Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Early New Testament Church Lesson 3

Recommended reading: Blomberg pp.35-54

1. If Jesus' baptism with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan is paralleled by the church's experience at Pentecost, can the same be said of his baptism by fire?
There seems to be a partial parallel. I think we need to be careful we don't take away from the importance of Jesus' suffering. My concern with this theory is that it has the potential to encourage more man-centredness, which I think we would all agree is out of control in large areas of Christendom. Having said that, any theory can be skewed and used inappropriately.

2. What is the significance of the gift of tongues at Pentecost?

I noticed two things.
One significance was as an outward sign to the unbelieving Jews that it was God. The “rushing wind” was a symbol of God’s presence in the Old Testament
Another was the idea of reconciliation and unity. From Babel there had been a distance and separation which was instigated by God for His purposes. At Pentecost God made a sign of the beginning of His reconciliation which is that “in Christ” all are united.
3. Was there more than one Pentecost in Acts? If so, where?
I suppose there is an inference that at each stage of the spread of the gospel, there was a “pentecost” of sorts to each of the people groups mentioned in Acts 1:8. The Samaritans experienced one when the Apostles visited and it could be said there was one at the residence of Cornelius. My preference is for extensions rather than more “pentecosts” as I’ve mentioned in my answer to the next question.
4. Would it be accurate to say that there were several Pentecosts in Acts? Once the gospel leaves Jerusalem would it better to speak of repetitions of Pentecost or extensions of Pentecost?
I prefer extensions because it essentially comes down to people getting the Holy Spirit who weren’t at Pentecost; the Holy Spirit had already come to men and was now indwelling each believer as God saved them. It’s not as if He was coming again. The Holy Spirit had already made His grand entrance and was hard at work. If Pentecost continued to happen it would be as though He continued to be sent from heaven again, and again, and again. This isn’t consistent with the picture Jesus gives us in John 16.

5. How do you understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people today?
His indwelling is simultaneous with faith in the Lord Jesus and repentance of sin, to sanctify us into the image of God’s Son (John 16:4b-15, Romans 8:14-17). Believers in the New Testament and transitional era experienced forms of subsequence unique for the fledgling church, we now experience salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit together.

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