Scott Lencke has a good post up on why he doesn’t believe we should believe the popular idea that the church was born at Pentecost (Acts 2). Scott lays out some very good reasons why we should see God’s people through the lens of continuity rather than trying to divide Israel and the Church up. You’d do well to check out Scott’s thoughts.
In the charismatic world, I think you find a lot of preaching that tends to force very sharp distinctions between the Old Testament’s Israel and the New Testament’s Church. It’s common to hear things about people in the OT being saved by their works and people in the NT being saved by faith (I’ve blogged before why I totally disagree with that). There’s also a lot of preaching that tends to connects Acts 2 to the birth of God’s people, the Church, while almost completely ignoring God’s previous work in Israel. It’s almost as if some of the preaching I have heard reduces the Holy Spirit as being absent until Acts 2. This makes for some good “Pentecostal” preaching because you can then emphasize that the things that happened in Acts 2 can happen today, so get ready for Spirit baptism (at least that’s how these types of sermons come across).
I’m convinced that the influence of Classic Dispensationalism is far reaching, especially within Pentecostal/Charismatic circles. You find that in the common eschatological position that most Pentecostals and Charismatics hold (Dispensational Premillennialism). So it makes sense, given the dispensational influence, why there’s often a emphasis on discontinuity rather than continuity concerning God’s people, both Israel and the Church.
Undergirding Scott’s very fine blog, I’d also add the following texts as being extremely important to the topic: What Jesus says in John 10:16 and Paul’s unifying point in Ephesians 2:11-3:13.
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
Commentators are unanimous about this text clearly giving Jesus’ thoughts concerning his goal of bringing together the two groups of sheep, those of Israel and those outside (Gentiles). Responding to the voice of the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), there is one flock, not two. Case closed.
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Eph. 3:6)
Paul’s point in the context of the passage is that God has brought together that which was once far off, both God and man and Israel with Gentiles. In fact, God has created one new man. The Gentiles are members of the same body. Case closed.
The assembly of God’s people did not begin at Pentecost in Acts 2. God simply continued the plan he had progressively revealed over the course of redemptive history. That’s why Peter connects the phenomena in Acts 2 with the prophecy of Joel 2:28-31.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
Agreed Luke. I have made the same point before. I would argue that Ephesians 2 would imply that the Church began at the cross when God united Israel with the gentiles. The union of Jews and gentiles is the essence of the Church. But the same passage also teaches continuity with God’s people in the OT (2:20).
Of course, I would note both discontinuity & continuity in varying ways. But there is a lot more continuity than many first imagine.
You can have your cake and eat it, Christian.
Christianity begins with Jesus. Moses was just following Jesus in advance through faith, even though he couldn’t see everything clearly. I suppose you can do that when you’re a prophet. (See Heb 11:24-27, John 5:46.)
So Christianity continues from Judaism not because Jesus built the church on a Jewish foundation, but because Moses and the others copied Jesus.
You and Scott are going to make me come out of the closet now 😉
Ha ha ha ha!
The Church is not separate from Israel or a replacement, however it is a COMPLETION. Today when a Jew accepts Jesus as their messiah, he is not “converted” but “completed”. The Church as we know it today began on Pentecost period! Pentecost is when God poured out His Spirit on “All Flesh” and God started from that day forward using men and women to “preach the Gospel” to the ends of the earth! If not then why did Jesus tell His disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the outpouring of His Spirit to give them power to be witnesses? Why not just go when Jesus ascended, oh that’s right, there were five hundred people watching Jesus ascend but only 120 were in Jerusalem on Pentecost. Where were those 380 people? Probably writing blogs about how they think God is going to do stuff. Jus sayin
Colin, it appears you haven’t been tracking with the type of issues we’re raising here. A lot of that took place in the long extended conversation that has been happening on facebook. If you are interested in reading that, send me a friend request! (I’m not sure people can just read everything I post… not sure).