"Jesus, Continued", by J.D. Greear (book review)
Many authors have undertaken the difficult task of writing about the Holy Spirit. The "3rd" person of the Trinity can truly be difficult to understand, and I imagine He's an even more difficult Person to write about. I've read a few contemporary books on the Holy Spirit, including "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. This one, "Jesus Continued", ranks among my favorite contemporary works on the Holy Spirit.
The book is divided into three parts: Part 1: The Missing Spirit; Part 2: Experiencing the Spirit; and Part 3: Seeking the Spirit. The first two parts each contain six chapters, and the third contains four chapters, totaling 227 pages.
THOUGHT-PROVOCATION: I was inspired by numerous thought-nuggets throughout the book, and there is not enough space in this blog review to discuss them all. Therefore, I will briefly address a few of those nuggets I found most insightful or thought-provoking.
1) A famous quote has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words." J.D. discusses this peculiar concept of "witnessing with my life" on page 57. He writes, "The gospel is...an announcement about what Jesus did to save people, not a presentation of what a good person you are...Sharing that announcement requires words, because you can't really explain what Jesus did through charades. How can you preach the gospel of Christ's finished work without words?" (emphasis mine).
This thought inspires me because the Holy Spirit's primary role, as J.D. quotes J.I. Packer, is to illuminate the gospel message in what J.I. calls it a "floodlight ministry" (p.23). Therefore, it seems appropriate that the Spirit of God would inspire us to speak the truth of the gospel He intends to illuminate. I wonder if Assisi's quote has done more harm than good by providing well-intending Christians with an escape route from having to speak the gospel. Instead, they hope living a good life will do it all. Certainly, words AND actions ought to work in concert with each other, but actions alone do not explain the gospel message with any sense of clarity.
2) All of Chapter 5: "God Doesn't Need You" was entirely liberating. Ironically, this nugget falls on the heels of what inspired me in the thoughts above. In chapter 5, J.D. expresses that "not every assignment that comes from heaven has your name on it" and "There's no reason to feel guilty over what you're not doing if you're doing what God has commanded you to do"..."nor should I feel guilty that God has not assigned it to me." (all p.82)
Let's hear it for one collective sigh of relief: ahhhhhhhhhh. You mean, it's not all up to me? You mean, if all the details aren't hammered out, God can still use my flaws? You mean, if I'm not eloquent, the Spirit of God can still use my words to accomplish his floodlight ministry on the gospel? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! "Faithfulness, not degree of sacrifice", writes J.D., "is our measure of 'success'" (p.83).
3) In Chapter 16, "The Way Up is the Way Down", J.D. punched me right in the gut. Hard! "You will never be full of the Spirit so long as you are full of yourself" (p.219). Whoa, don't be so hard on me, J.D.! See, I'm a rather proud person. I've accomplished much, and I want to make a good name for myself. (By the way, I should know better...my name isn't known by initials, such as J.I. Packer, A.W. Tozer, or J.D. Greear...just sayin'). But the prideful person I am is exactly the kind of person the Spirit of God cannot use. Instead, "God's power comes as a gift only to the empty-spirited", J.D. writes on page 219.
This sobers me because I find myself in competition with the Spirit, thinking I can do much on my own. Obviously, that doesn't work. Instead, I need to be broken and emptied of self so the Spirit can fill me. J.D. quotes A.W. Tozer, "It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply" (p.220). Honestly, my pride says, "I don't want to be hurt deeply!" But my spirit says, "I must be if I want to be used by God." Thanks for the gut check, J.
RECOMMENDATION: I enjoyed or was challenged by just about every page in this book, either by having my theology challenged, or by chewing on thought-nuggets that inspire me to be more conscious of the Holy Spirit's work in and around me. If you're the type of person who doesn't want to read anything that might rattle your long-held beliefs, then don't bother with this book. While that's not the purpose of J.D.'s book, it's bound to happen. Just stick to reading only the topics you agree with and be content in your world. Otherwise, if you want to be challenged and encouraged by the Holy Spirit's real, living presence TODAY, then this one just might be right for you.
RATING: All said, I give this book 4 1/2 stars out of 5. I like what he had to say, but I'd have liked to see a little better editing.
DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my unbiased review of it. I was not promised gifts or rewards to provide a positive review. All opinions are mine, and none of the statements expressed in my review were forced upon me.
NOTES FOR THE EDITORS: This section is simply a note to the editors. I'm not sure editors and publishers ever read simple bloggers' reviews, but these are for their use in case this books goes into a subsequent printing.
1) Pluralization: "An infinite amount of power and possibilities await us" (p.15). Since "power" (no "s") is used, then "possibility" (no "ies") should also be used. Therefore, "awaits" (with an "s") should be used.
2) "Where God has given clarity in his Word. So throughout Scripture..." (p.37). The first sentence seems to suggest a comma should be used after "Word" and that an additional phrase is missing. As written, however, it appears to be an incomplete sentence.
3) "Don't mock those who overestimate their potential for the kingdom of God. mock those who underestimate it" (p.63). I agree with the idea, but the "m" in "mock" needs to be capitalized.
4) On page 71, J.D. began telling a story about a Muslim man named "Ahmed" who had dreams and asked for interpretation. I think it would have been good to complete the story, but J.D. left me hanging.
5) Referring to an analogy about a friend paying a debt he didn't owe to cover your $900,000 back taxes, J.D. wrote, "...but your friend paid that debt off, you would probably fall on your feet and say..." How does one "fall on" his feet? Did he mean "knees"? Did he mean, "fall from your feet"?
at 7:22 AM