Christian Retailing

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Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 10:01 AM America/New_York

JDGreearLatest project:
Jesus, Continued: Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You (9780310337768, $15.99, Zondervan).

What does the title Jesus, Continued refer to?

That the work Jesus commenced in His incarnation He now continues through His Spirit in the church. It’s not that in the Gospels Jesus worked, and now we, in His absence, work for Him. For 33 years Jesus worked through His earthly body and now He works through us. In Acts 1, Luke says that in his former book—the Gospel of Luke—he “wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day he was taken up” (Acts 1:1). The implication is that Acts is what He is continuing to do. That’s why there are so many parallels between the ministry of Jesus in Luke and the ministry of the church in Acts.

Who is this book for?

This is a book for any Christian who has asked himself, “Shouldn’t there be more to my Christian life than this?” Even after I had gotten a Ph.D. in theology and pastored a growing, “successful” church, I sensed a relational disconnect with God. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand that God had reconciled me to Himself in Christ. I just didn’t know how to have an active relationship with God. This is a book for anyone who shares that feeling.

Why do you say your book is “perhaps not a typical one”?

Most books about the Holy Spirit focus on describing who the Holy Spirit is and answering theological questions about Him. This book is not so much “about” the Holy Spirit as it is “for” the purpose of being filled by the Spirit and discovering His guidance in your life.

JesusContinuedWhat is the difference between Jesus beside us and the Spirit in us?

Jesus told His disciples that if they understood what was being offered to them in the Holy Spirit, they would have been glad he was returning to heaven if that meant getting the Spirit (John 16:7). Having the Holy Spirit in them would be better than having him beside them. When the disciples had Jesus beside them, He wasn’t just a force or a principle. He was a person, someone they interacted with, someone who spoke into their lives. The Holy Spirit is to be the same for us. He is to be the power for our ministry, but He also desires to have fellowship with us (1 John 1:3). And He is to be our guide.

What do you want readers to take away from reading this book?

That personal, interactive relationship has always been God’s plan for His people. This book exists to lead people to that experience if they’ve never had it, and help clarify it for them if they have. God has always been a God who is close and present with His people—but only since Jesus returned to heaven has He taken up residence inside of us. I also want to help readers understand how closely the Spirit connects to the gospel. Many Christians today talk about the gospel and the Word; others talk all about the Spirit. But these connect at the deepest levels. The deeper you go in the gospel, the more alive you become in the Spirit. By believing the gospel message, Paul says, you are filled with the Spirit (Gal 3:1–3), and if you want to grow more full with the Spirit, you must keep plunging deeper into the gospel message.

What else would assist retailers in selling this book?

About every 30 years, evangelicals have a conversation about the Holy Spirit. The last really significant one was in the 1970s, and it led to the Jesus Movement. There’s been a lot of talk recently among the more Reformed Christians about being gospel-centered. This book will show how the fullness of the Spirit is intimately connected to gospel-centeredness, and how the power of gospel-centeredness is found only in the Spirit. It can bring the more charismatic and the more Reformed communities together—both have something to bring to the conversation. Tim Keller says that revival is doing the “ordinary things” of Christian ministry with extraordinary Spirit power. We desperately need a national and worldwide gospel awakening. That will only come by the Spirit. So, it’s time for another conversation about the Holy Spirit.