True priority of our day – To know God

God-resolved-to-hold-you

This week finishes our Knowing God book discussion with the group at Tim Challies. Overall, I highly recommend this classic (originally published in 1973) because author J. I. Packer reaches his aim in encouraging readers to not only know more about God, but also to know God.

“So many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and always will be the true priority for every human being—that is, learning to know God in Christ. . . .

If this book moves any of its readers to identify more closely with the psalmist at this point [Psalm 27:8], it will not have been written in vain.”

However, before we enjoy the good parts of the final chapter 22, “The Adequacy of God,” I have a small conflict with Packer (again) in the next to last chapter 21, “These Inward Trials.” It’s a recurrence of the issue I had with Packer earlier, “Does God toy with us in his wisdom?” from chapters 9 and 10.

First, our points of agreement. 

1. Packer says it’s worse to promise someone they’ll have no problems once they become a Christian than to warn them they’ll have too many. Agreed. We don’t want to overly glamorize the Christian life, denying that physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles continue as long as we’re here in the flesh.

“Such suggestions [the impression that normal Christian living is a perfect bed of roses, a state of affairs in which everything in the garden is lovely all the time, and problems no longer exist] are mischievous because they are false.”

2. Second, we agree that it’s wrong to pile on guilt when new believers do have troubles even after being saved. It’s cruel to equate their struggles with “‘defeat’, as a a relapse caused by failure to maintain ‘consecration’ and ‘faith.’”

But where I disagree with Packer is the source of our struggles.

While yes, God does discipline those he loves (Hebrews 12:6), just as all responsible parents discipline their children to help them grow up, Packer still doesn’t convince me that God intentionally fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort and another [to] ensure that we shall learn to hold Him fast.”

Jesus promised us each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34), making no reference that God will need to intentionally pile it on even heavier just to make us crumble quicker.

Jesus also said that if we, as human parents, won’t give our children a snake if they ask for a fish (Luke 11:11-13), how much less will God do so.

So while I agree with Packer that God wants us to “learn thankfully to lean on Him,” I disagree that God wants us to “feel that our way through life is rough and perplexing” just so we’ll see him as our strong rock.

I know he’s my refuge without having to believe he’s the one chasing me into it.

To close, here are some beautiful truths from Packer from the final chapter that we can all agree with.

In saving us, God went to the limit. What more could He have given for us? We cannot know what Calvary cost the Father, any more than we can know what Jesus felt as He tasted the penalty due to our sins.”

* ~ * ~ *

“Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful to you, and adequate for you. You will never need more than He can supply, and what He supplies, both materially and spiritually, will always be enough for the present.”

* ~ * ~ *

The idea of Christ condemning us is absurd. He died to save us from condemnation, by bearing the penalty of our sins as our substitute.”

* ~ * ~ *

“Your faith will not fail while God sustains it; you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you.

* * *

Your thoughts?

Knowing-God-Packer-summary

All chapters:

6 thoughts on “True priority of our day – To know God

  1. blankfloyd

    Excellent and thought provoking. This is really an area that can lead to division. I like that you capture the thoughts and facts that bind us first and last and respectfully question the others in-between.

    I have the tendency to over simplify issues. God can use all scenarios in life to and for His perfect will and in His sovereignty either causes or allows all things.

    Most of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way in life were due to my own exercising of my free will. Consequences… Sheesh!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’m with you, Floyd: I believe God can use all our scenarios in life (whether caused or allowed) for our good and his glory. That’s the bottom line of the whole thing here. Just another one of the miraculous things about God!

  2. blankBarbara H.

    Perhaps it would sound better if instead of saying God “fills our lives with troubles and perplexities,” he had said instead that God allows them or works all things together for our good out of them. I don’t think any of those things happens without God’s knowledge and permission, but whether He deliberately “sets us up” for them, I don’t know.

    I love how you bring up quotes that I somehow missed, like the first of the last four you shared. I know I read the chapters, but some things stand out to me while others I don’t even remember reading. One nice thing about reading along together.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Yes, yes, Barbara….if Packer would just have substituted “allows” instead of “fills,” I probably would have been fine with it. 🙂 But I get the feeling he’s pretty intentional with his word choices (made it a little hard to read at times because his writing could get dense). Nonetheless, I do trust God to work everything out it he end, so I don’t really have to understand the why anyway. I enjoyed reading in tandem too–I always find new things that I missed when I read someone else’s post too.

  3. blankBeverley

    Because i am taught and have come to know for myself through the Spirit that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are separate beings, I want to speak about Jesus Christ.

    I have come to know him in a personal way. I wish he could have taken away all my trials and tribulations, but then if he done, I would have learnt nothing and had nothing to give to those who now stand in need. For every trial we suffer He has already suffered for, not just for out sins, but also for all our pains, heartaches and sorrows and He calls to us to lay our burdens before Him that He can make them light. In the midst of trials nothing feels light, but has I look back I can truly see how Jesus Christ helped me carried my burdens and brought angels into my life in human form too. My gratitude for knowing Him is beyond words, but I do know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, my friend, my brother, my Saviour and my Redeemer.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      What a sweet testimony when we hear that Jesus is personal to someone. Thanks for sharing this, Beverley. I know you have had trials in your life, but for you to know that Jesus helped you bear this, is encouraging to us all!

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