Holy Fire

A Balanced Biblical Look at the Holy Spirit’s Work in Our Lives
R. T. Kendall

Kendall produces one of the most autobiographical books I have read of his works. I learned a lot about him personally through this book. There are some things I never understood about him. He began in the Church of the Nazarene denomination, but was kicked out when he spoke in tongues. He ended up moving to the United Kingdom and became a Reformed theologian.

However, when he talks about the Holy Spirit, the baptism in the Spirit, and the gifts, he is very much within the camp of Pentecostalism. He remarks that when he is in the United States, he often is called by Pentecostals and Charismatics to talk about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts.

The author begins the book by talking about discerning the times and understanding what has been happening lately. There’s separation between the Word people and the Spirit people but there shouldn’t be. He refers to different teachings that have entered the Church and are not biblical. He talks a lot about one of his father’s in the faith, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones.

In chapter 2, Kendall tells the reader some of the things that everyone should know about the Holy Spirit. This is a basic biblical theology of the Holy Spirit. In chapter 3, he talks about the difference between the immediate and the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit. This immediate and direct testimony of the Spirit is that inner understanding of your salvation, testified to by the Spirit. It is not something you receive with logic or just reading the Bible. It is the experience of the Spirit in you.

In chapter 4, the author explains the immediate and direct testimony of the Spirit as when God gives an oath. He talks about the sealing of the Spirit. This is a guarantee of the Spirit, and oath given to us by God. In chapter 5, Kendall spends a lot of time explaining the unauthorized, or strange, fire given by Aaron’s sons that angered God. We must be careful to separate the strange fire from the holy fire of the Spirit.

The author continues in chapter 6 about the sensitivity of the Spirit. He has written another book about the sensitivity of the Spirit, so he summarizes what that means. It is a difference between a sensitivity we have toward the Spirit and the Spirit’s sensitivity to sin and other things we might do. He uses the example of the dove is one of the symbols of the Spirit.

Chapter 7 brings Kendall’s personal testimony, which is one of the most interesting things about him, his story of how he came to be the way he is. Chapters 8 and 9 and is when the most interesting chapters of the book because the author deals with Reformed theology and cessationism. He is unusually against cessationism, the belief that the gifts have ceased somewhere around the end of the first century, or the death of the original apostles. He defends the fact that the Bible talks about them, and therefore we must believe in them and practice them. This is staunchly against the Reformed tradition and cessationism in that tradition. I enjoyed his description of the different forms of cessationism.

The author finally moves into talking about the baptism in the Spirit in chapter 10. It is strange to hear a Reformed theologian talk about this subject. He talks about it as a controversy in the last century. But then he gives all the places in the Bible where the baptism in the Spirit is described. This was a great chapter, the gem in the whole book. He continues to talk about how the Holy Spirit works in Christians by addressing the gifts of the Spirit in chapter 11. He especially focuses on glossolalia, the gift of speaking in tongues along with interpretation.

Chapter 12 focuses on Kendall’s ultimate proof of the Spirit. He opens by explaining the real experience of the Spirit by talking about his childhood hero, Joe DiMaggio. He finally got to meet him in person. There such a difference between understanding what the Bible says and having a real experience with the Holy Spirit. He explains for things that prove you have the Holy Spirit.

In chapter 13, the author talks about Isaac and Abraham sacrificing him on the altar. In this final chapter, he prophesies that the Charismatic movement is Ishmael, not Isaac. He believes that the Church will experience a new wave that is coming next. This was a very interesting chapter. I pray that his right, that we will see great things from the Spirit these last days.

I never know what I’m going to receive from Kendall. Sometimes they are great things that make this Pentecostal want to add all his books to my library. Other times, he speaks from such a Reformed foundation that I cannot agree with or follow his arguments. However, this is a book I would have on my shelf gladly. It speaks to the truth in Scripture about the Holy Spirit, the baptism in the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit. I highly recommend it to anyone who disagrees with what is in Scripture, has a Reformed theology background, or needs to hear someone to lives in a camp of theology against speaking in tongues, but even chides his own camp on this matter. Sometimes the best defenses of biblical doctrines are those whose culture and theological camp are against them, and yet defend them because they are true.

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