Skip to main content

The Apostles and the Spirit's Power

Who is the Holy Spirit by Amos Yong (Paraclete Press)




This new volume in the Paraclete Guide series is designed to take the reader on a journey through the book of Acts in step with the activity and person of the Holy Spirit. The author, Amos Yong, Professor of Theology at Regent University in Virginia Beach, carries the reader on a very insightful, practical, and thoughtful journey through Acts.



Instead of just harboring on a few aspects in the book of Acts (Pentecost, Paul's speeches, etc.), Yong dives into the cultural milieu that the apostles dealt with as they proclaimed the good news throughout the region. For this reason, Who is the Holy Spirit makes a definite point that the message of the kingdom the apostles bore witness to was radically opposite of the prevailing class structure of the Roman Empire. Yong writes in the first chapter, "The Acts of the Apostles are also the acts of the Holy Spirit in the church, acts that are subversive of the empires of this world" (6). Part of his point in laying out this specific statement is that the political, social, and religious structures of the Roman Empire were not friendly to the kinds of people that the early Christians befriended. The social classes excluded those who could not provide material wealth and advantage. In essence, the system was rigged for the upper echelon. The ethic of the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated was counter cultural. Yong writes, "A new people of God was emerging that transcended the common divisions of the first century, brothers and sisters who acknowledged the same Father as did Jesus, as inspired by the Holy Spirit" (74).



In examining the details surrounding Paul's encounter with the slave girl at Philippi, Yong traces the effects of the Spirit's work amongst people that Paul encounters. In a summary statement, Yong writes, "The Spirit is interested not only in saving souls for eternity but in forming new communities of healing and reconciliation from out of entire households that embrace the good news of Jesus and the kingdom" (152). Why is this so important? Well, for one, if the message of the Jesus and the kingdom is to be transformative for the people we encounter, it must meet the needs people face living in a broken and reckless world. Yong is hinting at the vertical and horizontal work of the Holy Spirit in relation to God and people. The Spirit draws men unto God by the application of Christ's work to their lives and yet this change carries with it the obligations to live before others through a life of forgiveness, a life of sacrifice and service. I really think Yong is right here to not divorce the spiritual impact of the Spirit from the social and ethical implications for God's people to act rightly in the world.



One aspect of Yong's book that I was pleased in reading was his chapter on the Spirit and the Eucharist. In talking about the feeding of the five thousand, Yong writes, "...Jesus' blessing, breaking, and giving of the bread and fish is but part of the larger sequence of events in which the disciples are involved in serving the crowd" (182). Although I am not sure we can make the jump from this statement to the next one regarding open table fellowship (I am not opposed to open table fellowship, but this is not the text to build on), I do think the message of service is key to the text. Not only were the disciples called to serve but they were called to meet the needs of the people in both tangible (material needs) and needs pertaining to the heart. Certainly, the feeding of the five thousand should be seen as another example of Jesus' service to the people (to those in the in-crowd and those out), while also realizing that the power of God is on display through this miracle pointing the reader to the special origin of Jesus.



Yong indicates throughout the whole book that the mission of Jesus is closely tied to the renewal and redemption of Israel. Although I think there is partial truth in this statement, I would also add that Jesus embodied in his ministry, sufferings and death the fulfillment of promises of Israel. It would even suffice to say that Jesus was the `true Israelite' in that in his life and ministry he fulfilled the covenant stipulations and commandments given by God in the Old Testament. Even more, in his very ministry he embodied the goal and hope of Israel, to be light to the nations (ex. Jesus' meals with sinners, Samaritan woman, excluding no one). Luke interacts with the idea that Jesus is the heir to the Davidic throne and therefore carries out the mission of Israel in his ministry to Jew and Gentile. The redemption and renewal of Israel brought upon by Jesus was even greater in its political and ethical scope than Jews of the first-century could imagine, for it realigned every relationship according to Jesus being Lord over all things.



Overall, I thought the book was a good work in engaging the reader with the book of Acts and Luke's Gospel in connection with the Holy Spirit. This is a book that provides many good discussion points and healthy interactions for its readers.



Thanks to Paraclete Press for the review copy of this book.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…