“And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
What is the meaning of a scene like this? Well, its not alcohol. Much too early in the day for that! What it is, Peter suggests, is a sign that the future age of God’s salvation has broken into the present. To wit, this is to fulfill what was said by the prophet Joel: “In the last days it will be that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and daughters shall prophesy…”
In the last days. Again, we stumble upon the core belief of the NT writers that in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the future reign of God has broken into the present. And a sure sign of that, for anyone reading their apocalyptic tea leaves, is that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh. The Spirit, as the continuing presence of the risen Christ, works to break down those barriers that would keep God’s future from being seen in the present. And here in Acts 2 God’s future is anticipated by the Spirit being poured out on both women and men, old and young, and even upon slaves, both male and female. This sign of a violent wind and tongues of fire demonstrates that “the Lord’s great and glorious day” has appeared and that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
And this I know, its pretty serious stuff to deny (blaspheme?) the work of the Holy Spirit.
And this I know, there are women who bear public gifts given by the Spirit of God, who by their very presence signal that God is abolishing human distinctions and working toward that great day when “God will be all in.” Your daughters shall prophesy because this is the appearing of the great day of the Lord. And who wants to spoil that party?
So, I’m done with the failed project of reading the NT as a blueprint or constitution for the contemporary church. It’s impossible to be consistent in application. The Bible itself won’t allow it. Instead, I want to be animated by what animated the NT writers–the belief that God acted decisively in Jesus to make the future day of the Lord available to us in the present. We belong to that day now, and groan with every fiber of our being for that day when God’s reign will be fully present. And so, we celebrate the gifts of the Spirit as harbingers of God’s future wherever we find them. And daughters will prophesy!
“…God is abolishing human distinctions and working toward that great day when ‘God will be all in.’” Yes. Yes. Yes. There will be neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female. Despite our protests, God is doing what He is doing. Yes! Thank you, Mark.
Thank you you this series.
Mark, this is the big piece, the alpha & omega, in my opinion, because the Holy Spirit, who is love, is gender-blind. Thanks VERY much for your words of wisdom, courage, compassion, comfort & joy in the name above all names, Jesus the Anointed One, and for your love of persons created by that One. Amen!
“…the Holy Spirit…is gender-blind.”
“…male and female He created them.”
Just to be clear, this Cary is not me.
Thanks, Cary, for the opportunity to clarify. The Holy Spirit is gender-blind in embodied gifts bestowed to bless all people for God’s Kingdom.
Great series, Mark. Now you get to address homosexuality. 🙂
Get right on it.
Well said. I’ve also really appreciated this series as Terry just mentioned. Interestingly, Patrick Mead just posted something on the subject in his blog as well. I copied & pasted the link below, but if it doesn’t work, travelingmead.net will take you there. It’s just interesting to me, the timing on this – based on what you’ve said recently. Patrick’s current blog is a response to an article he “liked” on facebook from a guy named Sean Palmer dealing with 3 big reasons why CofC ministers are leaving CofC’s. The main reason listed was the role of women. How ironic that in your recent posts you’ve talked about “why you stay.” And these have both lead to blogs on the subject. I think the Spirit is indeed at work. Thank you Mark!
Also, I added a link to the article Patrick referred to about ministers leaving. If the link does not work – The Palmer Perspective is the name of his blog.
Thanks for taking a stand (at least, I think that’s what you did?) on all this messiness, Mark.
And, for what it’s worth, I still chuckle at the Penecost line of “it’s too early in the day to be drunk!”
I know my audience!
Wonderful, hopeful post, Mark! There’s been an awful lot of very active (heretical!) denial of what the Spirit is doing right in front of our eyes. Jesus’ words are so much truer and more practical today than we have allowed ourselves to believe. This IS the day of the Lord, and we’re seeing good news preached to the poor, captives set free, inner and outer healing of those in anguish, lifting of oppression, and, yes, daughters (and children far younger than the “age of accountability,” old men and many others) prophesying. Referring back to your last post, for people involved in miraculous healing work, the phrase “on earth as it is in heaven” is an essential claim, with the understanding that our Father wants us whole, living up to the fullness of his image as he created us to be.
In the comment section a long time ago we discussed an alternative to the “bridge” principle of biblical interpretation, and how it is insufficient. Did you ever write a post about that? WB
Warren, I’m not sure. Sounds like something I would say though. I’ll have to catch my breath and then hope to remember.
Amen, and amen! Thank you so much, Mark for your positive and encouraging and spirit-filled contemplations. Your clarity of thought and words breathe new life into some worn-out and misused passages, and direct our attention to some often over-looked gems of truth.
I have appreciated this series so much. Today’s post is such a hopeful reminder and exhortation to lean forward int what God is doing. Thanks for your heart and insight.
I visited multiple blogs except the audio feature for audio songs existing at
this web page is actually wonderful.
Your style is very unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
Many thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this blog.