Friday, June 29, 2018
Book Review: 'Knowing God'.... Revisited After 38 Years
I read a lot of important things back then, including exhaustive Bible charts and journals that I have in old spiral bound notebooks. These old ragged eared and yellowed classics caught my attention... Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Augustine, and many others.... did I have ANY clue what I was reading as a senior in high school!
But one book grabbed my attention that cloudy May day.... a book whose cover and title drew me as much that day as when I first saw it on a shelf in 1981- Knowing God by J.I. Packer.
As I first thumbed through the pages...I noticed that it was, for me, much like my infamous 'Read Thru The Bible' failures where I would get bogged down in Leviticus/Numbers and skip ahead to the Psalms... I could tell that I started well in this book, but did not devour it.... it was a scanner at best.
So I am pleased to report that the Lord, in His sovereign mercy of providential timing, brought this book back my way and I lost sleep over the last several weeks pondering anew what Jesus means when He says in John 17:3, "And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (ESV)"
ROCK SOLID PACKER
I met J.I. Packer twice as he visited the old Briarwood Presbyterian Church (the old 280 Hwy location)- both times he came across so humble and unassuming.... but as I took time reading this book again, the DEPTH of Packer's knowledge of God's Word is hall of fame worthy.... and as exhaustive as he is in each chapter...he also has the grasp of the beautiful balance that Scripture has on almost any topic that touches human existence and meaning. Packer's writing has heart...it isn't just a book for the head. I remember enough of my former me (and still current me) to know I was reading this for the knowledge that 'puffs up' and shows off... but this is a book for the tender and broken hearted who needs to know how majestic and loving the God of the Bible is.
CONTENT and STRUCTURE
Oh my! This book is FULL of exhaustive thoughts regarding our God! The book is somewhat like the cover picture... a vast ocean with a glorious sunrise..both too expansive to really know...and nothing compared to the God who thought of them and made them in the first place.
I guess I am much more organized in my thinking now... but I appreciate the three large sections of content KNOW THE LORD (6 chapters)- BEHOLD YOUR GOD (11 chapters)- and IF GOD BE FOR US (5 chapters). This process is so important of persevering as a passionate Christian for decades... I- How to Know God and encouragement to do so.... then II. here are His transcendent attributes that make Him AMAZING... but the final section is the key....III HE LOVES YOU and HE IS ALL YOU REALLY NEED!
So young dumb me quit reading (based on my hen scratched etchings) way before the book got good.
KNOWING GOD 'LITE'-
I need to go and find this book and re-read the forward that J.I. Packer wrote for Dan.
Regardless, these two books represent a lot of what is missing in current evangelical circles... we have lost the majesty, glory, and the 'larger than the cosmos' fascination of the CREATOR.
I used to spend hours contemplating the transcendence of God and concepts like His sovereignty and His creative, miraculous power were easy when I thought of how massive this BEING has to be!
SUMMARY OF WHAT GRABBED ME THIS TIME AROUND.....
Well, first of all... I finished it...all new annotations and exciting thoughts!
GOD KNOWS ME....this was probably what I attached to the most all those years ago....
BREAKING THE 2ND COMMANDMENT
wow- this one will preach... when we refuse to know God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture..when we make up our own versions of God...whether it be a warm furry giant Santa Claus or a Cosmic Cop... we are in direct violation of God's prohibition to make idols.
DRIVEN TO WORSHIP
As we contemplate the unknowable... we are more apt to worship Him
INTIMACY BY HIS SPIRIT
For some reason...this is being impressed on me- Am I acknowledging and abiding in God's Spirit- is my body a proper temple? Is my heart a good home?
SMALL GOD- BIG PROBLEMS (A.K.A. 'meditations on His majesty')
This book was published in 1973- and Packer comments on depression, anxiety, dependence issues, as symptoms of people who have lost God.... little did he know then what we know now! The consequences are staggering!
GOD'S WISDOM INCLUDES HIS PERSPECTIVE
I love this- learning to see as He sees... eternal lenses... righteous eyesight
GOD'S WORD: LAW, PROMISE,TESTIMONY, DIVINE INSTRUCTION, and FACTS OF FAITH/ PRINCIPLES OF PIETY
Packer LOVES God's Word... and so do I... it is easier to love the God of the Word when we love His word.
LOVE OF GOD MISCONCEPTIONS
I don't know how to write about this without causing issues the other way...but re-read these sections (Ch 12- Ch 17 and I bet you will be surprised.... and it includes:
GRACE OF GOD MISCONCEPTIONS
WRATH OF GOD MISCONCEPTIONS
SONSHIP/ GUIDANCE/TRIALS AND CONTENTMENT
Where do I begin here?
Contemplating and relating to God as FATHER is the best way to think of Him.
And the section on GUIDANCE helped me... we know SO LITTLE of God's will....
Packer suggests our problem with a lack of guidance is:
AN UNWILLINGNESS TO THINK
AN UNWILLINGNESS TO THINK AHEAD
AN UNWILLINGNESS TO TAKE ADVICE
AN UNWILLINGNESS TO SUSPECT OUR OWN MOTIVES
AN UNWILLINGNESS TO SUSPECT THE CHARISMA/MOTIVES OF ANOTHER
AN UNWILLINGNESS TO WAIT
There aren't many books that require re-reading....but this is one of them. I challenge you to dust off your old copy of this and start meditating anew the things THIS GOD CAN DO!