The Holy Spirit Is Not Pixie Dust

The following is a book review of Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life by Jared Wilson. (Thomas Nelson (2018). 207 pp. $16.99.)

Jared Wilson always seems to get me.

Whenever I read his books, I feel like he’s in the room, responding to my questions and thoughts. His writing is that accessible and enjoyable, and his latest book, Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life, is no exception.

Life-Altering Reality

jared-wilson-supernatural-power-everday-peopleWilson’s 10-chapter book on the Holy Spirit focuses on the many ways the third person of the Trinity works in believers, changing us and ultimately pointing us to Jesus Christ. Wilson—director of content strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and TGC blogger—begins by introducing us to Bill, a fictional, everyday guy with a normal routine. But Bill’s issue—and ours—is that he feels as though “there must be something more to life, but he’s not sure what that could be” (xiii). His life lacks power.

Wilson returns to Bill as the book progresses, using his fictional life as an illustration for ours. Bill desperately needs supernatural power—the Spirit’s presence, guidance, strength, counsel, and comfort—as do we. Wilson is “firmly convinced that too many Christians spend most of their lives trying to carry out their everyday routines in their own strength” (xv).

I couldn’t agree more. How many of us are trying to live our days—today, even—in our own power? How many of us need “a peek behind the curtain to the reality of [our] inner lives” (xvi)? Wilson draws back the proverbial curtain, revealing our need for the Holy Spirit and exposing our oft-mistaken understanding of what his power looks like in practice.

Spiritual Reality Explained

Wilson clears away unnecessary mysticism as he explains spiritual realities. He does this in The Imperfect Disciple with the concept of discipleship, and he does it in Supernatural Power for Everyday People with the person and work of the Holy Spirit:

The bottom line is this: the Holy Spirit can’t be pumped and scooped. He can’t be slung around, gathered up, or dispensed. He’s not pixie dust. There’s no such thing as the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is not a thing at all, but the very presence of the personal God himself—with us, in us, and around us. (29)

I’ve often wondered what it looks like to walk by the Spirit, as God’s Word commands. Does it mean heeding God’s promptings, or a “still, small voice,” as Christians often say? Does it mean recognizing my sin, confessing it, and walking in holiness? Maybe. But Wilson’s explanation was profoundly simple: “‘Walking by the Spirit’ must entail fixation on Christ” (44). To walk by the Spirit is to keep my eyes on Jesus, which can only happen by his supernatural power.

Mysterious? Yes. Mystical? Not at all.

Wilson is also a compelling storyteller, which helps his readers see mysterious, divine realities more clearly. Alongside Bill’s fictional stories, Wilson shares stories from his pastoral years, from a season of intense suffering, and from other pastors and writers to show what the Spirit’s supernatural work looks like in our everyday lives. Through stories and illustrations, Wilson provides fresh takes on ancient truths.

Holy Spirit of Prosperity?

I especially appreciated Wilson’s critique of the prosperity gospel. Many who pick up Supernatural Power for Everyday People will believe this false gospel, and they desperately need clarity for the sake of their souls. Wilson passionately provides that clarity when he writes:

We think, If I try hard enough, if I do well enough, if I just accomplished this or achieve that, then I will finally be satisfied. And it never works, does it? It never works because the things we’re trusting in don’t work. But they also never work because the things we’re trying to satisfy usually aren’t our biggest problems. Most of us just want health and security. Meanwhile, God wants to rescue us from corruption and condemnation and reconcile us to himself as beloved children of the King. (22)

In a culture where the gospel has been watered down, distorted, and discarded altogether, Wilson’s emphasis on knowing and guarding the gospel couldn’t be more important. For this reason, his book is an excellent resource for pastors, ministry directors, and lay leaders who need to understand what their congregations may believe about the Holy Spirit—and how to steer them toward truth.

Holy Spirit of Hope

For me, the most powerful aspect of Wilson’s book came near the end, when he cites Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” I reflected on how God has sustained me, body and soul, through many hard years of physical suffering. He has filled me with his joy and peace and made me full of hope in Christ. This was no unknowable “magic”; it was a supernatural reality—power from God’s Spirit.

I finished Supernatural Power for Everyday People freshly thankful for the indwelling Spirit of God, who has sustained me, pointed me to truth, and grown my desire to know the Son.

I commend Wilson’s comprehensive, practical treatment of the Spirit to both mature and new Christians alike. May you know the powerful comfort of the One who indwells you.

[Post Credit: The Gospel Coalition]

 

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