JESUS CONTINUED: WHY THE SPIRIT INSIDE YOU IS BETTER THAN JESUS BESIDE YOU, by J. D. Greear

Published on November 25, 2015 by Todd Scacewater

Zondervan, 2014 | 237 pages

My husband and I went to Waffle House for a date night recently. That isn’t our usual spot, but we needed something quick and cheap. We knew the food would be good and the service rendered quickly. That is exactly what we got. Buttery toast and light, fluffy waffles. But, what does all this have to do with a book by J. D. Greear, Jesus, Continued?

During my time at the Summit Church in the RDU area of North Carolina, the church that Greear has pastored since 2012, he always talked about his affinity for Waffle House. Each time I pass a Waffle House I can’t help but think of my former pastor.

Just like with Waffle House (you know what you are going to get), this book, Jesus, Continued proved to be much of what I expected to get from it. If you have ever heard J. D. speak, then you might feel as if you are listening to him as you are reading this book. It is filled with wit, stories, humor, hard-hitting theology, and engaging personal reflections that penetrate your mind and soul.
Overview and Purpose

This book has an intriguing subtitle, “Why the Spirit Inside You is Better than Jesus Beside You.” The author’s thoughts helped to flesh out the power and working of the Spirit and what that could look like. The Spirit not only works in the local church but also in your life and in whatever ministry you might be involved.

Jesus, Continued is divided into three sections. Part one is an easy to understand primer on the Holy Spirit: who He is and what He does. Part two shows how, when, and where the believer might see the Spirit at work.  Part three is for those readers who might be wondering if they really have the Holy Spirit and if God is working in and through them.  Each section engages its readers and helps us to understand more on the work of the Holy Spirit. Two aspects of this book that I appreciate are that each chapter is packed full of Scripture and that Greear has branched out from typical authors in his research and quotes. That shows thorough biblical and extra-biblical research on his topic

One of the lingering discussions present in church denominations today is whether the Holy Spirit still acts in the same way He did in the life of the early church, following the ascension of Jesus (see Acts). Another discussion about the Holy Spirit in the church is whether you are filled with the Holy Spirit. If you are, what would that look like? Greear’s focus in this book isn’t to answer every detail of those two questions, but really to hammer home the idea that “God wants to be vitally present in and through his people” (p. 15). This was very good for me to realize every time I picked up this book.

When reading a book, it is always good to know and recall the intent of the author. When I read this objective behind Jesus, Continued, I have to admit I was slightly disappointed. I wanted to know Greear’s thoughts on the two questions I mentioned earlier, but that wasn’t his intention for this book.  This book gave me exactly what Greear meant to give me, and every other reader: “I want to show you how God’s Word and God’s Spirit operate together in one powerful dynamic” (p 29).
Engagement

One of the things I am learning from God in my walk with Him is that everyone has a story. You will find a story on every page of the Bible and you will find a story in the heart of every person you meet. Your story will determine how you engage with each book you read. If I had read this book when I was attending the Summit Church (mid-2000s), I would have walked away with different life-changing truths. Now that I am older and married with two toddlers, I read it with a different story in my heart. Here are some of the ways I was changed by reading this book:

1.      I was reminded of the focus on the cooperation of the Spirit and the infallible Word of God. Throughout my life I have had people say to me “the Holy Spirit is leading me to do this,” but what they were told to do did not line up with the truths of the Word of God. Greear emphasizes that this cooperation will always be in sync. “We aren’t told to seek the Spirit apart from the Word; we are to seek Him in the Word” (p 36). This is a guideline when wondering what to do and which decision to make.

2.      I was reminded to be thankful for the work the Spirit is doing in the life of God’s people in the world.  The Summit Church has been a sending church for many years.  I was blessed to be able to go on three mission trips with them, and I remember earnestly seeking the Spirit to work in the lives of those we engaged.  I remember partnering with a college student and watching him share the gospel with a young professional as we journeyed on the Staten Island Ferry. I remember standing on the shore in Southeast Asia where a tsunami had just come through, killing many people and seeing mud in drinking sources. I remember hearing the warning sirens of another tsunami and seeing people cower in fear and run inland.  I remember worshiping side by side with workers in the field as they came to get rest and learn more of the Word. This is what it is like to be a part of a Spirit-led mission-minded church. The book of Acts, as J. D. recalls in this work, is about glorifying the Father and the Son and helping us make Him more known in the world.  We can’t do it without Him.

3.      I was also reminded of how much the Spirit can help me in my marriage and parenting, and how useless I am on my own. I want to be a Spirit-led wife and mom. I want to show my children the joy of worshiping in truth and in Spirit. “As I have begun to discover what it means to walk with the Spirit, I have learned to focus on staying more attentive to him, more in tune with his heart” (p. 83).
Conclusion

This book by J. D. isn’t the one work that you need to ever read on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Francis Chan has also written a work called The Forgotten God. Dr. Bruce Ware has written one entitled Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These two works might be helpful to you. However, with Greear’s book you get a thorough look at how walking in the Spirit will radically change your life. This book is chock-full of Scripture and impactful. You don’t have to be a seminary student or missionary or pastor to be changed by this book. Anyone can pick it up and read truths about how the Spirit is indeed alive and active in God’s world today.
Kimberly Campbell is a wife to a humble and talented man and mom to two rambunctious toddler boys. She lives in Marietta, Georgia and loves to cook, teach her boys to love books, run, and take road trips.

Buy the books

Jesus Continued: Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You

Zondervan, 2014 | 237 pages