In many Christian circles, we reduce the Holy Spirit to a mere footnote. We treat the Spirit as theoretical. In The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, Francis Chan helps readers see the Spirit of God as something less vague and more attainable and practical. The book will be especially helpful to people in prison as Chan boldly proclaims that the Spirit is for everyone who would receive it, regardless of background or where they live.
NOTE: All of our author interviews are now in one print-ready PDF. Just click, print, and mail to your loved one in prison.
Q&A with Francis Chan:
Question: The Holy Spirit can sound so impressive and grandiose when we read stories in the Bible of the Spirit’s actions and of people filled with the Spirit. You detail a lot of these stories in your book. Can people who are in prison be filled with the Spirit?
Chan: I honestly don’t know a single Christian who would answer that question negatively. In fact, I would argue that those in prison might have an advantage over those who are not. Those living their lives in freedom and comfort are rarely interested in spiritual things. There are so many distractions, temptations, and forms of entertainment available today that the supreme enjoyment of Christ often takes a backseat. Some of my close friends spent years in prison and refer to their time incarcerated as “the good old days.” It was in prison that Christ met them, and they experienced rich times alone with Jesus and deep times with fellow Spirit-filled believers.
Question: When Paul was stuck in prison writing the letter to the Philippians, do you think he had the Spirit then, even when he was shackled in prison chains? If so, how do you see that the Spirit was manifesting its power in Paul’s life and words during that season of incarceration?
Chan: The fact that you and I are able to read the prison epistles today is probably the best answer I can give to that question. The Bible is one of the most precious gifts we have been given on this earth. 2 Timothy 3:16 explains that “all scripture is inspired by God”. Hebrews 4:12 explains that the words of Scripture are “living and active.” There are no other books that are “living”, only the words of scripture. Paul was “inspired by God” while in prison to write “living” words that we depend upon 2000 years later! How could anyone question what God is capable of doing through a person in prison?
Question: In your book, you note Paul’s description of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You go onto say: “Perhaps you read these verses and wonder why these things are not a part of your life. Don’t be discouraged. Ask God to make you more loving or to help you put to death the deeds of the flesh or to use you to bless His children. Remember that we cannot do these things on our own, and that these are the very things the Holy Spirit does in our lives. The Father tells us to ask Him….” (page 77)
What advice would give specifically to a person in prison who tells you they feel so little love, so little joy, so little kindness, etc.?
Chan: 2 Peter 1:1-9. Go read it. There’s nothing I can add to that passage. In it, you see the promises of God which should make us tremble. Study every word of that passage. You will see that we have been given everything, but that doesn’t mean we sit passively. God has given us everything we need. Now we need to give everything in pursuit of what He has given us.