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Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible, Part 2, by Wayne A. Grudem

The word here translated “power” (dunamis) occurs nine other times in Acts. In one case (Acts 4:33), it is unclear whether this “power” refers to powerful preaching that convicted the hearers or to miraculous signs that accompanied the preaching. But in the other eight examples (2:22; 3:12; 4:7; 6:8; 8:10 [in this verse referring to pagan miracle-working power], 13; 10:38; 19:11) it refers to power to work miracles. This meaning of the term dunamis is further confirmed by its frequent use in Luke’s Gospel to refer to miracle-working power.

Therefore, when Jesus promised the disciples in Acts 1:8 that they would receive “power” when the Holy Spirit came upon them, it seems that they would have understood it to mean at least the power of the Holy Spirit to work through their preaching and bring conviction of sins and awaken faith in people’s hearts.

The point is, we cannot separate these uses and say the only kind of power the New Testament talks about is power to preach the gospel, or to bring regeneration. The New Testament often uses power in referring to power to work miracles in connection with the preaching of the gospel or in the ongoing life of the Church.

11. I have heard stories of people who spoke in tongues and later found out that it was a demonic counterfeit—a demon was speaking through them and uttering blasphemies against Christ in an unknown language. Shouldn’t this danger warn us not to speak in tongues today?

We should recognize at the outset that there may be some mistake in reasoning behind this objection because Paul expressed no concern with this problem, even in the city of Corinth where many had come from a background of pagan temple worship, and where Paul had clearly said, “What pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20). Nonetheless, Paul says, “I want you all to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:5). He gives no warning that they should beware of demonic counterfeit or think this would be a possibility when they use this gift.

The theological reason underlying Paul’s encouragement at this point is that the Holy Spirit is working powerfully within the lives of believers. Paul says, “I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Here Paul reassures the Corinthians that if they are speaking by the Holy Spirit working within them, they will not say, “Jesus be cursed!”25

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Spring 2000

About the Author: Wayne A. Grudem is Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona. He has authored over twenty books, including Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (1994), Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (2010), The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution (2013), The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, and "Free Grace" Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel (2016). He was also the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year, 2009).

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