Kenneth Berding, Walking in the Spirit. Crossway, 2011. 121 pgs $12.99
In my undergrad years I had the pleasure of taking a course on the apostle Paul with Ken Berding, Professor of New Testament at Biola University. He was and still is an excellent teacher and often told interesting stories from his ministry overseas (esp his 7 years the Middle East). His published works deal with anything from Polycarp and Paul, spiritual gifts, Greek grammar, to his most recent title, Walking in the Spirit.
The focus of the book is on life in the Spirit with the help of Paul’s words in Romans 8. Berding’s goal is “to help you learn how to walk in the Spirit; it isn’t to write a commentary on Romans 8” (p. 10). In terms of structure, there are seven chapters and two brief appendices. Each chapter ends with a summary point on how we live life in the Spirit as well as Questions for Review. The seven points are:
1. Walk in the Spirit
2. Set your mind on the things of the Spirit
3. Put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit
4. Be led by the Spirit
5. Know the fatherhood of God by the Spirit
6. Hope in the Spirit
7. Pray in the Spirit
Berding has a way of making simple points such as these, and yet packing each with vast amounts of insight and wisdom. He appropriately shares a number of personal stories that help clarify each point and builds toward a cumulative emphasis on walking daily with the Spirit (see especially pp. 22–23). Don’t expect much on the spiritual gifts (for this, see his other book on spiritual gifts), but Berding is honest and says that “God can and still does lead in these [supernatural] ways today, thought I don’t know of anywhere in the Bible where the claim is made that God will always do so for every decision we make” (p. 58).
The appendices add “three undercurrents in Romans 8” and one example of “how to remember what you’ve learned” using hand motions (if only it included a video that showed Berding as an example!).
I’m always on the hunt for accessible books that take the reader through Scripture in order to help clarify aspects of the Christian life. I intend to use this in portions of my ministry with high school students and could easily see others in the church benefiting from Berding’s work. The Questions for Review help on an individual level but could also aid discussions in small groups or Sunday school-type formats.