Taking the Word to the World

Acts History The Experience

In Acts 19, Paul’s understanding of theology, coupled with his personal experience became the basis of his discussion. Experience should not be the starting point for biblical interpretation, usurping biblical authority, but should not be locked outside the door either. Charles Parham and his students did not have the experience but were looking for what was expected or could be considered normative.

ACTS

“Luke is very careful to describe his method of researching and compiling material.”

LUKE’S HERMENEUTICAL STYLE

Validation of eyewitnesses – “…Just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:2)

Meticulous handling of truth – “…handed down…” (v.2) and “carefully investigated” (v. 3).

All-inclusive study – “Investigated everything from the beginning” (v. 3); “All that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1).

Correspondence of written material with divine purposes and activities – “Certainty” (v. 4).

Systematic, organized presentation – “Draw up an account” (v. 1).

Role of the Spirit in directing the writer for the origin and certainty of prophecy – “…For no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s private interpretation…” See 2 Peter 1:19-21

Confirmed by revelation – “From the beginning” (v. 3) This phrase is from a Greek word translated elsewhere by “from above.” Luke suggests that what he writes, derived from those that were eyewitnesses, is also confirmed by revelation (Scofield 2004 Edition, 1338).

Traditionally, Pentecostals have hidden behind their experience, and probably over-emphasized it, coming up short on other aspects of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation and exegesis). This author recalls, after conversion, often hearing others say, “Pentecost; it’s not a religion, it’s an experience.” Still others advised: “People can argue with your doctrine; but they cannot argue with your experience.” We would do well to present both doctrine and experience in a way that it cannot be easily discarded.Pentecost happened for our example. It was recorded by Luke for our instruction. It is the pattern for the church in all ages. Scripture sets the stage for this: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

This writing concentrates on the experiences found in the Pentecost narrative concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is not limited, however, to Acts 2 (the Jerusalem Pentecost), but extends briefly to the Samaritan Pentecost (Acts 8); Gentile Pentecost (Acts 10); and the outpouring on the disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19). We should ask: What took place in the first century church which must happen in the ongoing church?

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