Sunday, August 19

July Books: Knowing God by J.I. Packer


I could write a book on this book. I don't want to do that. I've never read a book so rich in biblical doctrine and so practically applied. So here's a bullet-point summary of what I learned.


Things I didn't know or had misconceptions about:
  • There are places in the Bible where Jesus displays a lack of knowledge, indicating that he drew on his omniscience intermittently - not that his power was reduced, but restrained. I've never seriously pondered this on my own, but reading it made me realize I'd always felt uncomfortable with those texts!
  • Packer spends a chapter equating icons and images (including crucifixes and pictures of Christ) with idolatry. I'm not sure that I'm totally tracking on that one, especially with how far he draws his boundaries on it, but it's something to ponder.
  • Although all people are made in God's image not everyone is a child of God: only the elect are. I've believed that for a while, but not applied it to the "we're all God's children" ideas so prevalent in pop culture. 
    • I know I've opened a big can of Calvinist worms here, which I don't want to debate right here. But to read more about what I believe on this subject check out this site.
  • Adoption as sons of God is the highest privilege given to believers. Justification (being made right with God) is just the beginning of God's special grace to us.
  • In the context of adoption, The Sermon on the Mount should be read as a family code of conduct like moral instruction from parent to child.

Areas of muddy understanding or forgetfulness:
  • The Holy Spirit is Jesus' agent among us. We should focus on His main ministry: giving peace, joy, hope, etc. more than His extraordinary and sporadic ministry: giving gifts like healing or tongues. Also, one of his most important roles is deepening our filial relationship to our Father.
  • The four main analogies for knowing God are son/father, wife/husband, subject/king, and sheep/shepherd.
  • I learned many details about the persons and relationships of the Trinity.
  • I've never enjoyed wisdom literature and all the exhortations to wisdom in the Bible, but the chapters on wisdom put me in my place. Wisdom is seriously important to God!
    • Note: I read this right before I  read "Just Do Something," which really put this talk about wisdom to work.
  • Being made in the image of God means that we are made to display his communicated attributes (attributes God shares with us, like wisdom). Redemption means that this is possible even after sin.
  • Our works provide an index of what's in our hearts - that's why we'll be judged according to them.
  • God's wrath simply confirms/executes judgements sinners have already made on themselves through their choices. Another can of worms. I know. : )
  • God shows his common grace to all (blessings) and special grace to some (salvation). His generosity is how we experience the rest of his attributes.
  • God's threefold purpose: judgement/rule, redemption/choose people, be loved/glorified.
  • God's righteous jealousy for us demands that we be zealous for him.
  • The authority, affection, fellowship, and honor God gives to Jesus are extended to us in adoption.
I usually prefer to write in actual paragraphs, but in this case it's definitely best that I stuck to bullet points.  

I highly recommend this book. I plan to reread it in the future to remind myself of God's goodness, wisdom, and truth. Thanks for stopping by!

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