21 May REFORMATION – Pentecost in Perspective 5/24/15
THE FINGER OF GOD
Reuniting Power and Holiness in the Church, By Dr. Mark Rutland
In Acts 10:38, Simon Peter described the ministry of Jesus: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him.” Now shall his body do less or other than he himself? Certainly not! He said that we would live in the expectation of partaking in His life, ministry, gifts, holiness and power. That, in fact, is life in the Spirit.
Notice again Acts 10:38. The verse is a clear statement of the two-fold of the Finger of God in the life of Jesus. As Simon Peter tried to explain to a pagan household the life and ministry of Jesus, he defined the world of the Spirit of Jesus in the believer. In this one sentence we are given a terrace view on the two-fold work of the Spirit. Peter said, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”
I believe it would be a mistake to see in this a separation of baptisms. Jesus did not receive two different anointings. He did, however, receive one baptism in the Holy Spirit for holiness of life and power in ministry. It is this that Peter alluded in a lovely little example of parallelism to follow: “…who went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil.”
What Happened At Pentecost
At first glance, that sentence may seem forced. I believe, however, that the power of Peter’s declaration that Jesus “went around doing good” did not escape Cornelius, a Roman soldier surrounded by an empire of men doing evil. In modern English performing acts of beneficence. It seems clear, however, Peter meant much, much more. The fact that Jesus did many good things would seem hardly worth mentioning. Peter must have meant that he was, and did exclusively good.
That is as simple a statement of Christ’s holiness of nature as can be found, it is taken literally. Many do good. Only he does only good because he is only good.
Peter then added, “…and healing all who were under the power of the devil.”
In other words Jesus did good and healed. This certainly cannot mean that healing was not doing good. I believe the most appropriate conclusion is that Peter was speaking of living in holiness and ministering in supernatural power.
That is the hope of the Church as well because we are his body filled with his breath. What happened at Pentecost, the glib have explained, is that people spoke in tongues.
No! No! A thousand times no!
What happened at Pentecost is that God proved that the sanctified heart and miraculous ministry of the Word could find incarnate reality in the corporate body of the Church. That resulted in supernatural communication. Tongues were a manifestation of that power. So was the authority of Peter’s Pentecostal sermon. There were also awesome demonstrations of deliverance, divine protection and healing.
The Bottom Line of Pentecost
A charge frequently leveled at the charismatic renewal was that it substituted temporary experience for enduring transformation. While this is certainly unfair in some ways, the extent to which it is true is in direct proportion to the movement’s failure to articulate what actually happens in the Pentecostal experience.
Such failure is disastrous. The end result will necessarily be frustrated believers discovering that their victory dissipates before the benediction. Even more calamitous for the kingdom is the horrifying spectacle of people. Ministries and congregations enjoying the charismatic gifts while failing to really face and deal with the ethical inconsistency in their own lives.
Of course, the opponents of the Pentecostal message take great delight in publishing abroad the sins of charismatics. They fail to realize, of course, that the particular wickedness of some Pentecostals hardly invalidates the true experience of the Upper Room. It is a spurious implication, and the same one, in fact, made by those who dismiss all Christianity because of the Crusades in the Middle Ages or the violence in Ireland.
The necessity remains, however, to proclaim the Pentecostal experience so clearly that it will be sought for what it really is. The balance of holiness of life and power for ministry is indispensable to any attempt to give theological expression to the deepest ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Peter’s statement that, “This is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:16, KJV) was a bare expression of fact. The Holy Spirit had come. Yes! But what did it mean?
What actually happened at Pentecost? The church was born at Pentecost. To the sound of a roaring wind, by the light of earth the day that God baptized the 120 in the Holy Spirit. The new thing was a living temple, a bride and a body. This corporate being was the Church.
The Upper Room visitation, while certainly not burying the individual personalities of those present, made them deeply aware that henceforth they were part of a greater whole. Furthermore that whole became a living temple far fuller that the sum total of the individual bricks used.