God created mankind to demonstrate the goodness of God by ruling like Him and with Him. Johnson argues that God wanted to defeat Satan by creatures who worship God by their own choice. We rebelled, so Jesus came and restored the plan. He did this by being and acting a man, never using his divinity while on earth, but acting only as led by the Father. He did this by being a man that the Presence, that the Holy Spirit rested on; he was a man of the Presence of God. And because he never used his divinity, we can be like him.

Israel was to be the same way, as it was a nation where God’s Presence dwelt. It was led by a man of the Presence, since Moses related to God face-to-face. In fact, Moses relating to God face-to-face was actually forbidden by the Law, yet he was surely echoing God’s heart when he expressed the desire that all the Lord’s people would have God’s Spirit on them in the same way (Num 11:29). Similarly, David interacts with God outside the Law, with God’s Spirit directly. In fact, David considered God’s Presence the one thing he seeks (Ps 27:4). God’s intent seems to be that all Israel would be like Moses and David, since He said they were to be a nation of priests (Ex 19:6)—and it is only the priests is that they were the only ones who could carry the Ark, on top of which God’s Presence rested. As Christians, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit; God’s Presence is inside each of us. The church is the fulfillment of Israel, and is Moses’ desires made reality.

The difference between a prophet and an ordinary person was that the Spirit of God came on the prophet. The anointing is really a person: the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of God came on Gideon, the word used for “came upon” was “clothe”. So God clothed Himself with Gideon! He desires to clothe Himself with us, and will do so roughly to the extent that we are surrendered to Him. Sadly, if we desire to be in control, we limit how much God clothes Himself with us. Similarly, we should not say “all of you and none of us” because God had that and sent Jesus to die so that we could be filled with Him.

God clothing Himself with us is also described as having the Presence of God rest on us. The possibility of God’s Presence continually resting on us was demonstrated by Jesus and made possible by his death and resurrection. Isaiah asks God the rend the heavens and come down. When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened—this is the same word that was used for tearing the curtain in the temple—and the Holy Spirit came down and rested on Jesus, fulfilling Isaiah’s prayer. God told John the Baptist that the way he would recognize the Christ was that the Holy Spirit would come and remain. So having the Presence of God continually is the essence of Jesus’ life, and thus is the prototype for what a follower of Christ looks like.

When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove. Johnson imagines what it would be like to live so that a dove would always stay on your shoulder—you would need to do everything with the dove in mind. “We know that the Holy Spirit lives in us as born-again believers. ... But the sad reality is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t rest upon every believer. He is in me for my sake, but He is upon me for yours. When the Holy Spirit rests upon a person without withdrawing, it is because He has been made welcome in a most honorable way.” (137)  The Bible gives two guidelines for hosting the dove: do not grieve the Holy Spirit, and do not quench the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is grieved as a result of character problems: things we allow in our lives. He is quenched as a result of our will, or our lack of surrenderedness. It is like twisting a garden hose, or putting our hand over water being poured into a cup.

Character has become more important than power in part as a reaction to some people anointed with power who have had deep character flaws, which stain the name of Christ. However, as a Church, we have overreacted, and consider character more important than power. Yes, character is important, but there are many people with character, and few of them are having much of an impact. Furthermore, it seems that Jesus does not hold the same view. He sent out the disciples to heal the sick and preach the good news of the Kingdom, despite their lack of character. Immediately after they returned, James and John tried a power-grab for seats in the Kingdom, as well as wanting to murder an entire Samaritan village by fire from heaven. In fact, Jesus was the one who gave the power to the people with character flaws, and He certainly knew what would happen.

Quenching the Spirit often happens when revival breaks out, largely because we are out of control. Being led by the Spirit is, by definition, not being in control. Revival bring new believers, and new believers, like young children, bring out all sorts of things. If you want to live a comfortable, quiet life, having a bunch of toddlers in the house is not the way to do it! So sometimes we quench the Spirit in order to remain comfortable and in control. Other times we are uncomfortable because God is doing something new. God shows up in strange ways: a burning bush, instructing Abraham to do child sacrifice, the disciples at Pentecost acting in way that was similar to being drunk. The spirit of the prophets is under the control of the prophets, and God is a gentleman, but at the same time, that gentleman knocked Saul of Tarsus off his donkey! Furthermore, if God is doing something new, then by definition, we can’t validate it by finding it in the Bible, because it’s new. This forces us walk by faith, which is not comfortable.

A good example of processing through something new was in Acts, where the Gentiles were being converted in large numbers, and the Jewish believers were uncertain how much of the Jewish culture they were required to take on. Interestingly, they develop a theology based on what was happening, not from exegesis of Jesus sermons. They share stories of the amazing things God was doing among the Gentiles. Then John interprets a prophecy in Amos as pointing to the present situation. It was probably a direct revelation from God because the prophecy was never used in that manner before. In fact, the prophecy talks about Edom, so when John quotes it, he changes “Edom” to “Gentiles” as a generalization. The apostles seem to look at the fruit (Gentiles coming to faith) to evaluate if it is from God, probably with revelation to explain it, and then make a decision based on the circumstances. Nowhere do they attempt any exegesis!

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for power. Many people think it is for speaking in tongues, but it is the anointing that gives us power to do what Jesus did. It was after the baptism that 3000 were saved, and the lame man healed. It was also only after Jesus was baptized in the Spirit that he did ministry.

When Jesus carried God’s Presence it was not for his benefit. His mission was to display the nature of the Father, and to do that he released the Presence. He instructed the disciples to do this when he first sent them out, telling them to let their peace rest on the place where they were staying, and if there was no one worthy, let it return to them. Worthiness is shown by someone’s response to the Spirit of God, as evidenced by David. His brothers looked worthy, but it was David’s response to God over the years that made him worthy for the anointing. An illustration of how releasing the Presence works is when Jesus came to the disciples after the resurrection. They were hiding for fear of being crucified in addition to Jesus, and Jesus walks through the wall and says “Peace be with you.” They clearly were not reassured, meaning that they had not responded to the Presence that was released, so Jesus identifies himself by his scars. Then he again says “Peace be with you,” and this time it is received.

After this, Jesus commissions them to the qualitatively similar mission (“as the Father sent me, so send I you”). The first thing he does after commissioning them is releases the Holy Spirit to them. The first thing done after commissioning is naturally the most important one, thus releasing the Holy Spirit, the Presence is the normative mode of fulfilling the mission. Thus, all of ministry is releasing the Presence. He contrasts this with the normal Christian view of ministry: the apostles were Presence-driven, whereas we tend to be ministry-driven, that is, what we can do for God, rather than what He does through us. In fact, since Jesus’ entire life was the ministry of modelling the Father, Johnson says that all of life is about stewarding the Presence.

In order to be effective at releasing the Presence, we first need to be able to recognize and experience the Presence. The most practical way of experiencing the Presence is to simply turn our affections to Him. Often His presence will affect us physically, although the exact way varies widely from person to person. Johnson often spends five-minutes re-centering on God, giving his affection to Him and letting himself be the object of God’s affection. Another powerful way of experiencing God is to partner with Him in praying. Not so much in a list of petitions, but spending most of the time in worship and then praying God’s heart. Yet another way is letting God speak as we read through Scripture. There are also some ways God’s Presence comes that only happens in corporate settings, like when many people are worshiping God with all their heart.

Johnson also gives some thoughts on releasing the Presence. One way is speaking the heart of the Father. His words are creative, and speaking His heart will change people and situations. Another way is an act of faith—something that reveals the inner faith, like walking on an injured leg. Similar to acts of faith are prophetic acts, which are acts unrelated to the outcome, like Elisha throwing a stick into the water to float an axe-head. There is also laying on of hands. Additionally, there are some non-intentional ways of releasing the Presence for example, worship is a very effective way of releasing the Presence.

Johnson closes with his own and other people’s experiences of being baptized with power. They tend to experience an electricity-like feeling in the body, although sometimes it is God’s intense love. They also tend to have been praying for the baptism a long time, often many months, sometimes even many years. The results are different, but tend to include people being saved and miracles happening as a result.

Hosting the Presence offers some deep insights into what God intended for the Christian life. It flows better than his first book, When Heaven Invades Earth, but it still reads like a collection of eleven sermons rather than a book that builds on ideas. Because of this, it may take some work on the reader’s part to tease out themes, but those who do, and meditate on them, will be rewarded.
Review: 7
The writing is much better than his first book, but each chapter is far too unrelated to the previous chapters. They are roughly grouped in order of increasing depth, but often a later chapter contains discussion of a topic that would better fit in an earlier chapter. I found it nearly impossible to write a summary of this book until I pulled out the ideas into a soup, and then pulled out related ideas into the summary. The depth of the ideas merits better than a seven, but the writing is average (five).