Seedbed is pleased to release the book edition of Receive the Holy Spirit: A 70-day Journey through the Scriptures by Dan Wilt. It was originally published as an online reading experience which gathered thousands of readers together as they traced the work of the Holy Spirit through the Bible. Get it from our store here.
Who is the Holy Spirit and what does the Spirit do?
The Holy Spirit is the ruakh, or “wind/breath” of God (Gen. 1:2). The Spirit is the manifest presence of the Creator, sustaining and interacting with His creation. As the third Person of the Trinity, the Spirit does what the Spirit has been since the very beginning of creation—bringing order to chaos, meaning to the meaningless, and new life to the dying heart.
What was the impetus for this book? What do we not know about or experience of the Holy Spirit with which you believe God’s people need to wrestle?
Language around the Holy Spirit is often, by necessity, the language of mystery. For that reason, words like “breath,” “wind,” “fire,” and other images are used in Scripture to describe the Spirit’s presence and activity.
My goal with the 70 daily entries that make up this “journey” in the book was to, beginning with Pentecost, provide a brief, narrative, and joyful history of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures.
As human beings in covenant with the Father, we get to experience in the Holy Spirit’s active, manifest presence in all of life—even partnering with the Holy Spirit in accomplishing the will of the Father.
My dream in writing Receive the Holy Spirit was to show how the Holy Spirit practically works in the world, as well as in your life and mine. I wanted to write a book on the Holy Spirit I haven’t seen written before; one that traces the history of the Holy Spirit’s work through the entire Bible, telling stories, and giving us accessible ways you and I can experience the Holy Spirit’s work in every day life.
Why do you believe the Holy Spirit remains the illusive third person of the Trinity for many in the western church?
We understand the concept of “Father,” even if we are continuing to discover the idea fully and biblically as it relates to God being our Father. We understand the concept of “Son,” if we are continuing to discover the idea fully and biblically as it relates to Jesus being the Son of God.
But “Spirit?” The idea of the Holy Spirit being the Presence and Person of God is more difficult to grasp. When we think of the word “spirit,” we think of the “heart,” of the unseen part of a person that carries and energizes a life. The human heart, and the spirit in is, is a more difficult concept to grasp as we have few real life images that help us.
Again, the Scriptures use elemental language to help us: wind, breath, fire. The Scriptures use names and verbs, communicating the Holy Spirit helps us abide in Christ, comforts us, sustains us, guides us into all truth, empowers us, and raised Jesus from the dead. But we are still left without a clear image to hang our hat on that enables us to say, “This is how the Holy Spirit works.”
We are at our best thinking of the Spirit as the breath of God, the life-giving, active, and manifest presence of God—moving in the world and in our lives shaping us with the love and purposes of God. The Spirit indwells us, which I think is a helpful understanding. The Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, according to Paul, in us. We are a temple, individually and collectively, and God fills His temple.
I would also say that embracing the person of the Holy Spirit means, by all accounts biblically, that we are not fully in control of either process or outcomes in which we’ve invited the Spirit to lead.
To be a person who walks with the Holy Spirit in the lead role (though we may prefer God would follow our conventions and preferences!), means to be a person who is comfortable being out of the driver’s seat. At this point, we can balk—entire congregations can balk—at yielding in surrender to the surprising work the Spirit wants to do in and through people.
What will make the biggest impression upon readers engaging with the Holy Spirit for the first time, or afresh through your work?
It’s my hope that readers will experience Receive the Holy Spirit as a primer on life in the Spirit, from Genesis to Revelation, that excites them about the Holy Spirit’s way of working in the world through people like you and I.
From the Spirit sustaining all of creation, including us and our human family, to the Spirit manifesting God’s presence in wisdom, healing, love, and heart transformation, it is my prayer that the reader says, “Yes! Choose me!” when it comes to being filled with, and used by, the Spirit of God.
I am also eager for readers to really get a hold of the idea that we are living, breathing places where heaven and earth meet. Being the “royal priesthood” is not only a pleasant and dignifying title; it is a reality that means the Spirit uses us to bring people closer to God. I hope every reader leaves with that impression, and a sense of delight in growing into that call.
What is the biggest challenge Scripture poses to us with respect to the work of the Holy Spirit?
We’ll never get away from the reality that the Spirit is best comprehended through experience, and through the language of mystery and metaphor. Biblically, we are not let off the hook. We must get comfortable with the Holy Spirit being the manifest presence of God, who is unseen yet powerful, loving yet unpredictable. And we must get comfortable with the idea that God is present, yet not visible—therefore at all times, in all places, God is moving whether we perceive it or not.
I would also note the challenge that we associate the Holy Spirit more with “power,” often, and relegate the third person of the Godhead to working through special people who seem to have special access to that power.
Yes, the Spirit does powerful things, but those activities are motivated by love. God is never aiming to just “change things.” God is aiming to “lovingly change hearts that then change things.” For that reason, the Spirit intends to lead us to manifest God’s love and attributes in our lives (the fruits of the Spirit, we call them).
Yes, there are spiritual gifts, meaning that the Spirit moves through us to accomplish the Father’s will, and signs and wonders may follow. But there are also the gifts of the Spirit; ways that God pours Himself out to nurture character growth, personal transformation, and to make us like Jesus in all respects. That’s why 1 Corinthians 13 exists—to frame all the work of the Holy Spirit in the context of love. Love is the motivation of the God who is Love.
What is the main flow of content in this book? How do the daily readings progress?
In Receive the Holy Spirit we begin at Pentecost, exploring Acts 2 when the Spirit of God comes like a mighty wind, baptizing the Church for resurrection living and empowered mission in Jesus’ name. Then, we go straight to the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis, to follow the Holy Spirit’s wake through the stories that lead us to the Gospels, then all the way to Revelation.
Each day’s reading highlights one way the Holy Spirit moves among us in God’s good world, and invites us to participate with God in the new creation work He is always about.
The reader engages with a new reading each day for 70 days, filled with stories, questions, prayers, and invitations to act on what is being learned each week. Pentecost Sunday is a great time during the year to begin reading the book.
Receive the Holy Spirit also works great for bands, small groups, or churches wanting to learn more about the Holy Spirit in an exciting yet balanced way.
How would the life of the church look different if they were to be genuinely impacted by this resource? What difference would it make in the world today?
My hope is that this resource is a refreshing, entry-level primer on the person and work of the Spirit—a primer that opens each individual reader to a renewed way of seeing the work of the Spirit in and through their life.
If local churches, and the broader Body of Christ, took a hold of what we learn together in this book—the world should buckle up! Every sidewalk will become an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to change someone’s life in a simple or profound way, and every person’s story will become a meeting place with Jesus in which a loving transformation of the heart can occur.
The Holy Spirit, since the beginning of time, has been bringing the Creator’s loving order to the chaos in the world. We all need that help, that hope, in times like these—and receiving the Holy Spirit is the answer to every human beings deepest need.
- Daily devotional readings
- Sunday school classes
- Small groups (including class meetings and band meetings)
- Seedbed Daily Text readers
In these pages you’ll:
- Be invited to receive the Spirit of God into your very being
- Learn what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit, the second person of the Trinity
- Experience the difference of living filled with the creative and sustaining power of God’s Spirit