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Knowing God

by J. I. Packer
286 pages, Religion
Reviewed by Jeanne

A wise and joyful study of God and our lifelong pursuit of knowing Him.

Plot

"As clowns yearn to play Hamlet," writes Packer in his Foreword, "so I have wanted to write a treatise on God. This book, however, is not it.... It is at best a string of beads: a series of small studies of great subjects.... They were conceived as separate messages, but are now presented together because they seem to coalesce into a single message about God and our living."

That is the drive of Packer's "Knowing God," to inspire believers in a deeper understanding of and desire for God and to show how that longing impacts the Christian life. They are meditations on the perfections of the Triune God, His relation to mankind in general and believers in particular, and our relationship with Him.

Morality

Packer deals with God's holiness and His giving of the Law, as well as Man's obligation (and inability) to obey it. There are also pointed and helpful chapters on the righteous judgment and wrath of God, as well as the propitiatory (wrath-averting) sacrifice of Christ. While moral issues come up, however, they are addressed on a more fundamental level than "morality," per se.

Spiritual Content

"Knowing God" is part treatise, part meditation - an ideal book for a believer's devotions. In Part I, "I Know the Lord," Packer lays out briefly the character of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Part II, "Behold Your God!", he goes into greater detail in a series of brief chapters on some aspects of God's attributes. In the third part, "If God Be for Us," he turns to the impact that God's works and character have on us. Scripture is brought to bear on every page, pointing to the supremacy of God's Word, and Packer's use of hymns is also apt. The whole of the book flows beautifully, and a spirit of worship, love, and awe pervades every section.

Violence

None, if the message of the bloody sacrificial death of Jesus Christ be excepted.

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Sexual Content

Sexual sins are mentioned (generally, not specifically) in passing. Packer remarks negatively on the story of a woman who confused "spirituality" with "sensuality."

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

It can hardly be said too strongly that J.I. Packer's "Knowing God" is a book that all believers should read and reread, and then reread again. The messages are clear and direct, addressing with encouragement such common struggles as believers' assurance and with clarity the modern attitude toward the concepts of God's jealousy and His justice. Packer also brings out some elements that are frequently overlooked or misunderstood, and his emphasis on the gift of adoption and its implications is far more than just insightful.

As mentioned above, however, the book is more than a treatise: it rings with praise, with the joy of believing, and with the desire to truly know God. Indeed, the best way to put the drive of this book is in the author's own words early on:

"What makes life worth while [sic] is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance; and this the Christian has, in a way that no other man has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?" This is what "Knowing God" is meant to stir up in every believer, and that is what makes the book so thoroughly worth reading.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: adult

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