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Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Spirit Who Speaks

Audra Jennings with the B&B Media Group sent me a copy of Peter Lawrence's book, The Spirit Who Speaks, for the purpose of review.  Lawrence was a vicar in the Church of England for 32 years.  He spent his last 14 years as leader of the three churches of Canford Magna in Dorset.  Peter's goal always was to help people put into practice the things he taught, highlighting many of the principles through his stories of both success and failure.  Mr. Lawrence died from a brain tumor on February 22, 2009.

The Spirit Who Speaks:  God's Supernatural Intervention In Your Life follows Lawrence's life and his attempts to introduce the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the church he led.  While writing this book about living fully in the Spirit's healing power, Lawrence received his diagnosis of terminal cancer.  I admire his passion to see this project through to the end.

While much in the book was foreign territory to me (such as "ministering" sessions where the Holy Spirit is "called" upon to speak) and leans a bit more toward the "charismatic" ideas of tongues and prophecy and healing, Lawrence has some solid things to say such as...
"His (God) nature is perfect, incorruptible, and totally consistent.  He always reveals His true character in everything He does.  We may not interpret all He does correctly, because we see through a glass darkly due to our sinful natures, but when so many believers over so many centuries have encountered the God who speaks by His Spirit, it seems right to conclude this is a part of who He is.  The Bible rests on the assumption that God is a God who speaks...It is always much easier to claim that God has spoken and God will speak than that God speaks."
He quotes John Wimber (I'm not familiar with this gentleman or with all that he teaches, but go agree with the truth in this statement.) as saying...
"We do not seek to bring Scripture down to our experience, but rather we seek to bring our experience up to Scripture."
I appreciated that multiple times in the book, Lawrence exhibited a high view of the importance of God's Word as the primary way God speaks to His people.  He issues this warning on page 28...
"We should be very cautious about anyone who claims to have subsequent revelations from the Holy Spirit that either add to or take away from Scripture."
and again on page 32...
"Thus a word from God today must not contain any new teaching; neither must it add to or take away from the doctrines of the Bible.  It seems right to say that a present day word from God may therefore illustrate Scripture, help to apply Scripture, authenticate Scripture, and enable Christians to fulfill the commands of Scripture, but must always be tested by Scripture.  This enables us to understand the different purposes behind the Word of God and a word from God."
Particularly helpful was chapter 9 entitled "Test Everything" with statements from Lawrence like these...
"Clearly, if Satan can convince people that everyone who dies will be okay, there is limited value in the gospel of Christ."
"This is why Scripture must always supply foundation, and words of knowledge can only ever build on that. The Bible is our major source in discerning whether words in our minds are from God or not.  Our first and firmest pole is vital.  Any word that contradicts the teaching of the Bible is not from God, while any word that is positively supported by Scripture is more likely to be from God."
The book includes a study guide through each chapter.  The book can be ordered at by going  HERE