Author Dr Peter Roennfeldt says he has been working on his new book for more than 50 years. “In my early ministry, whenever I spoke about the Spirit or introduced Him to people in home Bible studies, I saw the interest He awakened,” he reflects. “After 20 years of ministry, my relationship with God seemed somewhat mundane and routine, so I gave greater attention to the Spirit. I gained a new awareness of His presence, the critical significance of His baptism and daily filling.”
But If You Are Thirsty, You Can Be Spirit-filled also draws on Dr Roennfeldt’s understanding of the importance of water gained while growing up on a farm in southwestern Western Australia. “Life on the farm revolved around the seasons, and at the same time we heard many times of the Holy Spirit—in family worship and Dad’s weekly sermons as a lay-preacher,” he explains. “For me a lot comes together in the illustrations from life on the farm—the dams and wells, and springs and streams of water that we relied upon. I grew up with both an awareness of the importance of water on Australian farms and our dependence upon Jesus and His Spirit—the living water.”
Dr Roennfeldt also sees this focus of his new book as an extension of his previous books that have studied the New Testament’s stories, disciple-making and church models, including Following Jesus, Following the Spirit and Following the Apostles’ Vision. “The Holy Spirit’s presence is the essential frame of all my books,” he says.
Despite the Holy Spirit’s prominence in the Bible, this has become a contested and misunderstood topic in many Adventist circles. According to Dr Roennfeldt, some unhealthy emphases on sanctification caused deep divisions among church leaders and members in the late 19th century. “Sadly, it was such a painful time that Adventists largely avoided this theme for almost 100 years—and even now, some are wary, even fearful, and not sure what to think,” he says. “Tragically much is lost when we misunderstand, neglect or even reject Him.
“The Spirit awakens us to our spiritual need, draws up to Jesus, converts and baptises or anoints us with His presence for our participation in the multiplying ministry of disciple-making,” he adds.
More recently, the development of this new book has included input, feedback and encouragement from a number of church leaders and pastors. “I have become increasingly aware of the importance of the Holy Spirit in my life—in my Christian growth and witness,” comments Pastor Darren Slade, president of the Northern Australian Conference. “This book not only answers the key questions about the role of the Holy Spirit, but how to personally experience His presence. This is a much-needed practical guide for all seeking to be Spirit-filled—leading the reader in a balanced biblical study of this theme.”
If You Are Thirsty, You Can Be Spirit-filled also includes questions for group discussion or personal reflection, as well as an appendix that specifically discusses questions about speaking in tongues and last-generation holiness.
A virtual book launch for If You Are Thirsty, You Can Be Spirit-filled is planned for 12 noon (AEDT) on Tuesday, November 17. For your online invitation, register here.
If You Are Thirsty, You Can Be Spirit-filled and other books by Peter Roennfeldt are available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.