Kirsten Powers and the Miracle of the New Birth
Written by Pastor Jim Law
In recent weeks, I have read with great interest and joy the testimony of Kirsten Powers. Her journey of grace was posted on Christianity Today’s website on October 22, 2013. Since then her story has gone viral and has been the source of much media attention.
Powers possesses quite a resume that includes an appointment to the Clinton White House, as well as established credentials as a journalist with such news outlets as Fox News and The Daily Beast. Throughout her career, Powers has been known as a progressive, secular, and atheistic liberal who expressed a pronounced contempt for all things Christian.
However, seven years ago, through the witness of a boyfriend and the consistent preaching of a faithful pastor, Powers was confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ. Over the span of eight months of attending church and Bible study, the thick crust of resistance began to breakdown.
From a worldview in which God did not exist, Powers describes the beginnings of her awakening, “I suddenly felt God everywhere and it was terrifying.”
She explains the culmination of this journey to faith when she writes, “I’ll never forget standing outside that apartment on the Upper East Side and saying to myself, ‘It’s true. It’s completely true.’” As Powers put down her arms of unbelief, she conceded that she had been found by the “Hound of Heaven.”
How does one explain the change in this unlikely prospect to Christianity? Powers’ story of God’s grace is a reminder of the miracle of the new birth. The strongest apologetic for the claims of the Gospel are changed lives. Like the blind man in John 9 who said, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” The arguments of his interrogators seemed to dissolve in light of the obvious work of God.
In Jesus’ famed conversation with Nicodemus, he made reference to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in conversion by comparing the Spirit’s work to the wind which “blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Living on this terrestrial ball can make one skeptical that true change can happen in people’s lives. However, one thing is very clear from scanning the pages of Scripture and history, God has always been in the business of redeeming lives and bringing deep, significant, personal, transformational change into people who would otherwise be lost causes.
A survey of the Gospels reveals time and again lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. When we consider the dramatic account of the naked, demon-possessed man who hung out in a cemetery, it was said of him after encountering Christ that he was “clothed and in his right mind.”
Or the short, dishonest tax collector named Zaccheus who was universally hated for his betrayal and corruption nevertheless confessed in an afternoon with Christ that he would make restitution for all he had stolen. Jesus said to him that salvation had indeed come to his life.
This change, this new birth is not religious self-help, nor is it mere human determination. Regeneration is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Jesus Christ. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit in which sinners are brought to spiritual life and come to see the sweetness and beauty of Christ.
We need reminders that God’s saving work is not confined to the past. We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is moving in this world bringing spiritual life through the proclamation of the Gospel. We need to reaffirm that the Gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation, and it is our calling to make Christ known.
This is true especially as many lament the spiritual decline of our culture. Indeed, we have witnessed the jettisoning of biblical foundations once held and cherished. From all sectors of culture, there is expressed concern perhaps articulated best by Charles Murray in his book “Coming Apart” in which he writes crisply, “We have become a divided, unraveling nation.”
However, as followers of Jesus Christ we are not to weep like Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” when Tara was burned by the Union troops. Rather, we must pray for a fresh hearing of God’s word in our generation. Our hope is in Christ, for He is the only power that can transform nations and neighborhoods.
As Jesus Christ took the ultimate mission trip 21 centuries ago, His sinless life, substitutionary death, glorious resurrection, and breathtaking ascension stands over history as our only hope. It is a sturdy hope that will never fade away.
May the wind of the Spirit blow powerfully this Advent season, may we hold up the banner of our great God, and as we gather to worship, may we sing and pray,
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today