Mike Plunkett (26 Dec 2021)
"Excellent Question Donna Danna"


 

http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/dec2021/donnad1219-1.htm 


Dear Donna & Doves,

How do you think the first Gentile believers received the Holy Spirit?

Donna's Answer:

It happened after they heard Peter preach according to Acts 10:44-47 which says, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"

Short Answer from Mike P:

These were Old Testament prophetic promises. Throughout the OT, God promised Gentiles would be blessed by Jews. But nothing in the OT declared God would create an organism composed of Jew and Gentile, equal in Christ, saved by faith alone in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Peter had no idea what had happened. He and all with him were shocked. He told the Jews that Christís death was a crime they needed to repent of and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Christís resurrection meant that He was alive and could be their king. It is clear that Peter and the rest were not proclaiming salvation by faith alone in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for salvation for just a few chapters later, in Acts 15, Paul had to go to Jerusalem and defend his ministry. If they were all preaching the same thing, no council would have been necessary.

Long Answer from MIke P:

Most of Christendom believes the significance of Pentecost was that it was the birth of the Church, the day the body of Christ came into existence (Acts 2). The basic argument is that since the Church is composed of believers indwelt with the Holy Spirit and that occurred at Pentecost, the Church began at Pentecost. Superficially, such an argument seems to have merit. But upon closer examination the argument fails. The Biblical evidence forbids such an interpretation.

Peter only addressed Jews at Pentecost. For him to have addressed Gentiles was unthinkable. The Lord had no ministry to Gentiles in the three years He spent with His disciples and neither had they (Matthew 10.5-7). After His resurrection, He had told them to go to the nations (Matthew 28.19-20) but instructed them to go to Jews first (Acts 1.8). This was in accordance with the prophetic program. God had revealed Israel would bless the Gentiles as early as the Abrahamic covenant. This promise anticipated Jews being established in their kingdom (Zechariah 8.20-23; cf. Psalm 2.6-8; Isaiah 49.5-6, 60.1-3; Jeremiah 4.1-2). For this to happen, the entire nation had to repent (Matthew 23.37-39).

The definition of the Church, the body of Christ, is that organism composed of Jew and Gentile, who are equal in Christ (Galatians 3.26-28).

1) If Pentecost was the birth of the Church, why did Peter not include Gentiles in his message?
2) Why did Peter not mention the cross, salvation through the blood of Christ, or forgiveness of sins based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ?
3) Why did he not offer salvation by faith alone, apart from works?
4) Why did he not say a word about the body of Christ?
5) To press further, why did Peter or any of the Twelve or James never mention the body of Christ?

Such questions reveal the sandy foundation of the argument that the Church began at Pentecost. The reason Peter proclaimed none of those things was because he did not know them. Peter knew nothing about Godís salvation based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, of salvation by faith alone apart from works, of the significance of the blood of Christ, or of the one body of Jew and Gentile equal in Christ. Peter knew nothing of the Church or the teachings associated with it. Peter knew Godís prophetic, kingdom program. He knew the prophecies of the prophets which Jesus had proclaimed throughout His earthly ministry (Romans 15.8). The reason the prophets revealed nothing about the Church, the body of Christ, was they knew nothing of it. God had kept this revelation a secret until He revealed it to Paul (Ephesians 3.1-7). The prophets had revealed Gentiles would be blessed through Israel in the kingdom. But the kingdom had not come. The kingdom did not come and could not come because Israel refused to repent.

Great confusion has resulted from failure to understand that the events of Pentecost happened to believing Jews, not to Gentiles, not to the Church, the body of Christ. One area of confusion has been the speaking in tongues. Some denominations and churches teach believers are supposed to speak in tongues because that was the evidence of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But what happened at Pentecost had nothing to do with the Church. Everything that happened at Pentecost involved Jews. The advent of the Holy Spirit was a fulfillment of Godís promises to the Jewish people, not the Church. There were no Gentiles (except possibly a few proselytes) among the Jerusalem believers. No Gentile evangelism existed. Indeed, even several years after Pentecost, Jewish believers in Jerusalem berated Peter when they learned he had gone to the house of the Gentile Cornelius (Acts 11.1-3). This should convince any but the most recalcitrant of the impossibility that the Church began at Pentecost.

But thatís not all. Other problems exist. John declared Jesus would baptize Jewish believers with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3.11; Mark 1.8; Luke 3.16; John 1.33), a fact Jesus confirmed (John 15.26, 16.7). These declarations indicated Jesus was the baptizer, the agent of baptism. However, Paul taught that members of the Church, the body of Christ, are not baptized by Christ but are baptized by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the agent who baptizes one into the body of Christ. Thus, Paul wrote:

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.12-13).

Thus, at Pentecost, Jewish believers were baptized by Christ. Believers of Paulís gospel, however, are not baptized by Christ but by the Holy Spirit. These are two separate baptisms. Furthermore, Luke did not write that Jewish believers at Pentecost were baptized into the body of Christ. Those who believed the gospel of the kingdom were baptized by Christ so they could fulfill the promises of Ezekiel and Jeremiah. Those who have believed the gospel of the grace of God, Paulís gospel, have been baptized by the Holy Spirit in order to become members of the Church, the body of Christ. The Church is not under the administration of the Mosaic Law but under the administration of grace (Romans 6.14).7 These baptisms indicate two separate and distinct programs in Godís salvific plan.

Another thing to note is that all believers were not indwelt with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. According to the Biblical record, some were indwelt later. Luke recorded:

1 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2 He said to them, ďDid you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?Ē And they said to him, ďNo, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.Ē 3 And he said, ďInto what then were you baptized?Ē And they said, ďInto Johnís baptism.Ē 4 Paul said, ďJohn baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.Ē 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7 There were in all about twelve men (Acts 19.1-7).

These were Jews who had believed Johnís gospel. They were saved. But they had not received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Indeed, they had heard nothing about the Holy Spirit. When Paul heard their testimony, he laid his hands upon them and they received the Holy Spirit. We should note a few things here. Acts is a transitional book. For a period of time both Godís prophetic, kingdom program and the Church program overlapped. For example, the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God (Paulís gospel) operated from the time Paul received it (probably when he was in Arabia) until the Council of Jerusalem. After the Council of Jerusalem, only Paulís gospel was valid (Acts 15.11; Galatians 1.6-9). Thus, because of Israelís rejection of her Messiah, Godís prophetic program to Israel began to be replaced by Godís program for the Church, which He had revealed to Paul. That they received the Holy Spirit through Paul is an indicator of this transition. They spoke in tongues for this was what had happened when the Holy Spirit that had occurred at Pentecost. Since they were saved under that program it was fitting, they should have the same experience as the believers at Pentecost.

Lastly, we should note that when one is saved by believing Paulís gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) he is immediately indwelt, baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.12-13). This baptism has no sign (such as speaking in tongues). Tongues no longer exist in the Church, having ceased long ago (1 Corinthians 13.8). But even when they operated in the Church, they were not a sign for believers but for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14.22).