J.I. Packer on Knowing God

“Imagine, now, that we are going to be introduced to someone whom we feel to be ‘above’ us…Think of meeting the queen of England or the president of the United States…we would like to get to know this exalted person, but we fully realize that this is a matter for him to decide, not us.

“But if…he starts at once to take us into his confidence, and tells us frankly what is in his mind on matters of common concern, and if he goes on to invite us to join him in particular undertakings he has planned, and asks us to make ourselves permanently available for this kind of collaboration whenever he needs us, then we shall feel enormously privileged, and it will make a world of difference to our general outlook. If life seemed unimportant and dreary hitherto, it will not seem so anymore, now that the great man has enrolled us among his personal assistants. Here is something to write home about – and something to live up to!

“Now this, so far as it goes, is an illustration of what it means to know God. Well might God say through Jeremiah, “Let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me” – for knowing God is a relationship calculated to thrill a person’s heart.

“What happens is that the almighty Creator, the Lord of hosts, the great God before whom the nations are as a drop in a bucket, comes to you and begins to talk to you through the words and truths of Holy Scripture. Perhaps you have been acquainted with the Bible and Christian truth for many years, and it has meant little to you; but one day you wake up to the fact that God is actually speaking to you – you! – through the biblical message. As you listen to what God is saying, you find yourself brought very low; for God talks to you about your sin, and guilt, and weakness, and blindness, and folly, and compels you to judge yourself hopeless and helpless, and to cry out for forgiveness.

“But this is not all. You come to realize as you listen that God is actually opening his heart to you, making friends with you and enlisting you as a colleague… It is a staggering thing, but it is true – the relationship in which sinful human beings know God is one in which God, so to speak, takes them onto his staff, to be henceforth his fellow workers and personal friends.” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God)

(HT: Daniel Pentimone)