One of best known pitfalls of Christian life, and especially evangelical Christian life, is the reliance upon self. The culture of evangelical Christianity often contributes to this reliance – the often intense focus on a personal relationship with God, the Christian self-help publishing industry and its “10 steps to his” and the “7 steps for that, and the American work ethic of self-reliance.
While some measure of self is certainly involved and necessary, 19thcentury evangelist Dwight Moodywould argue that there an older and far more effective source of success, one that has been with us since the founding of the church. In Secret Power: The Secret of Success in Christian Life and Work, he explains what that resource is – the Holy Spirit. Originally published in 1881, Secret Powerhas been updated and reissued as an e-book.
Arguably the least understood of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit made its first appearance in the New Testament after Jesus’s ascension into heaven. He told his disciples to wait for the helper, and as recorded in the Book of Acts, the helper soon came, and rather dramatically, materializing as a great wind and tongues of fire above each the disciples, enabling them to speak in foreign languages (Acts 2).
In Secret Power, Moody says the Holy Spirit is the source of Christians’ power. He says the Spirit does three essential things: imparts power, inspires hope, and gives liberty. He describes how the Spirit comes, how it manifests itself within the life of a Christian, how it functions, and how it can be hindered. It’s a relatively short work but a plain, powerful one.
Dwight Moody (1837-1899) was an evangelist, publisher, educator, writer, church founder, and a number of other things. He founded the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Moody Press, and the Northfield and Mount Hermon schools in Massachusetts. He became an evangelist when he visited Britain in 1872, and his meetings were often attended by thousands of people. One notable event at the Royal Botanic Gardens drew a crowd of between 15,000 and 30,000 people.
Secret Poweris still a solid primer on the Holy Spirit and its work. It may not answer every question, but it provides a good basis of understanding and a platform for further study.
Top photograph by Frank McKenna viaUnsplash. Used with permission.