The Holy Spirit is deeply misunderstood by many Christians today. A survey updated in 2016 reported that 56% of evangelicals agreed that “The Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being.” Needless to say, Christians need to better understand the Holy Spirit and His work in their lives!
In his new book, Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption and Everyday Life, Michael Horton seeks to overcome the misunderstandings of the Holy Spirit that permeate the Church today.
Horton’s work is an in-depth theology of the Holy Spirit. Many books about the Holy Spirit are more of a Theology 101 course, but consider this a Theology 401! Horton systematically walks through the themes and roles of the Holy Spirit in Scripture to give a fuller picture of the Spirit and His work.
Chapters include subjects like the Spirit’s role in creation, the Spirit as Judge, the baptism of the Spirit and the Spirit and the Bride. Horton exegetically looks at key texts in Scripture and in doing so leaves no stone unturned. The book is very scholarly and has many quotations throughout. Here are some memorable quotes from the book:
“…the Father works for us, the Son works among us, and the Spirit works within us” (italics his, 36).
“We will have a very narrow vision of the Spirit’s person and work if we identify him only with specific works (like regeneration and spiritual gifts) instead of recognizing the specific way he works in every divine operation” (39).
“The Holy Spirit was not sent at Pentecost to lead us away from this world but to send us out into it” (63).
“…the new creation is more astonishing than the first. The triune God creates a new world this time not out of nothing but out of sin and death, not only without assistance but in the face of hostility from creatures he made in his image” (203).
“Much of popular devotion is focused on the inner life of the individual believer. In contrast, the Scriptures place the emphasis on the Spirit’s work of opening us up and turning us outside of ourselves, looking up to God in faith and out to our neighbors in love” (220).
“The more we receive from the Spirit of the realities of the age to come, the more restless we become, having already received a foretaste of the future” (222).
This was the first book that I have read by Michael Horton, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was very impressed with the depth of the book and Horton’s knowledge of the subject. He is very thorough, and in the book you will find many connections that you may have overlooked. For example, Horton differentiates between the Spirit’s work in the Old Testament and the New Testament by comparing Elisha to Jesus. Elisha was given a “double portion” of the Holy Spirit while Jesus was given the Holy Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34). It’s little gems like these that make the book worthwhile.
I found his section on the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be very helpful as well. He deals with each subject fairly, even those that are more controversial. For those wondering about his position on spiritual gifts, specifically the “sign gifts,” he is open to them but does not think they are normative for the church today.
I would highly recommend this book to those who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit. However, lay people with no theological background whatsoever may have some difficulty with the depth of this book.
Overall, this book will help you better understand the Holy Spirit and how He operates in the believer’s life and in the body of Christ.
**I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for a review on this site.**