John Stott reminds us, ‘many people mistakenly think the Day of Pentecost was the birthday of the church, but this is incorrect because the church, as the people of God, had already been around for at least four thousand years, going back to the time when God chose Abraham. The Day of Pentecost doesn’t describe the birth of the church but the continuation of the church after the revelation of Christ, that is, the remnant of God’s people became the Spirit-filled church or body of Christ.’
In fact, in many of our Bibles there’s one page that really shouldn’t be there, and that’s the blank page that separates the Old Testament from the New Testament. You see, there is no separation: It’s a continuation not a separation; it’s not an old religion and a new religion; it’s not an old church and a new church. The New Testament church is a continuation of the Old; it is part two, if you like. (What we call the Early Christian Church is the beginning of part two… the end of the story.)
In fact, the Bible reads a bit like a ‘who-done-it’ in two parts. The Old Testament sets the scene: The crime is committed, the evidence gathered, judgment passed and the penalty announced… but the Old Testament ends in a state of suspense, because there has been continuous talk, prophecy, of some kind of reprieve, of payment being made on behalf of the guilty; of a Messiah who would pay a ransom and rescue his people. But who… we are left in suspense! (Dun, Dun, Dun!) Cue: The New Testament, part two of the story, which tells us not only ‘who-done-it’ but who-done-it so incredibly well, all-sufficiently, that not only was the ransom paid, but also there is forgiveness, restoration, renewal and eternal life… if we accept and follow Him, Jesus, that is.
The theme of the whole Bible from Genesis 12 (with the call of Abraham) to Revelation 22 (and the renewal of all things) is ‘How lost people can be found’ and the main character in the story from beginning to end is the Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Ian Seymour