Salvation and Mission

Salvation and Mission June 2, 2014

In a recent issue of Review of Biblical Literature, Lars Kierspel offers this commend on Pentecostal theologian William Atkinson’s Baptism in the Spirit, a monograph on the debate about James Dunn’s Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

He argues that Atkinson errs in detaching the gift of the Spirit the gift of salvation: “Atkinson tries to walk on a tight rope when he associates baptism in the Spirit with baptismal initiation, on the hand, but then disassociates it from any soteriological significance, on the other, and defines the experience exclusively as ‘charismatic and missionary.’”

Kierspel rightly insists that the New Testament doesn’t support a “rigid division between a salvific and missional” dimensions of the Spirit’s work. His point is that the gift of the Spirit to Gentiles in Acts 10 delivers to them “a core content of salvation as Luke defines it: Gentile participation in the promises for Israel.”

But the point can be made more broadly. The Son and Spirit are sent, and we are in the Son and the Spirit, then we are caught up into their sending. There is no union with the God of Israel that is not also a sending, no deliverance that is not also a commissioning. Israel was delivered to become a priestly nation, delivered for mission and ministry.

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