Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Knowing God
Joseph J. Adrian

What can be more important than knowing God? If you have an intense desire to know God, it should be of great concern to you that you have an accurate knowledge of the One True God. Early in his influential ministry, the 19th century Baptist Preacher C.H. Spurgeon proclaimed, "The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God is the name, nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the Great God whom he calls his Father." One of Packer's great concerns when he penned this "Modern Classic" was to address (what he saw as the root of the weakness of Christ's Church) the ignorance of God's ways and what it means to commune with "The Living God." His desire was that those who "Profess To Know God" would really know Him, not just know about Him.

One of the obstacles to "A True Knowledge Of God" is that to know Him, we need Him to reveal Himself to us. The degree to which He reveals Himself to us will determine how well we can know Him. Throughout the Scriptures, man is urged to seek The Lord. If we would know Him better we must continually seek Him—-"We cannot know Him unless He speaks and tells us about Himself. . . . He has spoken to us through His Prophets and Apostles, and He has spoken in the words and deeds of His own Son." It hardly needs to be stated that one necessary part of, increasing in our knowledge of God is to grow in our understanding of His Word.

Another impediment to a true knowledge of God is our fallen sinful nature. Instead of seeking God, fallen man avoids, ignores, or runs from Him. God's grace and mercy are bestowed upon those, in greater measure, who continuously earnestly seek Him—-"It is a relationship in which the initiative is with God—-as it must be, since . . . we have so completely forfeited all claim on His favor by our sins."

One of the evidences that one truly knows God, is the transforming effect that it has upon his life. Mr. Packer, reflecting on the desire of the Psalmist of Psalm 119 writes, "His supreme desire was to know and enjoy God himself and he valued knowledge about God simply as a means to this end, he wanted to understand God's truth in order that his heart might respond to it and his life be conformed to it." A real knowledge of God always has a transforming effect on one's life! If it doesn't, there needs to be some searching self-examination in the light of God's Holy Word.

In the second part of Knowing God, J.I.Packer expounds some of God's attributes: His immutability, majesty, wisdom, love, grace, and wrath. . . . Though for study sake, His attributes are looked at individually; collectively they are as one with our Majestic Creator.

The heart of The Gospel is that "God Is Love." How does God manifest His love to us? "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His son to be a propitiation for our sin." 1 John 4:10. How important is propitiation? The author believes it is essential to understanding "the love of God, the taking of Manhood by the Son, the meaning of the cross, Christ's heavenly intercession and the way of salvation."

First published in 1973, J.I. Packer's "Knowing God" is perhaps the most significant Christian book of the last 50 years, or at least a compelling case can be made for that suggestion.