Award winning writer, professor, grassroots pastor and first time author, Paul J. Pastor releases The Face Of The Deep: Exploring The Mysterious Person Of The Holy Spirit Feb. 1, 2016 from David C. Cook. Through Scripture, stories and meaningful symbols, The Face of the Deep invites readers to see their world infused with holy wonder, spanning creation, art, history and theology. This compelling, creative book is intended to recapture a robust understanding and hunger for life with theHoly Spirit, inspiring readers to savor His mystery and intimate presence.
Now you can pre-order the book by clicking on this link:http://www.amazon.com/The-Face-Deep-Exploring-Mysterious/dp/078141332X
Hallels: Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your book "The Face of the Deep," which is a book on the Holy Spirit. Why write a book on the Holy Spirit?
Thank you! I wrote the book because I think that the best writing comes from our questions. The question behind The Face of the Deep for me was a double one I had since I was a young Christian--"Who is the Holy Spirit? Where is he in my life?"
Many Christians have a pretty clear idea of who God the Father and Christ the Son are. But the Spirit is the member of the Trinity that seems mysterious. And that is our profound loss, because the Holy Spirit is the "Giver of Life," as one beautiful old prayer says. That mystery of life called me to explore. And I found that He gives life far more deeply than I had imagined.
Hallels: There are some Christians who think that many of the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit are only for the New Testament church and not for today. What is your view on this?
I teach a college course on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, so I'm familiar with the arguments on all sides of this question. My personal position that all of the Holy Spirit's work is--or can be--part of our lives today. But in my book, I discuss this very little, for two reasons.
First, I want to rediscover all of the Holy Spirit's work as "miraculous." The Bible teaches that the Spirit sustains the entire universe of God's creation, and more than that, that he is intimately present with all of the things he has made. Can you imagine anything more miraculous than that? The Spirit, from the moment of our first existence, has been actively, personally caring for each of us--along with the smallest sub-atomic particle, and the most exotic nebulae of deep space. He gives us our very existence. That is a miracle! But like most quiet miracles of God, we take it for granted most of the time.
Second, the Bible is very clear about the point of all the Holy Spirit's work, including the "miraculous" gifts we notice, like healing, or prophecy, or tongues (which many Christians have differing opinions about). Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, makes it perfectly clear that the purpose of everything that the Holy Spirit does in the church is love. Rich, abundant, fierce, gentle, giving, growing, love.
What does this mean? That miraculous gifts and all the thousand "non-miraculous" gifts in the church have the same simple purpose. To show and strengthen God's revolution of love in the world through Jesus Christ. That means that the work of the Holy Spirit must unite the church, not divide it. Unfortunately, questions of spiritual gifts often divide us.
Hallels: If the Holy Spirit is taken out of the church today, what do you think will happen?
Well, in the deepest sense, this is impossible. The Bible teaches that every person who has believed in Jesus is "sealed" by the Holy Spirit, marked as God's own, and given good gifts to help build up the church. All Christians have a relationship with the Spirit, even if that relationship is quiet or practically invisible.
But to speak to the heart of your question, if the Holy Spirit is not present in our worship and daily life as Christians, then we lose the deepest gifts and wonders of God intended for us today.
As one way to think of the implications of this, consider a few of the names or images of the Holy Spirit: "Comforter," "Helper," "the power from on high." If we don't have a close, growing relationship with Him? We will miss out on comfort intended for us. On help meant to strengthen us and our work. On power that Jesus has already sent to us to help us fulfill our part of God's holy mission in the world.
If the Holy Spirit is not allowed a place of living honor in our hearts and churches, we will be crippled spiritually, laboring in impossible tasks with only human power, and lacking connection to the deepest, closest well of life that God has given his children.
Hallels: In the book, you looked at 7 passages of Scripture from both the Old and New Testament to examine the work and person of the Holy Spirit, why seven?
Yes! Seven passages from the Old Testament, and seven from the New. "Seven stars and seven lampstands," inspired by images from the book of Revelation. I'm very inspired by the rich history of Christian symbol, and seven is a holy number, used specifically for the Holy Spirit. It's a number of completion and perfection, so it felt right to be a guide in organizing the book.
A larger reason for this is that I think it's very important for Christians to reconnect with symbol, and beauty, and metaphor for the Holy Spirit. All of this book, from the first story of me diving into a black lake in the winter, to the beautiful icons that serve as illustrations throughout, are ways of seeing the Spirit's person and work symbolized in my life, and helping others do the same in theirs.
Hallels: For our readers who have not read the book yet, what are some aspects of the Holy Spirit you have looked at in the book?
Some very common ones, like the Holy Spirit's role in sustaining creation, his work in making us "born again," his work in helping make our lives more like Jesus, and his relationship to God's work of prophecy (that chapter will surprise some readers).
Also some that may be unfamiliar, like his inspiration of our human creativity, his unifying work for God's people, and his mysterious, powerful work of "the wilderness" that he brings to our lives in difficult times.
Hallels: Bottom line, what lessons do you want your readers to take away after reading your book?
I certainly hope they are more knowledgeable and excited about who the Holy Spirit is, but really this is a heart book as much as a head book. I want them to see the world, and their lives, in a new way--as a place more full of the Holy Spirit than we imagine. To fall more in love with him.
And because of that love, I want them to invite the Holy Spirit to live with them in a new, deeper way, no matter where they are spiritually.
Hallels: Can you recall an incident in your life where you felt the Holy Spirit ministering to you?
Many! One that stands out came just in the past year.
I was agonizing over a hard relational situation that I didn't understand. I felt that inner voice saying Come on, Paul. Ask me to help. So I asked the Helper to help. (Sounds so simple saying it, but in life we often don't see these things.) Soon after, I had a very meaningful dream that exactly clarified the situation, and enabled me to approach this person in love and a lot more understanding. That was a powerful moment of the Spirit's ministry to me recently--a reminder personally that he really cares and wants to help us, even with the things we might think are beneath God's attention. The Holy Spirit is not always predictable in how he works, but he is always predictable in what he does. Love. Love is what he does. I want to live a life of invitation for that Lover to work in and through me.