Sunday, July 12, 2015

Top Ten Knowing God Quotes

On Friday, I reviewed J.I. Packer's Knowing God. Today, I'll be sharing my top ten quotes from the book. Some will be short. Some will be long. I hope you'll agree with me, that all will be GOOD!
Five basic truths, five foundation principles of the knowledge about God which Christians have, will determine our course throughout. They are as follows:
1. God has spoken to man, and the Bible is his Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation.
2. God is Lord and King over his world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him.
3. God is Savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from the guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly.
4. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it.
5. Godliness means responding to God's revelation in trust and obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God's Word. This, and nothing else, is true religion.
In the light of these general and basic truths, we are now going to examine in detail what the Bible shows us of the nature and character of the God of whom we have been speaking. (20)
 I chose this quote because it is foundational for understanding and appreciating the context not only of this book, but, oh-so-many books. All good theological books start with these five basic truths in the background.
Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God's attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are. As he is the subject of our study, and our helper in it, so he must himself be the end of it. We must seek, in studying God, to be led to God. It was for this purpose that revelation was given, and it is to this use that we must put it. (23)
I chose this quote--and it's one of my "shorter" quotes--because in it is the mission of the book itself. Packer desires readers to be LED TO GOD. The study of God isn't about being intellectual and learning facts. It's all about knowing God himself and being in relationship.
Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one's mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let his truth make its full and proper impact on one's mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God's power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God's greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us--"comfort" us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word--as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ. (23)
I chose this quote because it is such a good definition of meditation. If you're like me, you hear the word meditation and it's easy to think you know what it means--mostly. But it's hard to put into exact words what it means, or should mean. It's a fuzzy concept in some ways. But Packer writes with clarity that is much appreciated!!!
Do we desire such knowledge of God? Then 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 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.
Second, we must seek the Savior. When he was on earth, he invited ordinary people to company with him; thus they came to know him, and in knowing him to know his Father… The Lord Jesus Christ is now absent from us in body, but spiritually it makes no difference; still we may find and know God through seeking and finding Jesus' company. It is those who have sought the Lord Jesus till they have found him--for the promise is that when we seek him with all our hearts, we shall surely find him--who can stand before the world to testify that they have known God. (32)
I chose this quote because it challenges readers to reflect and consider. I agree with Packer that it is essential that we recognize how much we lack knowledge of God….and that there is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God…
What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it--the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters…There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me. (41-42)
I chose this quote because it is such a wow quote. Have you grasped what being known by God means to you personally?! 
It needs to be said with the greatest possible emphasis that those who hold themselves free to think of God as they like are breaking the second commandment. (47)
I chose this quote--and it is my shortest quote--because it has impact. Idolatry isn't a relic of the past. You don't have to be worshiping an ancient, pagan god--an actual idol--an actual image--to be committing idolatry. If you create a god in your own image--if you reshape the God of the Bible into one of your own making--that is idolatry. It is very much a modern day problem. 
What is a Christian? Christians can be described from many angles, but from what we have said it is clear that we can cover everything by saying: True Christians are people who acknowledge and live under the word of God. They submit without reserve to the word of God written in "the book of Truth" (Dan 10:21), believing the teaching, trusting the promises, following the commands. Their eyes are upon the God of the Bible as their Father and the Christ of the Bible as their Savior. Christians will tell you, if you ask them, that the Word of God has both convinced them of sin and assured them of forgiveness. Their consciences, like Luther's, are captive to the Word of God, and they aspire, like the Psalmist, to have their whole lives brought into line with it. (116)
I chose this quote because it is another foundational quote. The question WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN? is fundamental to the faith. And how we answer this question says a lot about us. I love Packer's definition. And I love the challenge that comes shortly afterwards, "Why does this description fit so few of us who profess to be Christians in these days?"
To be sure, there have always been some who have found the thought of grace so overwhelmingly wonderful that they could never get over it… But many church people are not like this. They may pay lip service to the idea of grace, but there they stop. Their conception of grace is not so much debased as nonexistent…What is it that hinders so many who profess to believe in grace from really doing so? Why does the theme mean so little even to some who talk about it a great deal? The root of the trouble seems to be misbelief about the basic relationship between a person and God--misbelief rooted not just in the mind but in the heart, at the deeper level of things that we never question because we always take them for granted. (129) 
There are four crucial truths in this realm which the doctrine of grace presupposes, and if they are not acknowledged and felt in one's heart, clear faith in God's grace becomes impossible. Unhappily, the spirit of our age is as directly opposed to them as it well could be. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that faith in grace is a rarity today. The four truths are these:
1. The moral ill-desert of man. Modern men and women…naturally incline to a high opinion of themselves…in the moral realm they are resolutely kind to themselves, treating small virtues as compensating for great vices and refusing to take seriously the idea that, morally speaking, there is anything much wrong with them…The thought of themselves as creatures fallen from God's image, rebels against God's rule, guilty and unclean in God's sight, fit only for God's condemnation, never enters their heads.
2. The retributive justice of God. The way of modern men and women is to turn a blind eye to all wrongdoing as long as they safely can. They tolerate it in others, feeling that there, but for the accident of circumstances, go they themselves…Willingness to tolerate and indulge evil up to the limit is seen as a virtue, while living by fixed principles of right and wrong is censured by some as doubtfully moral…The idea that retribution might be the moral law of God's world and an expression of his holy character seems to us quite fantastic… God is not true to himself unless he punishes sin. And unless one knows and feels the truth of this fact that wrongdoers have no natural hope of anything from God but retributive judgment, one can never share the biblical faith in divine grace.
3. The spiritual impotence of man…This has confirmed modern men and women in the faith…belief that we can repair our own relationship with God by putting God in a position where he cannot say no anymore…To mend our relationship with God, regaining God's favor after having once lost it, is beyond the power of any one of us. And one must see and bow to this before one can share the biblical faith in God's grace.
4. The sovereign freedom of God. Ancient paganism thought of each god as bound to his worshipers by bonds of self-interest, because he depended on their service and gifts for his welfare. Modern paganism has at the back of its mind a similar feeling that God is somehow obliged to love and help us, little though we deserve it. This was the feeling voiced by the French freethinker who died muttering, "God will forgive--that's his job." But this feeling is not well-founded…We can only claim from him justice--and justice, for us, means certain condemnation. God does not owe it to anyone to stop justice taking its course. He is not obliged to pity and pardon; if he does so it is an act done, as we say, "of his own free will," and nobody forces his hand… Grace is free, in the sense of being self-originated and of proceeding from One who was free not to be gracious. Only when it is seen that what decides each individual's destiny is whether or not God resolves to save him from his sins, and that this is a decision which God need not make in any single case, can one begin to grasp the biblical view of grace. (130-132)
I chose this quote--these quotes--because Packer's chapter on grace was AMAZING. And I think people do tend to misunderstand what grace is and isn't. People tend to go to either extreme--making too much of it--is such a thing possible???--or too little of it. If you want to know WHY grace is amazing, these four truths sum it up. Do you agree with Packer's conclusions?
As judge, he is the law, but as Savior he is the gospel. Run from him now, and you will meet him as judge then--and without hope. Seek him now, and you will find him, and you will then discover that you are looking forward to that future meeting with joy, knowing that there is now "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8:1) (147)
Packer spends a lot of time on "difficult subjects." With chapters titled "God the Judge," "The Wrath of God," "Goodness and Severity," and "The Jealous God" you know that he's not afraid to go there, to speak of hell and judgment and the life-and-death importance of believing in God and obtaining eternal life. I chose this quote because it is a heartfelt invitation for readers.
You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up I the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. (201)
Packer has a LOT to say about adoption and the fatherhood of God. But this was my favorite. (It was hard to choose just one).

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: