J. I. Packer on the Holy Spirit & His Work in the Church

When addressing the question of the signs of the Holy Spirit, J. I. Packer wrote:

“What then are the signs that Christ’s self-effacing Spirit is at work? Not mystical raptures, nor visions and supposed revelations, nor even healings, tongues, and apparent miracles; for Satan, playing on our psychosomatic complexity and our fallenness, can produce all these things (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9ff.; Colossians 2:18). The only sure signs are that the Christ of the Bible is acknowledged, trusted, loved for his grace, and served for his glory and that believers actually turn from sin to the life of holiness that is Christ’s image in his people (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 3:17). These are the criteria by which we must judge, for instance, the modern ‘charismatic renewal’ and Christian Science (reaching, perhaps, different verdicts in the two cases).

“So when I say, as a Christian, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit,’ my meaning should be, first, that I believe personal fellowship, across space and time, with the living Christ of the New Testament to be a reality, which through the Spirit I have found; second, that I am open to being led by the Spirit, who now indwells me, into Christian knowledge, obedience, and service, and I expect to be so led each day; and, third, that I bless him as the author of my assurance that I am a son and heir of God. Truly, it is a glorious thing to believe in the Holy Spirit!” [1]

[1] J. I. Packer, Affirming the Apostles Creed (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 117.

Pastor Jonathan L. Shirk preached a related sermon on the phrase “I believe in the Holy Spirit” on 3.17.24. You can listen to the sermon below.

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Jonathan Shirk

Welcome to the online home of Jonathan Shirk, family man, Reformed pastor, author, podcaster, and small town theologian. Whether you're from a small town or big city, may this website help you find deeper comfort and joy in the gospel.

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