The Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit: Historical-Redemptive Punctuation or Pattern?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

At Pentecost, the experience of the gift of tongues that day called for an explanation of what was going on. Peter stepped up under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The cause of the event and experience was the New Covenant promise of the Holy Spirit. To interpret the event at Pentecost, Peter reached for the prophecy from Joel 2:28-29. The only correct understanding of what happened was the outpouring of the Sprit on all mankind. The prophecy was that God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh, all kinds of human beings, men, women, children, slaves, rich, poor, etc.

Luke outlines his letter according to the table of contents in Acts 1:8. The mission of the gospel would go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world. Acts 2 exposes that promise and its fulfillment for Jerusalem and Judea. Acts 8 tells about that fulfillment in Samaria. Acts 10 and 19 reveal that fulfillment for the uttermost parts of the earth. Luke's purpose in writing was fulfilled as he documents the spread of Jesus' mission through the power of the Spirit.

What has happened for far too long in theology is to understand each of these important chapters in Acts as punctuated events in the history of redemption. This understanding limits the experience of the baptism and filling of the Spirit to the certain people groups in Acts only in order to emphasize the fulfillment of Jesus' mission. But this view - one which i held for far too long - completely ignores the other side to this coin. These events in Acts are not just punctuated events. They are also events of pattern. Not only do they punctuate history with the Spirit's power, but they also provide a pattern for how the Spirit works and provides power for ALL mankind.

This was the point of the prophecy anyway, wasn't it? Joel's prophecy was intended to point to the gift of the Spirit for ALL mankind, for all types of people. The events in Acts simply punctuate history with HOW it all began. They are not intended to be the ONLY events in the series, as some theologians have come to conclude. The baptism of the Spirit in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth in Acts are starting blocks for the rest of the race the Spirit is still running with the church until Jesus returns.

Any human being in any country, in any people group, in any language group, in any culture, in any demographic, in any economic strata...anywhere! Anyone can and should receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit...man, woman, child, preteen, teenager, college student, young married, old married...anyone. The stories in Acts show us that we are just a part of the promise fulfilled...not punctuated.

John the Baptist preached that Jesus is the baptizer with the Holy Spirit. Ask Him today to catch you up in this age-old promise and baptize you with the Holy Spirit, filling you with the power you need for the same mission all of Jesus' people are still on today: the winning of the nations to kingship of Jesus.



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