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For over 40 years, J. I. Packer's classic has been an important tool to help Christians around the world discover the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God. In 2006, Christianity Today voted this title one of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals. This edition is updated with Americanized language and spelling and a new preface by the author. Stemming from For over 40 years, J. I. Packer's classic has been an important tool to help Christians around the world discover the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God. In 2006, Christianity Today voted this title one of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals. This edition is updated with Americanized language and spelling and a new preface by the author. Stemming from Packer's profound theological knowledge, Knowing God brings together two important facets of the Christian faith: 1. Knowing about God and 2. Knowing God through the context of a close relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. Written in an engaging and practical tone, this thought-provoking work seeks to transform and enrich the Christian understanding of God. Explaining both who God is and how we can relate to him, Packer divides his book into three sections: The first directs our attention to how and why we know God, the second to the attributes of God and the third to the benefits enjoyed by a those who know him intimately. This guide leads readers into a greater understanding of God while providing advice to gaining a closer relationship with him as a result.

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30 review for Knowing God

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Absolutely the most significant book I've read in the past year, and, next to the Bible, probably had the biggest impact on me of any book I've ever read. I don't even know what to say about it. I could detail/analyze the contents, but others have done that already, and better than I could; I think I'll just say that the Lord used Knowing God (in conjunction with a few other books) to re-calibrate my focus, adjust my priorities, and teach me some huge, huge lessons, at a time when I was in great Absolutely the most significant book I've read in the past year, and, next to the Bible, probably had the biggest impact on me of any book I've ever read. I don't even know what to say about it. I could detail/analyze the contents, but others have done that already, and better than I could; I think I'll just say that the Lord used Knowing God (in conjunction with a few other books) to re-calibrate my focus, adjust my priorities, and teach me some huge, huge lessons, at a time when I was in great need of those things happening. J.I. Packer is straight-forward, hard-hitting, and very, very wise -- and it's obvious that he writes from the standpoint of someone who really does know God in the truest sense possible here on earth. There are so many things in this book that I wish I could write about -- Packer's incredible exposition of each of God's attributes (for example, a quote on God's love: "So the love of God who is spirit is no fitful, fluctuating thing, as human love is, nor is it a mere impotent longing for things that may never be; it is, rather, a spontaneous determination of God's whole being in an attitude of benevolence and benefaction, an attitude freely chosen and firmly fixed"); his amazing, amazing explanation of propitiation and the atonement (so clear and plain and beautiful -- I honestly don't think I understood half of it all before); his reprimand to us for largely forgetting the Holy Spirit and overlooking his incredible role in our redemption ("Is it not a hollow fraud to say that we honor Christ when we ignore, and by ignoring dishonor, the One whom Christ has sent to us as his deputy, to take his place and care for us on his behalf? Ought we not to concern ourselves more about the Holy Spirit than we do?"); his wise, clear-sighted explanation of how we as Christians should think about the difficult things that happen to us ("Every single thing that happens to us expresses God's love to us, and comes to us for the furthering of God's purpose for us. Thus, so far as we are concerned, God is love to us---holy, omnipotent love---at every moment and in every event of every day's life. Even when we cannot see the why and the the wherefore of God's dealing, we know that there is love in and behind them, and so we can rejoice always, even when, humanly speaking, things are going wrong. We know that the true story of our life, when known will prove to be, as the hymn says, "mercy from first to last"---and we are content"); and his reminder of what will be the incredible fruit of those tough times, if we respond to them with faith ("This is the ultimate reason, from our standpoint, why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort and another; it is to ensure that we shall learn to hold him fast") -- but you really must read the book for yourself, because I can't do it any sort of justice. I guess if I tried to put down the summation of what I came away with, it would be this: All of the secondary things, all those good things that we/I spend so much time thinking and talking about (high moral standards, good relationships with people, our forays into history or economics or music or law or even theology) are all rubbish -- pure trash -- if they don't have as their foundation and driving-force a living, breathing, active knowledge of, and relationship with, God. We're so weak and stupid and forgetful, and we pour all our energies into "good things" and forget why we're even doing them in the first place. We don't know anything if we don't know our God. God is ultimately the only important thing. I don't know if I'm making any sense, but Packer sums it up beautifully: "What makes life worthwhile 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 person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?" "Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.'" [Jer. 9:23-24]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    If, like me, you were raised going to a Christian church, reading the Bible, and participating in Bible studies, you might think you know all there is to know about God. But the goal of the Christian shouldn't be merely to know about God. We must realize, first, how little we know God and secondly, why it's important to do so. In "Knowing God," Packer stresses the importance of really understanding who God is and attempts to excite and motivate the Christian to strive towards knowing Him better. If, like me, you were raised going to a Christian church, reading the Bible, and participating in Bible studies, you might think you know all there is to know about God. But the goal of the Christian shouldn't be merely to know about God. We must realize, first, how little we know God and secondly, why it's important to do so. In "Knowing God," Packer stresses the importance of really understanding who God is and attempts to excite and motivate the Christian to strive towards knowing Him better. Theology is often downplayed and seems to receive little attention in many churches these days. But every professing Christian should have as a lifelong pursuit the subject of theology, which is simply the study of God. And as a student of God's Word, Packer says, the Christian must ask himself, "What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have got it?" Packer points out that one may know a lot about God and godliness, and still hardly know Him. Possessing a true knowledge of God will have an effect on and be evident in a person's life. Packer names four things that will be the result of knowing God: Great energy for God, Great thoughts of God, Great boldness for God, and Great contentment in God. In order to really know God, He has to speak to us and teach us about Himself. We must come to know God as He revealed Himself to the prophets and apostles as given to us in the Scriptures. The Westminster Catechism tells us, "The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man." With this in mind, Packer discusses why it is important to know who God is, what He is like, and God's relationship with and actions towards man. Packer discusses and explains the important doctrinal concepts of propitiation, regeneration, justification, and adoption -- doctrines of Christianity that set it apart from all other religions and belief systems. A favorite quote of mine from the book is this one: "To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the father is a greater...We do not fully feel the wonder of the passage from death to life which takes place in the new birth till we see it as a transition not simply out of condemnation into acceptance, but out of bondage and destitution into the 'safety, certainty, and enjoyment' of the family of God." Packer ends his book with a chapter on the adequacy of God. He expands on the ideas that God is adequate as our sovereign protector, benefactor, champion, and keeper. To the person who has come to trust Christ as his Savior and who has come into a personal relationship with God, He is all these things and more, and we need no other beside Him. For a more thorough discussion of this book, visit my blog: ImAllBooked.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Terrington

    "As clowns yearn to play Hamlet, so I have wanted to write a treatise on God. This book, however, is not it." J.I. Packer begins this book by pointing out that there are two types of probable readers for his book. There are those who are on a journey or in the arena - rather, whatever metaphor you wish to use for actually exploring the notion of Knowing God - and then there are the balcony watchers. The 'balconeers' and travelers may think about the same concept, but there are two different ways "As clowns yearn to play Hamlet, so I have wanted to write a treatise on God. This book, however, is not it." J.I. Packer begins this book by pointing out that there are two types of probable readers for his book. There are those who are on a journey or in the arena - rather, whatever metaphor you wish to use for actually exploring the notion of Knowing God - and then there are the balcony watchers. The 'balconeers' and travelers may think about the same concept, but there are two different ways of doing so and Packer explains that he writes this book for the travelers rather than for those looking on academically into the subject of God. In that sense to critique this book as a 'guide book' of theology is in my view apt and it's a useful book, though as with any work of theology you must always test the use of scripture and the spiritual insight provided. The most powerful part of this book is the way that Packer so clearly sets out to explain two concepts that are crucial to the Christian faith. The first is that it is to be considered that the purpose of mankind is the worship of God, of the creator. The second is that God is not like a man. This second may seem like a simple statement, yet it is far more elusive than it would appear. Too often people make statements like 'I cannot accept a God who...' or 'I don't believe in a God who...' Frankly it doesn't matter if God is real whether you can or cannot accept a God who fits your particular paradigm: being God he is bigger than your paradigm. I suspect it's this concept that G.K. Chesterton references when he paradoxically states: “If there were no God, there would be no atheists.” These two concepts are so crucial because they set out the entire perimeter for the book. Packer sets off to basically use the first concept to explain why knowing God is so very important in terms of this notion of worship. He notes that there is a difference between knowing about someone and knowing them personally and it is the second - the intimate knowing of God that Packer writes this work about. The second concept is crucial because Packer refers to how God is not a man, but is spirit (or as scripture also references: light and love), to explain how an all-loving God can also be a God of judgement, wrath, jealousy and so on. Packer clearly explains further that the God in the Old Testament could appear to be different to the one in the new, but it is not God who changes - God does not change, but rather it is human perceptions of God that change: our position in relation to him. All up this is a work of theology that anyone on a journey to discovering more about God or trying to discover God should read in my opinion. You may find it useful if you are a balconeer, looking on academically at religion, but you won't get to the real heart of the book which is deep and insightful and has caused me to reflect on several views of God I had taken for granted. And taking anything for granted is not a great way to live life...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ezra

    Packer's dispensation of wisdom is matched only by the dispensation of tote bags at university open-days. His delivery of insight only matched by Amazon prime. The grounded-ness of his doctrine matched only by the groundy-ness of terribly made coffee. Each chapter discusses something different about God as Packer unPACKs (see what I did there) potent biblical doctrines; doctrines of a very much varied and occasionally overlooked nature. I really enjoyed the way in which the author addresses the a Packer's dispensation of wisdom is matched only by the dispensation of tote bags at university open-days. His delivery of insight only matched by Amazon prime. The grounded-ness of his doctrine matched only by the groundy-ness of terribly made coffee. Each chapter discusses something different about God as Packer unPACKs (see what I did there) potent biblical doctrines; doctrines of a very much varied and occasionally overlooked nature. I really enjoyed the way in which the author addresses the addressee. The goal of his writing always seems to be to instil greater devotion and love towards God via a greater and increasingly accurate view of God's character, and I certainly feel like I have grown in understanding and appreciation over the 18 months it took to get through it! It's a called a classic for a reason folks. Highly highly highly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Barry Wallace

    I initially bought and read Knowing God almost 35 years ago. I was a new Christian, young and ignorant; but as is true of many young people, I had no idea just how ignorant I really was. I don't think I can adequately express how thankful I am for Packer's book. It was a Godsend to me. It taught me not simply how to approach theology, but how to approach God himself. It shaped my heart and my mind in ways that I'm certain saved me from making even more mistakes than I did in my exuberant, youthfu I initially bought and read Knowing God almost 35 years ago. I was a new Christian, young and ignorant; but as is true of many young people, I had no idea just how ignorant I really was. I don't think I can adequately express how thankful I am for Packer's book. It was a Godsend to me. It taught me not simply how to approach theology, but how to approach God himself. It shaped my heart and my mind in ways that I'm certain saved me from making even more mistakes than I did in my exuberant, youthful ignorance. We do ourselves a tremendous disservice, and our souls incalculable damage, if we casually dismiss the study of God. Or, as Packer put it in chapter one: "Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul." Another thing I realized was that theology was a two-edged sword--having on the one hand immense value, and on the other potentially damning dangers. Packer went on to issue a warning in that first chapter that probably needs to be trumpeted more often (and more loudly) than it is. "If we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate and dismiss them as very poor specimens. For, as Paul told the conceited Corinthians, "Knowledge puffs up.... The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know" (1 Cor 8:1-2). "To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end in itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception." By the grace of God my goal is to do everything in my power to avoid self-satisfied self-deception. I know I haven't always succeeded, but I have no intention of giving up the fight. Those are just a few of the reasons that I'm thankful for Knowing God. If I could make it required reading for every new Christian, I would.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    2018: When a Theology book touches the mind and the heart, it is worth reading. 2012: A Theology book that touches deep within your heart, brings you to your knees and makes you cry is worth reading/ listening at least once a year, every year. I had read this book before but this time (August 2012), I am listening to this audio version which I am loving. The narrator, Simon Vance, does an amazing job, not to mention that he is British which is perfect because Packer is British as well. Each chapt 2018: When a Theology book touches the mind and the heart, it is worth reading. 2012: A Theology book that touches deep within your heart, brings you to your knees and makes you cry is worth reading/ listening at least once a year, every year. I had read this book before but this time (August 2012), I am listening to this audio version which I am loving. The narrator, Simon Vance, does an amazing job, not to mention that he is British which is perfect because Packer is British as well. Each chapter is about 25 mins. average so it makes it easy to listen to one chapter a day. I would not read/listen more than one chapter a day, because this is the kind of book that deserves to be digested slowly. If you have not read/listen to this book, I would strongly recommend that you make it the next book you read or listen (yes, read it before the other 50 in your TBR list):)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pendleton

    Though it was originally said of Jonathan Edwards, I feel that this can also be said of Packer in this book: his doctrine was all application, and his application was all doctrine. Therefore “Knowing God” is full of heart-searching application of amazing gospel truths and attributes of God. I especially appreciated and benefitted from his chapters on adoption and God’s guidance in the life of a believer.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jacky

    One of the best books on describing God and how much we need to KNOW Him as a crucial aspect of our worship of Him. There is today far too much heretical teaching even within churches, disabling us from worshiping an objective truth, leading us to worship a variety of different Jesuses instead. It is crucial for any Christian to read books like this, and familiarise themselves not just with the Bible but with a variety of systematic commentaries and test the Word day-in, day-out. JI Packer hits sh One of the best books on describing God and how much we need to KNOW Him as a crucial aspect of our worship of Him. There is today far too much heretical teaching even within churches, disabling us from worshiping an objective truth, leading us to worship a variety of different Jesuses instead. It is crucial for any Christian to read books like this, and familiarise themselves not just with the Bible but with a variety of systematic commentaries and test the Word day-in, day-out. JI Packer hits sharply on applied theology in this book - he himself describes a Christian as two analogical types: A, who is walking the path; and B, who is observing the one walking the path, clearly knowing the direction which A is walking whereas A him/herself doesn't have the 'sight' of B. In many ways, we are filled with so much theological 'knowledge', yet fail to learn how to apply it - much like Jonah, much like Balaam when filled with the Holy Spirit. Packer encourages us to apply the Word, and in doing so we learn more about Him, and the more we learn about Him, the more we want to apply the Word. A wonderful upward cycle.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Hartman

    An excellent work that I really should have read much sooner. Packer, in the pointed style of many solidly theological British authors before him, carries the reader through the nature of the Triune God; the attributes or perfections of God; and the work of God through justification, sanctification and glorification. I particularly appreciated his emphasis (certainly not excessive or unbalanced) on the work of the Holy Spirit, frequently overlooked, and on the gift of adoption and its implicatio An excellent work that I really should have read much sooner. Packer, in the pointed style of many solidly theological British authors before him, carries the reader through the nature of the Triune God; the attributes or perfections of God; and the work of God through justification, sanctification and glorification. I particularly appreciated his emphasis (certainly not excessive or unbalanced) on the work of the Holy Spirit, frequently overlooked, and on the gift of adoption and its implications. He also deals appropriately and frankly with the problem of assurance throughout. The book rings with praise and joy and the thrill of believing, and it encourages believers in the pursuit of the knowledge of God. "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?" (Knowing God, page 30)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Knowing God is a modern Christian classic about the basics of Christian theology, yet it is written at a level that the public can understand. It is pastoral in tone, exhorting the believer to know God truly as He is, not as humans often misconceive. The book is especially good for someone who has never studied theology, but even the person who has will gain something. Perhaps the most edifying portion of the book comes at the beginning, when Packer stresses the dangers of studying theology for i Knowing God is a modern Christian classic about the basics of Christian theology, yet it is written at a level that the public can understand. It is pastoral in tone, exhorting the believer to know God truly as He is, not as humans often misconceive. The book is especially good for someone who has never studied theology, but even the person who has will gain something. Perhaps the most edifying portion of the book comes at the beginning, when Packer stresses the dangers of studying theology for its own sake. I have known some who have made this mistake, and it has pierced them through with many sorrows, tossing them from system to system, causing them to doubt, and even leading them to heterodoxy or heresy. Do check your motives before you study theology.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dkovlak

    This book should be a textbook. The author is truly a genius. One of the great benefits of reading this book is that the author goes into deep analysis in many areas.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    After Piper's Desiring God, I somewhat dreaded this book, but I was happily surprised and challenged. This is a wonderful book which could easily be read as full of cliches, but if you actually stop to take the cliches seriously, it gets deep and very uncliched very fast. Here's a sampler: "“Nor is it the spirit of those Christians-alas, they are many-whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing u After Piper's Desiring God, I somewhat dreaded this book, but I was happily surprised and challenged. This is a wonderful book which could easily be read as full of cliches, but if you actually stop to take the cliches seriously, it gets deep and very uncliched very fast. Here's a sampler: "“Nor is it the spirit of those Christians-alas, they are many-whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves. The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor-spending and being spent-to enrich their fellowmen, giving time, trouble, care and concern to do good to others-and not just their own friends - in whatever way there seems need." And that in the context of a book that presents the traditional and time-honored view of God. The best thing about Packer, I think, is his prose, which is just surprising and very ... English: "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?" "To drive well, you have to keep your eyes skinned to notice exactly what it is in front of you. To live wisely, you have to be clear-sighted and realistic–ruthlessly so–in looking at life as it is. Wisdom will not go with comforting illusions, false sentiment, or the use of rose-coloured spectacles. Most of us live in a dream world, with our heads in the clouds and our feet off the ground; we never see the world, and our lives in it, as they really are. This deep-seated, sin-bred unrealism is one reason why there is so much little wisdom among us–even the soundest and most orthodox of us." Oh, Packer's an Anglican. Can you beat that? "The Puritans had to face these 'antinomian' ideas, and sometimes made heavy weather of answering them. If one allows it to be assumed that justification is the bee-all and end-all of the gift of salvation, one will always make heavy weather of answering such arguments. The truth is that these ideas must be answered in terms, not of justification, but of adoption: a reality which the Puritans never highlighted quite enough." I'm almost certain now that the Puritans were the Federal Visionists of their day and to the extent that we do not slow down the movement, it will result in similar consequences. I think the best description of him is that he does not mince words, yet is not vulgar. (I use that word in the older sense.) His sweet spot is when he talks about trusting in God and not over-realizing the eschaton in our sanctified lives: "We feel that, for the honour of God (and also, though we do not say this, for the sake of our own reputation as spiritual Christians), it is necessary for us to claim that we are, so to speak, already in the signal-box, here and now enjoying the inside information as to the why and wherefore of God’s doings. This comforting pretence becomes part of us: we feel sure that God has enabled us to understand all His ways with us and our circle thus far, and we take if for granted that we shall be able to see at once the reason for anything that may happen to us in the future. And then something very painful and quite inexplicable comes along, and our cheerful illusion of being in God’s secret councils is shattered. Our pride is wounded; we feel that God has slighted us; and unless at this point we repent, and humble ourselves very thoroughly for our former presumption, our whole subsequent spiritual life may be blighted." He is sometimes quite terrifyingly good: "Those who are new in the faith often advance into their new life joyfully certain that they have left all the old headaches and heartaches behind them. And then they find that it is not like that at all. Long standing problems of temperament, of personal relationships, of felt wants, of nagging temptations are still there—sometimes, indeed, intensified. God does not make their circumstances notably easier; rather the reverse. Dissatisfaction recurs over wife, or husband, or parents, or in-laws, or children, or colleagues or neighbors. Temptations and bad habits which their conversion experience seemed to have banished for good reappear. As the first great waves of joy rolled over them during the opening weeks of their Christian experience, they had really felt that all problems had solved themselves, but now they see that it was not so ... Things which got them down before they were Christians are threatening to get them down again." "Many are caught in these toils today. What help is needed here? we ask. The light shed by the truth of adoption on the ministry of the Spirit gives the answer. The cause of such troubles as we have described is a false, magical type of supernaturalism, which leads people to hanker after a transforming touch as from an electric impersonal power that will make them feel wholly free from the burdens and bondages of living with themselves and other people. They believe that this is the essence of genuine spiritual experience. They think the work of the Spirit is to give them experiences that are like LSD trips. (How unhelpful it is when evangelists actually promise this, and when drug takers equate their fantasies with religious experience! Will our age never learn to distinguish things that differ?) In fact, however, this quest for an inward explosion rather than inward communion shows deep misunderstanding of the Spirit’s ministry. ... [I]t is not as we strain after feelings and experiences, of whatever sort, but as we seek God himself, looking to him as our Father, prizing his fellowship, and finding in ourselves an increasing concern to know and please him, that the reality of the Spirit’s ministry becomes visible in our lives. This is the needed truth which can lift us out of the quagmire of non-spiritual views of the Spirit in which so many today are floundering. The last chapter on the adequacy of God captured me with its terrible beauty and there were many moments, usually scattered hither and thither throughout the book. Read it and look for the darkness of the cross, underlaid by the shining glory of adoption of sons of God. Once I read a theologian that pointed out how many Christians think of justification as the heart of the Gospel, when really adoption is the heart; Packer gets that without going crazy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Helping the modern world understand God 30 June 2013 This is sort of one of those books that if you have been a Christian for a while you have probably stumbled across or even read. Well, I'm actually not quite so sure about that now because the book was published over 35 years ago and as is typical for our modern Western culture, the older it is the less relevant it becomes. Personally, I really don't think that this book is necessarily all that irrelevant because the teachings that it proposes Helping the modern world understand God 30 June 2013 This is sort of one of those books that if you have been a Christian for a while you have probably stumbled across or even read. Well, I'm actually not quite so sure about that now because the book was published over 35 years ago and as is typical for our modern Western culture, the older it is the less relevant it becomes. Personally, I really don't think that this book is necessarily all that irrelevant because the teachings that it proposes are pretty much as old as Christianity itself, though what Packer was trying to do was to bring the spiritual aspect of our relationship with God back into the modern world in which we live. In a way the things that he says in this book are probably more relevant now than they were back then. However, there are a few things that I do need to discuss, and one of them is his chapter on idolatry. Okay, there have been numerous books written about the modern nature of idolatry, and he does explore it here, but one of the things that I do question is his reaction against religious art. He seems to think that religious art is a bad thing, however I am quite the opposite. I believe religious art has its place, and in the medieval world, where pretty much 90 percent of the population were illiterate, it was even more important. I believe religious art has its place, however, like all things, it needs to remain in this place. Packer's concern here is the act of using religious art in the act of worship rather than having it as simply an expression of our love for God. In a way, if we were to outright ban religious art, then we should also get rid of all of our hymns and songs because, in the same way, these songs are not of the Bible, and unless we only sing the Psalms, by singing a modern hymn we may be breaching the second commandment. Packer explores almost all aspects of Christianity here, and in a way relates it to how we as modern middle class Christians respond to it. Mind you, here in Australia, as is probably the case in Europe and England, Christianity is simply something that middle class people (and not all of them by a long shot) simply do because that is what they have been doing all their lives. However, as he argues, if we are to be truly Christians, we should be doing a lot more. Many of us simply live what can be said to be 'safe' Christian lives, that is we go to church, and we hang around our Christian friends, and rarely, if ever, go out of our way to actually live our Christian lives. In fact, many of us hide behind the walls of the church and keep our contact with non-Christians to a minimum, and if we do interact with them, it is usually through either holier than thou type of talk, or fear-mongering fire and brimstone sermons. Rarely, if ever, do we actually try to get alongside them and actually work with them. Packer's exposition of the patriarchs is quite interesting because he looks at each of them and shows us how God moulded them through their flaws. This leads to his conclusion in saying that the Christian life is not easy, and for those who go into it believing that it is are fooling themselves, and those preachers who preach a rosy painted version of Christianity are simply fulling a church of people who really don't understand what it means to follow Christ. Once again I am not talking about being a goody-too-shoes. God does not care if you are sleeping with your girlfriend/boyfreind, in a de-facto relationship. Marriage as become such a farce that as far as I am concerned, as long as everybody knows that you are living as if you were married (without the ceremony) then you are basically married. Mind you, even then the ceremony itself pretty much comes down to a form of crass ritualism that can be done without. No, being a Christian is living a selfless life and willing to live with integrity, honesty, and a rejection of materalism. To stand up and fight for the weak and the oppressed, and be willing to spend your time to live with, befriend, and provide comfort to those society has rejected. Look at what Jesus says about those who show kindness to the weak, infirm, cripple, and imprisoned. Many of us wrap ourselves in our middle class cloaks, put our money in the plate, and then go home to our nice comfy beds, and in the morning go to work and proceed to rip off, abuse, and mock those that we have power over (and some of us even do that within the church congregation as well). It is what he said about the patriarchs (though the chapter on Guidance was thought provoking as well, but I have written about that elsewhere, except to say that we in the Western world spend more time asking God if the decision we are going to make is the right one than rather making that decision and going and doing it, as they tend to do elsewhere in the world) is that each of them had flaws, and as we see through their lives, God works through them, through their struggles, and their challenges, to make them into the people that he wants them to be. I'll pick Joseph (the dude with the technicoloured dream coat) as an example, namely because some preacher said that nothing bad is said about Joseph in the Bible. That, my friend, is rubbish. He was a conceited little child that rubbed his brothers' faces in the fact that he was his dad's favourite, which is why he ended up as a slave (and later a prisoner) in Egypt. God had a plan for him (and we never know the result of this plan until after the fact, so don't try second guessing God, just go out and do it) and for this plan to work, God had to iron out the rough spots. One thing, though, I will finish on, and that is something that I discussed with my friend tonight. We spoke a bit about the idea of guidance, and one thing that we know from the Bible is that none of the characters in the Bible ever forfeited their destiny because they made the wrong decision. The whole thing about us here in the Western World is that God has given us the freedom to make these decisions, so instead of uming and ahhing, and wasting your time asking God whether it is the right decision, simply make the choice because despite what choice you make, your destiny will not be forfeit.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Brady

    Immensely helpful. It can be a bit meaty and some sentences have to be read 2-3 times to make sense but worth it. Thankful for Packer's brain in being able to comprehend and explain complex theology but mostly thankful for his clear love of the Lord.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Gillespie

    Knowing God by J.I. Packer is one of THE best books on being a Christian that I have ever read. Although Packer’s writing style is accessible and engaging, the topics he deals with are deep and require lots of thought so this is not a book to be read quickly. I took months to read through it in little bits and got so much out of it that I scarcely know where to begin. The book turns on the central thesis that in order to pursue the Christian life rightly, the Christian’s life focus must be to KNO Knowing God by J.I. Packer is one of THE best books on being a Christian that I have ever read. Although Packer’s writing style is accessible and engaging, the topics he deals with are deep and require lots of thought so this is not a book to be read quickly. I took months to read through it in little bits and got so much out of it that I scarcely know where to begin. The book turns on the central thesis that in order to pursue the Christian life rightly, the Christian’s life focus must be to KNOW God by searching the scriptures to understand His character and ways and then allowing that knowledge to inform your mind, will, feelings, commitments and identification. How well we know God impacts every aspect of our lives, from how we pray to how we respond to crises to how we interact with others. In the exploration of knowing God, Packer digs deeply and insightfully into a wide range of topics. I don’t know how anyone could fail to learn from or be challenged by this book. In reading it, I gained not only knowledge about God, but also encouragement and insight on how to pursue God more fully in my life going forward. I plan to add this book to my top reads for 2011, and would highly recommend it to you for your own reading or for a group Biblestudy. It is truly excellent and would be well worth your time. {Read more of my reviews at A Spirited Mind.}

  16. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    I have read Knowing God before and found it no less amazing this time through. I love this book, and how wonderful to come to it as an older Christian and understand so much more of what Packer discusses, especially regarding inward trials and God's love for us in the midst of afflictions. This is solid stuff, and Packer writes with so much heart. A classic. Essential Christian reading. A must-read. Call it what you will; it should be part of every Christian's library.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Simply outstanding. One of the few modern must-reads. Also read in 2013.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Schneider

    There's a reason this book consistently shows up on "Books Every Christian Should Read" lists. I will be reading this one again.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Ross

    “Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, a quietus for every grief, and in the influence of the Holy Spirit, a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so spea “Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, a quietus for every grief, and in the influence of the Holy Spirit, a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.” At the beginning of Knowing God, Packer borrows these words that were spoken by C.H. Spurgeon more than a century ago. Throughout the book, he unpacks the nature and character of God in a way that will allow those who read it to more fully experience this intimacy with God that Spurgeon speaks of. Packer begins this work by presenting the notion that the most important thing about a man is that he knows God, and that his concern must be to “enlarge his acquaintance” with God’s attributes. The rest of the book is dedicated to getting to know God in the most Scripture-saturated and gospel-centered way. This book is my new top recommendation to anyone desiring to grow in his or her faith.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Reading this book is like sitting down with a loving and honest pastor and listening to them talk straight to your questions and concerns about the Christian life. Perhaps you would have thought that your own behavior would be addressed, or your shortcomings, or your strengths. But no, as you listen and absorb the material presented, you realize that the information is so much more vital and life-changing than anything like that. Just as in Scripture, the writer is focusing instead on God and wh Reading this book is like sitting down with a loving and honest pastor and listening to them talk straight to your questions and concerns about the Christian life. Perhaps you would have thought that your own behavior would be addressed, or your shortcomings, or your strengths. But no, as you listen and absorb the material presented, you realize that the information is so much more vital and life-changing than anything like that. Just as in Scripture, the writer is focusing instead on God and who He is, His characteristics and power, His justice and wrath, His far-surpassing of all human-created gods and goddesses. J. I. Packer isn’t seeking your approval as he presents these truths, but you are glad that he has taken the time to present them because you know they line up with what you have read in the Bible. He shares lots of Scripture along the way, as well as the verses of sound hymns. Once you finish the book, you are ready to go read Romans again and really pay attention this time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I believe that this book is an essential read for followers of Christ. I have learned so much. This is a book that you read slowly, one chapter per reading session. It is filled with scripture and hymns all along the way which I just loved. I have written and underlined sections all over the book. I believe that this will become a dear book friend as the years go by. I will come back every few years and reread. You will glean new information each time I promise!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Josh L

    I cannot recommend J.I. Packer’s Knowing God too highly, primarily because I have never read a book that has more practically changed my own life. No work – obviously excepting the divinely inspired Word of God – has taught me more truth, opened my eyes more often, or spurred me to love God more strongly. As the dustcover says, “J.I. Packer’s classic has revealed to over a million Christians around the world the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God.” I can’t think of a better, more entic I cannot recommend J.I. Packer’s Knowing God too highly, primarily because I have never read a book that has more practically changed my own life. No work – obviously excepting the divinely inspired Word of God – has taught me more truth, opened my eyes more often, or spurred me to love God more strongly. As the dustcover says, “J.I. Packer’s classic has revealed to over a million Christians around the world the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God.” I can’t think of a better, more enticing tagline to put on a book than that. Quoted on the cover of another book is Packer’s sentiment that, “To rush to God…with no pause to realize his greatness and grace and our own sinfulness and smallness, is at once to dishonor him and to make shallow our own fellowship with him.” I believe that the true worth of Knowing God is that it leads the reader to meditate on each of those issues by sharing Dr. Packer’s own meditations on God. The book builds up God’s greatness and glorifies his grace, while it forces the reader to realize his own sinfulness and smallness in light of God’s character. In so doing, this book leads the reader to honor God rightly, thereby deepening his fellowship with the Lord. In a chapter entitled “The Majesty of God,” Dr. Packer asks, “How may we form a right idea of God’s greatness?” His answer is that the Bible shows us the two steps we must take: "The first is to remove from our thoughts of God limits that would make him small. The second is to compare him with powers and forces which we regard as great." To serve this end, the author gives a stirring exhortation at the end of the chapter: “How slow we are to believe in God as God, sovereign, all-seeing and almighty! How little we make of the majesty of our Lord and Savior Christ! The need for us is to ‘wait upon the Lord’ in meditations on his majesty, till we find our strength renewed through the writing of these things upon our hearts.” I, personally, have committed to reading this book at least once a year, because it has done more in bringing me to meditate upon God’s majesty rightly than has any other book I have read. I feel strongly that every Christian ought to read through Knowing God at least once, for Dr. Packer’s simultaneous uses of wisdom and encouragement lead the reader into a deeper knowledge of God. It seeks to drive the reader from a passive, intellectual knowledge ‘about God’ to a powerful, life-changing knowledge ‘of God.’ This book, more than any other, has taught me what it means to seek to be “knowing God.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Woods

    First off, I'll say that Packer is definitely a very intelligent, educated guy, far beyond me. I think I would have liked the book a lot better if it were about half its length. After I finished I flipped back through to look at all my underlines and markups, and there were a lot of really profound sections that resonated deeply with me. And then there were a lot of long expositions on topics like Sin, God's Wrath, His severity, propitiation, representative substitution, etc etc. The book reads First off, I'll say that Packer is definitely a very intelligent, educated guy, far beyond me. I think I would have liked the book a lot better if it were about half its length. After I finished I flipped back through to look at all my underlines and markups, and there were a lot of really profound sections that resonated deeply with me. And then there were a lot of long expositions on topics like Sin, God's Wrath, His severity, propitiation, representative substitution, etc etc. The book reads like a text book most of the time, and some of these sections were just long and I had to trudge through. But again, there was so much I loved within these pages as well. So, if I could have just cut out about half of the material, I would have liked it better. But, that's not what it was, it was an in-depth text on Knowing God, his character and all his attributes, which in the end should make us appreciate and understand his Grace all the more. Just as God would not be God without any of his attributes, so I suppose, this book would not be an all-encompassing book on God without any of its chapters. Packer really railed against the health and wealth "gospel" garbage which gets tossed around by some false teachers these days, which I really appreciated, and with which I resonated. We can get confused into thinking maybe life with God should be comfortable and easy, but this is quite opposite the case. God disciplines those he loves, just as a good father on earth would do the same for his kids. We get confused with what is "good" sometimes I think. This will be a book I will likely not read again in it's entirety, but I will surely find myself going back to one of its 22 chapters to read a carefully thought through explanation of this or that attribute of God of which I will need to be reminded.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    When I started reading this book I expected to exercise my mind. This book ended up doing so much more than that. No other book has ever challenged me the way this book did. It exercised my mind but also my heart. By studying the attributes of God it becomes impossible to not be totally and completely amazed by Him. J.I. Packer is a very intelligent man who also has such a heart for God. He continually reminds the reader to not just know ABOUT God, but to also know Him in a way where we are in a When I started reading this book I expected to exercise my mind. This book ended up doing so much more than that. No other book has ever challenged me the way this book did. It exercised my mind but also my heart. By studying the attributes of God it becomes impossible to not be totally and completely amazed by Him. J.I. Packer is a very intelligent man who also has such a heart for God. He continually reminds the reader to not just know ABOUT God, but to also know Him in a way where we are in a personal relationship with Him. One of the things that I liked the best about this book was the amount of scripture that Packer used to support his claims. We should all strive to know God's word as well as J.I. Packer! C.H. Spurgeon said it best: "There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity...But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it... Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity." I highly recommend this book! If you have never read it, go read it. If you have already read it, read it again. It is a great supplement to God's Holy Word!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Martin

    If you want to read a deep book, this is it. J.I. Packer helped me understand that the greatest thing in life is knowing God. Knowing God became my pursuit in life after reading this book many years ago. I have many favorite chapters and quotes and I read sections of this book again and again. In fact, when I go on retreats with the Lord, I always take this book with me. I especially like the edition with the study guide. There is a great definition of "meditation" in the study guide that I ofte If you want to read a deep book, this is it. J.I. Packer helped me understand that the greatest thing in life is knowing God. Knowing God became my pursuit in life after reading this book many years ago. I have many favorite chapters and quotes and I read sections of this book again and again. In fact, when I go on retreats with the Lord, I always take this book with me. I especially like the edition with the study guide. There is a great definition of "meditation" in the study guide that I often use when I teach on quiet time. This book is one to read a little at a time - sometimes only a paragraph at a time. The longer you spend thinking about what Packer says, the more you will see. I remember attending a conference once where J.I. Packer was speaking. Afterwards, he conducted an informal q & a at the front of the room. I sat on the edge of the stage, listened to him respond to each question, and I wrote down every word he said. That's how profound he is. This is his classic - I have three editions of it in my library, but the first is my favorite, because it's where I first learned so many profound truths about God.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    No surprise whatsoever that this is considered one of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicalism. Packer writes powerfully, movingly and lucidly. The subject matter of this book is the most important topic ever to be considered: God. I believe, in my case, that Packer has succeeded in what he intended: to give a deeper, fuller, and more biblical understanding of God that doesn't just expand one's knowledge, but drives one to worship and prayer. This has been the case for me. Each chapter i No surprise whatsoever that this is considered one of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicalism. Packer writes powerfully, movingly and lucidly. The subject matter of this book is the most important topic ever to be considered: God. I believe, in my case, that Packer has succeeded in what he intended: to give a deeper, fuller, and more biblical understanding of God that doesn't just expand one's knowledge, but drives one to worship and prayer. This has been the case for me. Each chapter is meaningful in its own way, but chapter 20, on the guidance of God, and chapter 22, which was basically an exposition of Romans 8, have left a significant impression on me. I will carry what I've learned from this book with me for a long time! Highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    D.J. Edmonston

    I Love this book. Packer is deep, his insight and theology is equally deep but also inspires. His work instills and reinforces in me as a reader the awesome Power and majesty of God but also the love and compassion of our God and Father. I try and read and reread this book every year, it's that good!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patrick McWilliams

    Great book. Motivates you to further study and causes you to see yourself as the finite recipient of infinite grace from an infinite God. Packer stumbles a bit in some places with regard to epistemology and impassibility, but these bits are overshadowed by the large amounts of wonderful material which affirms the biblical view of these and many other subjects. Recommended!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chad Warner

    A solidly biblical resource for understanding God. It explores several of God's attributes, and tells how we are to live as a result. I didn't learn much (I was raised a Christian), but it was good to be reminded of these truths. Topics include God's self-existence, infinity, eternity, unchangeableness, almightiness, omniscience, omnipresence, holiness, love, mercy, truthfulness, faithfulness, goodness, patience, justice, wrath, satisfaction, and joy. People like to form their own ideas about God, A solidly biblical resource for understanding God. It explores several of God's attributes, and tells how we are to live as a result. I didn't learn much (I was raised a Christian), but it was good to be reminded of these truths. Topics include God's self-existence, infinity, eternity, unchangeableness, almightiness, omniscience, omnipresence, holiness, love, mercy, truthfulness, faithfulness, goodness, patience, justice, wrath, satisfaction, and joy. People like to form their own ideas about God, but we must use the Bible as our source of knowledge, to come to accurately understand and live for Him (in as much as our finite minds can do in this life). The audiobook frequently quotes the Bible without giving the references, which I missed. I assume the text version includes them. I read this because it was recommended by several people at church. Notes Part 1: Know the Lord The People Who Know Their God We can judge how well we know God by how content we are. The Only True God 2nd Commandment says we may not use visual representations of Trinity or any person of Trinity for worship, public or private. Commandment says not to make any likeness of anything for use in worship. This rules out visual representations of God as a human, including Jesus as a man. Visual representations conceal most or all of truth about personal nature and character of God. If you focus your thoughts on a visual representation of God, you will inevitably worship the image. Mental images are also prohibited. For these reasons, it's best to do without pictures of Christ even for teaching purposes. God Incarnate While on earth, Jesus' knowledge, like His activities, was limited by the Father's will. That's why He didn't know the time of His 2nd coming. The Father didn't want Jesus to have that particular piece of knowledge prior to His death. Part 2: Behold Your God God Only Wise Sufferings will always have at least the purpose that Paul's thorn in the flesh had: to humble us, and give new opportunities to show power of Christ in our lives. God's Wisdom and Ours Summary of Ecclesiastes: Look at the sort of world we live in. You see our lack of control. You see that death comes to all. You see evil running rampant. You see the wicked prosper. God's actions are inscrutable; He hides Himself. The more you try to understand, the more you are tempted to wrongly conclude that life is pointless. Live in the present and enjoy God's good gifts. Work hard and enjoy work. Take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. God knows what He's doing, and does all things well. We can trust Him and rejoice in Him even when we don't understand what He's doing. God the Judge God's work as Judge is stressed strongly throughout Bible. God exercised judgment in NT too: on Jews who reject Christ, on Ananias and Sapphira for lying to Spirit, on Herod for pride, Elymas for opposing gospel, on Corinthians for irreverence during Lord's Supper, etc. OT emphasis on God as Judge is intensified in NT. NT speaks of coming universal judgment, and how to get right with God while there's time. If God wasn't Judge, He'd show moral indifference (not concerned about right and wrong). Main point of doctrine of judgment isn't to instill fear, but to express God's moral character and moral significance of our lives. Gift of justification shields believers from being banned from God's presence (Rev 20:11-15), but doesn't shield believers from forfeiting heavenly rewards they would have enjoyed if they hadn't been slack in their Christian living (1 Corinthians 3:12-13). The Wrath of God God's wrath is always judicial (judge administering justice), not cruel and immoral. God's wrath is something people choose for themselves, by rejecting light God shines to lead them to Him (John 3:19). Part 3: If God Be for Us The Heart of the Gospel Expiation means putting away or rubbing out sin so it's no longer a barrier between man and God. Propitiation includes all that expiation does, plus the pacifying of God's wrath thereby. God's wrath is as personal and potent as His love. What quenched God's wrath wasn't His life, teaching, moral perfection, or obedience, but shedding His blood in death (atonement, representative substitution). Gal 3:13; 2 Cor 5:14-15. Sons of God Idea that all people are children of God is not in Bible. OT says God is Father only of His people (Israel); NT says God is Father only of those who trust in Christ as their sin-bearer (Christians). Assurance of salvation: If God has adopted Christians to be His children, and if He's perfect, the adoptive relationship must be perfect and last forever, and God will let His children know of His love (Rom 8:29-30). Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are His children (Rom 8:16-17). We can be assured if we know gospel, trust Christ, bring forth works of repentance, have regenerated instincts. Thou Our Guide We shouldn't expect inner prompting by Holy Spirit outside the Bible. God guides us by enlightening our consciences as we read Bible. Being led by Spirit in Rom 8:14 refers to mortifying sin and not living after flesh, not to inner prompting of Spirit. Bible repeatedly tells us to consider. God made us thinking beings, and He guides our minds as in His presence we think things out (Deut 32:29). When you encounter trouble, consider your behavior. But trouble isn't necessarily a sign of being off track (Psalm 34:19). Bible teaches that following God's guidance regularly leads to upsets and distresses.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Kidd

    Critics of this book to the contrary, Packer did not write in a dry, rationalistic manner, but instead produced a warm and encouraging work on knowing and experiencing God. He does not divide the heart from the mind, but encourages the whole man!

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