Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Spirit Rising

For my sermon this week at Revolution on Ephesians 1:15 – 23 I read through Jim Cymbala’s book Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit (kindle version). While I don’t agree with all of Cymbala’s theology, when it comes to the Holy Spirit, he has truly seen some incredible things. I’m always challenged by books or sermons by people of great faith, prayer warriors so to speak. Cymbala is one of those people.

I’ve been convinced of what Cymbala talks about in this book in my own life and in the lives of many Christians. We just don’t see the Spirit working like it is recorded in the New Testament. Think about, does your life, prayer life, courage, boldness, evangelism, does it look anything like the book of Acts? If I’m honest, most of the time my life doesn’t read like a page from Acts.

For many Christians though, we don’t see the Holy Spirit work in our lives, because we aren’t sure what He does. Here are just a few things from Scripture about what the Holy Spirit does:

  • The Spirit helps us speak when we are in precarious situations and need to bear witness (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12).
  • The Spirit teaches and reminds us of what we need to know and remember. He is our comforter, our advisor, our encourager, and our strength. He guides us in the way we should go (Psalm 143:10; John 14 – 16; Acts 9:31, 13:2, 15:28; 1 Corinthians 2:9 – 10; 1 John 5:6 – 8).
  • From the Spirit we receive power to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. It is the Spirit who draws people to the gospel, the Spirit who equips us with the strength we need to accomplish God’s purposes. The Holy Spirit not only initially draws people to God, He also draws believers closer to Jesus (Acts 1:8; Romans 8:26; Ephesians 3:16 – 19).
  • By the power of the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body. The Spirit sets us free from the sins we cannot get rid of on our own. This is a lifelong process we entered into, in partnership with the Spirit, when we first believed (e.g., Romans 8:2).
  • Through the Spirit we have received a spirit of adoption as children, which leads us into intimacy with the Father, instead of a relationship based on fear and slavery. The Spirit bears witness to us that we are His children (Romans 8:15 – 16).
  • The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin. He does this both before we initially enter into right relationship with God and as we journey through this life as believers (John 16:7 – 11; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
  • The Spirit brings us life and freedom. Where the Spirit is, there is freedom, not bondage or slavery. In our world that is plagued with death, this is a profound truth that points to real hope (Romans 8:10 – 11; 2 Corinthians 3:17).
  • By the power of the Holy Spirit we abound with hope because our God is a God of hope, who fills His children with all joy and peace (Romans 15:13).
  • As members of God’s kingdom community, each of us is given a manifestation of the Spirit in our lives for the purpose of the common good. We all have something to offer because of what the Spirit gives to us (1 Corinthians 12:7).
  • The fruit of being led by the Spirit of God includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These attitudes and actions will characterize our lives as we allow ourselves to be grown and molded by the Spirit. The Spirit is our sanctifier (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22 – 33).

Here are a few more things from the book that jumped out:

  • Christianity without the Holy Spirit is hopeless.
  • The holy spirit does regenerate men. He has the power to raise the dead. He has the power to impart lift to those who are morally dead or decaying. He has power to impart an entirely new nature to those whose nature now is so corrupt that to men they appear to be beyond hope. How often I have seen it proven. How often I have seen men and women utterly lost and ruined and vile come into a meeting scarcely knowing why they came. As they have sat there, the Word was spoken, the Spirit of God has quickened the Word thus sown in their heart, and in a moment, that man or woman, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, has become a new creation.
  • Without the spirit of God moving strongly among us, many of us have become faithless and cynical.
  • That indwelling of God through the Holy Spirit makes Christians different from any other religion on earth. Judaism, Islam and Buddhism – none of these religions claim that their god inhabits their followers. The leaders of those belief systems may try to proselytize with their doctrine, but the gospel of Christ is different. Faith in Jesus makes us walking miracles who have been changed through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us!
  • When we fear giving control to the Spirit, we really fear God’s control over our lives.
  • When the Spirit is moving, believers have a hunger to hear, read, study, and in particular, understand more about the Word of God. That makes sense, of course, since the Holy Spirit was the one who inspired the Bible. He was the author who inspired the writers. The Bible is his book. Spirit-controlled Christians don’t usually have to force themselves to read the Bible; the Spirit gives them a holy appetite for it.
  • When a person has little interest in the Word, or when Scripture seems dull and tedious to a church body, that is a sign that something is seriously out of sync. When we don’t have respect for the Word and reverence for its authority, and when we don’t humble ourselves to hear what God has said, we’re on the wrong path.
  • Without the Spirit of God, we’re left to struggle with our self-effort, which is riddle by moral weakness and sinful tendencies. But when the Spirit comes, we have joy, hope and power.
  • Amazingly, although the Holy Spirit is fully God, it is entirely possible for believers like you and me to hinder his work and quench his sacred fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Some people falsely believe that whatever God wants to do he will do. Consider Jesus’ invitation to his own church in Laodicea: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20). If he’s Christ, and he wants in, why doesn’t he just come in? Why does he bother knocking and asking? That’s the mystery of God’ sovereignty and our free will. We must respond to him, or we will miss out on his planned blessing. Earlier I wrote about Paul telling Timothy to stir up the embers, to keep the fire going. We need to do the same thing. For some of us, the embers are faintly glowing, and we need to tend to them, stir them up so they burst into open flame.
  • The Holy Spirit produces joy.
  • When the Spirit works, we will always have a new desire for holiness and a quest for Christlikeness.
  • If a person doesn’t have a growing sensitivity toward sin and doesn’t have a desire to become more like Christ, it’s questionable whether that person ever had an authentic conversion.
  • If we don’t have access to spiritual power, how can we accomplish what needs to be done? Power to overcome sin. Power to overcome spiritual enemies that attack us. Power to endure hardship and affliction. Power to witness. Power to speak. Power to pray.
  • It’s interesting that the risen Christ’s final words before his ascension concerned spiritual power (Luke 24:49). It was as if Jesus looked down the corridors of time and knew that even having the right gospel message wouldn’t be enough. We would face so many such obstacles from satanic strongholds that we would never evangelize the world effectively without the power that only the Spirit can impart.
  • The Holy Spirit causes us to love others, even the unlovable or those who have hurt us.
  • The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power (2 Timothy 1:7). Through the Holy Spirit, God has promised to give us courage, and even boldness, to swim against the current and to speak for Christ even though we might be mocked. Through the Holy Spirit, God has promised to give us courage, and even boldness, to swim against the current.
  • A fear of failure stops us from starting the very thing God has laid on our hearts.
  • The Holy Spirit is greater in power than our shyness or timidity. And he is greater than our fear of rejection or failure. His power makes the weakest as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1).
  • The Holy Spirit is the only antidote to the virus of fear in our lives.
  • Spiritual courage only comes directly from the Holy Spirit.
  • Our future will be determined by how we allow God the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. We can live our days out in fearful hesitation and second-guessing, or we can “let go and let God.” God’s plan for us is not about who we are and what talents we bring to the table. It’s about the resources and grace God has promised us.
  • It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63).
  • If you want power, confidence, joy, peace, and more love in your life, ask the Spirit to come and do something new in you.
  • Although the disciples couldn’t comprehend it at the time, it was better for them to have the invisible Holy Spirit in them than it was to have the physical Jesus with them.
  • We can only receive according to our faith. If we don’t believe, we won’t pray, and when we don’t ask, we won’t receive the blessings God has for us.
  • The circumstances will differ from person to person, but an undeniable expression of Spirit-controlled living is that we will be lifted above the limitations of mere natural talents and abilities.
  • The irony of Spirit-filled living is that we have to give up power in order to gain a greater power.
  • Christianity is not a self-effort religion but rather one of power—the ability and might of the Spirit. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). The Spirit is the only one who can produce self-discipline, love, and boldness. But to do so, he has to control us daily. We can’t rest on a religious experience we had years or even months ago.

All in all, this is a great book on the Holy Spirit. It definitely challenged me and how I see the Holy Spirit working in my life. I’m really excited to preach on this topic tomorrow at Revolution.

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