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Knowing God: Chapter 21 - These Inward Trials

Chapter 21 of  Knowing God  focuses upon the normal Christian life and how God’s grace works to accomplish it. Two (2) Inaccurate Applications of the Gospel Dr. Packer notes there are two (2) dangerous “inaccurate application[s]” of the gospel that lead to a misunderstanding of what the normal Christian life is: Over-emphasizing the positive aspects of the Christian life leading one to believe the gospel brings a life of ease Over-emphasizing the “rough side” of the Christian life leading one to believe “that Christian living is for the most part grievous and gloomy.” Neither is healthy. But while the latter may lead one to a “surprise” that the Christian life is actually more joyous and pleasant than described, the prior is particularly “cruel” but not because of its motivation, for it is an “evangelical ministry” that is based in the “acceptance of the Bible as God’s Word” with the “aim...to bring people to new birth and from there to lead them on into the fullest possible experience

Knowing God: Chapter 20 - Thou Our Guide

In chapter 20 of  Knowing God  we hear of how God guides us in knowing and doing His will in our lives. I find this tends to be one of the greatest struggles and perplexing aspects of life for many Christians. God’s Guidance: True and Real Dr. Packer first points out that divine guidance is a true and real thing that rests on two foundational facts: “first, the reality of God’s plan for us; second, the ability of God to communicate with us.” So logically and philosophically it makes sound sense to confidently believe that God does guide us. And as Dr. Packer notes, “wisdom in Scripture always means knowledge of the course of action that will please God and secure life.”   (cf. Prov 3:5-6; Jam 1:5; Rom 12:1-2) The Role of the Holy Spirit Further, “Christians have an in dwelling Instructor, the Holy Spirit” (1 Jn  2:20 , 27), who guides us such that “God seeks his glory in our lives, and he is glorified in us only when we obey his will.” As Psalm 23:3 notes, “he guides me in paths of rig

Knowing God: Chapter 19 - The Sons of God

Chapter 19 of  Knowing God  has a singular focus: to help us grasp adoption, what it means to be the sons and daughters of God. “What is a Christian?” Dr. Packer asks. “...one who has God as Father,” he answers. It is the primary identity of who a Christian is, and should be the primary controlling thought of what it means to be a Christian. (Jn 1:12-13; Gal 4:4-5; Eph 1:5; 1 Jn 3:1-2) The Heart of the New Testament Adoption is the heart of the New Testament. The message of the New Testament can be focused in three words: “adoption through propitiation!” Where as in the Old Testament God’s covenant name with His people is “Yahweh” emphasizing His holiness, His separateness from them, in the New Testament “Father has now become his covenant name.” “…the stress of the New Testament is not on the difficulty and danger of drawing near to the holy God, but in the boldness and confidence with which believers may approach him: a boldness that springs directly from faith in Christ, and from th

Knowing God: Chapter 18 - The Heart of the Gospel

Chapter 18 of  Knowing God  is a rather lengthy chapter, and rightfully so, for its aim is that we would understand the very heart of the gospel. And its summarizing argument and conclusion is this:  the very heart of the gospel is propitiation , “the pacifying (satisfaction) of God’s wrath”, “the averting of God’s anger by an offering”, namely, the salvation of sinners from the wrath of God by the death of Christ (Rom 5:9). While there are numerous blessings that the gospel delivers to those who place their faith alone in Christ alone for salvation, the primary and most fundamental need and blessing is the averting of God’s righteous and personal wrath upon us for our rebellious sin against Him via the death of Christ on our behalf and, instead, having our relationship with God restored.  Dr. Packer notes three facts about propitiation:  Propitiation is the work of God himself.  It is  not  the work of man in any way. That is, it is entirely a work of grace. (1 Jn 4:7-9) Propitiation

Knowing God: Chapter 17 - The Jealous God

Chapter 17 of  Knowing God  focuses us in on God as the jealous God. To describe God as jealous may sound odd, even pejorative, to the modern ear. But the Bible repeatedly describes and proclaims God as “jealous.” Note the second commandment in which God self-proclaims “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exod 20:5) and Exod 34:14’s declaration that “the Lord, whose  name  is Jealous, is a jealous God.” It is not often we hear that one of the names of God is “Jealous.” To help us understand what it means that God is jealous, Dr. Packer points out two key truths:  Biblical statements about God’s jealousy are anthropomorphisms , “descriptions of God in language drawn from our life as humans.” And it is important to remember that in using such language of metaphor and analogy so that we might have some understanding of God that “those elements in human qualities which show the corrupting effect of sin have no counterpart in God.” There are two sorts of jealousy among humans, and only

Knowing God: Chapter 16 - Goodness and Severity

Chapter 16 of Knowing God helps us to see the necessity and complement of God’s goodness and God’s severity. The chapter warns that “people today are in the habit of disassociating the thought of God’s goodness from that of his severity.” That is, people want the benevolence of God without the wrath of God. But this is a picture of the mythical Santa Clause not the true God. Dr. Packer points out that seeing God as merely and solely benevolent effectively creates the problem of evil and neuters God of “his omnipotence and lordship over the world.” God's Goodness The goodness of God is that perfection of God that includes His generosity, mercy, grace, and love. It is “the sum total of his revealed excellences.” The particular moral perfection that God’s goodness points to is His generosity, “his disposition to give to others in a way which has no mercenary motive and is not limited by what the recipients deserve but consistently goes beyond it. Generosity expresses the simple wish t

Knowing God: Chapter 15 - The Wrath of God

Chapter 15 of Knowing God is a sobering chapter on the wrath of God. As Dr. Packer notes the wrath of God is a theme emphasized throughout the Bible, both the Old (e.g. Nahum 1:2-8) and the New Testaments (e.g. 2 Thes 1:7-10). He quotes A. W. Pink from his book The Attributes of God noting, “A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness.” It is important to note that God’s wrath is never sinfully motivated or derived: “God is only angry where it is called for...all God’s indignation is righteous.” God’s wrath is always judicial; that is, it is always a just wrath, administering justice to those who rightly deserve it. (Psa 62:12; Prov 24:12; Rom 2:5-6) God’s wrath is something people choose for themselves. (John 3:18-19) “The decisive act of judgment upon the lost is the judgment which they pass upon themselves, by rejecting the light that comes to them in and through Jesu