The Holy Spirit is God's agent here on earth. Why are Holy Spirit interventions so rare in our churches. Why are Christians lives dry and mechanical? Cymbala wonders if we are missing out because we are not properly acquainted with the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He has written this book so we can learn more about who the Holy Spirit is, what happens when He moves, and how we can surrender to His leading.
He explains why we need the Helper Jesus promised. He shows that the first believers expected the Spirit to do great things. We need to return to that faith.
Christianity is hopeless without the Spirit. “The indwelling of God through the Holy Spirit makes Christianity different from any other religions on earth.” (38)
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and lives within us. We are to be controlled by the Spirit. (Not every Christian is.)
The Spirit shows up in church. “...[O]ur Lord Jesus Christ never intended that his church operate without visitations and blessings from the living Spirit of God.” (35) The Spirit instills a hunger for the Word in the believer. While we hear a preacher through our ears and process through our mind, the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart on a spiritual level. The Spirit produces joy in the believer (different than happiness). The Spirit produces an increasing sensitivity to our sin and a desire for Christlikeness, working in the deepest part of our being. The Spirit provides the power when we have none. Cymbala writes of what will happen when we surrender to the Holly Spirit: love, fellowship with God, boldness - overcoming fear, powerful prayer, and being set apart and sent out for service.
Cymbala overheard the comment, “To be conscious of the Holy Spirit solves 90 percent of our problems.” (102) Cymbala's aim in this book is to help us do exactly that.
Spiritual courage is needed today. We need to stir up the work of the Spirit within us, he says.
He includes stories of people transformed by the Holy Spirit, in their own words. It is amazing and encouraging to read of the Spirit working through ordinary people in extraordinary ways.
“Without the Spirit,” Cymbala writes, “Christianity is reduced to head knowledge about God, empty traditions, and a social club mentality. We need to ask God to give us a fresh revelation of what his church was meant to look like.” (195) “When the Spirit works through surrendered, faith-filled people like you and me, Christ will be glorified. The church will be built up. The Word of God will be honored. The kingdom of God will be extended.” (196)
What an encouraging book! It gives a picture of what the church looks like when the Spirit is given permission to work without reservation. I highly recommend this book, especially to church leaders.
Jim Cymbala is pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle. You can find out more about him and the church at www.brooklyntabernacle.org.
Zondervan, 208 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed are my own.