Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ever Thought Much About the Holy Spirit?

Have you ever thought much about the Holy Spirit?  Probably most Christians haven't.  We believe He's real and He's part of the Trinity, but what part does He play in our daily lives?

Recently I have read four books about the Holy Spirit that I found helpful.

Forgotten God by Francis Chan is a great introductory book about the Holy Spirit.  I read this book second, but I’m going to start with it because if you have never taken an in-depth look at the Holy Spirit, this book is the best of the three to start with.  Compared to the other two, I’d classify it as an introduction to all that can be said.  It’s also written in a modern style and is, I’d say, geared towards the current generation, though it’s a great read for any generation.
     Mr. Chan’s title is chosen because we speak a lot about Jesus and His love for us and His work on the cross and we speak a lot about God as the one who holds it all together, but we speak very little about the Holy Spirit.  Chan reminds us that we aren’t called to live a better life, but to live one unexplained without the Holy Spirit.  What would my life look like if I stop forgetting the Holy Spirit and allow Him to be part of my life?  Rev. Chan says, “God wants the praise for what we do in our lives.  But if we never pray audacious, courageous prayers, how can He answer them?  If we never follow Him to positions where we need Him, how can He show up and make His presence known?”  This quote also jumped off the page at me:  “You don’t need the Holy Spirit if you are merely seeking to live a semi-normal life and attend church regularly. … You only need the Holy Spirit’s guidance and help if you truly want to follow the Way of Jesus Christ….”

I Believe in the Holy Spirit by Michael Green is the one of the three that I read first and that I took the most time with, looking up and studying each passage he mentioned.   At twice the length of Forgotten God, this book goes into a lot more detail than Francis Chan’s book.  Rev. Green traces the history of the Spirit starting in the Old Testament and then spends the majority of the book on the Spirit’s work as seen in the New Testament and its implications for us today.
     From this book I learned that the Holy Spirit’s two main functions today is to point to Jesus and His glory and to make us like Jesus.  The spiritual gifts He gives us are lent by the Spirit for serving others after the pattern of Jesus and we are given the energy and strength to carry out these gifts by the power of the God of the universe.  Each one of us has a different gift.  Each service that we perform is different.  And the way that God energizes or works through us is different.  But each gift points to Jesus and builds up the Body to be like Jesus.
     Rev. Green’s book is quite intellectual, almost a text book, but is also very easy to understand and not boring at all. 

The third book I read is a much older book entitled The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by R. A. Torrey.  This book is a classic and worth reading.  Doctrinally he differs slightly than Rev. Green on a few things, such as when one receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit (I would agree with Rev. Green, but you’ll have to read both books to know what their positions are. J ).  R. A. Torrey was probably the Francis Chan of his time, so his writing style is very much what was in vogue in the late 1800’s.  His sentences are very long, but his writing is also interesting and engaging, so it wasn’t difficult to read.  The book presents a systematic overview of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, so it’s more like Michael Green’s book than like Francis Chan’s book in that regard.  The one thing I really liked about this book is that for every work of the Holy Spirit that he wrote about, he included a real-life example of how he had seen that take place in real life.  This book is free for Kindle, so if you want to read one of these books, but don’t want to spend money, choose this one.  You won’t be disappointed.
 
The Fruits of the Spirit:  Living a Life Connected by Gary D. Anderson is a self-published book that I downloaded at some time for free on Kindle (it is no longer free).  I did not think it was written very well and found several errors and an over-use of exclamation marks!  But reviews on Amazon say it was well-written, so I guess you’ll have to read it and be the judge.  That said, I’m so glad I read this short book (72 pages), because the challenge Mr. Anderson throws out is a good one.  He says that we spend so much time trying to discern our gifts of the Spirit that we forget to produce the fruit of the Spirit.  If we would focus on dwelling in Christ and in producing the fruit of the Spirit, we would, as a result, be practicing our spiritual gifts with no need to try to figure out what they are.  The one flows naturally from the other. 
    
So, there you are….if you’re looking for a book about the Holy Spirit, here are four good recommendations.

     

No comments: