"The Promise is For You!"

In the progressive, ongoing revelation and application of redemption history as brought to us in God’s word, the highest point – the complete ‘game changer’ is not the cross, or even the resurrection. It is the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. I invite you to explore this with me

Even as I say that, I can feel myself mentally holding my breath. It seems as though it plays down the cosmic event which is the crucifixion, and all of the astounding things which Christ accomplishes there. It sounds as though I am reducing the world-changing, joy-bringing, truth-vindicating explosion which is the resurrection to an also-ran. I am doing neither. Both are essential to the incredible story of what God is about at the centre of time, the crux of history, the pivotal point of all things. So what on earth(and in heaven) do I mean?

I propose that without Pentecost, the Incarnation, the cross and the resurrection have no value whatsoever for the believer. Jesus tells His disciples to wait in Jerusalem – not to even attempt to begin their world-wide evangelism until they have received power from on high. Quite plainly, He saw that His work was not complete in making those men and women what they must be until that day had come when Joel’s prophecy would be fulfilled. He had promised ‘He(the Holy Spirit) is with you – but He will be IN YOU’. Consider. All that they had done at Jesus’ direction – the preaching, the healings, the casting out of demons – had been accomplished through the Spirit’s power, because He had been with them. But Pentecost would forever change the relationship, the association that any and every believer has with the Spirit of God. He would, from that moment on, actually indwell them and they would be His temple.

Without Pentecost, we do not have an ‘Immanuel’

Why? Because on the other side – ‘their’ side - of Acts 2, Jesus came and was born, but He went away again. He ascended. He left His disciples to be without Him. And if that is how it had remained, we could not say “God is WITH us”. We would have a wonderful story of how the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God Himself came to save us from our sins and died and rose to make it so, but we would then be left with a promise ‘afar off’. The whole point of the imminence of God would be lost to us. Whatever difference it would have made would be shadowed by the mere fact that He is no longer here – He is back at the Father’s right hand. Our Gospel becomes not “God is with us” but only “God has visited us”.

Without Pentecost, the cross has not achieved God’s intended purpose

      What was that purpose? The forgiveness of sins for those God calls and gives to the Son? Certainly. But, as John Piper says, “Forgiven sinners would not stand for an instant in the presence of the holy God. They would be incinerated. They must be declared righteous”. And even that is not the full story. What God does in all this is to make holy vessels of us. Why? Because He is going to pour His Holy Spirit into us, and unclean vessels cannot suit that purpose. Pentecost requires a cross, the blood sacrifice which actually removes sin and sinfulness. Not merely as an outward cleansing, but as an inner rebirth. The cross is the means whereby God prepares His new temples – living, saved human beings – for this indwelling. All flesh – all nations – qualify, but only if they are sanctified by the Lamb of God.

Without Pentecost, the resurrection falls short

      A risen Saviour, death defeated, complete and utter victory over all of the assault of the evil one – all of this is proclaimed by His rising. But predominantly, He rises to ascend, to return to the majesty on high. And if He never arrives, bearing and pleading His own blood, the Spirit cannot come. Why? Because the Spirit must be sent. And the only one whose authority can bring forth that commission is the one who died and is risen. And the purpose of His ‘triumphal entry’ into the very courts of heaven is so that He can pour out what they saw and heard on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2 vs 33:-
“Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”

And the Gospel – good news for the hearers is the Acts 2 assertion:-
“The promise is for you!”
This entry was posted in ARTICLES and tagged on by .

About David White

Until recently David White served as a leader and preacher at a small village church in Lavendon, Buckinghamshire, England. At the present time he resides in Barton On Sea in the UK. He has been a Bible-soaked Christian for half a century, trained at London Bible College (now London School of Theology), but more importantly in God’s school of life.