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Robert Heidler: Experiencing The Spirit


Robert Heidler, Experiencing the Spirit: Developing a Living Relationship with the Holy Spirit (Ventura, CA: Renew/Gospel Light, 1998), 259 pages.

In recent years God has been moving upon evangelical Christians who have been skeptical about contemporary expressions of the gifts of the Spirit, ushering them into charismatic experiences of their own. Robert Heidler is one of those people. In the early 1980’s he underwent a radical transformation in reference to both his understanding and experience of the Spirit. Heidler graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Th.M. in New Testament Literature and Exegesis. While he was in seminary he planted a church, and upon graduation became its pastor.

Experiencing The Spirit is a mixture of testimony and teaching. In the beginning of the book, Heidler shares his story, admitting that he was not supportive of the charismatic position. He thought that charismatics were, to use his words, “way off base.” He also admits that he warned the people in his church about seeking spiritual experiences.

A number of things contributed to changing his mind about the Spirit. One was the hunger in his own soul. As he read the New Testament he was frustrated with the fact that the people in the Bible had experiences with God that were foreign to his own experience. A second thing which played upon his mind was the fact that his family had a charismatic friend who would call their home whenever one of the members of the family was sick, she would pray for the person who was ill—and they would be healed. Another thing that helped change his mind was the breakthrough that he and his wife experienced during a very trying time in their lives. The breakthrough came when another charismatic friend of theirs prayed for them and the next day the presence of God descended on their home.

The rest of the book is a study of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Heidler covers such topics as the personality of the Spirit, the indwelling of the Spirit and the transforming work of the Spirit. The final chapters are devoted to the charismatic work of the Spirit including tongues, prophecy and healing, but the book is not a heavy theological treatise. Heidler’s writing is very easy to read and he offers scriptural support for the things that he teaches. One of the significant points that he makes in the book—which might be especially helpful to those who say that we should not seek experiences with the Spirit—is that the people in the Bible did have experiences with the Spirit. While I have some minor points of difference with Heidler, overall I found the book to be very good and encouraging.

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2007

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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