Thoughts on the Missiological Intent of Pentecost …and F.D. Bruner’s “A Theology of the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostal Experience and the New Testament Witness”

Posted: January 13, 2009 by Rick Hogaboam in Book Reviews, Missional Thought, Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests

Bruner, F.D. (1998). A Theology of the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostal Experience and the New Testament Witness. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.

It is in Luke’s interest as he develops the Pentecost events in Acts 2 that the meaning of Pentecost be found not in the interior spiritual life of the disciples nor even in the gift of the Holy Spirit, but in the preaching of Jesus Christ….Peter takes up the mocking of some, points out that what they have just seen and heard is the fulfillment of God’s promise in the prophet Joel to pour out his Spirit upon (epi!) all flesh, stressing “And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 21). Joel, like Luke (Peter), finds that the point of the great eschatological Spirit-event not so much in the pouring out of the Spirit as such as in the universal promise of salvation for which the Spirit is poured out (Bruner 1998:165).

This all aligns well with Isaiah’s emphasis on Israel being a witness to the nations. They were blind and lame and thus unable to effectively “witness” to God’s glory before the nations. Jesus comes, embracing the corporate solidarity of Israel in Himself and thus effectively “witnesses” to the people of God’s glory and salvation. He, in turn, calls and empowers a people to continue this ministry to “the ends of the earth”. In this sense, Pentecost is certainly not an end in itself, but is a means to the greater end of spreading the Gospel outward to all people, summoning them to “call on the name of the Lord” and to be saved.

Pentecost, though important in the scheme of redemptive history, has ongoing missiological significance for the church and its outward ministry as empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is of no coincidence then that “Pentecostals”, both in the Assemblies of God and Foursquare denominations, place a great deal of emphasis on foreign missions. As such, they show themselves to be “Pentecostal”, not just in emphasis on the Spirit’s work in the life of the believer, but also in the spread of the Gospel to all peoples.

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