How should you rely more fully on the power of the Holy Spirit for growth and satisfaction in your life? How can you avoid getting swept up in the routine of life and missing out on supernatural joy, contentment, and peace?
Bible Gateway interviewed Jared C. Wilson (@jaredcwilson) about his book, Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life (Thomas Nelson, 2018).
What do you mean, “apart from God’s power, there is no Christian life”?
Jared C. Wilson: I think many believers are under the mistaken impression that the gospel of Jesus Christ’s saving work is power enough for their conversion but not for their ongoing discipleship—for their sanctification. We tend to implicitly say “yes,” in other words, to Paul’s rhetorical question in Galatians 3:3: “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
But the gospel is not just the power and grounds of our justification; it’s the power for our ongoing standing in Christ and following of him. This is something Paul states most directly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 but which he re-states and applies in all of his letters. The whole Christian life is reliant on the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we’re sunk. A life apart from the Spirit is no life at all.
How does looking for earthly solutions to our problems stifle ways to participate in the truly supernatural life?
Jared C. Wilson: It’s the same problem the children of Israel had: forgetfulness of God’s past faithfulness and doubt of his future promises. We rehearse these tendencies day-by-day and tend to walk by sight rather than faith. When we place our trust in anything but God, then, we can quench the Spirit’s work in our life, preventing ourselves from seeing how good and satisfying he really is because we’re opting for pale alternatives that seem shiny to us in the moment.
What is the problem of the inner life you describe in the book?
Jared C. Wilson: We’re prone to living in compartmentalized ways. We dedicate time and attention to certain areas of our lives as if we have different personas or identities. So most Westerners have their career self, their family self, their leisure self, etc. And many Western believers treat their faith as if it only belongs to their “religious self.” But what I propose in Supernatural Power for Everyday People is that all of us belongs to God. Jesus is King over our careers, families, leisure time, etc. So the problem, as I suggest, is that we must face the prospect that we’re living spiritually truncated lives and thus not experiencing more of what God has already given us in the gospel.
Why aren’t miracles today as prevalent as they seem to be in the Bible and should that be a concern?
Jared C. Wilson: Well, I’m not convinced they aren’t, for a couple of reasons: One is that we really only consider this question from our limited Western viewpoint. The wider church, the Christians in other parts of the world, may not see a problem here at all. But I also think we discern certain parts of the Bible as normative that even in biblical times were extraordinary, especially if we’re talking about the Old Testament miracles. We see the highlights and assume these things were happening every day or even every year. When you get to the Gospels, the miracles become much more interpersonal and much more about the kingdom’s in-breaking, and I suppose one reason we don’t see these signs as much in the developed world is because we have long had the truths of the gospel at our disposal.
You write that what the Bible says is “astounding” and “outrageous.” What do you mean?
Jared C. Wilson: I mean that no person could have made this stuff up. It makes too little of us and too much of God to be a fabrication like so many other religious texts. And the things we’re promised because of God’s work in Christ and through the Spirit are things that honestly ought to stagger us—if we really believe them. The Scripture that in many ways serves as the theme verse for my book, 2 Peter 1:3, is a great example: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” That’s astounding to me.
How is the Holy Spirit unlike The Force in the movie Star Wars?
Jared C. Wilson: There are lots of differences, but that unfortunately doesn’t stop some professing believers from thinking of the Spirit this way. I will admit I’m not exhaustively versed in the workings of The Force in the Star Wars universe, but the primary difference appears to be this: the Holy Spirit is a divine Person. He’s the third Person in the triune Godhead. This makes God’s Spirit, of course, imminently personal. The Force, as I understand it, is not a Person, but exactly that—an amorphous, ethereal force.
The most important implication of this distinction, and something we really need more Christians to remember today, is that while The Force can be manipulated, wielded, or exerted, the Holy Spirit cannot. We don’t control the Spirit, move the Spirit, activate the Spirit, or anything like that. Because we’re not sovereign over God. It’s the other way around.
What do you mean, “If you want to dwell daily in the supernatural realm of God’s kingdom and hear the very words of God, your Bible is where it’s at”?
Jared C. Wilson: I think too many Christians inwardly long to hear the voice of God while leaving his word neglected. In my book on the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, I want to stump hard for the sufficiency and the efficacy of Scripture. If you want to hear God, read your Bible! The Bible is proof that God has not left us in silence.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Jared C. Wilson: The theme verse for my writing and speaking ministry over the last several years has been 1 Corinthians 2:2 (CSB): “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” It’s a help in narrowing my focus to what matters most and a consolation when I’m tempted to think another subject more worthy than the gospel.
I’m also perennially partial to the whole of Romans 8 and think many believers would profit from regular re-reading of that masterful text.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Jared C. Wilson: I love Bible Gateway online and use it practically every day. For search functionality, it’s unmatched as a free resource.
Supernatural Power for Everyday People is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy at Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, and director of the Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the author of numerous books, including Supernatural Power for Everyday People, Romans: A 12-Week Study, The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together, and The Prodigal Church, and he is a popular speaker at churches and conferences around the world. Jared writes online at For The Church and at The Gospel-Driven Church hosted by The Gospel Coalition.
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