There Will Be No Believers and No Congregations

The Christian’s life in all its aspects – intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness – its supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it.  So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will no believers and no congregations at all.

– J.I. Packer

as quoted by Chan, Francis; Forgotten God: Reversing the Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit; David C. Cook Publishers;  83Colorado Springs, CO; copyright 2009; p.

A Definition and Analysis of Adoption

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; to have His name put upon them, receive the Spirit of adoption; to 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 a father; yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.

– Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 12

as quoted by, J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 201

Taught by the Doctrine of Adoption

The doctrine of adoption teaches us to think of our hope not as a possibility nor yet as a likelihood, but as a guaranteed certainty, because it is a promised inheritance. (Romans 8:16-17; Galatians 4:7)

Next the doctrine of adoption tells us that the sum and substance of our promised inheritance is a share of the glory of Christ. (Romans 8:17; I John 3:2)

Finally, 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.  (John 17:24; Matthew 5:8; Revelation 22:4; I Corinthians 13:12; I John 3:2; I Thessalonians 4:17)

– J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 217-218

Bad Habits and Wrong Thinking

…People have gotten into the practice of following private religious hunches rather than learning of God from His Word; we have to try to help them unlearn the pride and, in some cases, the misconceptions about Scripture which gave rise to this attitude and to base there convictions henceforth not on what they feel but on what the Bible says…modern people think of all religions as equal and equivalent – they draw their ideas about God from pagan as well as Christian sources; we have to try to show people the uniqueness and finality of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s last word to man…people have ceased to recognize the reality of their own sinfulness, which imparts a degree of perversity and enmity against God to all that they think and do; it is our task to try to introduce people to this fact about themselves and so make them self-distrustful and open to correction by the Word of Christ…people today are in the habit of disassociating the thought of God’s goodness from that of His severity; we must seek to wean them from this habit, since nothing but misbelief is possible as long as that persists.

– J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 159

The Christian’s Primary Motive for Holy Living

Only the person who has grasped this [doctrine of adoption] can make sense of Romans 8:28, equally, only can he maintain his assurance of sonship against satanic assault as things go wrong.  Be he who has mastered the truth of adoption both retains assurance and receives blessing in the day of trouble: this one aspect of faith’s victory over the world.  Meanwhile, however, the point stands that the Christian’s primary motive for holy living is not negative, the hope (vain!) that hereby he may be avoiding chastening, but positive, the impulse to show his love and gratitude to his adopting God by identifying himself with the Father’s will for him.

– J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 272

A Flood of Love

Three points in Paul’s words in Romans 5:5 deserve a comment.  First notice the verb “shed abroad” (in KJV).  It means literally poured (or dumped) out.  It is the word used of the “outpouring” of the Spirit Himself in Acts 2:17-18; 33; 10:45; Titus 3:6.  It suggests a free flow and a large quantity – in fact, an inundation.  Paul is not talking of faint and fitfull impressions, but of deep and overwhelming ones.

Then, second, notice the tense of the verb.  It is in the perfect, which implies a settled state consequent upon a completed action.  The thought is that knowledge of the love of God, having flooded our hearts, fills them now, just as  a valley once flooded remains full of water.  Paul assumes that all his readers, like himself, will be living in the enjoyment of a strong and abiding sense of God’s love for them.

Third, notice that the instilling of this knowledge is described as part of the regular ministry of the Spirit. to those who receive him – to all, that is, who are born again, all who are true believers.

– J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 118

God’s Goodness and Severity

The Christians at Rome are not tow dwell on God’s goodness alone, nor on His severity alone, but to contemplate both together.  Both are attributes of God – aspects, that is, of His revealed character.  Both appear alongside each other in the economy of grace.  Both must be acknowledged together if God is to be truly known.

– J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 156

The Gift of Justification

First the gift of justification certainly shields believers from being condemned and banished from God’s presence as sinners.  This appears from the vision of judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, where alongside “the books” recording each person’s works “the book of life” is opened, and those whose names are written there are not “thrown into the lake of fire” as the rest are.  But, second, 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.  This appears from Paul’s warnings to the Corinthians to be careful what lifestyle they build on Christ, the one foundation (I Corinthians 3:12-15)

– J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 146

What Is Wisdom, Anyway?

What what, in this case is wisdom?…”Fear God and Keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13); trust and obey Him, worship Him, be humble before Him, and never say more than you mean and will stand to when you pray to Him (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7); do good (Ecclesiastes 3:12); remember that God will some day take account of you (Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:14), so eschew, even in secret, things of which you will be ashamed when they come to light at God’s assizes (Ecclesiastes 12:14).   Live in the present, and enjoy it thoroughly (Ecclesiastes 7:14; 9:7-10; 11:9-10); present pleasures are God’s gifts.  Though Ecclesiastes condemns flippancy (Ecclesiastes 7:4-6), he clearly has no time for the superspirituality which is too proud or too pious ever to laugh and have fun.  Seek grace to work hard at whatever life calls you to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10), and enjoy your work as you do it (Ecclesiastes 2:24; 3:12-13; 5:18-20; 8:15)  Leave to God its issues; Let him measure its ultimate worth; your part is to use all the good sense and enterprise at your command in exploiting the opportunities that life before you (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6)

– J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 107