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Knowing God (1973)
by J. I. Packer
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From Daniel Christensen
This is a collection of 22 very good essays about the God in Christianity. Sometimes I feel like I'm reading a sermon. The essays are all very organized in terms of logical flow. But the connection between one essay to another is not as clear cut. My favorite is one of the longest ones; it discusses how Christians are basically adopted by God into His family through Christ's death and resurrection. The author makes a clear argument that many tenets of Christianity can become much easier to understand if we view them through the lens of Christians having been adopted into God's family. I also really enjoyed the two essays about the wisdom of God.
Some quotes that I found particularly memorable:
"Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord."
"It needs to be said with the greatest possible emphasis that those who hold themselves free to think of God as they like are breaking the second commandment."
"How are we to think of the Incarnation? The New Testament does not encourage us to puzzle our heads over the physical and psychological problems that it raises, but to worship God for the love that was shown in it."
"So many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians — alas, they are many — whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the submiddle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves."
"It is not for us to imagine that we can prove the truth of Christianity by our own arguments; nobody can prove the truth of Christianity except the Holy Spirit, by his own almighty work of renewing the blinded heart."
"What the preacher (in Ecclesiastes) wants to show him (the reader) is that the real basis of wisdom is a frank acknowledgment that this world’s course is enigmatic, that much of what happens is quite inexplicable to us, and that most occurrences “under the sun” bear no outward sign of a rational, moral God ordering them at all.....The kind of wisdom that God waits to give to those who ask him is a wisdom that will bind us to himself, a wisdom that will find expression in a spirit of faith and a life of faithfulness."
"People today are in the habit of disassociating the thought of God’s goodness from that of his severity. Nothing but misbelief is possible as long as it persists."
Packer concludes on this note: “Finally we have been brought to the point where we both can and must get our life’s priorities straight. From current Christian publications, you might think that the most vital issue for any real or would-be Christian in the world today is church union, or social witness, or dialogue with other Christians and other faiths, or refuting this or that ism, or developing a Christian philosophy and culture, or what have you. But our line of study makes the present day concentration on these things look like a gigantic conspiracy of misdirection. Of course, it is not that; the issues themselves are real and must be dealt with in their place. But it is tragic that, in paying attention to them, so many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and always will be the true priority for every human being-that is, learning to know God in Christ” (278).
An excellent read! Chapter 2 on the people who know their God, chapter 18 on the heart of the gospel, and chapter 19 on adoption were influential.
what great truths! so much richness in who my God is :) i love how BIG he is as i finish this book :)
“knowing God involves, first, listening to God’s Word and receiving it as the Holy Spirit interprets it, in application to oneself; second, noting God’s nature and character, as his Word and works reveal it; third, accepting his invitations and doing what he commands; fourth, recognizing and rejoicing in the love that he has shown in thus approaching you and drawing you into this divine fellowship.”
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Wikipedia in English (1)
A lifelong pursuit of knowing God should embody the Christian's existence. According to eminent theologian J.I. Packer, however, Christians have become enchanted by modern skepticism and have joined the "gigantic conspiracy of misdirection" by failing to put first things first. Knowing God aims to redirect our attention to the simple, deep truth that to know God is to love His Word. What began as a number of consecutive articles angled for "honest, no-nonsense readers who were fed up with facile Christian verbiage" in 1973, Knowing God has become a contemporary classic by creating "small studies out of great subjects." Each chapter is so specific in focus (covering topics such as the trinity, election, God's wrath, and God's sovereignty), that each succeeding chapter's theology seems to rival the next, until one's mind is so expanded that one's entire view of God has changed. Author Elizabeth Eliot wrote that amid the lofty content Packer "puts the hay where the sheep can reach it--plainly shows us ordinary folks what it means to know God." Having rescued us from the individual hunches of our ultra-tolerant theological age, Packer points the reader to the true character of God with his theological competence and compassionate heart. The lazy and faint-hearted should be warned about this timeless work--God is magnified, the sinner is humbled, and the saint encouraged. --Jill Heatherly
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)231 — Religions Christian doctrinal theology God; Unity; Trinity
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