Pentecost, the church and its mission

In "Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ," T.F. Torrance makes frequent reference to the meaning and importance of Pentecost in salvation history. On page 263-264, he links Pentecost with the church in it's gospel mission:
"In...its waiting and expectation [of Jesus' return] the church is commanded by its Lord to lift up its head in thanksgiving and joy, for its 'redemption is drawing near' [Luke 21:28]. The church of the risen Lord has no right to be a prophet of gloom or despair, for this world has been redeemed and sanctified by Christ and he will not let it go. The corruptible clay of our poor earth has been taken up in Jesus, is consecrated through his sacrifice and resurrection, and he will not allow it to sink back into corruption. Hence the whole creation groans and travails waiting for the manisfestation of the sons of God, looking forward with eager expectation to the hour of final liberation and renewal in the advent of its risen savior [Romans 8:19f]. The church must learn to take into its mouth the good news of the resurrection and new creation, for that must be its primary note, one of limitless joy and thanksgiving. That is how the church began its mission at Pentecost where the dominant emphasis in all its preaching was the resurrection of the crucified Christ and the astounding fact that because of Christ the Spirit of God himself was poured out upon men and women. They knew that the last times had overtaken them and that they were caught up in the onward and outward thrust of the resurrection of Christ toward the new creation in which all nations and peoples [Rev 7:9] and all times would be brought to share. The involvement of the church in the suffering of mankind must never be allowed to stifle that supreme note of resurrection triumph or to smother the eschatological joy at the astounding events that have broken into history and pledged for mankind the final day of regeneration."


Ted Johnston said…
A recent post on the Inhabitatio Dei blog has what I think is a helpful statement about the relationship of Jesus, the Spirit, mission and the church. It makes the point that Mission Makes the Church:

"According to the early church’s own self-narration in the book of Acts it would seem so. In Acts 2 clearly it is the pentecostal coming of the Holy Spirit which initiates the new messianic reality through the apostles. But, the logic of the Spirit’s movement is not Pentecost-Church-Mission, but Pentecost-Mission-Church. The Spirit descends upon the apostles (2:2-4) who then proceed to proclaim the gospel (2:14ff). Only after the proclamation, the enactment in the Spirit of their missional vocation, do the apostles baptize those who are caught up into the gospel’s truth. Only after the missional proclamation of the truth about Jesus does the rudiments of a common missional life, the life of the ekklesia, begin to emerge (2:42-46).

"The church, then is a response to the pentecostal mission of the Spirit through the apostolic proclamation of the truth about Jesus. And this response is one of being given over to the form of radical love displayed in Christ’s own revelation of Israel’s God. It is a movement of fellowship, solidarity, service, and mutual dispossession (v. 45).

"Thus, the logic of mission and church is something like the following: the messianic mission of Christ calls forth the pentecostal mission of the Holy Spirit which brings about the aposolic mission of proclamation in word and deed of the radical love of Jesus. This apostolic mission takes shape in the ekklesia, a movement of communal cruciform love and service to the world."