There aren’t many doctrines more needed today than the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. And yet, many don’t understand the Holy Spirit’s role. Some worship the Spirit to the neglect of the Father and Son, while others seem to act as if the Trinity was the Father, Son, and Holy Bible. (Although we shouldn’t create seemingly false dichotomies—the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible!)
What we need is a biblical understanding of who the Spirit is and what He does. Once we understand that, we can not only avoid the extremes mentioned above, we can also walk in greater joy and communion with God.
To help you do this, I have curated some of the best evangelical books on the Holy Spirit, largely from a Reformed theological perspective. I’ve also shared a few picks from different viewpoints on the supernatural gifts. In case you’re wondering my views on the supernatural gifts, I’ll say that cessationists would call my theology continuationist, while continuationists would call my practice cessationist based on where I’ve worshipped and my personal practices.
Books on the Holy Spirit for Personal and Small Group Study
1. Knowing the Holy Spirit: Ten Classic Sermons by Charles Spurgeon; Foreword by Clay Kraby
Who is the Holy Spirit and what does He do in the life of the believer? The Prince of Preachers answers those questions in this volume. While not a comprehensive doctrine of the Spirit, Spurgeon beautifully touches on how the Spirit works in the lives of believers as it relates to salvation, convicting of sin, providing of comfort, and exalting Christ. Here’s a choice quote to whet your appetite:
“Prayer is the key that openeth the cabinets of mystery. Prayer and faith are sacred picklocks that can open secrets, and obtain great treasures. There is no college for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for he is an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the knee, and he is at our side, the great expositor of truth.”
2. Walking in the Power of the Holy Spirit: Ten Classic Sermons by Charles Spurgeon; Foreword by J.A. Medders
A companion volume to the previously mentioned Knowing the Holy Spirit, Walking in the Power of the Holy Spirit focuses on what the title suggests. Spurgeon touches on several topics including: battling the flesh, living in the joy and love of the Spirit, praying in the Spirit, and following the Spirit’s lead in our lives.
“When the Spirit of God comes into a man with extraordinary power, so as to fill his soul, he brings to his soul a joy, a delight, an elevation of mind, a delightful and healthful excitement, which lifts him up above the dull dead-level of ordinary life, and causes him to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” —Charles H. Spurgeon
I love reading Jared C. Wilson, not just for his engaging prose, but for his heart that points me to Jesus. This book demystifies the Holy Spirit and practically shows readers how the Holy Spirit works in our lives—a message vital for every Christian to grasp and live out. This book is an ideal book to study with your small group.
4. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God by J.I. Packer
Here’s the publisher’s description: “J. I. Packer’s Keep in Step with the Spirit focuses on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit…this book is not merely a theological study, but a rousing call to encourage believers to implement the Spirit’s directives in their lives. Packer explains how to get the Spirit in focus and how to map the Spirit’s path in life. He restates the Christ-centeredness of the Spirit’s ministry, reaffirms the biblical call to holiness, and even-handily assesses the charismatic movement. Readers wanting to understand this movement, believers interested in the ministry of the Spirit, and fans of J. I. Packer’s writings will appreciate this radical call to personal and corporate revival.”
I’ll throw in a bonus Packer book on the Spirit: Life in the Spirit: A 30-Day Devotional from Crossway. This 140-page book shares devotional thoughts based on passages dealing with life in the Spirit. Packer is theologically rich and yet accessible. (This isn’t in print anymore but can be found used online.)
5. The Mystery of the Holy Spirit by R.C. Sproul
If you’ve read R.C. Sproul before, you know you will get clear and rich teaching in a reasonably-sized volume (and often based on his Ligonier teaching series with the same name!). Here’s a bonus book: Who is the Holy Spirit? By R.C. Sproul, as part of his Crucial Questions series of short books. Note: The Kindle edition is free.
Books for Deeper Study
6. The Holy Spirit (Puritan Paperbacks) by John Owen (abridged and made easy to read by R.J.K. Law)
Owen needs no introduction, but his writing style often takes hard work to sift through! And yet efforts are always rewarded with theological riches. I’m thankful for this simplified version of Owen’s work. If you want to go deeper, check out The Works of John Owen, Volume 3 that focuses on the Spirit.
Dr. Graham Cole (one of my former professors) has a newer volume from Crossway that is “Ideal for pastors, teachers, and students of theology” and designed to be a “a superb theology of the Holy Spirit.” If you’ve heard him speak before, you might just read this 320 page book with an Australian accent!
8. Great Doctrines of the Bible, Volume 2: God the Holy Spirit by Martyn Lloyd-Jones>
Here’s Dr. David Steele’s description and recommendation: “From 1952 to 1955, Martyn Lloyd-Jones offered a series of messages in the Westminster Chapel in London on doctrine. God the Holy Spirit is the second volume in a three-part study entitled, Great Doctrines of the Bible and is a result of those great meetings. The author has a passion to communicate in-depth doctrinal truth on a practical level. While doctrine is stressed, experiencing and living out that doctrine play a critical role in this book. The intent is to deepen the reader’s knowledge and love for God.”
9. God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments by Dr. James Hamilton
Biblical Theology geeks will appreciate this from Dr. James Hamilton of Southern Seminary. The book’s description: “God’s Indwelling Presence asks and explores to answer: What are the spiritual differences and similarities between Old Testament and New Testament believers? Did God dwell in Old Testament believers as He does in New Testament believers? Were Old Testament believers born again (that is, experience regeneration)? What do the words indwelling and regeneration mean? How is the Holy Spirit’s ministry similar or different during Old Testament and New Testament times?”
10. The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology) by Sinclair B. Ferguson
Responding to current confusion on the Holy Spirit, the publisher describes the book this way: “Ferguson seeks to recover the who of the Spirit fully as much as the what and how. Ferguson’s study is rooted and driven by the scriptural story of the Spirit in creation and redemption. Throughout he shows himself fully at home in the church’s historical theology of the Spirit and conversant with the wide variety of contemporary Christians who have explored the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Foundational issues are surveyed and clarified. Hard questions are explored and answered. Clarity and insight radiate from every page. Here is the mature reflection of a Reformed theologian who will summon respect and charity from those who disagree.”
11. On the Holy Spirit by Basil of Caesarea, trans. Stephenson Hildebrand
This is the “Historical Theology Pick” of the bunch, recommended by Baiyu Andrew Song of TGC-Canada, who writes: “Toward the end of his short life, Basil of Caesarea (329/330–379) found strong disagreements with his mentor Eustathius of Sebaste (c. 300–377/380) over the person of the Holy Spirit. After failing to persuade Eustathius, Basil remained silent while being abused by his friend. Two years later, Basil penned this work as requested by Amphilochius of Iconium to answer a pastoral question: should we praise and worship the Holy Spirit? On the Holy Spirit, as a spiritual classic, should be rediscovered by pastors in particular.”
Books on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
I appreciate how the Counterpoints in Theology Series (and series like it) have helped me wrestle through theological topics. If you’re looking to wrestle with the miraculous gifts, and read entries by theologians from four differing perspectives: cessationist, open but cautious, third wave, and Pentecostal/charismatic, this book is for you. Contributors include Wayne Grudem (who also wrote The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today), Richard Gaffin, Stanley Gundry, Sam Storms, and Doug Oss.
13. Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12–14 by D.A. Carson
“Eschewing extremes, Bible scholar D. A. Carson explores the controversial subject of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer and in the life of the church. Unpacking 1 Corinthians 12-14, as well as touching on relevant passages in Acts, Carson faithfully follows the evidence of the text and offers an honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of both charismatic and non-charismatic viewpoints.” Like other Carson books containing expositions, you won’t have all your questions answered, but you will be edified and informed by a brilliant, careful, and continuationist mind.
Paul Martin in his review describes the book as, “a field manual on how to actually do what Reformed continuationists say they believe. It’s a book written to help Christians implement the practice of all the gifts, especially the sign gifts, of the Holy Spirit in their local church.” I haven’t read it yet but hope to soon.
15. Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter by Thomas R. Schreiner
Schreiner is a self-described “nuanced cessationist.” I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Schreiner for the clarity and heart he brings. Pastor Raymond Johnson shared his recommendation on 9Marks: “For a long time I have called myself a cessastionist, but couldn’t give a succinct answer from the Bible as to why until I read Schreiner’s book. Clear, accessible, and generous, this book will help any serious Christian seeking to understand what the Bible says about spiritual gifts as they should be understood from Holy Scripture for the good of the church.”
 While I’m a continuationist (i.e. I believe some special gifts of the Spirit are still at work today), I see great harm being done to the global church by many pursuing a special work of the Spirit while neglecting a biblical foundation.
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