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Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“Sons of God” (Chapter 19, part 2)

What is a Christian?

  • A Christian is one who has God as Father.

A New Relationship

Adoption: The Highest Privilege

Adoption: The Basis for Our Life

Christian Conduct

  • Adoption is the basis of Christian conduct.

Christian Prayer

  • Adoption is the basis of Christian prayer.

The Life of Faith

What Our Adoption Shows Us

  • Propitiation only occurs four times in the NT, but it is fundamentally important, as being the nucleus and focal point of the whole NT teaching on the saving work of Christ.
  • The word adoption only occurs three times in the NT with reference to our present relationship to God in Christ (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5). Yet the concept of adoption is the nucleus and focal point of the whole NT teaching on the Christian life.
  • The focus of the NT message: adoption through propitiation.

God’s Love: Our adoption shows us the greatness of God’s love.

Two biblical ways to measure God’s love:

  • The cross of Christ
  • The gift of sonship

1 John 3:1 NIV
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

  • In the ancient world, a well-to-do childless man would adopt a young adult who had shown himself to be worthy of carrying on the family name. God does not adopt us in this way. Just the opposite, he adopts us out of his free love, not because our character and record show us to be worthy to bear his name.

“Adoption, by its very nature, is an art of free kindness to the person adopted. If you become a father by adopting a son or daughter, you do so because you choose to, not because you are bound to. Similarly, God adopts because he chooses to. He had no duty to do so.” - J. I. Packer

  • God’s adoptive grace does not stop with the initial act of adoption. The establishing of the child’s status as a member of the family is only the beginning. The Father continues to show love to us by which he wins our love. “The prospect before the adopted children of God is an eternity of love.”

“It is like a fairy story—the reigning monarch adopts waifs and strays to make princes of them. But, praise God, it is not a fairy story: it is hard and solid fact, founded on the bedrock of free and sovereign grace.” - J. I. Packer

Hope: Our adoption shows us the glory of the Christian hope.

  • New Testament Christianity is a religion of hope, a faith that looks forward.
  • Our Christian adoption teaches us to think of our hope not as a possibility or as a likelihood, but as a guaranteed certainty, because it is a promised inheritance.
  • God’s adoption of us makes us his heirs, and so guarantees to us, as our right (we might say), the inheritance that he has in store for us.
  • The doctrine of adoption tells us that the sum and substance of our promised inheritance is a share in the glory of Christ.
  • We shall be made like our elder brother at every point, and sin and mortality, the double corruption of God’s good work in the moral and spiritual spheres respectively, will be things of the past.
  • This likeness will extend to our physical being as well as our mind and character.

Romans 8:23 NIV
23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

  • When we think of Jesus exalted in glory, in the fullness of the joy for which he endured the cross, we should always remind ourselves that everything he has will someday be shared with us, for it is our inheritance no less than his; we are among the“many sons” whom God is bringing to glory (Heb 2:10), and God’s promise to us and his work in us are not going to fail.
  • The doctrine of adoption tells us that the experience of heaven will be of a family gathering.
  • ...as the great host of the redeemed meet together in face-to-face fellowship with their Father-God and Jesus their brother. This is the deepest and clearest idea of heaven that the Bible gives us.
  • What will make heaven to be heaven is the presence of Jesus, and of a reconciled divine Father who loves us for Jesus’ sake no less than he loves Jesus himself. To see, and know, and love, and be loved by, the Father and the Son, in company with the rest of God’s vast family, is the whole essence of the Christian hope.

The Spirit: Our adoption gives us the key to understanding the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

  • Too many have a confused understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Rather than being content with the biblical description of his ministry, they seek that which is experiential, radical, mystical—something they can feel.
  • This quest for an inward explosion rather than an inward communion shows deep misunderstanding of the Spirit’s ministry.
  • The vital truth to be grasped here is that the Spirit is given to Christians as “the Spirit of adoption,” and in all his ministry to Christians he acts as the Spirit of adoption.
  • His task and purpose throughout is to make Christians realize with increasing clarity the meaning of their filial relationship with God in Christ, and to lead them into an ever deeper response to God in this relationship.

By considering the Spirit’s ministry through him being the “Spirit of adoption,” his work has three aspects:

  1. He makes us and keeps us conscious that we are God’s children by free grace through Jesus Christ.
  2. He moves us to look to God as to a father, showing toward him the respectful boldness and unlimited trust that is natural to children secure in an adored father’s love.
  3. He impels us to act up to our position as royal children by manifesting the family likeness (conforming to Christ), furthering the family welfare (loving the brethren) and maintaining the family honor (seeking God’s glory). This is his work of sanctification.

“So it is not as we strain after feelings and experiences 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.” - J. I. Packer

Holiness: Our adoption shows us the meaning and motives of “gospel holiness.”

“Gospel Holiness” vs. “Legal Holiness”

  • “Gospel Holiness” - authentic Christian living, springing from love and gratitude to God.
  • “Legal Holiness” - consisting merely of forms, routines and outward appearances, maintained from self-regarding motives.

“Gospel Holiness”

  • Consistently living out our filial relationship with God into which the gospel brings us. It is the expressing of one’s adoption into the family of God. A child of God living as a child of God, true to his Father, to his Savior, and to himself.
  • The adoptive relationship, which displays God’s grace so vividly, itself provides the motive for this authentically holy living.
  • We live like a daughter or son of God, because we are a son or daughter of God.

1 John 3:1–3 NIV
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

“The children know that holiness is their Father’s will for them, and that it is both a means, condition, and constituent of their happiness, here and hereafter; and because they love their Father they actively seek the fulfilling of his beneficent purpose.” - J. I. Packer

  • The Father’s discipline is a loving part of the process of moving us toward holiness, which is our ultimate destiny.

Hebrews 12:6–7 NIV
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

Hebrews 12:11 NIV
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

  • Adoption into the family of God for the purpose of gospel holiness helps us better understand Romans 8:28.

Romans 8:28 NIV
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

  • Adoption into the family of God for the purpose of gospel holiness also helps us better understand the place of obedience in the Christian life.

“Justification frees one forever from the need to keep the law, or try to, as the means of earning life, it is equally true that adoption lays on one the abiding obligation to keep the law, as the means of pleasing one’s newfound Father. Law-keeping is the family likeness of God’s children...” - J. I. Packer

Assurance: Our adoption gives the clue we need to see our way through the problem of assurance.

  • What is assurance?
  • Whom does God assure?—all believers, some or none?
  • When he assures, what does he assure of?
  • And by what means is assurance given?

If God in love has made Christians his children, and if he is perfect as a Father, two things would seem to follow:

  • The family relationship must be an abiding one, lasting forever. Perfect parents do not cast off their children. Christians may act the prodigal, but God will not cease to act the prodigal’s father.

Romans 8:29–30 NIV
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

  • God will go out of his way to make his children feel his love for them and know their privilege and security as members of his family. Adopted children need assurance that they belong, and a perfect parent will not withhold it.

Romans 8:16–17 NIV
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

The witness of our spirit becomes a reality as “the Holy Spirit enables us to ascertain our sonship, from being conscious of, and discovering in ourselves, the true marks of a renewed state.” - Robert Haldane (quoted in J. I. Packer, Knowing God)

  • This is inferential assurance, being a conclusion drawn from the fact that one knows the gospel, trusts Christ, brings forth works meet for repentance, and manifests the instincts of a regenerate man.

“The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit in a distinct and immediate testimony, and also with our spirit in a concurrent testimony.” - Robert Haldane (quoted in J. I. Packer, Knowing God)

  • This is immediate assurance, the direct work of the Spirit in the regenerate heart, coming in to supplement the God-prompted witness of our own spirit.

“So the truth about assurance comes out like this: Our heavenly Father intends his children to know his love for them, and their own security in his family. He would not be the perfect Father if he did not want this, and if he did not act to bring it about. His action takes the form of making the dual witness that we have described part of the regular experience of his children. Thus he leads them to rejoice in his love.” - J. I. Packer

  • We may strengthen the inferential aspect of our assurance by making use of the doctrinal and ethical criteria of 1 John.
  • The source of our assurance, however, is not our inferences as such, but the work of the Spirit, convincing us that we are God’s children and that the saving love and promises of God apply directly to us.

The Great Secret

  • The doctrine of adoption has not received the attention it deserves in our thinking on the Christian life.

“Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too.” - J. I. Packer

  • Do I understand my adoption? Do I value it? Do I daily remind myself of my privilege as a child of God?
  • Have I sought full assurance of my adoption? Do I daily dwell on the love of God to me?
  • Do I treat God as my Father in heaven, loving, honoring and obeying him, seeking and welcoming his fellowship, and trying in everything to please him, as a human parent would want his child to do?
  • Do I think of Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord, as my brother too, bearing to me not only a divine authority but also a divine-human sympathy? Do I think daily how close he is to me, how completely he understands me, and how much, as my kinsman-redeemer, he cares for me?
  • Have I learned to hate the things that displease my Father? Am I sensitive to the evil things to which he is sensitive? Do I make a point of avoiding them, lest I grieve him?
  • Do I look forward daily to that great family occasion when the children of God will finally gather in heaven before the throne of God, their Father, and of the Lamb, their brother and their Lord? Have I felt the thrill of this hope?
  • Do I love my Christian brothers and sisters with whom I live day by day, in a way that I shall not be ashamed of when in heaven I think back over it?
  • Am I proud of my Father, and of his family, to which by his grace I belong?
  • Does the family likeness appear in me? If not, why not?

"Citizens of Heaven" (Philippians 3:20–21)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday AM, March 29, 2020

Philippians 3:20–21 NIV
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

1. A Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven.

​     Two unhealthy ways we focus our attention on the world:

  • Desire - coveting the world’s pleasures
  • Distress - fearing the world’s troubles​

Colossians 3:1 NIV
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

2. A Christian’s sure hope is a returning Savior.

Philippians 2:11 NIV
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

3. A Christian’s steadfast confidence is in a sovereign Lord.

4. A Christian’s certain future is a resurrected, glorified existence.

Main Idea: A Christian need not fear uncertain or troubling circumstances, because we have a sovereign Lord and Savior, who is coming again to glorify us and bring us to our true home.

"The LORD our Help" (Psalm 121)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday, March 22, 2020

Psalm 121 (NIV)

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

1. The LORD is our source of help; therefore, we should look to him (vv. 1-2).

2. The LORD is our vigilant help who never fails to watch over us (vv. 3-4).

3. The Lord is our protector who ensures the safety of his people (vv. 5-6).

4. The Lord is faithful and eternal, and he will never stop caring for us (vv. 7-8).

Main Idea: In times of trouble and uncertainty, we may trust the LORD, who is our vigilant, faithful, protecting helper.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“Sons of God” (Chapter 19)

What is a Christian?

  • A Christian is one who has God as Father.
  • Everyone is a creature of God by creation, but not everyone is a child of God by redemption.

“Sonship to God is not, therefore, a universal status into which everyone enters by natural birth, but a supernatural gift which one receives through receiving Jesus.” - J. I. Packer

John 1:12–13 NIV
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

  • Sonship is a gift of grace. It is not a natural sonship, but an adoptive sonship.

Ephesians 1:5 NIV
5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

The revelation to the believer that God is his Father is in a sense the climax of the Bible.

  • In the OT, God revealed his covenant name as Yahweh, (the LORD). Holiness was the emphasis. The “fear of the LORD” was our proper response.
  • In the NT, God is still holy, but a new relationship has been emphasized. “Father” has become his covenant name and the name by which his people call him.

A New Relationship

  • Christians are his children, his own sons and daughters, his heirs.

“To those who are Christ’s, the holy God is a loving Father; they belong to his family; they may approach him without fear and always be sure of his fatherly concern and care. This is the heart of the New Testament message.” - J. I. Packer

  • Our comprehension of God as our Father need not be limited or distorted by our own experiences with our earthly fathers.
  • We all have an innate perception of what an ideal father would be, and the NT gives us clear testimony to the perfect fatherhood of God in relation to Jesus Christ.
  • God’s relationship as Father to us is meant to be a reflection and reproduction of God the Father’s own fellowship with Jesus, God the Son.

God’s fatherly relation to Jesus in John’s Gospel:

  • Fatherhood implied authority.

John 6:38 NIV
38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

  • Fatherhood implied affection.

John 5:20 NIV
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.

  • Fatherhood implied fellowship.

John 8:29 NIV
29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

  • Fatherhood implied honor.

John 17:1 NIV
1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.

John 5:22–23 NIV
22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

Each of these dimensions of fatherhood apply to us as believers as well:

  • We are to obey our heavenly Father.
  • We have fellowship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.
  • Our Father loves us as his adopted children.
  • We are honored by our heavenly Father through our union with Christ.

John 12:26 NIV
26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Adoption: The Highest Privilege

A Formal Definition:
“All those that are justified, God vouchsafeth, in and for His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption: by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God; have His name put upon them, receive the Spirit of adoption; have access to the throne of grace with boldness; are enabled to cry, Abba, Father; are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him, as by a father; yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.” WCF 12

Adoption is the highest privilege that the gospel offers, higher even than justification.

  • Justification—God’s forgiveness of the past together with his acceptance for the future—is the primary and fundamental blessing of the gospel.
    • It is primary, because it meets our primary spiritual need: forgiveness of sins, rescue from God’s wrath, and reconciliation.
    • It is fundamental, because everything else in our salvation assumes it and rests on it.
  • But it can be argued that adoption is the highest blessing.
    • Justification deals with our relationship with God as our Judge - legal.
    • Adoption deals with our relationship with God as our Father - familial.
    • Justification, in and of itself, does not imply any intimate or deep relationship with God the judge.
    • Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship.

According to the Scriptures, pardon, acceptance, and adoption, are distinct privileges, the one rising above the other in the order in which they have been stated . . . while the first two properly belong to (the sinner’s) justification, as being both founded on the same relation—that of a Ruler and Subject—the third is radically distinct from them, as being founded on a nearer, more tender, and more endearing relation—that between a Father and his Son. . . . There is a manifest difference between the position of a servant and a friend—and also between that of a servant and a son. . . . A closer and dearer intimacy than that of a master and servant is said to subsist between Christ and His people: “Henceforth I call you not servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends” (John 15:15); and a still closer and dearer relation is said to exist in consequence of adoption; for “Thou art no more a servant, but a son, and an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:7). The privilege of adoption presupposes pardon and acceptance, but is higher than either; for, “To as many as received Him, to them gave he power”—not inward strength, but authority, right, or privilege—“to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). This is a higher privilege than of Justification, as being founded on a closer and more endearing relation—“Behold! what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.” - James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification

Galatians 4:4–7 NIV
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

  • Adoption is an abiding blessing. In God’s family there is absolute stability and security; the parent is entirely wise and good, and the child’s position is permanently assured.

Adoption: The Basis for Our Life

  • The entire Christian life has to be understood in terms of adoption. “Sonship” must be the controlling thought.
  • Just as Jesus always thought of himself as Son of God in a unique sense, so he always thought of his followers as children of his heavenly Father, members of the same divine family as himself.

John 20:17–18 NIV
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

  • Just as the knowledge of his unique Sonship controlled Jesus’ living of his own life on earth, so he insists that the knowledge of our adoptive sonship must control our lives too.
  • The Sermon on the Mount: The Christian’s “Royal Family Code”

Christian Conduct

  • Adoption is the basis of Christian conduct.

“...the sermon teaches Christian conduct not by giving a full scheme of rules and a detailed casuistry, to be followed with mechanical precision, but by indicating in a broad and general way the spirit, direction and objectives, the guiding principles and ideals, by which the Christian must steer his course…precisely the kind of moral instruction that parents are constantly trying to give their children.” - J. I. Packer

Three Principles of Christian Family Conduct:

  • Imitate the Father.

Matthew 5:44–45 NIV
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew 5:48 NIV
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

  • Glorify the Father.

Matthew 5:16 NIV
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

  • Please the Father.

Matthew 6:1 NIV
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Matthew 6:4 NIV
4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Christian Prayer

  • Adoption is the basis of Christian prayer.

Matthew 6:9 NIV
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

“Jesus could say to his Father, “You always hear me” (Jn 11:42), and he wants his disciples to know that, as God’s adopted children, the same is true of them. The Father is always accessible to his children and is never too preoccupied to listen to what they have to say. This is the basis of Christian prayer.” - J. I. Packer

  • Prayer must not be thought of in impersonal or mechanical terms, as a technique for putting pressure on someone who otherwise might disregard you.

Matthew 6:7–8 NIV
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

  • Prayer may be free and bold.

Matthew 7:7–11 NIV
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

  • God lovingly hears our prayers, but often he gives us what we should have asked for, rather than what we actually asked for, because he is a wise, loving Father.

The Life of Faith

  • Adoption is the basis of the life of faith—the life of trusting God for our needs as we put his kingdom and righteousness first.
  • Faith is not foolhardiness or presumption — there is a difference.
  • Faith is tested when disciples live for Christ in a hostile world.
  • Following Jesus may mean that we forfeit some measure of worldly security or prosperity, but Jesus reminds us of what our status as adopted children of God promises.

Matthew 6:25–26 NIV
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matthew 6:31–33 NIV
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“If God Be for Us...” (Part 3)
“The Heart of the Gospel” (Chapter 18, part 2)

Review of Chapter 18, part 1

The Death of Christ

“The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight.” - J. I. Packer

“...the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders. Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be ‘just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.’” - J. I. Packer

  • The Gospel is not fundamentally about a solution to our human problems.
  • The Gospel is fundamentally about a reconciliation of sinners to their Creator.
  • Other human problems only have a true remedy through this reconciliation with God in Christ.

Descriptions of the Death of Christ in the Bible:

  • Reconciliation
  • Redemption
  • Sacrifice
  • Self-giving
  • Sin-bearing
  • Blood-shedding
  • All connected with the idea of propitiation

“All these thoughts have to do with the putting away of sin and the restoring of unclouded fellowship between man and God, as a glance at the texts mentioned will show; and all of them have as their background the threat of divine judgment which Jesus’ death averted.” - J. I. Packer

  • Propitiation - the heart of the Gospel and the vantage point from which to see the heart of many other biblical teachings as well.

The Driving Force in Jesus’ Life

Four Impressions of the Life of Jesus from Mark’s Gospel:

  • A man of action
  • A man who knew himself to be a divine person (Son of God) fulfilling a messianic role (Son of Man)
  • A man whose messianic mission centered on his being put to death
  • A man for whom this experience of death was the most fearful ordeal

How can we account for Jesus’ belief in the necessity of his death and also his dread of it?

  • Only the biblical doctrine of propitiation through atonement can make sense of these.

“The driving force in Jesus’ life was his resolve to be “obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), and the unique dreadfulness of his death lies in the fact that he tasted on Calvary the wrath of God which was our due, so making propitiation for our sins.” - J. I. Packer

Isaiah 53:4–5 NIV
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

What of Those Who Reject God?

  • The Scriptures do not teach universalism - that all will eventually be saved.
  • Those who in this life reject God will forever be rejected by God.
  • To think of what the lost bring on themselves through their rejection, consider the cross.
  • Bearing the retributive justice of God
  • Withdrawal and deprivation of all good
  • Loneliness, pain, and a horror of great spiritual darkness

“Calvary shows that under the final judgment of God nothing that one has valued, or could value, nothing that one can call good, remains to one. It is a terrible thought, but the reality, we may be sure, is more terrible yet. ‘It would be better for him if he had not been born.’” - J. I. Packer

What Is Peace?

  • Not fundamentally a feeling of inner tranquility
  • The basic ingredient of God’s peace is pardon and acceptance into covenant—adoption into God’s family.

“The peace of God is first and foremost peace with God; it is the state of affairs in which God, instead of being against us, is for us.” - J. I. Packer

“The peace of God, then, primarily and fundamentally, is a new relationship of forgiveness and acceptance—and the source from which it flows is propitiation.” - J. I. Packer

Colossians 1:20 NIV
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

The Dimensions of God’s Love

Ephesians 3:18–19 NIV
18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

How can we know an unknowable love?

  • Some comprehension of it may be gained by considering God’s plan of grace
  • The atoning sacrifice of Christ which propitiates the wrath of God and reconciles us to him is the centerpiece of this plan.

Christ’s Love:

  • Free - not elicited by any good in us
  • Eternal - those given to him from before the creation of the world
  • Unreserved - gave himself to the depths of humiliation and the wrath of God on Calvary
  • Sovereign - it achieved its object—the final glory of the redeemed

“Dwell on these things, Paul urges, if you would catch a sight, however dim, of the greatness and the glory of divine love.” - J. I. Packer

The Glory of God

John 13:31 NIV
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.

  • The glory of God in his wisdom, power, righteousness, truth, and love was supremely disclosed at Calvary, in the making of propitiation for our sins.
  • It is Christ’s redemption, his shedding of blood, for our salvation that makes him worthy of all glory and honor.

Revelation 5:9–10 NIV
9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:12 NIV
12 In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“If God Be for Us...” (Part 3)
“The Heart of the Gospel” (Chapter 18, Part 1)

Pagan Propitiation

  • Many gods, none with absolute dominion
  • Believed to have power over various realms and could make life difficult
  • Uncertain, capricious, and easily offended
  • Gods manipulating circumstances to work against you
  • Mollified or appeased by means of gifts or sacrifice
  • The bigger the sacrifice the better, including human sacrifice

“Thus pagan religion appears as a callous commercialism, a matter of managing and manipulating your gods by cunning bribery. And within paganism propitiation, the appeasing of celestial bad tempers, takes its place as a regular part of life, one of the many irksome necessities that one cannot get on without.” - J. I. Packer

Biblical Theism

  • Not many gods, but one Creator God with all dominion
  • The source of all goodness and truth, detesting evil
  • No bad temper, no capriciousness, no vanity, not easily provoked
  • Propitiation?

Propitiation in the Bible

Propitiation in the OT:

  • Underlies the rituals of sin offering, guilt offering, and the Day of Atonement
  • God’s anger threatening to destroy the people for their rebellion assuaged by sacrifice

Numbers 16:46–48 NIV
46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.

Propitiation in the NT:

  • The rationale of God’s justification of sinners

Romans 3:21–26 ESV
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  • The rationale of Incarnation of God the Son

Hebrews 2:17 ESV
17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

  • The heavenly intercessory ministry of our Lord

1 John 2:1–2 ESV
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

  • The definition and expression of the love of God

1 John 4:8–10 ESV
8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

“Has the word propitiation any place in your Christianity? In the faith of the New Testament it is central. The love of God, the taking of human form by the Son, the meaning of the cross, Christ’s heavenly intercession, the way of salvation—all are to be explained in terms of it...” - J. I. Packer

“And a gospel without propitiation at its heart is another gospel than that which Paul preached. The implications of this must not be evaded.” - J. I. Packer

Not Merely Expiation

Several modern Bible versions do not use the word “propitiation.”

  • “expiation” (RSV, NAB)
  • “remedy for defilement” (NEB)
  • “atoning sacrifice” (NIV, CSB, NET, NRSV)
  • “sacrifice that atones” (NLT)
  • “God’s way of dealing with” (CEB)

“What is the difference? The difference is that expiation means only half of what propitiation means. Expiation is an action that has sin as its object; it denotes the covering, putting away or rubbing out of sin so that it no longer constitutes a barrier to friendly fellowship between man and God. Propitiation, however, in the Bible, denotes all that expiation means, and the pacifying of the wrath of God thereby.” - J. I. Packer

“As our mediator he has obtained the full benefits of our whole salvation, beginning with an objective atonement for our sin. Refusals to acknowledge propitiation as the heart of his death and resurrection result from a misunderstanding of God’s love. It is God’s love that is the basis for his providing Christ as the means of propitiation. By Christ’s sacrifice a new relation of reconciliation and peace has been accomplished between God and humanity.” - Herman Bavinck (RD 3:419).

“The wrath of God against us, both present and to come, has been quenched. How was this effected? Through the death of Christ. “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (5:10). The “blood”—that is, the sacrificial death—of Jesus Christ abolished God’s anger against us and ensured that his treatment of us forever after would be propitious and favorable… by his sacrificial death for our sins Christ pacified the wrath of God.” - J. I. Packer

God’s Anger

  • Not capricious, arbitrary, bad-tempered, and conceited anger as in the pagan gods.
  • Not sinful, resentful, malicious, infantile anger we find in humans.
  • God’s anger is a function of his holiness and righteousness.

God’s wrath is “the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness”; it issues in “a positive outgoing of the divine displeasure.” - John Murray

“God is not just—that is, he does not act in the way that is right, he does not do what is proper to a judge—unless he inflicts upon all sin and wrongdoing the penalty it deserves.” - J. I. Packer

Propitiation Described

1. Propitiation is the work of God himself.

  • Paganism - man propitiates his gods; it becomes a form of commercialism and bribery.
  • Christianity - God propitiates his wrath by his own action.

“The doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this: that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of His wrath.” - J. I. Packer

2. Propitiation was made by the death of Jesus Christ.

“When Paul tells us that God set forth Jesus to be a propitiation 'by his blood,' his point is that what quenched God’s wrath and so redeemed us from death was not Jesus’ life or teaching, not his moral perfection nor his fidelity to the Father, as such, but the shedding of his blood in death.” - J. I. Packer

“Paul always points to the death of Jesus as the atoning event and explains the atonement in terms of representative substitution—the innocent taking the place of the guilty, in the name and for the sake of the guilty, under the axe of God’s judicial retribution.” - J. I. Packer

Galatians 3:13 ESV
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

3. Propitiation manifests God’s righteousness.

  • The truth of propitiation does not call into question the morality of God’s dealing with sin; it establishes it.

“to declare his righteousness” - “Paul’s point is that the public spectacle of propitiation, at the cross, was a public manifestation, not merely of justifying mercy on God’s part, but of righteousness and justice as the basis of justifying mercy.” - J. I. Packer

“...far from being unconcerned about moral issues and the just requirement of retribution for wrongdoing, is so concerned about these things that he does not—indeed, Paul would, we think, boldly say, cannot—pardon sinners, and justify the ungodly, except on the basis of justice shown forth in retribution.” - J. I. Packer

“Our sins have been punished; the wheel of retribution has turned; judgment has been inflicted for our ungodliness—but on Jesus, the lamb of God, standing in our place. In this way God is just—and the justifier of those who put faith in Jesus...” - J. I. Packer

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“The Jealous God” (Chapter 17)

How Can God Be Jealous?

  • Nothing is in the creature as it is in the Creator.
  • We must let the Bible speak for itself regarding God’s character.

Exodus 20:4–5 NIV
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Exodus 34:14 NIV
14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

“Clearly, this unexpected word stood for a quality in God which, far from being inconsistent with the exposition of his name that had gone before, was in some sense an epitome of it. And since this quality was in a true sense his “name,” it was clearly important that his people should understand it.” - J. I. Packer

The Nature of God’s Jealousy

How can jealousy be a virtue in God when it is a vice in humans?

1. Biblical statements about God’s jealousy are anthropomorphisms.

“The reason why God uses these terms to speak to us about himself is that language drawn from our own personal life is the most accurate medium we have for communicating thoughts about him. He is personal, and so are we, in a way that nothing else in the physical creation is.” - J. I. Packer

The Caution of Anthropomorphisms:

  • Man is not the measure of his Maker, so none of the limitations of human creaturehood are implied of God.
  • Those elements in human qualities which show the corrupting effect of sin have no counterpart in God.

“God’s jealousy is not a compound of frustration, envy and spite, as human jealousy so often is, but appears instead as a (literally) praiseworthy zeal to preserve something supremely precious.” - J. I. Packer

2. There are two sorts of jealousy among humans, and only one of them is a vice.

Vicious Jealousy:

  • “I want what you’ve got, and I hate you because I haven’t got it.”

Zealous Jealousy:

  • Zeal to protect a love relationship or to avenge it when broken.

Married persons “who felt no jealousy at the intrusion of a lover or an adulterer into their home would surely be lacking in moral perception; for the exclusiveness of marriage is the essence of marriage” - R. V. G. Tasker

  • God’s jealousy is of this latter kind - an aspect of his covenant love for his own people.
  • Idolatry was viewed as an act of spiritual adultery against God, thus provoking his righteous jealousy for his covenant bride.

1 Kings 14:22 NIV
22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done.

Psalm 78:58 NIV
58 They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.

“From these passages we see plainly what God meant by telling Moses that his name was 'Jealous.' He meant that he demands from those whom he has loved and redeemed utter and absolute loyalty, and he will vindicate his claim by stern action against them if they betray his love by unfaithfulness.” - J. I. Packer

“God’s jealousy over his people, as we have seen, presupposes his covenant love; and this love is no transitory affection, accidental and aimless, but is the expression of a sovereign purpose. The goal of the covenant love of God is that he should have a people on earth as long as history lasts, and after that should have all his faithful ones of every age with him in glory. Covenant love is the heart of God’s plan for his world.” - J. I. Packer

God’s Ultimate Objective:

  • To vindicate his rule and righteousness by showing his sovereignty in judgment upon sin
  • To ransom and redeem his chosen people
  • To be loved and praised by them for his glorious acts of love and self-vindication

The Christian Response

1. The jealousy of God requires us to be zealous for God.

Titus 2:14 NKJV
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

1 Kings 19:10 NIV
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

2. The jealousy of God threatens churches which are not zealous for God.

Revelation 3:15–16 NIV
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 3:19 NIV
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“Goodness and Severity” (Chapter 16)

Romans 11:22 NKJV
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

Santa Claus and Giant Despair

Modern Confusion about God

  • Private religious feelings instead of God’s Word
  • Mistaken notion that all religions are equal - so ideas about God are confused by pagan influence
  • Failing to recognize our own sinfulness, which distorts our view of God and our attitude towards him
  • The tendency to divide God’s attributes from one another - to disassociate God’s goodness from his severity

“To reject all ideas of divine wrath and judgment, and to assume that God’s character, misrepresented (forsooth!) in many parts of the Bible, is really one of indulgent benevolence without any severity, is the rule rather than the exception among ordinary folk today.” - J. I. Packer

“Santa Claus Theology”

  • No judgment or severity in God
  • A generic benevolence to all regardless of obedience to God
    • Problem: no need for the atonement of Christ
      • Liberal solution: the cross of Christ isn’t about substitutionary atonement
    • Problem: "the problem of evil”
      • Liberal solution: God is not omnipotent and omniscient, so can’t do anything about evil

“Thus he is left with a kind God who means well but cannot always insulate his children from trouble and grief. When trouble comes, therefore, there is nothing to do but grin and bear it. In this way, by an ironic paradox, faith in a God who is all goodness and no severity tends to confirm men in a fatalistic and pessimistic attitude to life.” - J. I. Packer

  • True solution: Associating God’s goodness and severity from the truth of Scripture

God’s Goodness

        Goodness

  • The moral qualities of God such as his perfection, generosity, mercy, grace, and love.

Exodus 33:19 NIV
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Exodus 34:6–7 NIV
6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

“God’s truthfulness and trustworthiness, his unfailing justice and wisdom, his tenderness, forbearance and entire adequacy to all who penitently seek his help, his noble kindness in offering believers the exalted destiny of fellowship with him in holiness and love—these things together make up God’s goodness in the overall sense of the sum total of his revealed excellences.” - J. I. Packer

God’s Goodness as Generosity

  • “A disposition to give to others in a way which has no mercenary motive and is not limited by what the recipients deserve but consistently goes beyond it.”
  • The focal point of God’s moral perfection
  • Grace - every act of divine generosity, of whatever kind
    • Common - “creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life”

Psalm 145:9 NIV
9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

Psalm 145:15–16 NIV
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Acts 14:17 NIV
17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

Special - manifested in the economy of salvation

Psalm 106:1–2 NIV
1 Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?

Psalm 86:5 NIV
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.

Psalm 107:1–3 NIV
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

God’s Severity

The Severity of God

  • God’s “cutting off” of the disobedient (Rom 11:22)
  • God’s decisive withdrawal of his goodness from those who have spurned it
  • He is “abounding in love” but he “does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Ex 34:6-7).

“The principle which Paul is applying here is that behind every display of divine goodness stands a threat of severity in judgment if that goodness is scorned. If we do not let it draw us to God in gratitude and responsive love, we have only ourselves to blame when God turns against us.” - J. I. Packer

  • God is patient in his severity - “slow to anger” and “longsuffering.”

1 Peter 3:20 NIV
20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,

2 Peter 3:9 NIV
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Our Response

1. Appreciate the goodness of God.

  • Count your blessings
  • Don’t take God’s gifts for granted

2. Appreciate the patience of God.

  • Learn to marvel at his patience with you
  • Seek grace to imitate it in your dealings with others

3. Appreciate the discipline of God.

  • Thorns which may awaken you from the sleep of spiritual death and lead you to repentance
  • As a believer, the discipline of a loving father guiding you to holiness and to “continue in his goodness”

Hebrews 12:5 NIV
5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“The Wrath of God” (Chapter 15)

Wrath - “deep, intense anger and indignation.”
Anger - “stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism, by a sense of injury or insult”
Indignation - “righteous anger aroused by injustice and baseness.”

  • Like the justice of God, the wrath of God, is either completely denied in modern Christianity or significantly downplayed.
  • Has God’s wrath against sin ever been a popular subject? Yet, both the OT & NT speak often of it.

“A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness” - A. W. Pink

Nahum 1:2–3 NIV
2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies. 3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

Nahum 1:6–8 NIV
6 Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. 7 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, 8 but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.

2 Thessalonians 1:7–10 NIV
7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

“Clearly, the theme of God’s wrath is one about which the biblical writers feel no inhibitions whatever. Why, then, should we? Why, when the Bible is vocal about it, should we feel obliged to be silent?” - J. I. Packer

What God’s Wrath Is Like

Is wrath unworthy of God?

  • God’s wrath is not like our wrath.
  • God’s wrath is not capricious, self-indulgent, or irritable.
  • God’s wrath is his holy response to objective moral evil.

Is God’s wrath cruel?

  • God’s wrath is judicial - the wrath of the Judge administering justice.

Romans 2:5–6 NIV
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”

  • God’s wrath is proportional - to what each deserves.

Luke 12:47–48 NIV
47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

  • God’s wrath is something which people choose for themselves.

John 3:18–19 NIV
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

“Nobody stands under the wrath of God except those who have chosen to do so. The essence of God’s action in wrath is to give men what they choose, in all its implications: nothing more, and equally nothing less.” - J. I. Packer

Romans on Wrath

1. The meaning of God’s wrath.

  • God’s resolute action in punishing sin
  • The active manifesting of his hatred of irreligion and moral evil
  • An expression of his holy justice

2. The revelation of God’s wrath.

Romans 1:18 NIV
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

  • a constant disclosure, going on all the time
  • a universal disclosure, reaching those whom the gospel has not yet reached.

How is this disclosure of God’s wrath made?

  • It imprints itself directly on every person’s conscience.
  • Through the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit with the Gospel.
  • There are tokens of the active wrath of God all around us in a broken, cursed world.

“If you want proof that the wrath of God, revealed as a fact in your conscience, is already working as a force in the world, Paul would say you need only look at life around you and see what God has ‘given them over to.’” - J. I. Packer

3. The deliverance from God’s wrath.

  • The law cannot save us.
  • Religious rituals cannot save us.
  • Only justification through the blood of Jesus can save us.

Romans 5:9 NIV
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

“Between us sinners and the thunderclouds of divine wrath stands the cross of the Lord Jesus. If we are Christ’s, through faith, then we are justified through his cross, and the wrath will never touch us, neither here nor hereafter.” - J. I. Packer

A Solemn Reality

  • This doctrine of the wrath of God must be handled with utmost care and sincere concern for the lost.
  • But we cannot ignore it. To ignore it is to lose the gospel.

“...if we would know God, it is vital that we face the truth concerning his wrath, ...Otherwise we shall not understand the gospel of salvation from wrath, nor the propitiatory achievement of the cross, nor the wonder of the redeeming love of God.” - J. I. Packer

We should meditate frequently on the wrath of God:

  • To remind us of sin’s hideousness and God’s abhorrence for it
  • To nurture within our souls a true fear of God.

Hebrews 12:28–29 NIV
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

  • To lead us to fervent praise to Jesus Christ for having delivered us from the wrath to come.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 NIV
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“God the Judge” (Chapter 14)

  • Unpopularity of the Justice of God
  • The Importance of God as Judge in the Bible
  • The Reality of divine judgment throughout Bible history
  • The Pervasive teaching on divine judgment in the Law, Prophets and Writings
  • Not Old Testament vs. New Testament
  • The emphasis on God’s action as Judge is actually intensified in the NT

Characteristics of the Judge

1. The judge is a person with authority.

  • God is judge of the world, because he made it.
  • As Creator, he has the right to make laws for us and reward and judge us.
  • He is both the Lawgiver and the Judge.

2. The judge is a person identified with what is good and right.

  • God, the righteous Judge, loves justice and truth.
  • He hates iniquity and deceit.
  • All judges should be modeled after the righteous justice of God.

3. The judge is a person of wisdom, to discern truth.

  • As all-knowing and all-wise, he is the perfect judge.
  • Nothing can escape him; he knows us, and judges us, as we really are.
  • God knows. His judgment is according to truth (both factual and moral).

4. The judge is a person of power to execute sentence.

  • God is his own executioner.
  • As he legislates and sentences, so he punishes.
  • All judicial functions coalesce in him.

Retribution

“The heart of the justice which expresses God’s nature is retribution, the rendering to persons what they have deserved; for this is the essence of the judge’s task. To reward good with good, and evil with evil, is natural to God.” - J. I. Packer

  • The retributive principle: all will receive according to their works.
  • Retribution is the natural expression of God’s divine character.
  • We know in our hearts that this is right. This is how it ought to be.

“Retribution is the inescapable moral law of creation; God will see that each person sooner or later receives what he deserves—if not here, then hereafter.” - J. I. Packer

  • The character of God is the guarantee that all wrongs will be righted someday.
  • God is the Judge, so justice will be done.

Why the Objections to God’s Justice?

  • Would we wish to live in a society where no wrongs were ever punished?
  • Would a God who did not care about the difference between right and wrong be a good and admirable Being?

“Moral indifference would be an imperfection in God, not a perfection. But not to judge the world would be to show moral indifference. The final proof that God is a perfect moral Being, not indifferent to questions of right and wrong, is the fact that he has committed himself to judge the world.” - J. I. Packer

  • The reality of divine justice and our view of life
  • Divine justice and the meaning of life
  • Divine justice and the victory of God

“Judgment means that evil will be disposed of authoritatively, decisively, finally. Judgment means that in the end God’s will will be perfectly done.” - J. I. Packer

Jesus the Father’s Agent

  • Jesus is the main NT authority on final judgment.
  • Matthew 25: “The Son of Man will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.”
  • John 5: “The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.”

“God’s own appointment has made Jesus Christ inescapable. He stands at the end of life’s road for everyone without exception… 'prepare to meet the risen Jesus' is God’s message to the world today (Acts 17:31).” - J. I. Packer

Acts 17:31 NIV
31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Index of the Heart

  • Final judgment according to works

2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

  • What does this mean for the Christian?
  • Are we saved on the merits of our own works after all?

“The relevance of our doings is not that they ever merit an award from the court—they fall too far short of perfection to do that—but that they provide an index of what is in the heart—what, in other words, is the real nature of each agent.” - J. I. Packer

  • Works will serve as a confirmation of the new birth - a work of grace.
  • Works may serve to distinguish levels of reward.

“The gift of justification does not at all shield believers from being assessed as Christians, and from forfeiting good which others will enjoy if it turns out that as Christians they have been slack, mischievous and destructive.” - J. I. Packer

1 Corinthians 3:12–15 NIV
12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

  • Final judgment according to knowledge
  • People will be judged based on the level of light or knowledge that was accessible to them. “Where a man has been given much, much will be expected of him” (Luke 12:48).

No Need to Flee

  • The natural reaction to the holy justice of God is to flee (see Adam and Eve).
  • But we don’t have to flee.
  • Call on the coming Judge to be your present Savior.

“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.” - J. I. Packer

Romans 8:1 NIV
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“The Grace of God” (Chapter 13)

“Grace, far from being a personal force, …is a personal activity—God operating in love toward people.” - J. I. Packer

No Grasp of Grace

“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.” - J. I. Packer

1. The moral ill-desert of man.

“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.” - J. I. Packer

2. The retributive justice of God.

“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.” - J. I. Packer

3. The spiritual impotence of man.

“To mend our own 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.” - J. I. Packer

4. The sovereign freedom of God.

“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.” - J. I. Packer

Not Earned or Deserved

“The grace of God is love freely shown toward guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity and had no reason to expect anything but severity.” - J. I. Packer

“Grace and salvation belong together as cause and effect. 'It is by grace you have been saved' (Eph 2:5, 8).” - J. I. Packer

1. Grace as the source of the pardon of sin.

“The gospel centers upon justification—that is, upon the remission of sins and the acceptance of our persons that goes with it. Justification is the truly dramatic transition from the status of a condemned criminal awaiting a terrible sentence to that of an heir awaiting a fabulous inheritance.” - J. I. Packer

“Justification is by faith; it takes place the moment a person puts vital trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Justification is free to us, but it was costly to God, for its price was the atoning death of God’s Son.” - J. I. Packer

Romans 3:24–25 NIV
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

Ephesians 1:7 NIV
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

2. Grace as the motive of the plan of salvation.

“The New Testament sets God’s gift of pardon in the context of a plan of salvation which began with election before the world was and will be completed only when the church is perfect in glory.” - J. I. Packer

“We believers may rejoice to know that our conversion was no accident, but an act of God which had its place in an eternal plan to bless us with the free gift of salvation from sin (2:8-10); God promises and purposes to carry his plan through to completion, and since it is executed by sovereign power (1:19-20), nothing can thwart it.” - J. I. Packer

3. Grace as the guarantee of the preservation of the saints.

“If the plan of salvation is certain of accomplishment, then the Christian’s future is assured. I am, and will be, 'kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation' (1 Pet 1:5 KJV)… as grace led me to faith in the first place, so grace will keep me believing to the end.” - J. I. Packer

A Proper Response

“...in the New Testament doctrine is grace, and ethics is gratitude...For love awakens love in return; and love, once awakened, desires to give pleasure. And the revealed will of God is that those who have received grace should henceforth give themselves to 'good works' (Eph 2:10; Titus 2:11-12); and gratitude will move anyone who has truly received grace to do as God requires...” - J. I. Packer

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“The Love of God” (Chapter 12)

1 John 4:8 NIV
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:16 NIV
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

• A doctrine often misunderstood
• One of the most precious doctrines in Scripture

Romans 5:5 NIV
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

A Flood of Love

• Poured Out - “God’s love has flooded our inmost heart” (NEB).
• Perfect tense - a settled state consequent upon a completed action.
• A regular ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit to all believers.

“With a perversity as pathetic as it is impoverishing, we have become preoccupied today with the extraordinary, sporadic, nonuniversal ministries of the Spirit to the neglect of the ordinary, general ones.” - J. I. Packer

“a right-minded concern for revival will express itself not in a hankering after tongues, but rather in a longing that the Spirit may shed God’s love abroad in our hearts with greater power.” - J. I. Packer

Love, Spirit, Light

1. “God is love” is not the complete truth about God so far as the Bible is concerned.

• This statement presupposes all the rest of the biblical witness to God.
• “God is spirit” (John 4:24).

- God’s presence is unlimited.
- Worship is not localized but is receptive to God’s presence and his truth.
- God’s Spirituality - “without body, parts, or passions”

“The love of God is… a spontaneous determination of God’s whole being in an attitude of benevolence and benefaction, an attitude freely chosen and firmly fixed. There are no inconstancies or vicissitudes in the love of the almighty God who is spirit.” - J. I. Packer

• “God is light” (1 John 1:5).

- “in him there is no darkness at all”
- Light = holiness and purity

“The God who is love is first and foremost light, and sentimental ideas of his love as an indulgent, benevolent softness, divorced from moral standards and concerns, must therefore be ruled out from the start. God’s love is holy love.” - J. I. Packer

“God’s love is stern, for it expresses holiness in the lover and seeks holiness for the beloved. Scripture does not allow us to suppose that because God is love we may look to him to confer happiness on people who will not seek holiness, or to shield his loved ones from trouble when he knows that they need trouble to further their sanctification.” - J. I. Packer

2. “God is love” is the complete truth about God so far as the Christian is concerned.

• “God is love” means that his love finds expression in everything that he says and does.
• The cross of Christ gives us assurance that we are beloved of God (Gal. 2:20).
• In every circumstance, God is working out of love for our good (Rom. 8:28).

“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… Even when we cannot see the why and the wherefore of God’s dealings, we know that there is love in and behind them, and so we can rejoice always, even when, humanly speaking, things are going wrong.” - J. I. Packer

Defining God’s Love

“God’s love is an exercise of his goodness toward individual sinners whereby, having identified himself with their welfare, he has given his Son to be their Savior, and now brings them to know and enjoy him in a covenant relation.” - J. I. Packer

1. God’s love is an exercise of his goodness.

2. God’s love is an exercise of his goodness toward sinners.

3. God’s love is an exercise of his goodness toward individual sinners.

4. God’s love to sinners involves his identifying himself with their welfare.

5. God’s love to sinners was expressed by the gift of his Son to be their Savior.

1 John 4:9–10 NIV
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

6. God’s love to sinners reaches its objective as it brings them to know and enjoy him in a covenant relation.

“You shall have as true an interest in all my attributes for your good, as they are mine for my own glory. . . . My grace, saith God, shall be yours to pardon you, and my power shall be yours to protect you, and my wisdom shall be yours to direct you, and my goodness shall be yours to relieve you, and my mercy shall be yours to supply you, and my glory shall be yours to crown you. This is a comprehensive promise, for God to be our God: it includes all.” - Thomas Brooks

Amazing Love!

1 John 4:11 NIV
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“Thy Word Is Truth” (Chapter 11)

Biblical Assumptions about God:

  • God is King.
  • God speaks.

“just as God’s relations with his world have to be understood in terms of his sovereignty, so his sovereignty is to be understood in terms of what the Bible tells us about his word.” - J. I. Packer

Like a King, God speaks...

  • By Divine Fiat
  • By Royal Torah

Torah’s 3-fold character:

  • Law
  • Promise
  • Testimony

“The word which God addresses directly to us is an instrument, not only of government, but also of fellowship.” - J. I. Packer

“God speaks to us not only to move us to do what he wants, but to enable us to know him so that we may love him.” - J. I. Packer

The God Who Speaks

Genesis 1: God Speaks to Adam & Eve:

  • Command (1:28)
  • Testimony (1:29)
  • Prohibition (2:17)
  • Promise (3:15-19)

“Here, within the compass of these three short chapters [of Genesis], we see the word of God in all the relations in which it stands to the world, and to man within it.” - J. I. Packer

“the whole Bible insists that all circumstances and events in the world are determined by the word of God, the Creator’s omnipotent ‘Let there be...’” - J. I. Packer

Isaiah 55:10–11 NIV
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

“The whole Bible maintains this insistence that God’s word is his executive instrument in all human affairs. Of him, as of no one else, it is true that what he says goes.” - J. I. Packer

In Relationship to us, the Word comes...

  • Sometimes as Law
  • Sometimes as Promise
  • Sometimes as Testimony

“the claim of the word of God upon us is absolute: the word is to be received, trusted and obeyed, because it is the word of God the King.” - J. I. Packer

Absolute Truth

“We are to believe and obey it, not only because he tells us to, but also, and primarily, because it is a true word. Its author is ‘the God of truth.’” - J. I. Packer

1. God’s commands are true.

  • because they have stability and permanence as setting forth what God wants to see in human lives in every age
  • because they tell us the unchanging truth about our own nature

“As rational persons, we were made to bear God’s moral image—that is, our souls were made to ‘run’ on the practice of worship, law-keeping, truthfulness, honesty, discipline, self-control, and service to God and our fellows. If we abandon these practices, not only do we incur guilt before God; we also progressively destroy our own souls… One not only becomes desperately miserable; one is steadily being dehumanized.” - J. I. Packer

2. God’s promises are true, for God keeps them.

“How does God’s faithfulness show itself? By his unfailing fulfillment of his promises. He is a covenant-keeping God; he never fails those who trust his word.” - J. I. Packer

“A fixed, constant attention to the promises, and a firm belief of them, would prevent solicitude and anxiety about the concerns of this life. Christians deprive themselves of their most solid comforts by their unbelief and forgetfulness of God’s promises.” - Samuel Clark

Believe and Obey

“What is a Christian? True Christians are people who acknowledge and live under the word of God… Their eyes are upon the God of the Bible as their Father and the Christ of the Bible as their Savior.” - J. I. Packer

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“God’s Wisdom and Ours” (Chapter 10)

The Attributes of God

  • Incommunicable Attributes
  • Communicable Attributes

When God made man, he communicated to him certain qualities corresponding to his moral attributes. This is what the Bible means when it tells us that God made man in his own image (Gen 1:26-27).

Moral Qualities of the Divine Image:

  • Lost at the Fall
  • Being Renewed through Redemption
  • Fully Restored at Glorification

Among these communicable attributes, the theologians put wisdom. As God is wise in himself, so he imparts wisdom to his creatures.

Where can we find wisdom?

  1. We must learn to reverence God.
  2. We must learn to receive God’s word.

What Wisdom Is Not

Wisdom is not “a deepened insight into the providential meaning and purpose of events going on around us, an ability to see why God has done what he has done in a particular case, and what he is going to do next.” – J. I. Packer

This incorrect view of wisdom from God may lead to:

  • Disappointment
  • Disillusionment
  • Depression

Realism Needed

Wisdom is like driving. “What matters in driving is the speed and appropriateness of your reactions to things and the soundness of your judgment as to what scope a situation gives you… you simply try to see and do the right thing in the actual situation that presents itself. The effect of divine wisdom is to enable you and me to do just that in the actual situations of everyday life.” – J. I. Packer

What Ecclesiastes Teaches Us

The pursuit of wisdom does not provide an understanding of “the reasons of God’s various doings in the ordinary course of providence.” – J. I. Packer

“...the real basis of wisdom is a frank acknowledgment that this world’s course is enigmatic, that much of what happens is quite inexplicable to us, and that most occurrences ‘under the sun’ bear no outward sign of a rational, moral God ordering them at all.” – J. I. Packer

“God’s ordering of events is inscrutable; much as you want to make it out, you cannot do so. The harder you try to understand the divine purpose in the ordinary providential course of events, the more obsessed and oppressed you grow with the apparent aimlessness of everything, and the more you are tempted to conclude that life really is as pointless as it looks.” – J. I. Packer

“...the truth is that God in his wisdom, to make and keep us humble and to teach us to walk by faith, has hidden from us almost everything that we should like to know about the providential purposes which he is working out in the churches and in our own lives.” – J. I. Packer

What Is Wisdom Then?

  • “Fear God and keep his commandments”
  • Trust and obey him
  • Reverence him
  • Worship him
  • Be humble before him
  • Mean what you say when you pray to him
  • Do good
  • Remember God will hold you to account
  • Eschew things you will be ashamed of
  • Live in the present and enjoy God’s gifts
  • Seek grace to work hard at whatever life calls you to do
  • Enjoy your work as you do it
  • Leave providence and the measure of the worth of your deeds to God
  • Take advantage of the opportunities that lie before you

What grounds and sustains this way of wisdom?

  • The conviction that the inscrutable God of providence is the wise and gracious God of creation and redemption
  • We can trust him and rejoice in him, even when we cannot discern his path.

The Fruit of Wisdom

  • Wisdom consists in choosing the best means to the best end.
  • God’s gift of wisdom to us is part of the process of restoring the relationship between himself and human beings.
  • This wisdom is not a sharing in all his knowledge, but a disposition to confess that he is wise, and to cleave to him and live for him in the light of his Word through thick and thin.
  • Thus the effect of his gift of wisdom is to make us more humble, more joyful, more godly, more quick-sighted as to his will, more resolute in the doing of it and less troubled.
  • The fruit of wisdom is Christlikeness—peace, and humility, and love—and the root of it is faith in Christ as the manifested wisdom of God.

“Thus, the kind of wisdom that God waits to give to those who ask him is a wisdom that will bind us to himself, a wisdom that will find expression in a spirit of faith and a life of faithfulness.” – J. I. Packer

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
"God Only Wise" Chapter 9

  • What does the Bible mean when it calls God wise?
  • Wisdom is a moral as well as an intellectual quality, more than mere intelligence or knowledge.

“Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.” – J. I. Packer

  • Wisdom is the practical side of moral goodness.
  • Wisdom is found in its fullness only in God.
  • Wisdom is his essence, as are his other attributes, integral to his character.

Wisdom: Ours and God’s

  • Human wisdom can be frustrated by circumstances outside our control.
  • But God’s wisdom cannot be frustrated because it is allied with his omnipotence.

“Power is as much God’s essence as wisdom is. Omniscience governing omnipotence, infinite power ruled by infinite wisdom, is a basic biblical description of the divine character.” – J. I. Packer

“Wisdom without power would be pathetic, a broken reed; power without wisdom would be merely frightening; but in God boundless wisdom and endless power are united, and this makes him utterly worthy of our fullest trust.” – J. I. Packer

  • God’s almighty wisdom is always active, and never fails.
  • But we cannot recognize God’s wisdom unless we know the end for which he is working.
  • God’s wisdom is not, and never was, pledged to keep a fallen world happy, or to make ungodliness comfortable.
  • What is he after, then? What is his goal?
    • To love and honor him
    • To praise him for his wonderful works in creation
    • To use his creation according to his will
    • To enjoy both his creation and him

“And though we have fallen, God has not abandoned his first purpose. Still he plans that a great host of humankind should come to love and honor him. His ultimate objective is to bring them to a state in which they please him entirely and praise him adequately, a state in which he is all in all to them, and he and they rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love—people rejoicing in the saving love of God, set upon them from all eternity, and God rejoicing in the responsive love of people, drawn out of them by grace through the gospel.” – J. I. Packer

  • This ultimate purpose will only be realized in the next world, in the new heavens and new earth.
  • Meanwhile, God is drawing individual men and women into a relationship of faith, hope, and love toward himself, delivering them from sin and showing forth in their lives the power of his grace.

God Dealing with His People

  • No clearer illustrations of the wisdom of God ordering human lives can be found than in some of the scriptural narratives.
    • Abraham
      • What Abraham needed most of all was to learn the practice of living in God’s presence, seeing all life in relation to him, and looking to him, and him alone, as Commander, Defender and Rewarder.
    • Jacob
      • Jacob’s whole attitude to life was ungodly and needed changing; Jacob must be weaned away from trust in his own cleverness to dependence upon God, and he must be made to abhor the unscrupulous double-dealing which came so naturally to him.
      • Jacob must be made to feel his own utter weakness and foolishness, must be brought to such complete self-distrust that he would no longer try to get on by exploiting others. Jacob’s self-reliance must go, once and for all.
    • Joseph
      • Joseph was being tested, refined and matured; he was being taught during his spell as a slave, and in prison, to stay himself upon God, to remain cheerful and charitable in frustrating circumstances, and to wait patiently for the Lord.

“Once again, we are confronted with the wisdom of God ordering the events of a human life for a double purpose: the individual’s own personal sanctification, and the fulfilling of his appointed ministry and service in the life of the people of God.” – J. I. Packer

Our Perplexing Trials

  • We should not, therefore, be too taken aback when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us now.
    • What do they mean?
    • Simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and he is dealing with us accordingly.

“Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest.” – J. I. Packer

“We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs. Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even where we never saw it here.” – J. I. Packer

  • How are we to meet these baffling and trying situations, if we cannot for the moment see God’s purpose in them?
    • Receive them as from a wise and loving God.
    • Ask ourselves what response to them the gospel requires of us.
    • Seek God’s face specifically about them.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

“because of these surprisingly great revelations… in order to keep me from becoming conceited” (2 Cor. 12:7)

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

“Whatever further purpose a Christian’s troubles may or may not have in equipping him for future service, …they will have been sent us to make and keep us humble, and to give us a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in our mortal lives. And do we ever need to know any more about them than that?” – J. I. Packer

"A Sacrifice of Praise" (Hebrews 13:15-16)
Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday AM, November 24, 2019

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16)

  1. The Mediator of our Praise (“Through Jesus”)
  2. The Endurance of our Praise (“continually”)
  3. The Willingness of our Praise (“let us offer”)
  4. The Declaration of our Praise (“lips that openly profess his name”)
  5. The Practice of our Praise (“do good and share”)

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“The Majesty of God” (Chapter 8)

  • Majesty = Greatness
  • Declaration of Greatness and Invitation to Worship
  • “In Heaven” - God is far above us in greatness, and therefore is to be adored.
  • God’s Majesty - diminished in the modern church

“We are modern people, and modern people, though they cherish great thoughts of themselves, have as a rule small thoughts of God.” – J. I. Packer

“Today, vast stress is laid on the thought that God is personal, but this truth is so stated as to leave the impression that God is a person of the same sort as we are—weak, inadequate, ineffective, a little pathetic. But this is not the God of the Bible!” – J. I. Packer

“Like us, he is personal; but unlike us, he is great. In all its constant stress on the reality of God’s personal concern for his people, and on the gentleness, tenderness, sympathy, patience and yearning compassion that he shows toward them, the Bible never lets us lose sight of his majesty and his unlimited dominion over all his creatures.” – J. I. Packer

Personal Yet Majestic

  • Genesis 1 - God is introduced as both personal and majestic.
  • Not an impersonal force or principle, but a living, personal Being.
  • But an infinite Being, full of majesty, power, and sovereignty.
  • El Shaddai - “God Almighty”

No Limitations

  • How do we rightly think of God’s greatness?
    • Remove from our thoughts of God limits that would make him small.
      • Psalm 139 is a great example of how to think on God’s limitlessness:
        • Limitless Presence
        • Limitless Knowledge
        • Limitless Power
    • Compare him with powers and forces which we regard as great.

The Incomparable One

  • Isaiah 40 is a good example of how to compare God with that which is great to help us think great thoughts of him:
    • God greater than his works
    • God greater than the nations
    • God greater than the world
    • God greater than authorities (great ones)
    • God greater than the stars

Our Response to Majesty

1. “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One” (Is 40:25 RSV). This question rebukes wrong thoughts about God.

“‘Your thoughts of God are too human,’ said Luther to Erasmus. This is where most of us go astray. Our thoughts of God are not great enough; we fail to reckon with the reality of his limitless wisdom and power.” – J. I. Packer

2. “Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God'?” (Isa. 40:27 NIV). This question rebukes wrong thoughts about ourselves.

“He never abandons anyone on whom he has set his love; nor does Christ, the good shepherd, ever lose track of his sheep. It is as false as it is irreverent to accuse God of forgetting, or overlooking, or losing interest in, the state and needs of his own people.” – J. I. Packer

3. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom” (Isa. 40:28 NIV). This question rebukes our slowness to believe in God’s majesty.

“‘What is the trouble?’ he asks. ‘Have you been imagining that I, the Creator, have grown old and tired? Has nobody ever told you the truth about Me?’ The rebuke is well deserved by many of us. 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!” – J. I. Packer

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
Part Two: “Behold Your God!”
“God Unchanging” (Chapter 7)

  • We believe that the Bible is God’s Word
    • A lamp to our feet and a light to our path
    • Gives us the knowledge of God and his will
  • So, we read, but we get discouraged because the Bible is an ancient book from another world.

Two Different Worlds

  • Reading the Bible takes us into the ancient Near Eastern world.
  • It is intensely interesting, but it seems very far away.
  • How can God’s words and deeds in Bible times help us in the modern, digital age?
  • It is hard for us at times to see how the two worlds link up. What is the application for us?
  • The solution is not to resign ourselves to thinking that the Bible will always remain distant for us.

“…the crucial point is surely this. The sense of remoteness is an illusion which springs from seeking the link between our situation and that of the various Bible characters in the wrong place. It is true that in terms of space, time and culture, they and the historical epoch to which they belonged are a very long way away from us. But the link between them and us is not found at that level. The link is God himself. For the God with whom they had to do is the same God with whom we have to do.” – J. I. Packer

  • We worship exactly the same God.
  • God does not change at all.
  • God is immutable.

Not Two Different Gods

1. God’s life does not change.
2. God’s character does not change.
3. God’s truth does not change.
4. God’s ways do not change.
5. God’s purposes do not change.
6. God’s Son does not change.

We Are to Be Like Them

“Where is the sense of distance and difference, then, between believers in Bible times and ourselves? It is excluded. On what grounds? On the grounds that God does not change.” – J. I. Packer

  • Fellowship with God...
  • Trust in his Word...
  • Living by faith...
  • Standing on the promises of God...

Are essentially the same realities for us today as they were for Old and New Testament believers.

“…amid all the changes and uncertainties of life in a nuclear age, God and his Christ remain the same—almighty to save. But the thought brings a searching challenge too. If our God is the same as the God of New Testament believers, how can we justify ourselves in resting content with an experience of communion with him, and a level of Christian conduct, that falls so far below theirs?” – J. I. Packer

Knowing God by J. I. Packer

“He Shall Testify” (Chapter 6)

“Christianity rests on the doctrine of the trinitas, the threeness, the tripersonality, of God.” – J. I. Packer

Another Comforter

• A Person - the Third Person of the Trinity
• A “Comforter”
• “Another”

› “He will care for you.”
› “The Spirit of Truth”

“In the Old Testament, God’s word and God’s Spirit are parallel figures. God’s word is his almighty speech; God’s Spirit is his almighty breath. Both phrases convey the thought of his power in action.” – J. I. Packer

Genesis 1:2–3 NIV
“The Spirit [breath] of God was hovering over the waters. And God said…and there was…”

Psalm 33:6 NIV
“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath [Spirit] of his mouth.”

“The Father will send the Spirit, says our Lord, “in my name”—that is, as Christ’s deputy, doing Christ’s will and acting as his representative and with his authority (Jn 14:26).” – J. I. Packer

“Just as Jesus had come in his Father’s name (5:43), acting as the Father’s agent, speaking the Father’s words (12:49–50), doing the Father’s works (10:25; 17:4, 12) and bearing witness throughout to the One whose emissary he was, so the Spirit would come in Jesus’ name, to act in the world as the agent and witness of Jesus.” – J. I. Packer

Triune Relationships

1. The Son is subject to the Father, for the Son is sent by the Father in his (the Father’s) name.
2. The Spirit is subject to the Father, for the Spirit is sent by the Father in the Son’s name.
3. The Spirit is subject to the Son as well as to the Father, for the Spirit is sent by the Son as well as by the Father.

Divine Yet Ignored

“…the person and work of the Holy Spirit are largely ignored. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the Cinderella of Christian doctrines. Comparatively few seem to be interested in it.” – J. I. Packer

“It is an extraordinary thing that those who profess to care so much about Christ should know and care so little about the Holy Spirit… But many Christians have really no idea what difference it would make if there were no Holy Spirit in the world.” – J. I. Packer

“How can we justify neglecting the ministry of Christ’s appointed agent in this way? 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? – J. I. Packer

Importance of the Spirit’s Work

1. Without the Holy Spirit there would be no gospel and no New Testament.

John 15:26–27 NIV
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

Acts 1:8 NIV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

John 14:26 NIV
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 16:12–14 NIV
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.

“The promise was that, taught by the Spirit, these original disciples should be enabled to speak as so many mouths of Christ so that, [they might] be able to say of their teaching, oral or written, ‘Thus saith the Lord Jesus Christ.’” – J. I. Packer

“The Spirit testified to the apostles by revealing to them all truth and inspiring them to communicate it with all truthfulness. Hence the gospel, and hence the New Testament. But the world would have had neither without the Holy Spirit.” – J. I. Packer

2. Without the Holy Spirit there would be no faith and no new birth—in short, no Christians.

2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

John 3:3 NIV
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“Christ went on to explain that the inevitable consequence of unregeneracy is unbelief — ‘You people do not accept our testimony’ (Jn 3:11). The gospel produces no conviction in them; unbelief holds them fast.” – J. I. Packer

“Should we conclude that preaching the gospel is a waste of time and write off evangelism as a hopeless enterprise, foredoomed to fail? No, because the Spirit abides with the church to testify of Christ.” – J. I. Packer

“To the apostles, he testified by revealing and inspiring, as we saw. To the rest of us, down the ages, he testifies by illuminating: opening blinded eyes, restoring spiritual vision, enabling sinners to see the gospel is indeed God’s truth, and Scripture is indeed God’s Word, and Christ is indeed God’s Son.” – J. I. Packer

“It is not for us to imagine that we can prove the truth of Christianity by our own arguments; nobody can prove the truth of Christianity except the Holy Spirit, by his own almighty work of renewing the blinded heart.” – J. I. Packer

1 Corinthians 2:1 NIV
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.

1 Corinthians 2:4–5 NIV
4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

“And because the Spirit does bear witness in this way, people come to faith when the gospel is preached. But without the Spirit there would not be a Christian in the world.” – J. I. Packer

Our Proper Response

In our faith: Do we acknowledge the authority of the Bible, the prophetic Old Testament and the apostolic New Testament which he inspired? Do we read and hear it with the reverence and receptiveness that are due to the Word of God?” – J. I. Packer

In our life: Do we apply the authority of the Bible and live by the Bible, whatever anyone may say against it, recognizing that God’s Word cannot but be true, and that what God has said he certainly means, and he will stand behind it?” – J. I. Packer

In our witness: Do we remember that the Holy Spirit alone, by his witness, can authenticate our witness, and look to him to do so, and trust him to do so, and show the reality of our trust, as Paul did, by eschewing the gimmicks of human cleverness?” – J. I. Packer

“He shall testify...” “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Knowing God by J. I. Packer
“God Incarnate” (Chapter 5)

Hard to Believe?
          ⦁ Atonement
          ⦁ Resurrection
          ⦁ Virgin Birth
          ⦁ Gospel Miracles

The Greatest Mystery
“The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man—that the second person of the Godhead became the “second man” (1 Cor 15:47), determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that he took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was as truly and fully divine as he was human.”

Who Is This Child?

1. The baby born at Bethlehem was God.

⦁ “In the beginning was the Word” - the Word’s Eternity
⦁ “And the Word was with God” - the Word’s Personality
⦁ “And the Word was God” - the Word’s Deity
⦁ “Through him all things were made” - the Word Creating
⦁ “In him was life” - the Word Animating
⦁ “And that life was the light of men” - the Word Revealing
⦁ “The Word became flesh” - the Word Incarnate

2. The baby born at Bethlehem was God made man.

Athanasian Creed: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man . . . perfect God, and perfect man . . . who although he be God and man: yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the manhood into God.”

Born to Die
“the New Testament knows nothing of an incarnation which can be defined apart from its relation to atonement. . . . Not Bethlehem, but Calvary, is the focus of revelation, and any construction of Christianity which ignores or denies this distorts Christianity by putting it out of focus” - James Denney
 
Made Less than God?

⦁ Philippians 2:7 – “emptied himself”?
⦁ The Kenosis Theory
⦁ A Better Explanation

He Became Poor

⦁ A laying aside of glory
⦁ A voluntary restraint of power
⦁ An acceptance of hardship and servanthood
⦁ A death that involved physical and spiritual agony

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