Sermon focuses on Hebrews 13:8 and the Pentecostal tradition
“Yesterday, Today and Forever” was the theme of Professor of Systematic Theology Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen’s message in an all-seminary chapel service held Wednesday, May 6, at Fuller’s Pasadena campus.
“One single Bible verse is dearest to me as a Pentecostal, and to all Pentecostals,” said Kärkkäinen: Hebrews 13:8—“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Although the book of Acts and the work of the Holy Spirit are also important to the Pentecostal tradition, “The center, core, and culminating part of Pentecostal spirituality is Christ,” he stressed. In the churches in which he grew up, “We went out preaching the salvation, the empowerment, the healing name of Jesus.”
Long before he studied theology and encountered the more modern term “holistic,” Kärkkäinen had in fact “learned from my spiritual mothers and fathers that Jesus brings a holistic blessing, a holistic gospel.” He referred to Foursquare Church founder Aimee Semple McPherson’s four-part vision of Christ—as Savior, baptizer, healer, and soon-coming King—as a holistic vision.
“We are deeply sacramentalistic,” Kärkkäinen went on, speaking of the act of gathering around the Communion table as a “precious moment for us Pentecostals. We love that the grace of God is embodied in our lives and in our midst.” Again before he ever began studying theology, Kärkkäinen said, he learned in the tradition of his upbringing that “the Eucharist is a healing medicine of the soul.”
Preparing for a celebration of the Lord’s Supper following his sermon, Kärkkäinen exhorted: “As we gather around the table, the same Jesus who walked with the disciples is in our midst right here. Even as we leave this place, he will walk with us throughout the day. He is the one who was, and who is, and who is to come.”