On March 20th of this year I received a surprising phone call from Steve Strang, publisher of Charisma House. He asked me to write a book about the Holy Spirit. This was an invitation I could not refuse. Louise said, “Call it ‘Holy Fire’”. I knew that was the right title. I began writing Holy Fire. Steve’s wife Joy gave me a most wonderful suggestion: “Write a book that will make people hungry for the Holy Spirit”. If this book is as good as some seem to think, I have Joy to thank for it.
I finished Holy Fire in four months. It was possibly the easiest book I ever wrote. Words flowed; insights and sense of direction came faster than I could write. I asked Pastor Jack Hayford would he kindly write a Foreword? He agreed. I then sent the manuscript to a number of church leaders. All but one came back to me with an endorsement. Over thirty leaders gave very positive commendations. To my amazement Jack Hayford called it “a landmark book”. His original Foreword went to thirteen pages. Steve Strang said to me, “I have known Jack Hayford for over thirty years; I have never known him to be so excited about a book”.
It is easy for any author to think that their latest book is “the best and most important yet”. I have this temptation with almost every book I write! But if I am completely honest, this book may truly be my most important.
Funnily enough, there are probably more religious books available on the Holy Spirit than any other subject, but I fear that the Third Person of the Trinity is still the least understood. The Evangelical wing of the church at the moment is largely divided between those who believe that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit are available today and those who believe they “ceased” – long ago. Those who hold to the latter view are called “cessationists”.
Holy Fire is written for the new Christian, the mature scholar, the layman and church leader. I sought to keep Joy Strang’s advice before me as I wrote every line. If this book does not make one hungry for the Holy Spirit I will have failed in my goal.
I have tried to write a book for those with a limited education or no Christian background. I have sought to introduce the Holy Spirit to the reader as if he or she knew nothing about Him. Early in the book is a chapter on twenty-one things every Christian should know about the Holy Spirit. I also introduce Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones to my readers, although many will know who he is. He was my predecessor and the man responsible for my being at Westminster Chapel. I explain his beautiful concept of the “immediate and direct” witness of the Holy Spirit. I also have a chapter called “Strange Fire” in which sadly I have to talk about certain unbiblical positions and practices among some Pentecostals and Charismatics today. You could think that a “cessationist” wrote this chapter!
There are two chapters on “cessationism” in my book. I carefully and simply explain the term – its history and meaning. The irony is: there is no biblical support for it – not even a little bit. It is a theory some sadly have chosen to believe; they have sought to turn an unwarranted theory into a dogma and without any question quenched the Holy Spirit Himself in the process. They did not mean to, but they did.
Cessationists are not bad people. I have a section “Be Fair With Cessationists”. Many of them are the salt of the earth; they have been vanguards for the Christian faith, maintaining a robust belief in the infallibility of Scripture.
I have an important chapter called “The Baptism with the Holy Spirit”, showing all points of view (that I know of) and then I explain my own position. I have a chapter on the “gifts of the Holy Spirit”, dealing with the nine gifts referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. At the request of my publisher I included a chapter devoted to my own testimony – how I myself was baptized with the Spirit and how it changed my theology and life thereafter.
The final chapter is called “Isaac” – my word for the next great move of the Holy Spirit which I believe is coming soon – very soon. It is when the Word and the Spirit come together simultaneously as it was experienced in the earliest church. Three months before his death in in 1947 Smith Wigglesworth prophesied this (which I quote at the end of the book). The next great move of the Holy Spirit will sweep the earth and demonstrate a power not seen in some two thousand years. There will be no “cessationists” after the next move of God on this planet.
Pray that cessationists and new Christians will read my book. I believe they will find a home in the very position I maintain – a robust theology of the sovereignty of God alongside a firm conviction that Jesus Christ is indeed the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Heb.13:8).
Holy Fire is available now: