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The Empowered Christian Life, by J. I. Packer

Miracles of New Creation

The coming of Christ the Savior has meant the outpouring of the Spirit on the church and on the world. And the Holy Spirit comes with power. In the New Testament we see this power manifested in all the aforementioned modes: the ability to perform set tasks and overcome temptation, the ability to impact others through preaching and witness, and the ability to act as a channel for God’s power in miracles, healings, and the like. Let us consider each of these three modes, in reverse order.

First, in the gospels, we encounter works of power in the physical realm, including miracles of nature and healings of all sorts. The scriptural phrase “signs and wonders” describes them.

These are, to use C.S. Lewis’s apt phrase, “miracles of the new creation,” in which the power of God that created the world works again to bring something out of nothing, that is, to cause an inexplicable state of affairs in terms of what was there before. Everyone knows you cannot get food for five thousand out of five loaves and two fishes, but Jesus did it. Everyone knows you cannot bring the dead back to life, but Jesus on three occasions brought the dead back to life.

To be sure, these three “raisings from the dead” were only resuscitations; in each case, the person died again a little further down the line. Jesus, however, rose from the dead never to die again. His resurrection is an even more remarkable miracle of new creation—indeed, the normative one: Christ is the first fruits, the beginning of the new creation of God, as the New Testament itself says.

Words of Power

One reads on in the New Testament and finds, second, that words of power in Christian communication are very much a part of the gospel story and of the story of the new church. Luke is particularly interested in the power of God, and there are several texts in Luke that are significant here.

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Category: Living the Faith, Pneuma Review, Winter 2008

About the Author: James I. Packer is a British-born Canadian Christian theologian. He currently serves as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He received a Ph.D. (Philosophy) from the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. As an Anglican theologian, Dr. Packer has played a major role in British and North American evangelicalism. He has written numerous books and scholarly articles, including the best-selling book, Knowing God.

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