Book Review: Forgotten God – Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
Author: Francis Chan
Publisher: David C. Cook
This is book 2 out of 4 from The Francis Chan Collection that I downloaded on Hoopla as an eBook. This book speaks about how Christians tend to forget about the work of the Holy Spirit when living their day to day lives with faith. Forgotten God looks at if the neglect of the Holy Spirit is another reason why today’s church in America doesn’t look like the early church of the book of Acts. While Chan makes it clear that we can’t possibly understand all there is to know about the Holy Spirit, he attempts to explain what He does and what He is like.
Francis Chan takes this opportunity to compare how the rest of the world embraces living with the Holy Spirit while the western church doesn’t truly embrace it. It made me want to sit down and read the New Testament and document all of the occurrences of the Holy Spirit. What does the Bible really say about the Holy Spirit? What can be done through or with the Holy Spirit? I ended up adding a Holy Spirit study to my future Bible study list. With Chan’s opinion of the western church not really embracing the Holy Spirit, it makes you question why. I believe that people are comfortable with their lives. And are afraid that they may have to give up that comfortable living to truly follow God. But I feel like no matter what you have to give up, following Christ wholeheartedly can never be a bad thing. Your reward may not present itself on this side of heaven, but the peace from following Christ should be enough.
Chan also points out that the believer should act and be different from non-believers for the simple fact that we have the Holy Spirit living in us. It made me question when others look at me, can they tell that I am different? My honest answer was no; I don’t think people can look at me or barely know me and see anything different because of the Holy Spirit. So that makes me wonder, am I afraid of what saying yes entirely to the Holy Spirit will mean for my life? Am I so wrapped up in what people think of me that I don’t want anyone to know what the Holy Spirit is doing? Previously, I’ve had more questions than answers, and it has led me to seek Biblical Truth. Much like what Chan argues, I wanted to look at what I know, decide if it’s Biblical Truth or not. Or more correctly, look at Scripture to find the Biblical Truths that I should believe. When you look at what you believe, where did that come from? Did your parents share their belief with you, so now it’s your belief? Are you following your Pastors beliefs? I love Chan’s point of not being afraid to question your beliefs. If they are solid, biblical truth, they will withstand the questions. If they are not solid, Biblical truth, wouldn’t you want to know that so you can correct your beliefs? There isn’t anything wrong with questioning what you’ve been told and comparing it to Scripture. Take a look at those considered “more noble” and why in Acts 17:11. But while we are looking at if our life has the Holy Spirit or not, we need to look at our motives which Chan speaks on. Is it for personal gain and betterment or to serve the church?
Another point Chan makes was our search for miracles. In my opinion, it’s almost the opposite of forgetting about the Holy Spirit and more focusing on the product of having the Holy Spirit in your life. You start to focus so intently on the Holy Spirit doing miracles in your life or your church. People want to be included, and everything becomes about waiting for the miracle or the miracle itself instead of God. I’ve seen entire church services turn from worshiping God to almost worshiping the miracle itself. I’m all for believing and praying for miracles. God can do amazing things. But I don’t think that teaching us about sanctification alongside us believing for miracles is wrong. The heartbreak of prayers not being met and miracles not happening over and over again when God, in fact, is wanting us to take an active role can be prevented. That active role could result in our miracle!
The same thing can happen with prophecy. You have one person who can become almost a superstar in the church because of their ability to prophesy. Again, it becomes about that person or the prophecy itself instead of God using a vessel for His glory. But it’s important to remember that we can all be a vessel because we carry the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to downplay the gifts of prophecy or the gift of miracles, but we need to stop isolating the majority of Christians because they don’t have that particular gift or experience a miracle. Christians, especially those in leadership, need to realize that everyone has a part in the church and shouldn’t stifle others gifts, no matter what it is. And that part doesn’t have to be a staff position or even a leadership role.
A random thought that popped up while reading this book was why the one Bible story that everyone seems to relate to is the prodigal son? You either were the prodigal son or have a prodigal son. Why doesn’t anyone ever admit to being the other brother in this story? Or connect themselves to any of the other parables told? I feel like I know more people who deal with jealousy and envy (myself included) on a day to day than those who purposely leave the goodwill of the Father to live their own lives and then come running home. Mainly because these people aren’t running home to be a servant only to have God welcome them back as a son. I think it’s essential to pay attention to every detail of a story.
While looking through Scripture have you found your whole life laid out? I haven’t seen it yet, but I have been very guilty of looking for every detail to be there. I have even been sure that God has spoken to me about what I am supposed to do. Not saying that what I heard wasn’t God or was wrong but I have been through so many valleys and mountain tops that I have questioned recently (especially with this new venture) if I’m hearing God correctly. What I think I have learned is that it’s not about what I am doing specifically. God wants me to love Him and others, and He is guiding me daily to do just that. Just because I think I know what is next or how things should go, that isn’t always the case. How is God giving us the details for our whole life or the next five years, when we can’t even obey Him day to day??? He wants me to be obedient right now. I think of the parable of talents. God wanted us to take care of what we currently have, and then He blesses us with more. I’m not limiting God. I wholeheartedly believe that He can map out our future and if He wanted to, give us all the details. But it seems that it would be rare and it still requires daily surrender and obedience to get to what He has planned for our life.
I ended up giving this book 5-stars because it was so thought-provoking for me and left me with a ton of takeaways and changes that I needed to make. A verse that has been showing up recently in my life is Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV), “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Specifically what sticks out is “work out your own salvation”. It let me know that there was more and it was my responsibility. Yes, I’m saved by grace, but because of that, there should be something that is a result of that grace. How do people know I follow Christ without telling them that I do? My life should reflect the Holy Spirit living in me. This is why I am doing what I am doing now. Slowing down to stop, think, and take action on what it is I am learning. Then apply it. Consistently.
*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases using the links included in this post.