Cover Image: Experiencing the Spirit

Experiencing the Spirit:
New Testament Essentials for every Christian

Graham Beynon (IVP, 2006)

Blurb Review by Will Lind

Review by Will Lind

The Holy Spirit is arguably the most misunderstood person of the Trinity. And so there is always a need for clear, Biblical teaching on the Spirit. That is exactly what this book provides. It began its life as a series of sermons on the Holy Spirit preached by Graham Beynon, minister of Avenue Community Church, Leicester. Its ten short chapters sweep through the New Testament teaching on the Spirit, covering material in John's gospel, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians. At the close of each chapter are some helpful study questions to help the reader dig deeper into the text.

The fact that each chapter began as a sermon brings with it two main benefits. The first is that the whole book is rooted in Scripture. The Bible is always the best place to look when we want to discover more about the Spirit. Beynon writes with clarity about the person and work of the Spirit. At the same time he has not dodged the big issues, questions and struggles that many Christians have about the Spirit (for example, baptism of the Spirit and the gift of tongues). In Chapter six entitled, "Getting more of the Spirit?" and Chapter eight, which covers the gifts of the Spirit, these issues are approached head on with frank, Biblical realism. Whilst acknowledging that Christians have differing opinions, Beynon seeks to get to the heart of what the Bible actually teaches about the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, "Experiencing the Spirit" is full of thought-provoking applications and relevant illustrations. Beynon writes in an engaging, practical and down to earth manner. This is not thought up in an ivory tower, divorced from everyday Christian life but is written by a pastor who clearly wants to encourage believers to apply the Bible to their lives and by doing so to walk in the Spirit. Here is Biblical faithfulness applied to everyday Christian living. There is a definite gap in the market for more books like this!

Three chapters that stood out as particularly helpful were chapters two, seven and ten. Chapter two, entitled ‘Knowing Jesus by the Spirit' examines Jesus teaching on the Spirit from John 16:5-16. It simply covers two things: Who the Holy Spirit is and What the Holy Spirit does. Amidst widespread confusion about the Spirit comes a wonderfully refreshing reminder that his work is "to show Jesus to us". Chapter seven, ‘Resisting the Spirit' looks at Stephen's famous speech in Acts 6:8-7:60. Here Beynon shows that just as in the days of the early Church those who resist the Spirit always do so by "Shooting the messenger" (as he puts it!), "Despising God's Word" and "Rejecting God's Saviour." Chapter ten, ‘The Spirit and the future' is the second chapter to cover verses from Ephesians. This final chapter is a wonderfully encouraging look at Ephesians 1:13-14. Here Beynon reminds us that the Holy Spirit is "God's stamp of ownership on us", "God's down payment on us", that, "The first part of the harvest is in" and that as Christian believers, "we're a work in progress" that God will carry that work, "on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil 1:6).

In summary, I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this book. It may be that it would encourage teachers of God's Word to think about preaching a series on the Holy Spirit, which in today's climate of confusion and uncertainty about the Spirit would be extremely worthwhile. I think it would also be a great book to give a student in the hope that it might pass on a real understanding of the Biblical teaching about the Spirit. However, this book is not just for preachers or students! As the subtitle makes clear it examines one of the "New Testament essentials for every Christian" and so no reader would fail to benefit from it.

Review by Will Lind

Ministry Trainee
High Church, Hilton (Aberdeen)

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