What happened at Pentecost

by Charles Baker

Our answer to this question vitally affects our dispensational interpretation of Scripture. Some say Pentecost was the birthday of the Church. Others say that the Church was already in existence, and that Pentecost was an infusion of new power into it. Still others contend that Pentecost was the dispensational boundary between the dispensation of the Law and the dispensation of Grace, and others believe that the events of Pentecost had to do entirely with God’s kingdom purposes for Israel.

The best way to answer this question is to lay aside all of our theories and read what the Scripture says. God has told us very plainly through the mouth of Peter what happened on that notable day. All the Jews in Jerusalem were asking the very same question: What is here taking place? Peter answered them in Acts 2:16-21 (New American Standard Bible) but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT — AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’

God tells us that this is what happened, but of course, we must read into God’s answer our own ideas. Before so doing; however, it might be wisdom to ask a few questions first of all.

Did Joel speak one word even about the Church which is Christ’s Body or about the dispensation of the Mystery, or were these truths secrets hidden in God and not made known to men in other generations? See Ephesians 3:1-9.

A birthday is a first day. Did Joel write about the first days or last days? And is the great and notable day of the Lord connected with Israel and the nations, or with the Body of Christ?

Did Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, say anything about something new beginning, or about God casting aside Israel in favor of the Gentiles?

Could that which Joel and all of the prophets prophesied, Acts 3:24, be identical with that which was never before prophesied?

Would God have Peter tell us what he did, if in fact God was doing something entirely different?

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