“The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, who brings rebirth and renewal to our spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Helper, who comes to our aid and makes God’s presence real to us. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, who gives us peace and strength when we are hurting.” ‒ from Who is the Holy Spirit?, Page 12
Nearly 31,000 readers have studied the revised Stonecroft Bible Study (SBS) Who is the Holy Spirit? since its release in August 2012, making it the most used revised SBS. Not only is it the most used, it is one of the most favored studies indicated on surveys taken by SBS leaders. Many have done this study more than once!
Survey respondents use recommending phrases when describing the Holy Spirit study as their favorite: “good discussion questions and solid teaching,” “it really helps them understand the Holy Spirit and draw nearer to God through that understanding,” “one of my favorites … it opened my eyes – and those of my classmates – to the awesome gift of God’s Spirit within us.”
The Holy Spirit within us is one of the primary themes of the study. Ilene Dirks, Co-Chair of the Sioux City, Iowa, Women’s Connection guided Who is the Holy Spirit? last year with a small, intimate group.
“We each felt like the book called the Holy Spirit to you,” she says. “You could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
Even though Who is the Holy Spirit? is one of the titles in the evangelistic SBS, it appeals to both nonbelievers and believers alike.
“I feel it’s a good study for everyone,” Ilene says. “It does a really good job of easing you into understanding the Holy Spirit and what He does.”
Ilene especially appreciates the Personal Reflection and Application section at the end of each chapter. “Take the time to do the reflections,” Ilene advises, adding they’re the times to sit and listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say.
“The life-giving Holy Spirit is inside us to keep us connected to and at home in Christ, who infuses us with His power, His peace, His joy, and His energy. The natural result is fruit.” ‒ from Who is the Holy Spirit?, Page 87
Janice Mathers, author of the revised studies series, says working on the revisions of What is God Like?, Who is Jesus?, and Who is the Holy Spirit? was a unique experience compared with working on other studies. While revising the Holy Spirit study, Jan wanted to ensure she wasn’t influenced by her personal perceptions.
“I wanted to be totally influenced by God,” she says. “I wanted to handle the information correctly, uncluttered by my personal experiences as much as possible. Because of that, He (the Holy Spirit) became more personal and applicable. He took me to a deeper level than I had gone before.”
Jan found herself changed by the experience. In the chapter focusing on the fruit of the Spirit, Jan addresses a biblical story that continues to influence her life to this day. In the John 8:1-11 passage, Jesus was in the temple when self-righteous religious leaders brought in a woman caught in adultery. The group was ready to stone her. The scene was tumultuous – “the angry men, the terrified, humiliated woman, the tense crowd waiting to see what would happen” (Page 66). But, Jan points out, Jesus didn’t get caught in the chaos of all that emotion. Instead, He responded with gentleness – the kind that comes from love.
While Jan worked on this revision eight years ago, she served as caregiver to her aging mother-in-law, who was living in her home. “It was such a challenge when I was really struggling with my emotions,” she says. But working with this biblical account helped her see how she can show the fruits of love and gentleness when the Holy Spirit is given control over emotions, just like Jesus did in this passage.
“That’s exactly how I can be,” Jan says. “I do not have to be at the mercy of my emotions. This is something that happens when we truly have the Holy Spirit inside of us, and it (this teaching) has remained with me ever since.”
“When we live life aware of God’s Spirit in us, when we allow Him to transform us and change our minds to obey Him, life is an adventure that nothing else will ever equal.” ‒ from Who is the Holy Spirit?, Page 97