Book Review: Experiencing the Holy Spirit

“Experiencing the Holy Spirit” Andrew Murray, Whitaker House, 137 pages.

  • Critical read 
  • Must read 
  • Good read 
  • Read if you want 
  • Read something else

Why read “Experiencing the Holy Spirit?”  This short book is incredibly efficient in delivering the key truths concerning our relationship to our God through His Holy Spirit.  For relatively few pages, you will read the core of our faith as delivered in the scriptures (though not from many pulpits) and will discover the pathways by which He can be apprehended in life.  More importantly, this book will make clear the necessity and pathways to allowing the Holy Spirit to apprehend you and rule your living each day.

This is vitally important today as the Holy Spirit has suffered much more abuse in the house of His should-be subjects and partners than He has in the world or in the house of His enemies.  In the majority of churches, the Holy Spirit is given short shrift at best.  He is taught only as our source of comfort, only as our power for service, or as is often the case, He is largely ignored.  In other churches His role is mainly that of the dispenser of His gifts, the use of which is taught as something we initiate and manage.  In few if any congregations is the Holy Spirit given His rightful place and function or His role as the source of our life and the element of our union with our God every day.

The point of this book is found in the words of Murray himself.  “The one thing needed for the church in its search for spiritual excellence is to be filled with the Spirit of God.”  “As we are convicted of the defectiveness of our faith in Christ and we understand that believing in Him means a yielding of the whole heart, life, and will, we can confidently count on receiving the Holy Spirit’s power and presence.”  “…(W)e will always find the sum of Christ’s teaching in these wonderful words: “He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

The impact of this book found as one reads Murray’s unpacking of the following truths in this book (list taken from the introduction):

  • The will of God for every one of His children is that they live entirely and unceasingly under the control of the Holy Spirit.
  • Without being filled with the Spirit, it is impossible for an individual Christian of a church to ever live or work as God desires. 
  • In the life and experience of Christians, this blessing is little used and little searched for.
  • God waits to give us this blessing, and in our faith we may expect it with greatest confidence.
  • The self-life and the world hinder and usurp the place that Christ ought to occupy.
  • We cannot be filled with the Spirit until we are prepared to yield ourselves to be led by the Lord Jesus, to forsake and sacrifice everything for this “pearl of great price” (Matthew 13:46).

Please note that this book was written long before the term “being filled with the Spirit” was given the meaning of a spiritual experience mostly evident by speaking in tongues. That is not the historical context for Murray’s use of this term and similar terms. According to Murray, “being filled with the Spirit” and “the Pentecostal blessing” mean continually being under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. Such ongoing control by the Spirit comes by means of our daily surrender to Him. No specific manifestations are required for his term except the experience of intimacy with and complete control by our God through His Spirit.

This book challenged me on nearly every page as Murray clearly ties together the work of the Spirit in the areas of love for God, intimacy and union with Him, obedience and holiness, full surrender and submission to Him, and the flow of the blessings and power of our God in the surrendered believer.  In a day when the Spirit receives so little attention and that which He does receive is from the standpoint of demonstrations of personal power, this book clearly defines a more biblical journey into a Spirit-controlled life.

Quote:  “We have such a poor ideas of the unspiritual and sinful state that prevails in the church that, unless we take time to devote our hearts and our thoughts to the real facts in the case, the promise of God can make no deep impression on us. I have presented the subject in various aspects to prepare the way for the conviction that this blessing is in truth the one thing needed; and to get possession of this one thing, we ought to say good-bye to everything else we hold dear.  Owing to the prevailing lack of the presence and operation of the Spirit, it takes a long time before these spiritual truths concerning the need, the fullness, and the reality of the Spirit’s power can obtain mastery over us” (page 10).

Similar books:  Sadly, there are few books that are this comprehensive and accurate to the Scriptures.  A few that will be helpful include:

“Wild Goose Chase – Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God” by Mark Batterson (reviewed on this site). 

“The Indwelling Spirit” by Andrew Murray.

“Walking with God” by John Eldredge (reviewed on this site). 

“The Indwelling Life of Christ” by W. Ian Thomas.

“The Secret to the Christian Life” by Gene Edwards.

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