Tag Archives: J. I. Packer

Books Recently Completed

I have enjoyed reading all three of these books.  And I highly recommend all of these books for other Christians to read.  I would however note that Memoirs of Ordinary Pastor will be particularly helpful for pastors.  This post is not in any way a book review of these books, but to just give a taste of what lies within these works.

Packer writes on the wisdom of God, “God’s wisdom is not, and never was, pledged to keep a fallen world happy, or to make ungodliness comfortable.  Not even to Christians has he promised a trouble-free life, rather the reverse.  He has other ends in view for life in this world simply to make it easy for everyone.

What is he after, then?  What is his goal?  What does he aim at?  When he made us, his purpose was that we should love and honor him, praising him for the wonderfully ordered complexity and variety of his world, using it according to his will, and so enjoying both it and him.  And though we have fallen, God has not abandoned his first purpose.  Still he plans that a great host of humankind should come to love and honor him.  His ultimate objective is to bring them to a state in which they please him entirely and praise him adequately, a state in which he is all in all to them, and he and they rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love–people rejoicing in the saving love of God, set upon them from all eternity, and God rejoicing in the responsive love of people, drawn out of them by grace through the gospel (pp 91-92).”

Don Carson (son) recalls an interaction with his father, Tom.

“One Saturday we were both weeding a flower bed.  I was in first year of high school, I think, and going through my first poetry-writing phrase.  I wrote for my own amusement but sometimes printed the results in the school newspaper.  Observing the worms as I was hoeing, I thought it would be fun to write a poem in the first person from a worm’s point of view.  I composed it in my head on the spot: a worm appreciating the warmth of the sun, squeezing through particles of dirt, etc.  My last two lines were, ‘I saw the spade flash in the sun: / Woe is me! I am undone.’  I thought it was hilarious and could hardly wait to print it at school.  I interrupted my weeding long enough to recite it proudly to my father.  He kept on weeding, said nothing for a miunte or two, and then quietly asked, ‘Are you quite sure you want to print a poem that applies to a worm the deepest reflections of the prophet Isaiah when he was afforded a vision of the transcendent God in all his glory?’ (p 74)”

Marshall and Payne write, “We will be arguing that structures don’t grow ministry any more than trellises grow vines, and that most churches need to make a conscious shift–away from erecting and maintaining structures, and towards growing people who are disciple-making disciples of Christ…When planning ministry for the year ahead, there are two broad approaches we could adopt.  One is to consider existing church programs (such as Sunday meetings, youth work, children’s ministry and Bible study groups) and then work out how such programs can be maintained and improved.  The other approach is to start with the people in your church, having no particular structures or programs in mind, and then consider who are these people God has given you, how you can help them grow in Christian maturity, and what form their gifts and opportunities might take…In the course of doing so, it may become apparent that some programs no longer serve any worthwhile purpose.  It may also become apparent that a program is no longer viable because the people who once made it work are no longer available.  So the program can be done away with.  This might be painful for those attached to them (it takes guts to shoot a dead horse!), but new ministries will begin to arise as you train members of your congregation to use their various gifts and opportunities (pp 17-18).”

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Posted by on May 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


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What accounts for Jesus’ fear in the Garden?

The answer is Propitiation…Jesus bore the wrath of God and punishment of all the sinners who would ever turn to him in repentance and faith.

How should we explain Jesus’ belief in the necessity of his death?  How should we account for the fact that what drove him on throughout his public ministry, as all four Gospels testify, was the conviction that he had to be killed?  And how should we explain the fact that, whereas martyrs like Stephen faced death with joy, and even Socrates, the pagan philosopher, drank his hemlock and died without tremor, Jesus, the perfect servant of God, who had never before showed the least fear of man or pain or loss, manifested in Gethsemane what looked like blue funk, and on the cross declared himself God-forsaken? “Never man feared death like this man,” commented Luther.  Why?  What did it mean?

…if we relate the facts in question to the apostolic teaching about propitiation, all becomes plain at once. “May we not urge,” asks James Denny, “that these experiences of deadly fear and of desertion are of one piece with the fact that in his death and in the agony of the garden through which he accepted that death as the cup which his Father gave him to drink, Jesus was taking upon him the burden of the world’s sin, consenting to be, and actually being, numbered with the transgressors?” (The Death of Christ, 1911 ed., p. 46).

Had Paul or John been asked this question, there is no doubt what they would have answered.  It was because Jesus was to be made sin, and bear God’s judgment on sin, that he trembled in the garden, and because he was actually bearing that judgment that he declared himself forsaken of God on the cross.  The driving force in Jesus’ life was his resolve to be “obedient to death–even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), and the unique dreadfulness of his death lies in the fact that he tasted on Calvary the wrath of God which was our due, so making propitiation for our sins.

Centuries before, Isaiah had spelled it out: “We considered him striken by God….The punishment that brought us peace was upon him….The LORD has laid on him the inquity of us all….For the transgression of my people he was stricken….It was the LORD’s will to crush him…the LORD makes his life a guilt offering” (Is 53:4-10).

Taken from Knowing God by J. I. Packer, pp. 192-194.

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Posted by on February 5, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Packer Quotes


Quotes from Knowing God

“When Paul says he counts the things he lost rubbish, or dung (KJV), he means not merely that he does not think of them as having any value, but also that he does not live with them constantly in his mind: what normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of manure?  Yet this, in effect, is what many of us do.  It shows how little we have in the way of true knowledge of God (p. 25).”

“Ninety years ago C. H. Spurgeon described the wobblings he then saw among the Baptists on Scripture, atonement and human destiny as ‘the downgrade.’  Could he survey Protestant thinking about God at the present time, I guess he would speak of ‘the nosedive’ (p. 13)!”

“Do we desire such knowledge of God?  The two things follow.  First, we must recognize how much we lack knowledge of God.  We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge about God, not by our gifts and responsibilities in the church, but by how we pray and what goes on in our hearts.  Many of us, I suspect, have no idea how impoverished we are at this level.  Let us ask the Lord to show us (p. 32).”

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Posted by on August 17, 2009 in Uncategorized


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