Hearing the Spirit – Knowing the Father through the Son
Christian Focus Publications
This book focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit specifically in relation to the written word of God (the Bible). One of the primary concerns of the author is to challenge those who seek fresh and new revelation directly from the Spirit, and thus sideline the Bible. Consequently, this book is a strong and well-reasoned defence of the sufficiency of Scripture. In the introduction, the author says it is wrong to try and keep the Word and the Spirit ‘in balance’ – the truth is that we need both Word and Spirit in full measure.
Ash argues that making the Father known was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry (John 17), and that Jesus accomplished this principally through his words. The words of Jesus endure to the present day as a result of the firsthand written testimony of the apostles, and it is this apostolic witness (New Testament) that anchors and roots Christianity in history and objective truth. But, for the words of Jesus to be effectual, the Holy Spirit is essential – it is the role of the Spirit to bring the Word home to the heart, mind and will of an individual.
Ash exposes the dangers of disconnecting Word and Spirit, and I found the later chapters in the book very helpful and stimulating. Ash is careful not to limit the working of the sovereign Spirit, but he counsels caution (scepticism) when the voice of the Spirit is detached from the Bible.
Along the way, Ash interacts with and critiques the approach of people such as Joyce Huggett (Listening to God), Howard Marshall (Beyond the Bible), NT Wright (The last word), and Rob Bell (Love wins). There are questions at the end of each chapter to prompt group discussion and individual study.
There are some insightful and memorable illustrations. For example, Ash encourages us to ‘chain-smoke’ the Bible unfiltered than to rely on indirect secondary Bible-smoking through exposure to biblically-informed culture.
The book concludes with a passionate call to keep the Bible central and to give ourselves to prayer. We are urged to pray earnestly and continually for the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, who makes the Bible experientially real, driving us to repentance and faith, and prompting obedience.
The book is accessible and of relevance to all believers, but has particular application to those who are involved in preaching and teaching ministries.