A Few Thoughts on Knowing God by J.I. Packer

 “The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father…..No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God……He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe.” (C.H. Spurgeon, January 7, 1855: New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, England, age 20)

I fully concur with Spurgeon and I am confident the majority of Christendom does as well.  As much as I enjoyed reading this book, it’s saddening to think that the church has to be reminded or encouraged to know God. Isn’t knowing Him an elementary essential of the faith?  One might ask why the need for such a reminder?  I am convinced that it is due to the insolvent teaching that is sweeping across the globe.  The insolvency has its foundation in the exaltation of the creature, rather than the Creator, teaching that God is a means to man’s puerile ends.  Therefore, God sets His mind to move many men to herald His fame, even among the professing elect, lest we forget the true source of reality, joy and purpose.  J.I. Packer is such a herald by the grace of God.

In his own words, Packer said the two main reasons why he undertook this task were:

(1) Christian minds have been conformed to the modern spirit: the spirit, that is, that spawns great thoughts of man and leaves room for only small thoughts of God.

(2) Christian minds have been confused by the modern skepticism.

The study of God or theology is fundamental to every believer.  Packer says, “Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”  If we are to live obediently and have a growing relationship with God, we have to understand who He is and why He says what He says that will lead us to the center of His redemptive will.  This will involve abandoning certain presuppositions as well as teachings that are incongruent with Scripture.  Packer goes on to say, “To follow the imagination of one’s heart in the realm of theology is the way to remain ignorant of God, and to become an idol-worshipper – the idol in this case being a false mental image of God, made by one’s own speculation and imagination.”

Packer arranged the book in three parts:

(I) Know The Lord – 6 chapters
(II) Behold Your God! – 11 chapters
(III) If God Be For Us…- 5 chapters

Part I lays the foundation of God’s identity and the importance of knowing Him. In Part II, Packer unfolds some of the attributes of God’s multifaceted essence. (i.e. immutability, majesty, love, judgment and grace)  Finally, Part III concludes the book with a detailed look at the salvific work of God and God’s commitment to the believer through the lens of Romans 8.  In it, he shows God’s essence manifest in His actions for our assurance and joy.

My recommendation is that every able believer read Knowing God. If you are an avid reader, like I am, I would encourage you to read this book meditatively alongside your Bible.  If reading is not a natural desire for you, my encouragement stands nonetheless.  It will be well worth your time and a great nourishment for your soul.

d.

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