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Published Date: June 6, 2012

Published Date: June 6, 2012

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Spirit of Pentecost

Joshua wasn’t sure how far things should go. He liked that Moses led. He liked standing guard while Moses entered the tent and served as mediator.

He didn’t like it when Moses’ ground was encroached upon. But Moses had a different vision:

“A young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ Joshua, Nun’s son and Moses’ assistant since his youth, responded, ‘My master Moses, stop them!’ Moses said to him,  ‘Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the LORD’s people were prophets with the LORD placing his spirit on them!” (Numb. 11:27-29, CEB).

Moses’ vision was the vision of Joel, the reality of Pentecost:

“Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, ‘Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young will see visions.
Your elders will dream dreams.
Even upon my servants, men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy'” (Acts 2:14-18, CEB).

On Pentecost, Peter declares, the day has come in which the wish of Moses is realized. There is no stinginess in the outpouring of the Spirit.

Nor is it sequestered to one part of the community.

In particular, this passage in Joel emphasizes twice that the gift is not only for all the men of Israel, but for all the women as well.

Not only sons, but daughters.

Not only manservants, but maidservants.

In the past month I have seen both a button and a bumper sticker that read:

“If you’re not going to ordain women, stop baptizing them!”

The logic is impeccable.

The end of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 culminates with: “repent and be baptized…for the promise is for you and yours…” (Acts 2:39-39). What promise? The promise of the Spirit.

Baptism in water is the physical representation of baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ. The same Spirit by which we are baptized, represented in the waters of baptism, is the Spirit who is poured out on all, so that all may prophesy, all may dream dreams for the people of God.

The same Spirit poured out in fulfillment of Moses’ wish and Joel’s promise is the one who, baptizing us into Christ, provides each a gift according to God’s good pleasure.

At its core, the failure to open up every aspect of the ministry of the church to women is an admission that we do not believe that preaching, teaching, and leading are gifts of the Spirit.

The Spirit who sees to it that in Christ there is no Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, is the same Spirit who enables people to speak on God’s behalf. All of us, male and female, who have been baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ, are God’s sons in Christ, and Abraham’s seed.

Pentecost is when we all receive the Spirit of the freedom of the sons of God: so that all may participate in the Body according to God’s giving of the gifts, and that all may inherit all the promises—even Joel’s.