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The Holy Spirit

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Ferguson's study is rooted and driven by the scriptural story of the Spirit in creation and redemption. Throughout he shows himself fully at home in the church's historical theology of the Spirit and conversant with the wide variety of contemporary Christians who have explored the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Foundational issues are surveyed and clarified. Hard questions a Ferguson's study is rooted and driven by the scriptural story of the Spirit in creation and redemption. Throughout he shows himself fully at home in the church's historical theology of the Spirit and conversant with the wide variety of contemporary Christians who have explored the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Foundational issues are surveyed and clarified. Hard questions are explored and answered. Clarity and insight radiate from every page. Here is the mature reflection of a Reformed theologian who will summon respect and charity from those who disagree.


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Ferguson's study is rooted and driven by the scriptural story of the Spirit in creation and redemption. Throughout he shows himself fully at home in the church's historical theology of the Spirit and conversant with the wide variety of contemporary Christians who have explored the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Foundational issues are surveyed and clarified. Hard questions a Ferguson's study is rooted and driven by the scriptural story of the Spirit in creation and redemption. Throughout he shows himself fully at home in the church's historical theology of the Spirit and conversant with the wide variety of contemporary Christians who have explored the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Foundational issues are surveyed and clarified. Hard questions are explored and answered. Clarity and insight radiate from every page. Here is the mature reflection of a Reformed theologian who will summon respect and charity from those who disagree.

30 review for The Holy Spirit

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    All too often, Reformed theology is accused of diminishing the Holy Spirit. Ferguson does an excellent job of proving the opposite true. Whether it be through the sacraments, our union with Christ, or our sanctification, the Spirit is at the center of our Christian lives. The chapters "The Spirit of Christ," "Spiritus Recreator," and "The Sanctifying Spirit" were personal highlights.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Spencer R

    Not scintillating, but solid.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Flynn Evans

    A masterful exposition of the work of the Spirit. Ferguson rightly positions pneumatology as being necessarily coupled with Christology, as the Spirit most of all seeks the glorification of the Son by accomplishing the proper union between him and his saints. Most of all, Ferguson proves that the Spirit accomplishes the comprehensive application of redemption, and Ferguson’s appreciation of those various soteriological components throughout demonstrates the Spirit’s uniqueness within the Trinita A masterful exposition of the work of the Spirit. Ferguson rightly positions pneumatology as being necessarily coupled with Christology, as the Spirit most of all seeks the glorification of the Son by accomplishing the proper union between him and his saints. Most of all, Ferguson proves that the Spirit accomplishes the comprehensive application of redemption, and Ferguson’s appreciation of those various soteriological components throughout demonstrates the Spirit’s uniqueness within the Trinitarian economy of salvation.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Reagan

    There’s no doubt that Sinclair Ferguson is a savvy theological writer. There’s no doubt that the Contours of Christian Theology series by IVP is a theological heavyweight either. While I couldn’t exactly call this my favorite Ferguson title, it did dig deep as the series is known to do. Books in this series don’t merely regurgitate the main tenets of a doctrine but linger where it makes sense to look under stones where treasure might be found. I always reach for this series when I’m starting a d There’s no doubt that Sinclair Ferguson is a savvy theological writer. There’s no doubt that the Contours of Christian Theology series by IVP is a theological heavyweight either. While I couldn’t exactly call this my favorite Ferguson title, it did dig deep as the series is known to do. Books in this series don’t merely regurgitate the main tenets of a doctrine but linger where it makes sense to look under stones where treasure might be found. I always reach for this series when I’m starting a detailed study of a particular doctrine. Chapter 1 introduces the Holy Spirit in an effort to shorten the distance that stands between Him and most believers while explaining all kinds of theological perspectives. Chapter 2 looks at the Spirit of Christ by explaining “Paraclete” and scoping out the relationship between Christ and the Spirit. Chapter 3 looks at the gift of the Spirit by examining Pentecost. Chapter 4 tackles the ongoing aspects of Pentecost. Chapters 5 through 7 wades through the Spirit’s role in salvation. I felt the author bogged down in a pet subject here. His theological positions are well known, and whether you agree or not, perhaps some of this would have fit better in a different book. Chapter 8 looks at other issues involving the Spirit and salvation like first fruits and sealing. Chapter 9 reviews the relationship between the Spirit and the body before chapter 10 dives into the explosive territory of gifts. The final chapter on the “Cosmic Spirit” serves as a great conclusion. Ferguson always stretches my mind. Whether I agree with him or not, I always find a warmness of one who loves Christ as he writes. There’s no way I’d study the Spirit and not see what he has to say. I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    An outstanding book by one of the best theologians of the modern age. I particularly liked his discussion of the "Spirit of Christ", and the argument that Christ's power to work miracles should be ascribed of the Holy Spirit enabling him to perform wonders and cast out demons. The view, prevalent among Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, that the miracles should be attributed to Christ's divine nature probably reflects their inadequate understanding of Christ's humanity. For instance, An outstanding book by one of the best theologians of the modern age. I particularly liked his discussion of the "Spirit of Christ", and the argument that Christ's power to work miracles should be ascribed of the Holy Spirit enabling him to perform wonders and cast out demons. The view, prevalent among Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, that the miracles should be attributed to Christ's divine nature probably reflects their inadequate understanding of Christ's humanity. For instance, did Christ know about the woman of Samaria's marital history because he was God or because the Holy Spirit endowed him with a prophetic insight. It was the latter, because otherwise you would have to assume that Christ was omniscient in his human mind, which is an impossibility as a human mind cannot be omniscient. Dr Ferguson also interacts well with the modern charismatic movement, and especially with moderate continuationists such as Wayne Grudem. This is a book which every serious Reformed thinker should read - sooner rather than later.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Calvin Coulter

    Comprehensive treatment of the third person of the Godhead, well worth reading. I can see this one being referred to again and again.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matt Lee

    Simply magnificent. Sinclair Ferguson is, in my estimation, the greatest living theologian. His explanation of the Christian teaching about the Holy Spirit is balanced, scholarly, and thoroughly edifying. As his focus, Ferguson considers the Person of the Spirit and then His distinct work (and, indeed, the work He accomplishes together with the Father and the Son). Broadly, the book can be split into two main sections: how God the Holy Spirit is revealed in Scripture, and how the Holy Spirit of t Simply magnificent. Sinclair Ferguson is, in my estimation, the greatest living theologian. His explanation of the Christian teaching about the Holy Spirit is balanced, scholarly, and thoroughly edifying. As his focus, Ferguson considers the Person of the Spirit and then His distinct work (and, indeed, the work He accomplishes together with the Father and the Son). Broadly, the book can be split into two main sections: how God the Holy Spirit is revealed in Scripture, and how the Holy Spirit of the Scriptures communes with us, the bride of Christ. Of particular highlight in an all - over superb work, was his thorough deconstruction of the modern charismatic movement (while, at no point, being uncharitable) - showing how well - meaning, and otherwise orthodox folk, make serious category errors in their approach to multi - levelled prophecies. Another highlight was Ferguson showing the Spirit's role in Christ's ministry on Earth: specifically, how the mircales and supernatural events of Christ's ministry cannot simply be attributed to the fact that He had a Divine nature, as such formulations tend to deify the human nature of Christ, making Him into a pseudo - human, pseudo - divine being with one mixed nature. Rather, Ferguson argues that supernatural, insightful knowledge was imparted by the Spirit of Christ. The book stands as a work of great honour to the Holy Spirit, wiritten with great clarity in a time where the subject of God the Holy Spirit is in great confusion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rick Beideman

    Overly intellectual (more than it needs to be in my opinion). Hard to read through. I did not find it very helpful in my personal life or understanding of the Holy Spirit.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tim Casteel

    R. C. Sproul calls Sinclair Ferguson the world’s leading expert on the person and work of the Holy Spirit today. Sinclair Ferguson is one of those rare authors that gives you MUCH more than you bargained for. In reading Ferguson, you’re not just learning about the Holy Spirit, but so much more - Union with Christ, sanctification, what it means to be made in the image of God, the history of sacraments, what it means to fall short of the glory of God. In reading great authors you reap the benefit o R. C. Sproul calls Sinclair Ferguson the world’s leading expert on the person and work of the Holy Spirit today. Sinclair Ferguson is one of those rare authors that gives you MUCH more than you bargained for. In reading Ferguson, you’re not just learning about the Holy Spirit, but so much more - Union with Christ, sanctification, what it means to be made in the image of God, the history of sacraments, what it means to fall short of the glory of God. In reading great authors you reap the benefit of decades of wisdom compressed into a few hundred pages. It's not a fast read. And you'll have to look up a few words in the dictionary. But great for reading a few pages every day in your Quiet Time. Very Biblical and Christ-centered book. "The center of the Spirit’s ministry: to illumine the person and work of Christ." I've been a Christian a long time and have heard the Holy Spirit taught on many times. Reading this book made me feel like I had never understood the Holy Spirit before.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Sinclair Ferguson's biblical-theological treatment on the Holy Spirit is a rich and sumptuous theological feast for any serious-minded believer who wants to know more about the so-called "shy member of the Trinity." In eleven meaty chapters, Ferguson gives a comprehensive, if not exhaustive, biblical overview of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, all along the way drawing on historical theology and charitably interacting with perspectives different from his own. Chapter one, "The Spirit and Sinclair Ferguson's biblical-theological treatment on the Holy Spirit is a rich and sumptuous theological feast for any serious-minded believer who wants to know more about the so-called "shy member of the Trinity." In eleven meaty chapters, Ferguson gives a comprehensive, if not exhaustive, biblical overview of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, all along the way drawing on historical theology and charitably interacting with perspectives different from his own. Chapter one, "The Spirit and His Story" surveys the Old Testament's more shadowy teaching on the Holy Spirit with a careful biblical-theological approach. "The Spirit of Christ" (chapter two) is an exceptionally rich chapter on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus. Christ is seen as the quintessential "Man of the Spirit." Because his entire life was lived in the Spirit's power (Ferguson starts with his conception and moves through the various aspects of Jesus' life all the way to exaltation), Jesus is now the "Lord of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18) - the One who sends the Spirit to his church to reproduce the "human holiness" of which he (Jesus) is the pattern. This moves into the next two chapters, which focus on "The Gift of the Spirit" and "Pentecost Today?", exploring the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost and its significance in redemptive history and for believers today. "The Spirit of Order" (chapter five) discusses the ordo salutis (order of salvation) and how the Spirit applies the redemptive work of Christ to the individual believer. This is an excellent chapter which focuses on union with Christ as the central motif for understanding how the Spirit applies salvation in our lives. Throughout both this chapter and the entire book, Ferguson writes with a solid understanding of the inaugurated eschatology of the New Testament, allowing the "already/not yet" tension to inform his treatment of the various aspects of the ordo salutis (i.e. justification, regeneration, adoption, sanctification, glorification). "Spiritus Recreator" (chapter six) discusses the Spirit's role in the new creation, while the next chapter, "The Spirit of Holiness," explores his role in sanctification. These were two of the most helpful chapters in the book for me personally. Ferguson maintains the Christ-centeredness with which he began the book as he shows how the Spirit reproduces the image of Christ in believers through his definitive act and progressive work of sanctification. Also very edifying is chapter eight, "The Communion of the Spirit," which deals with the personal ministry of the Spirit in the life of the believer as seal, firstfruits, and earnest/guarantee. Chapters nine and ten talk about "The Spirit and the Body" and "The Gifts of the Spirit," the former discussing the role of the sacraments under the Spirit in the life of the church and the latter addressing the issue of spiritual gifts - with Ferguson taking a firm, though gentle, cessationist position. His critiques of Wayne Grudem deserve careful reflection from all who hold a continuationist perspective. The final chapter, "The Cosmic Spirit" discusses the Spirit's work in what we might call common grace and points us forward to the eschatological fulfillment of the Spirit's work in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book (the best book I read in 2008) and learned much from it. Ferguson's articulation of a Reformed view of the Holy Spirit is intelligent and persuasive. Theologians, biblical scholars, pastors, and serious layreaders would all benefit from this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Parkison

    This was an incredible book. I only found objectionable that which any Baptist would find objectionable when reading any Presbyterian. What I particularly found helpful was Ferguson's discussions on: - the Spirit's role in the Ordo Solutis - repentance and faith - the centrality of union with Christ - Spiritual Christology (this particular discussion helped to scratch some itchiness that has been driving me crazy as of late). This is definitely my favorite book of 2017 so far. Embarrassingly, this is This was an incredible book. I only found objectionable that which any Baptist would find objectionable when reading any Presbyterian. What I particularly found helpful was Ferguson's discussions on: - the Spirit's role in the Ordo Solutis - repentance and faith - the centrality of union with Christ - Spiritual Christology (this particular discussion helped to scratch some itchiness that has been driving me crazy as of late). This is definitely my favorite book of 2017 so far. Embarrassingly, this is the first Sinclair Ferguson book I have read all the way through, but it most certainly will not be the last.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hemmeke

    Masterful, thorough, and Biblical. Ferguson covers every aspect of the Holy Spirit in this theologically packed volume. I'd recommend any book in this "Contours of Christian Theology" series. Ferguson's contribution is balanced. He covers the Spirit's work in individual regeneration and in the church corporately, and in the regeneration of all things, without prejudicing one over the other. His view of the gifts of the Spirit was an especially helpful chapter. He is a cessationist, which is just f Masterful, thorough, and Biblical. Ferguson covers every aspect of the Holy Spirit in this theologically packed volume. I'd recommend any book in this "Contours of Christian Theology" series. Ferguson's contribution is balanced. He covers the Spirit's work in individual regeneration and in the church corporately, and in the regeneration of all things, without prejudicing one over the other. His view of the gifts of the Spirit was an especially helpful chapter. He is a cessationist, which is just fine with me. The gifts of the Spirit centered on the proclamation of the Word right from the very start of the New Testament, and the gifts of tongue speaking and prophecy ended with the close of the apostolic age. We are now in a post-apostolic age, where those gifts are not operating. Ferguson does not exclude the miraculous and supernatural working of God through the Spirit today, however, as the cessationist position is constantly accused of holding. This work was spiritually edifying, especially in seeing the Spirit's work on behalf of the believer personally and sacramentally. The one down-side is that he uses very academic terminology, which will turn away most believers. Re-writing words like "repristinization" and "eschatologization" (on the last page!) would have been helpful to the reader.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    A very well done discussion about the Holy Spirit, though the author does seem to get off topic rather easily. I especially enjoyed his discussion on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Lord's Supper.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Excellent. Not in full agreement with Ferguson on his view of the gifts of the Spirit, but he is charitable even where he disagrees. And his overall grasp of the Spirit's role in the New Testament is brilliant.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Combines the best of historical and systematic theology. I think his defense of the Filioque could have been a lot stronger and more convincing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    A masterful summary of a Reformed pneumatology too often ignored in our modern context. Ferguson really emphasizes two distinct elements of a Reformed doctrine of the person and work of the Holy Spirt. First, that the Holy Spirit, though distinct in person from Father and Son, is equally God and personal (in the since that he is knowable). This best understood in the context of a historical-redemptive model of reading and interpreting Scripture. Though eternally present throughout time, the three A masterful summary of a Reformed pneumatology too often ignored in our modern context. Ferguson really emphasizes two distinct elements of a Reformed doctrine of the person and work of the Holy Spirt. First, that the Holy Spirit, though distinct in person from Father and Son, is equally God and personal (in the since that he is knowable). This best understood in the context of a historical-redemptive model of reading and interpreting Scripture. Though eternally present throughout time, the three persons of the Trinity moved the drama of redemption forward in their own respective ways. The Father establishes the covenant with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament and promises a Messiah to come. The Father sends His Son, Jesus Christ, as that real life, truly human/truly God, Messiah who brings redemption for the Jew first, then the Greek. Now, in the apostolic, and then post apostolic period, the Spirit of Christ continues Jesus’s ministry on earth until His return. This brings Ferguson to his second point. Namely, the “already, but not yet” dynamic inherent in the Spirit’s work in the souls of men. Yes, Jesus’s death and resurrection means total justification for sinners who put their faith in him. But we cannot ignore the fact that our bodies still linger with the effects of the Fall. We have justification but we await glorification. Yes, Christ’s atonement means Satan’s power has been defeated, but we still hope for Jesus’s return to restore the new heavens and new earth, defeating sin and shame once and for all. This eschatology is the only way of offering true meaning and purpose to the work of the Spirit today. If it were not so, Christians might wonder the earth asking what is it meant to live our callings as believers today? But because we await the second coming, when all wrongs will be made right, we are charged by Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to go out and make disciples. I would recommend this book to anyone who struggles with their calling as a Christian in this age or simply feels distant from the Lord. The Holy Spirit lives in us, as believers, and is inviting us into deeper and personal relationship with him.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Batchelor

    What a gift this book is to the church! The Holy Spirit may be one of my favorite books I've read in recent years. While I do not agree with everything Ferguson contends for, this book is a theological goldmine. His explanation of the Spirit's relationship to the Son is breath-taking. In commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:45, he says, "Thus, to have the Spirit is to have Christ; to have Christ is to have the Spirit. Not to have the Spirit of Christ is to lack Christ. To have the Spirit of Christ is What a gift this book is to the church! The Holy Spirit may be one of my favorite books I've read in recent years. While I do not agree with everything Ferguson contends for, this book is a theological goldmine. His explanation of the Spirit's relationship to the Son is breath-taking. In commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:45, he says, "Thus, to have the Spirit is to have Christ; to have Christ is to have the Spirit. Not to have the Spirit of Christ is to lack Christ. To have the Spirit of Christ is to be indwelt by Christ (Rom. 8:9-11). There is clear ontological distinction, but economic or functional equivalence. In this sense, through the resurrection and ascension, Christ ‘became life-giving Spirit’" (Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, 54). Deep insights like this are scattered throughout the book. By God's grace, I love Jesus more after reading The Holy Spirit. Highly recommend!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    I think this is very important reading as the Holy Spirit is extremely misunderstood. Our understanding of the Holy Spirit has an immense impact on not only our reading of Scripture but how we live our lives. Sinclair clearly explains how we should understand the Holy Spirit through the redemptive-historical story of the Bible and his relation to Christ. This flows on to how we should understand Pentecost, Acts and the mentions/appearances of the Spirit in the gospel accounts. Although academic i I think this is very important reading as the Holy Spirit is extremely misunderstood. Our understanding of the Holy Spirit has an immense impact on not only our reading of Scripture but how we live our lives. Sinclair clearly explains how we should understand the Holy Spirit through the redemptive-historical story of the Bible and his relation to Christ. This flows on to how we should understand Pentecost, Acts and the mentions/appearances of the Spirit in the gospel accounts. Although academic in nature, it is written clearly and answers directly most of the common (popular) questions about the Spirit. In this way, the teaching is clearly applied to our lives and for me, many mistakes or errors were challenged and corrected. Highly recommend with the caveat that it probably should not be the first book you read on the Holy Spirit.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    Written with the seminarian in mind, this work uses a lot of technical language, including Greek and Latin terms. Because I have been under strong biblical teaching for most of my Christian life, this book introduced me to little new knowledge about the Holy Spirit and His unique work. I have a four-year college education, but was forced to read this with an open dictionary to be able to understand what the author was trying to convey much of the time. It is not a bad thing to expand one's vocab Written with the seminarian in mind, this work uses a lot of technical language, including Greek and Latin terms. Because I have been under strong biblical teaching for most of my Christian life, this book introduced me to little new knowledge about the Holy Spirit and His unique work. I have a four-year college education, but was forced to read this with an open dictionary to be able to understand what the author was trying to convey much of the time. It is not a bad thing to expand one's vocabulary, but, as I've told my children when reviewing their written work, if the reader cannot understand what you have written, you have failed to communicate, which is the point of communication. Your average layman would likely face the same challenges I did.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    outstanding book. It will remain my chosen desert island book on the Holy Spirit. My only one caveat is that I do wish Sinclair didn't feel it necessary to write with such difficult and sometimes really obscure English words - on a couple of occasions they weren't even in the Oxford Concise Dictionary - and not just theological words either - just obscure English. HOWEVER the work is brilliant. Thank you Dr. Ferguson.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joe Molinari

    Ferguson, not exhaustively, offers quite a comprehensive explanation of the identity, history, and workings of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, my feeble brain had a difficult time tracking with a lot of it. This is the kind of book one needs to take slowly and accompany it with a good dictionary and thesaurus. With that said, I believe this book was definitely beneficial in broadening my understanding of the Spirit.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Kuhn

    Helpful read. Covers the breadth of issues relating to the Holy Spirit. A really great starting point for anyone who wants to begin the process of thinking deeply about the person and work of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity in general. Ferguson is dealing with lots of scholarly issues that he doesn't address by name which can be off-putting if you aren't expecting that.

  23. 5 out of 5

    William Albers

    This is the best book (outside the Bible) on the Holy Spirit that I've ever encountered. Ferguson provides scholarly analysis (written in an accessible way) for the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Controversial issues (i.e. gifts of the Holy Spirit) are handled in a way that is wise and pastoral. Highly recommend!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Watkins

    This book contains a great amount of good, true information, but it’s written in such a way that you will have to read with the book in one hand and a dictionary in the other if you plan to understand anything.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Ferguson gives a comprehensive biblical explanation of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I appreciated his references from some of the best minds in church history. The book is academic in nature and is by no means a light read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    mpsiple

    Fantastic. A great help in seeing our whole salvation as Trinitarian. [A bit more technical than I expected, but still readable for the non-academic.]

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Wells

    Simply the best contemporary exposition on pneumatology. Highly recommend.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shea Riniker

    Excellent book, but hard to read. Not recommended for a first book in theology; get a few others under your belt first

  29. 4 out of 5

    Craig Marshall

    I re-read sections of this book over and over again, and I feel like it is slowly sinking in. Such rich theology explained so well.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Yuliya Stepnova

    Profound academic book on the Holy Spirit which took many years to be written and will take few more attempts from my side to digest it all

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