage upon which the drama is playing out is global even as we improvise locally.
I was reminded through an email from a congregant that although we are part of what God is up to we also have to remember that we are not at the center of it all; we are not the main characters on stage. This week we engaged Acts 2 and the crucial event of Pentecost. Peter made that congregants point beautifully. Pentecost, as some might suspect, is not about us and our experience of the Spirit as much as it is about Jesus’ exaltation to the right hand of God and expansion of His kingdom. Jesus is at the center of it all.
Scottish Theologian Sinclair Ferguson put it well in his book The Holy Spirit,
“Pentecost, like the visible manifestations of every coronation, is by its very nature sui generis [of its own kind]. It is no more repeatable as an event than is the crucifixion or the resurrection or the ascension of our Lord. It is an event in redemptive history (historia salutis [history of salvation]), and should not be squeezed into the grid of the application of redemption (ordo salutis [order of salvation])….That is not to say that Pentecost has no existential dimension or contemporary relevance. But it does mean that we should no more anticipate a ‘personal Pentecost’ than that we will experience a personal Jordan, wilderness, Gethsemane, or Golgotha. While such language has been popularly employed it is theologically misleading. Pentecost itself is no more repeatable than is the crucifixion, the empty tomb or the ascension.”— Sinclair Ferguson
It is important to remember that Pentecost is about Jesus expanding his kingdom because it helps us to remember that:
1. Jesus is center stage
2. We are not center stage
3. Our experience of the Spirit is secondary to the main event
4. The Spirit is poured out by Jesus so that we might make Christ known
5. Jesus will always remain at the right hand of the Father as King of his expanding Kingdom
The flow of the relationship (covenant) between God and his people is from heaven to earth. Pentecost therefore exemplifies the Biblical priority of God’s grace and descent to us.
As I studied the passage I think that the best way to see Peter’s point in how he ultimately answers the question “What does all this mean?” (2:12). “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36).
Questions for Conversation