Holy Spirit: God of Order – Foreword by Justin Peters


“Teach sound doctrine and refute those who contradict,” the Apostle Paul wrote to his partner and fellow worker in the gospel, Titus (Tit 1:9). Dr. Scott Aniol has done just that in this book on the work of the Holy Spirit of God.

A great swath of professing evangelical Christians today believe that “Spirit-led” worship will be unpredictable and experiential. The working of the Holy Spirit will be evidenced by heightened emotional states, spontaneous speaking in tongues, new revelation, prophetic dreams, and anything-goes worship services. The less structured and more spontaneous the corporate worship experience, the more certain the Spirit is at work.

Signs and wonders and miracles of healing are also said to be a hallmark of the Spirit-led church. Just as the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus and the Apostles to perform miracles of healing, he should be empowering believers to do the same today. The immutability of the Holy Spirit leads, they say, to the inescapable conclusion that the modern church should mirror in every way the churches of the Apostolic era.

Hundreds of millions of professing believers have been taught to expect promptings, hunches, and nudges from the Holy Spirit. He will even speak to the Christian in a direct, quotable sense. This is a sure sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in the believer’s life. In fact, the absence of such activity is deemed a dire warning. Henry Blackaby in his seminal book, Experiencing God, writes, “If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the very heart of your Christian experience.”1Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2004), 87.

The stakes are high. Hearing from God outside of Scripture is apparently ground-level basics for the Christian. If this is not your norm, you are in trouble.

Dr. Sam Storms is widely regarded to be one of the most careful and cautious theologians within the charismatic camp, yet even he argues that receiving direct communication from the Holy Spirit is a requirement to have intimacy with God. He writes, “To be the recipient of prophetic revelation from God, whether in dreams, impressions, trances, visions, or words of knowledge and words of wisdom can be nothing short of euphoric. The experience brings feelings of nearness to God and a heightened sense of spiritual intimacy that isn’t often the case with other of the charismata (spiritual gifts).”2Storms, Sam, Practicing the Power (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 143.

But this is profoundly unbiblical teaching. This divides Christians into classes: the spiritual Haves and Have-Nots. If you receive dreams, visions, and even trances from the Holy Spirit, you are a Have. But if you, for example, are a Christian with a Bible, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who is gifted in teaching or administration, you are a Have-Not. That’s just not very “intimate.”

Christians are made to doubt their walk with Christ and even their very salvation if they are not the recipients of these kinds of experiences. Churches are deemed unspiritual and dead if they do not have highly emotionalized services and regularly produce signs, wonders, and miracles of healing.

But these things are not the work of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Aniol persuasively argues from Scripture that the true work of the Holy Spirit is not producing chaos but rather order. The true work of the Holy Spirit does not produce hysterics but rather holiness. The Holy Spirit does not point people to himself but rather to Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is sovereign and is always active. He needs neither our permission nor our activation. The Holy Spirit is no longer bestowing miraculous gifts as he did in the early church, but his work is no less supernatural today than it was then. The Holy Spirit does his divine work through the ordinary and effectual means of grace.

It is the height of irony that the theological camp which claims to have the highest view of the Holy Spirit is also the welcoming home to the most egregious heresies, false prophecies, and chicanery which bring nothing but reproach to his name and confusion to the church.

As cessationists, we are so often told that we do not believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. To the contrary, as cessationists, our view of the Holy Spirit and his work is far too high to lay practices and behavior that is anything but holy at his anthropomorphic feet. As cessationists we cede no ground in our pneumatology to the charismatics.

I invite you to read this book to come into a right understanding of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Rightly understanding the orderly and providential work of the Holy Spirit will bring to you immeasurable comfort and benefit as you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

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1 Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2004), 87.
2 Storms, Sam, Practicing the Power (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 143.
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Justin Peters

Justin earned his undergraduate at Mississippi State University (1995) and then a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology (2000, 2002) from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.