The Significance Of Pentecost In Redemptive History -- By: Robert P. Martin
RBTR 1:1 (Jan 2004) p. 27
The Significance Of Pentecost In Redemptive History
Many claim that we live in a special time–an age not known since the days of the apostles–“the age of the Spirit.” It is true that we live in an unusual period of church history. We live in an age in which entire denominations are distinguished not by their Christology, Soteriology, or Ecclesiology (as in ages past) but by their Pneumatology–even distinguishing themselves by the names Pentecostal and Charismatic. We also live in a day that stands at the end of at least four decades of the spread of unbiblical views of the Spirit’s ministry and gifts, with the tentacles of error reaching at an alarming rate even into formerly Reformed churches and among Reformed people.
We live in a day in which the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost has been pressed into the service of false doctrine and practice. Much of the Charismatic movement finds no significance in Pentecost except that of a platform from which to launch their doctrines of the baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Their doctrines, of course, are wrong. And in their zeal for them, they miss the real importance of the event whose name they wear as their badge of distinction.
The best safeguard against false doctrine, of course, and the best cure for error, is truth. If then we are to avoid Pentecostal error, we must understand the real significance of Pentecost. With this in view, we will consider the true importance of Pentecost in the history of redemption. The meaning of Pentecost may be seen in relation to three main themes: the Old Testament promise of the Spirit’s advent, the continuing work of Christ on earth, and the blessings of the New Covenant.
The Significance Of Pentecost Respecting The Promised Advent Of The Spirit
God’s revelation of Himself has been gradual and progressive and has been linked to His redemptive activity in history. As God has unfolded
RBTR 1:1 (Jan 2004) p. 28
His redemptive program, so also He has unfolded His self-disclosure. Jehovah’s self-portrait in the Old Testament is predominantly monotheistic (i.e., it is a portrait of the one living and true God), as exemplified in the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God, Jehovah is one” (Deut. 6:4–5).1 Through the prophets, however, the Lord also spoke of the coming of a divine messianic king, a God-Man who would be the Son of David. For example, Isaiah says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be calle...
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