This is Simon Ponsonby’s first book, published in 2004. I have also reviewed his more recent book on the Holy Spirit – God Inside Out.
In the early chapters he sets forth the desperate need for the church to seek a deeper, fuller, more intimate knowledge of God. He deals with various objections that might be raised against seeking more. These include the objection that at the cross we were given everything, and thus to ask for more is to claim it was not enough for us. Ponsonby argues that it is not more than the cross we need, but more ongoing reception of its benefits. He points out that Paul, while rejoicing in what is already ours in Christ, continually prays for more.
Similarly, one could object to seeking more of the Spirit by arguing that we have been already given the Spirit. But again, he goes to the Scriptures to show that we can have more of the Spirit, and he can have more of us.
That Paul can even make this command to be filled [Eph 5:18] implies that many believers are not. It is not to deny that they have the Holy Spirit, but simply to say that they could have more – or we might say that he could have more of them.
As well as theological objections, he deals with other blockages that stop us from seeking more of God. Often we have no expectation and no appetite. We shy away from yielding our lives fully. We need a holy discontent that drives us to seek more. This is not a mark of immaturity but maturity.
The desire for more of God is a sign of spiritual health. The mature want more.
He examines Pentecost and particularly emphasises that the Spirit empowers for evangelism. We must be prepared to go if we wish to be filled with the Spirit. So often the church is content with ministers who have theology degrees, when what it needs is to be a people filled with the Spirit’s power. We are urged to prepare for Pentecost through repentance, obedience, unity and prayer.
God is a promise-maker and a promise-keeper, but are we promise-seekers and promise-takers?
The person who would have more of God must give more to God. … Do you desire more of God? Then yield to him.
Chapter six deals with the potentially controversial issue of the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” (for my own take on this, see here). He makes it clear that he does not subscribe to a Pentecostal doctrine of a “once-for-all second blessing.” There should be a “constantly repeatable, deepening experience of God’s Spirit”. He emphasises God’s sovereignty in dealing with different people in different ways (a “tailor-made” experience of the Spirit). He moves on to examine all the texts that will be more than familiar to anyone who has worked through this debate before. Acts 8 he sees as an exception, and in Acts 19 he views the disciples of John the Baptist as not yet saved. He attempts to appease the Pentecostals by suggesting that they have the right experience despite the wrong doctrine!
Chapter seven tells his personal testimony which is a fascinating story of being brought up in a devout evangelical setting yet going away from God, and being drawn back to him and being filled with the Spirit.
The book is then rounded off by a chapter that deals with the issue of “wilderness”. In it he argues that the Spirit is given from the cross. He shows how many in the Bible met God in the wilderness, and offers some correctives to an overly triumphalistic understanding of the Spirit’s work.
The deep things of God are learned in the fiery furnace of the desert. It is here that he digs deep wells of his Spirit into our life.
Simon is great at filling his writing with memorable quotes and vivid illustrations. I can imagine that a couple of the chapters will seem a bit on the technical side for those who have not encountered some of the objections or alternative views he deals with. But the real value of this book is simply in the call to hunger for more intimacy with Christ. This is a message we cannot hear too often, and therefore I would highly commend it to anyone. Read it and be stirred afresh to seek God with all your heart.