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  • Writer's pictureSteve Starcher

The Primacy of Jesus

Jesus is at the center of the ethos of Pentecostalism. Pentecostals desire to enter fully into the story of Jesus of Nazareth and encounter the earthly, risen, and glorified Jesus.


What is Pentecostalism all about? You will receive many explanations attending a Pentecostal church or reading Pentecostal literature. Pentecostalism is about receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues, empowerment for Christian mission, the restoration of the true church, the recovery of biblical truth, the demonstration of the gospel’s power in signs and wonders, and the imminence of the second coming of Christ. But do these explanations reflect the ethos, the heartfelt spirituality of Pentecostals as they encounter Jesus, receive salvation, worship, and serve God in their unique faith community? I think not.

Pentecostalism is about 1) meeting Jesus through the Holy Spirit, 2) Jesus calling us in love to enter into a close relationship with God, 3) receiving the blessings of salvation Jesus gives, 4) having Jesus guide us into his perfect will, 5) discovering and experiencing the presence of the Holy God in Jesus, 6) bowing down before Jesus to acknowledge his Lordship. Pentecostalism is about the primacy of Jesus!

It is Sunday evening, and Pentecostals assemble in a local church to worship. Faces, young and old, are focused on the worship team, singers, and musicians, anticipating the first song. The electronic keyboard plays a gentle melody prompting a young woman to walk to the platform center. Microphone in hand and eyes closed, her voice raises to God and sings, “Jesus is in this room, here right now, here right now; Making this place I stand, Holy ground, Holy ground. Your Spirit moves and breathes, all around, all around; All good and perfect things, flowing down, flowing down.”[1]

Acknowledging the presence of Jesus, the worship team leads the congregation in the chorus, “If all of the heavens are singing along, with the saints and the elders in glorious song, And the praises they sing never seem to get old, then I’ll stay here forever singing,

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord. God almighty overall; You were, you are, and you’ll be forever,

The King enthroned in glorious splendor, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord.” [2]

The congregation sways back and forth with hands held high, almost in unison, as a collective voice sings praises to God. The countenance of faces changes and glows as believers engage with the song’s message and the blessing of the Lord they are experiencing. They perceive God’s “Gentle love calling” them closer and Jesus guiding them to his “will.” [3]

Suddenly the calm and reflective song of praise changes to a bold affirmation. “The veil is torn, the doors fling wide, I see Glory as I run inside, the throne room, before you I bow.” [4] A burst of energy sweeps over the congregation. Swaying transforms to jumping and dancing. Voices, once restrained, unleash, and offer boisterous praise to God from the depths of the heart with all possible strength. They are in the holiest place, the presence of God, and “with the saints and the elders” singing a “glorious song.” [5] They are “standing on Holy Ground.” [6]

The faith and worship of early Pentecostals were Jesus-centered. They embraced a five-fold Gospel: Jesus is 1) savior, 2) sanctifier, 3) spirit baptizer, 4) healer, 5) soon and coming king. Devoted to Holy Scripture as the source and norm for their faith, they echoed its maximalist claims about Jesus. Jesus is 1) “Lord” (Matt. 21:3), 2) “Son of Man” (Matt. 12:8), “Son of God” (Heb. 1:2), 3) “Messiah” (Mark 8:29), 4) “Son of David” (Luke 18:39), 5) “the Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 1:8), 6) “Author of Life” (Acts 3:15), 7) “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), 8) “Lord and God” (John 20:28). Paul boldly sums up the supremacy of Christ in his letter to the Colossians.


He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross (Col.1:15-20, NRSV).


The hymn of Christs’ supremacy follows Paul’s thanksgiving for the faith and life of the

Colossians. Paul rejoices in their faith, love of all the saints, and the fruit they bear in their lives (Col. 1:4-6). He prays for spiritual wisdom and understanding of God’s will to empower them to “lead lives worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10). Paul reminds them of the inheritance they share with the “saints in the light,” their rescue from the power of darkness, the redemption and forgiveness of sins they possess, and the kingdom of the Son in which they reside. Paul’s hymn places the Colossians’ experience of salvation into the story of Jesus, who is the “firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15-17), and the firstborn of the new creation (Col. 1:18-20). The Colossians are experiencing the story of Christ in their life and Paul’s ministry (Col. 1:21-23).

Paul’s message to the Colossians is explicit. Jesus is the image of the invisible God in whom all the fullness of God dwells (Col. 1:20). All things were created in him, through him, and for him (Col. 1:16). Jesus has “the first place in everything” (Col. 1:18), and “in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Jesus is not only the “firstborn of all creation” but “the firstborn from the dead” (Col 1:15, 18). According to Paul, Jesus is not just one part of creation, a symbol of God or the perfect human being that could exist apart from him. Jesus is the reality through which all creation exists, the revelation of who God is, and the revelation of the new creation God desires to achieve in the lives of Christians.

Jesus is at the center of the ethos of Pentecostalism. Pentecostals desire to enter fully into the story of Jesus of Nazareth and encounter the human Jesus in whose face “the glory of God” shines (2 Cor. 4:6). Encountering Jesus, they come to know who God is and who God desires them to be. Pentecostalism is about 1) meeting Jesus through the Holy Spirit, 2) Jesus calling us in love to enter into a close relationship with God, 3) receiving the blessings of salvation Jesus gives, 4) having Jesus guide us into his perfect will, 5) discovering and experiencing the presence of the Holy God in Jesus, 6) bowing down before Jesus to acknowledge his Lordship. Pentecostalism is about the primacy of Jesus!



Bibliography

Kennedy, Ryan and May Angeles. 2020. “The Throne Room.” 2020. People & Songs. March 7. https://genius.com/People-and-songs-throne-room-song-lyrics.

[1] People & Songs (Ft. The Emerging Sound, May Angeles & Ryan Kennedy (People & Songs) – Throne Room Song, accessed March 7, 2021, https://genius.com/People-and-songs-throne-room-song-lyrics. [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid. [5] Ibid. [6] Ibid.


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