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The Empowered Christian Life, by J. I. Packer

Transformed Lives

The New Testament speaks not only of God’s power in the miraculous and in the communication of the gospel, but also, third, of God’s power at work in us, enabling us to understand and to do what we otherwise could not.

In Eph. 1:17-19, Paul tells the Christians what he prays that God will give them, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us [other translations say, “in us”] who believe.”

It is not just power in the message. It is not just power through the messenger. It is power in and upon those who believe, making their life utterly different from what it was before. It is resurrection power—a matter of God raising with Christ those who have become willing to die with Christ. Clearly Paul is expecting tremendous changes in the lives of those who now belong to Christ.

Paul is talking about something radical, in the fullest sense of that word: something produces a total change. He is praying that through this marvelous inner transformation and enrichment the Ephesians will be utterly different from folk around them—utterly different, indeed, from what they have been so far.

Heightened Expectations

It is clear from the New Testament that God meant his power to accompany the gospel, and to find expression through its messengers and in the lives of those to whom the message comes.

This conviction leads me to five theses about the manifestation of God’s power among his people today. May we be more disposed to receive and manifest the power of God in its various forms.

1. It is right to bring the supernatural into prominence and to raise Christians’ expectations with regard to it.

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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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