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Sam Storms: Practicing the Power

Sam Storms, Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017), 272 pages, ISBN 9780310533849

In Practicing the Power Sam Storms addresses issues related to the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church. The subject of spiritual gifts is not a new topic for him; he has written about them in a couple of his earlier books: The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts and Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist. He also addressed the subject when he contributed to one of the books in the Counterpoints series, Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Storms, who has experience as both a pastor and a professor, brings both a theological mind and a pastoral heart to this text.

The book contains a forward, an introduction, twelve chapters, a conclusion, and two appendixes. In the course of its pages Storms covers a number of topics. While there is certainly some theology in the book the main emphasis in the text is practical. The author has walked the road leading his own church toward the exercise of spiritual gifts; he knows what some of the major issues are.

In the introduction, Storms goes on record saying that he desires to see a local church in the twenty-first century that is committed to the authority of the Bible and the operation of all of the gifts of the Spirit (page 13). In other words, he desires to see a “Word and Spirit” church. A few pages later in chapter one, he states that pursuing spiritual gifts is both pleasing to God and biblical (page 24).

Two ways in which believers who desire spiritual gifts may pursue them are through prayer and fasting. The author devotes a chapter to each of these spiritual disciplines. Both of these disciplines indicate spiritual desire. There is one chapter given to the subject of healing, three to the gift of prophecy, and one to deliverance. All of these chapters contain very clear, practical, and pastoral counsel about how to function in and facilitate/administrate the power of the Spirit. The last three chapters deal with quenching the Sprit, manipulation and ministry, and the importance of worshipping in the Spirit.

I enjoyed Storms honesty about the challenges one may face in seeking to obey the biblical directive to pursue spiritual gifts. In chapter one he warns the reader that there is a cost involved in pursuing spiritual gifts and that their pursuit requires commitment and sacrifice. This is especially true for leaders. The reason for this is that things do not always go well when a church attempts to step out and exercise spiritual gifts. As people venture into new territory problems sometimes arise and these need to be dealt with in a constructive manner. The sometimes “messy” aspects of the gifts can generate negative responses from some in the church. Though the book is given to the pursuit of spiritual gifts Storms acknowledges that we cannot (and should not) force the Spirit. He says “The Holy Spirit wants to be pursued but refuses to be pushed” (page 35). Also, in the chapter on prayer he admits that when they first started to pursue the power and presence of the Spirit, they did not see a radical increase of the supernatural at first; things began to change but slowly (page 46).

Practicing the Power … is designed to help pastors and individual Christians implement, facilitate, pursue, and practice the gifts in the life of the local church and in their own personal walk with Christ.

– Sam Storms, from the interview with David Qaoud at GospelRelevance.com

There are a number of other notable features about this book. Chapter six contains two very significant testimonies about the power of the gift of prophecy that come from experiences of people in his church (pages 96-100). These stories demonstrate prophetic revelation at its best and may be a great source of encouragement to churches that are on the journey to implementing and growing in the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit. Chapter ten is helpful in identifying things that Christians do, either consciously or unconsciously, that can quench the Spirit. One teaching that some Christians believe that quenches the Spirit is cessationism (the teaching that some gifts of the Spirit are no longer in operation). Chapter eleven, “Manipulation or Ministry?” alerts the reader to pitfalls that one can get into when attempting to function in spiritual gifts. This is important information because we need to be aware of these things and avoid them.

One thing I would have liked to have seen in this book is material about some of the other gifts of the Spirit that Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 12.

Practicing the Power is very easy to read. I found it to be very insightful, informative, and pastoral. I believe that it is a good resource to help move local churches into a fuller experience and expression of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Leaders in particular may benefit from this book. It is a great resource; I recommend it.

Reviewed by John Lathrop

 

Publisher’s page: http://www.zondervan.com/practicing-the-power

 

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2017

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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