Tag Archives: Bible study

The Point of Speaking in Tongues in Acts 2

by Craig Keener, originally posted on his blog.

Pentecost (Acts 2:1) was a significant festival in the Jewish calendar, offering the first fruits of grain to the Lord (Lev. 23:16). Its significance in this narrative, however, may be especially that it was one of the major pilgrimage festivals, when Jewish people who lived all over the world came back to visit Jerusalem. This sets the stage for the experience of the Spirit that will drive the church in Acts across all cultural barriers.

The narrative opens with God’s people in unity (Acts 2:1). They have been praying together (1:14), and prayer often precedes the coming of the Spirit in Luke-Acts (Luke 3:21-22; 11:13; Acts 4:31; 8:15).

Suddenly, they experience signs of the Spirit. The first two signs touch key senses, hearing and sight. They evoke biblical theophanies, perhaps also as foretastes of the future age. First, they hear a wind, perhaps prefiguring the promised wind of God’s Spirit that would bring new life to God’s people in Ezekiel 37:9-14. Second, they witness the appearance of fire, which was often associated with future judgment (cf. Luke 3:9, 16-17).

The third sign, however—speaking in tongues—is the most important of the three. This is clear because it occurs again at two other outpourings of the Spirit in Acts, although no one present on those occasions recognizes the languages spoken (Acts 10:46; 19:6). On this first occasion, though, their experience is also important because some people do recognize the languages and it therefore forms the bridge to Peter’s sermon. The crowds hear this sound (2:6) and ask what this phenomenon means (2:12). Peter goes on to explain that this tongues-speaking means that the promised time of the Spirit has dawned (2:16-18). Continue reading The Point of Speaking in Tongues in Acts 2

Meat, Climate Change and the Bible

by Vincent Mossberg.

In 2013, an IPCC (Intergovernmental panel on climate change) report was published stating that 95 percent of scientists are positive that the climate crisis of today is caused by mankind. Over the past 40 years, greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity have increased by 70 percent. During the same time, global meat consumption has tripled.

The connection between meat consumption and greenhouse gas emissions received increased attention in 2013, when the UN’s Organisation for Food and Agriculture released a report stating that around 18 precent of greenhouse gas emissions today comes from animal agriculture. And even if there would be zero emissions from all sectors such as energy, transport and trade, but not from animal agriculture, this would still not be enough to keep the planet from overheating. The issue of meat production and ultimately meat consumption is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time.

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Click on the image for an up-scaled version.

So what is the church’s role in reducing the global meat production in order to steward the planet and the animals that inhabit it? Continue reading Meat, Climate Change and the Bible

Five Weird Ways People Deny That Jesus Was a Refugee

In 2016, I released a book in Swedish together with pastor Stefan Swärd called Jesus Was Also a Refugee. We commented the recent migration debate, providing the biblical teaching on loving, welcoming and blessing strangers (Lev 19:33-34, Mt 25:35).

I was not at all prepared for the huge amounts of Christians who would object to the book title. “Jesus was certainly not a refugee!” The same thing happened as the Christian Post published my Christmas reflection, inspired by Shane Claiborne, urging people to welcome refugees as they would welcome Christ. The comment section on CP’s Facebook page overflooded with arguments against the asylum status of our Savior and his parents.

Most of these arguments are bad. I mean, really bad. Here are the five weirdest ones I’ve come across so far:

1. They were not refugees, they were traveling LEGALLY for a CENSUS!

This argument is strangely popular. It has even made headline news after conservative activist Charlie Kirk used it in response to Democratic politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Continue reading Five Weird Ways People Deny That Jesus Was a Refugee

Christian Migrants Explaining Why They Flee

by Bob Ekblad, originally published on his blog.

In November, Gracie and I spent ten days with Sub-Saharan African migrants in Egypt and Morocco—most of whom are undocumented. Spending time with these vulnerable and courageous people has refreshed our perspective on life and faith.

I share these thoughts on migration and immigration in response to disturbing news articles I’m reading about anti-immigrant rhetoric in the USA and Europe–and I hope to dissuade people of faith from any collusion with negative attitudes and the promotion of restrictive policies.

This past Sunday I preached at an underground church made up or largely undocumented African immigrants living in Morocco. Morocco is now the preferred crossing point for Africans seeking to enter Europe—though many have no choice but to seek passage via war zones like Yemen, or failed states like Libya.

At the Moroccan-Spanish border, high fences, dangerous waters and strict immigration enforcement are keeping migrants from leaving the African continent. Hundreds of thousands are blocked, settling in a foreign land. Many more are currently en route from countries ravaged by war, political impasses and poverty. Continue reading Christian Migrants Explaining Why They Flee

Why Should Pentecostals Care about Climate Change?

by Joel Daniels. Originally posted at Engaged Pentecostalism.

It was widely reported last week that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented new research that says we humans have just over decade to change the way we consume energy or the detrimental effects will be irreversible. In an era where apocalyptic-style news is commonplace, this story has not received the space that it is due.

Indeed, we must ask ourselves some questions. First, why do so many people of faith, particularly Pentecostals, continue to refute the reality of climate change? Second, do we have a moral obligation to fix the ecological problem that we created? And third, what can we, as individuals, even do?

1 Climate Change

According to surveys, disbelief in climate change rose 7% between 2013 and 2014, and for those that can at least acknowledge that temperatures and sea levels are rising, white Evangelicals are the least likely among their Christian sisters and brothers to claim that it has anything to do with human activity.

What is perhaps most disheartening is that the more people go to church the less likely they are to take responsibility for this planetary crisis. How can that be? Continue reading Why Should Pentecostals Care about Climate Change?

All Christians Are Refugees

Most believers are aware of the Bible telling us that we are citizens in Heaven (Phil 3:20) as well as foreigners and strangers on the earth (Hebrews 11:13). But did you know that it also says that we are refugees?

“we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.” – Hebr 6:18

The Greek word for “fled” is kataphygontes, which more explicitely means “having fled for refuge”. All Christians have fled from death, evil and sin and entered the safe refuge of the Lord.

This is also expressed earlier in the same letter:

“[Jesus] too shared in [our] humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebr 2:14-15).

We are liberated from the deadly claws of satan and enjoy the security and asylum that Jesus’ Kingdom brings. Think about it: if you are saved, you have escaped the most horrible state imaginable and entered the most glorious state in existence. Isn’t that amazing?

When encountering refugees, we have to put ourselves in their shoes. What pains and struggles are they going through? What are they seeking salvation from? In what ways are our spiritual journey similar to their literal journey?

We must never forget that Jesus Christi Himself was a refugee as a baby (Mt 2:13-15). Let us also consider that we ourselves are refugees, and that this is part of our core identity as believers. This should not just produce more understanding for refugee’s situation, but compassion and love as well.

Micael Grenholm is editor-in-chief for PCPJ.

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ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

Should Women Be Pastors? A Brief Biblical Defense

While great strides have been made towards gender equality in church leadership, a staggering segment of churches still subscribe to a narrow view that permits females only certain opportunities to exercise the call of God on their life.  Women may exercise authority over children and other females in the Western church context.  Women are also commissioned as missionaries and sent to the furthest reaches of the world that the borders of God’s kingdom may expand.  In this role they certainly teach, have authority, and pastor congregations of believers.  Yet, women are excluded from teaching/pastoring roles where males are present in the same churches that commissioned them to the mission field.  As a scholar of theology, I find this position inconsistent with scripture and harmful to the global church.

Not only is this position inconsistently applied within churches that do not affirm female leadership, it is damaging to women theologically, vocationally, and personally.  When taken to its logical conclusion this position is also harmful to congregations in other countries that have been planted by female missionaries. Essentially, this position views male members of these churches who have been led to Christ and growth in spiritual maturity by a woman as less valuable than Western males, or less worthy of “proper” teaching, since they would not be permitted to receive instruction from a woman should they live in the United States.

Continue reading Should Women Be Pastors? A Brief Biblical Defense