J.I. Packer “Knowing God” Quotes and Thoughts
I just read through JI Packer’s “Knowing God” for the first time! (Kind of shocking it took my so long to read through it.) It truly is a classic. Here’s some quotes I found most helpful and insightful.
“We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it.”
How do we turn knowledge about God into knowledge of God? “The rule for doing this is demanding but simple. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”
Packer on a biblical understanding of meditation: “Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eyes of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. It’s purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace.”
“What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the eternal life that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. “This is eternal life, that they may know the, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God.”
Packer on the suicidal effect of sin: “if we abandon these practices (worship of God, following God’s word, truthfulness, honesty, discipline, self-control, service to God and others), not only do we incur guilt before God; we also progressively destroy our own souls. Conscience atrophies, the sense of shame dries up, one’s capacity for truthfulness, loyalty, and honesty is eaten away, one’s character disintegrates. One not only becomes desperately miserable; one is steadily being dehumanized. This is one aspect of spiritual death...”
“A gospel without propitiation at its heart is another gospel and that which Paul preached. The implications of this must not be evaded.”
“SIN in the new testament means, not social error or failure in the first instance, but rebellion against, defiance of, retreat from, and consequently guilt before, God the Creator; and sin, says the New Testament, is the basic evil from which we need deliverance, and from which Christ died to save us.”
“Our God is a God who not merely restores, but takes up our mistakes and follies into His plan for us and brings good out of them.”
“God makes not only the wrath of man to turn to his praise but the misadventures of Christians too”
On seeking guidance:
“Earnest Christians seeking guidance often go wrong about it. Why is this? Often the reason is that their notion of the nature and method of divine guidance is distorted. They look for a will-o’-the-wisp; they overlook the guidance that is ready to hand, and lay themselves open to all sorts of delusions. Their basic mistake is to think of guidance as essentially inward prompting by the Holy Spirit, apart from the written Word. This idea… is a seed-bed in which all forms of fanaticism and folly can grow.”
“Unregenerate apostates are often cheerful souls, but backsliding Christians are always miserable”
There are two kinds of sick conscience.
1 The conscience of an individual that believes it has no sin or guilt before our holy God.
2. The conscience of a Christian that believes his/her sin is too great for Christ to forgive.
J I Packer speaks of a “CRUEL” theology that professes to be biblical (and evangelical), but actually twist the Scriptures and leads to confusion and despair and sorrow. It has two features:
- It claims that when one becomes a Christian his or her life will become easier. This is false. When a person becomes a Christian most the time their life becomes harder. There will be tribulations and trials and many hardships. To claim this is not true is to mislead a person and set one up for much hurt and pain. (Granted, the invitation to become a Christian is still the invitation to unparalleled joy in knowing Christ and having him as your treasure, but in this life while we wait for Christ return we will have trials and a cross to carry).
- It claims that any trials or hardships one faces after one becomes a Christian is only due to a lack of faith. This is false. As believers we encounter trials that God uses to make us more like Christ and we encounter spiritual warfare which is intense and we live in a fallen world and experience much pain and sorrow. Sure, there may be times where our affliction is due to our unbelief, but many times are affliction is something we endure as we walk by faith and is not a result of a lack of faith. We trust that behind “a frowning Providence, there is a smiling face.”