Redemptive-Historical Survey: 14 | Pentecost & the Church (LDBC Recap 5/8/16)

Explanation

logo-lake-drive-baptist-churchOn Sunday, January 24th, 2016, I began a Core Seminar on Redemptive History & Biblical Theology at my church, Lake Drive Baptist Church. During the course of this series I’ll be sending out emails recapping lessons and directing recipients to resources for further study.

Rather than just share these recaps with my church family, I’ve decided to share them here on the blog for anyone else who might be interested. I will be posting them occasionally over the next couple of months on a weekly basis or so.

See previous posts:

Recap/review

In this week’s recap we will cover three sections: (a) Pentecost and the church; (b) the return of Christ and the consummation of the new-creational kingdom; and (c) some final conclusions to our study.

We begin by reviewing the role of Pentecost and the church in redemptive history.

Overview of Biblical material

Acts; the NT epistles

  • God’s new people, the Church, is begun.
  • The Gospel spreads throughout the world.
  • The Church wrestles over emerging theological issues (e.g., the inclusion of Gentiles and the question of circumcision).
  • The apostles instruct these young emerging churches (cf. epistles).

Role within redemptive history

Summary: God’s people is transformed into a community of Jews and Gentiles who experience the beginning realities of this new-creational kingdom by faith. God increases his new-creational kingdom through this people—the Church—as they proclaim the Gospel and live out its entailment or implications.

As always, we will dissect this summary in parts.

  • God’s people begin to experience the realities of this new-creational kingdom by faith.

The prime example of this is the outpouring of the new-creational kingdom reality of the Spirit at Pentecost. Acts 2:1-21 presents this event in detail.

Other examples also exist:

  • Justification – In Christ, we already receive an end-time verdict of “not guilty.”
  • Spiritual resurrection – Being raised with Christ (Col 3).
  • New creation existence in Christ (cf. being raised with Christ and experiencing the Spirit’s presence) – 2 Cor 5:17.
  • Eternal life – In John this is an “already” reality. It is akin to being raised with Christ–experiencing resurrection existence (cf. new birth/being born again).
  • Experiencing the death of our old humanness (a characteristic of the fallen creation, our fallen humanity) in Christ, and being made sharers of this new humanness in him – See Col 3; Rom 6; Eph 5; etc.

All of these new-creational realities belong to the age to come. These saving realities have entered in the midst of the current fallen age.

  • Gentiles (non-Jews) are included in this community and share in its new-creational kingdom promises.

As noted above, a prime, if not the prime, example of God’s people experiencing the beginning realities of this new-creational kingdom was Pentecost, where God’s people experienced the new-creational presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling them.

Noteworthy, then, is the story that Luke records in Acts 10-11, where, we might say, Pentecost goes on wheels, goes on tour, hits the road, etc. In Acts 10-11, we have what we might call the “Gentile Pentecost” (see Acts 10:44-47; 11:17 specially). In this account, Peter notes that these Gentiles (non-Jews) have experienced the very same–identical–reception of the Spirit that God had promised in the Old Testament to the end-time people of God, this end-time believing “Israel”  (cf. the citation of Joel 2 as fulfilled at Pentecost in Acts 2). The implication that Peter and the early church drew from this and other similar events is that believing Gentiles have been made fellow-heirs of the new-creational kingdom promises of salvation. There is no distinction between  believing Jew and Gentile with regards to participation in these promises of God.

Gal 3:28-29 – 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. 

Gal 3:14 – So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles…

Cf. Ps 87; Isa 19:19-25; 49:6; Zech 8:20-23; 2 Cor 7:1.

  • As such, God’s People is transformed into a community composed of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles—the Church.

This point is made explicit in texts like Eph 2:11-22 and Rom 11:17-24 where Paul states that believing Gentiles have been made a part of this believing community, the church–this new-humanity, this “end-time Israel” anticipated in the Old Testament (Gal 6:16; cf. 1 Pet 2:9; Phil 3:3).

To say this differently, synthesizing the above two points: the Church—composed of both believing Jews and Gentiles—is the heir of the covenant-bound, new-creational kingdom promises.

  • God increases his new-creational kingdom through this people—the Church—as they proclaim the Gospel and live out its entailment or implications.

We see this in commissioning texts like Matthew 28:18-20.

Because “all authority” has been giving to Christ (i.e., Christ is reigning over his new-creational kingdom), the disciples are to do what? They are to “go”; they are to advance this reign, extend its domain (cf. in so doing this believing community fulfills the Adamic mandate to exercise God’s rule over creation; thus they function as a renewed–new–humanity).

How are they to do so? In two ways. (1) By baptizing people, that is, by seeing people converted, by seeing people embrace Christ through faith. This new-creational kingdom extends as people are made partakers of it through faith Christ.

We see this in a text like John 3:5, where Christ says that the borders of this kingdom are marked by new-birth. In other words, conversion is central to the presence of this new-creational kingdom. One does not partake in it unless one is converted. (Thus, “kingdom” language apart from the existence of conversion dilutes “kingdom” of its Biblical, inherently salvific meaning.) Or again, over and over Acts records that this new-creational kingdom spreads as “the word [=Gospel] of the Lord [=Jesus] continued to increase [=spread] and prevail mightily [=be embraced with faith]” (Acts 19:20). In other words, to preach the Gospel is to wield a message that brings about new-creational kingdom when responded to with faith!

Thus, the church advances the new-creational kingdom by proclaiming the Gospel, through which more and more people will embrace it with saving faith.

But (2) the inbreaking of this new-creational kingdom is further and further realized as these believers embody its restorative effect in their lives, their relationships with others (e.g., the church), and even their relationships with creation itself. Jesus tells his disciples to teach new converts to obey everything he has taught, or, as we might say, to live out the entailments and implications of this new-creational kingdom.

And, so, the Church is the recipient of this new-creational kingdom. But not only so. Having received this new-creational kingdom, Christ then uses the Church as his vehicle for advancing this new-creational kingdom. The Church, then is both (a) the recipient and (b) the vehicle of the new-creational kingdom.

  • Summary/recap: God’s people is transformed into a community of Jews and Gentiles who experience the beginning realities of this new-creational kingdom by faith. God increases his new-creational kingdom through this people—the Church—as they proclaim the Gospel and live out its entailment or implications.
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