I reread it recently and was blown away by its depth, practical advice and relevance for today. It is a must read for anyone serious about wrestling with who God is and what that means to you.
Relationships: The Bible
If a couple is in a relationship, they spend time finding out as much as they can about each other. It is a joy to explore who the other person is. Like any relationship, Packer explains we can only know God by spending time with Him and finding out what He is like. Packer's point is that the way to really know God is to explore the Bible.
The Bible is God's progressive revelation of who He is and why He is reaching out to us. Several of Packer's chapters explore what God is like (i.e. attributes of God such as His majesty, His unchanging nature and His wisdom). He also adds application to each of these chapters explaining how these impact our relationship with Him. His central point is that the Bible is THE vehicle in our journey of knowing God.
One warning though: He doesn't gloss over topics. When he explains an area, for example, God's love, Packer enters a depth that will challenge you. The challenge comes both in the depth in which he explores topics and also in the way he applies it to our lives. Using God's love as an example, he explores the love between God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the template.
He explains, from this trinue love, we see the true love of God for us in Jesus' sacrificial death. But he also explores the uncomfortable aspects of God's love: the wrath and judgment of God related to His grace and mercy. This is a seldom considered aspect of God's love that many modern writers ignore. Packer adds a richness to understanding God's love explaining why Jesus would deal completely with this judgment through His death.
I don't "feel" anything!
I heard a Christian complain that while others at her church were feeling amazing things about God, she felt nothing. The modern church places a big emphasis on our feelings and emotions linked to the Spirit.
As an example of Packer's relevance today he finds a balance between our knowledge of God and our feelings toward God. Revelation, he explains, is through the Bible. This is God's word of salvation. Jesus is the fulfillment of this salvation plan. And the Holy Spirit works when we read the Bible.
The emotions we have, Packer explains, should come from this Bible focused reality. As usual he finds a template in the Bible: The Psalmist of Psalm 119. In exploring Psalm 119 he says, "His (the Psalmist) supreme desire was to know and enjoy God Himself, and he valued knowledge about God simply as a means to this end. He wanted to understand God's truth in order that his heart might respond to it and his life be confirmed to it."
Packer's book is a classic because it is that good. It is a must read for anyone serious about knowing God in a richer way. No matter where you stand with God take this challenge to read and wrestle with this book.
Packer's Tips for knowing God:
1. Read and study the Bible. The God who is "there" is a relational God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. Reading it builds that relationship.
2. Read Romans (a book in the Bible). Romans is described as "the purest gospel" because it reveals God's salvation plan in a logical clear way.
3. God's character reveals who He is. Studying these attributes helps us know Him more fully. Even the difficult aspects of God's character reveal His glory. E.g. His severity and goodness, His wrath and love, His judgment and his grace.
4. Know yourself: we are not strong and all powerful like God but are fallen, spiritually dead and needing saving. Hence, we need Jesus to give us victory.
5. Ask God for mercy and find this mercy in Jesus. In so doing we receive the riches of being sons and daughters of God.
6. Get life's priorities right. The most important thing in life is not money, or church union, or refuting–isms, or being prosperous, but knowing God.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at