Knowing God. This is the single most important need of the human heart. Yet all of mankind is fallen, and we cannot know God apart from his revelation. But God. These two words thunder through the pages of the Bible, and lavish grace on sinners. God in his rich mercy has made a way for sinners to know him and to re-enter into a relationship with their creator. The question then, is how? This is what theologian J. I. Packer (1926-2020) discusses in his classic book Knowing God, recently republished by Crossway.
God has revealed himself in two ways (1) general revelation, and (2) special revelation. The first type of revelation is how God has revealed himself in nature, so that all are without excuse (Rom 1). We can know many things about God through general revelation, such as his creativity. God is not dull, he loves beautiful things and he makes beautiful things. Yet studying can tell us about God, but we cannot know him simply through nature. This is why special revelation is crucial. In order for us to know God, he must reveal more about himself than what we see in nature. He has revealed himself in this way through his Word (the Bible) and more specifically through Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh (John 1). Knowing God through special revelation (i.e. the Word) is the focus of Packers attention in Knowing God.
The book is laid out in three parts: (1) Know Your God, (2) Behold Your God, and (3) If God Be For Us. The first part is a primer on who God is. In this section Packer discusses basics theological topics such as biblical revelation, the nature of God, God as triune, God incarnate, etc. The second part of the book is a study of what God is like. In this section Packer discusses the character of God as revealed in Scripture. These include God’s immutability (unchanging), the goodness of God (i.e.)love and grace, as well as the holiness of God (i.e. his wrath and judgment). The third part is an overview of what God has done. In this section Packer discusses topics such as the gospel and the Christian life.
Many Christians find theology boring and unnecessary. The truth is, however, that theology is crucial to life. Theology, at its core, is simply “thinking about God.” Everyone has opinion of what they think God is like, and many of those opinions are misguided. One can only know who God is, what he is like, and what he has done as he has revealed himself in Scripture and through his Son, Jesus Christ. In Knowing God, Packer makes deep truths accessible to everyday followers of Jesus.
Knowing God is an excellent resource for gaining a deeper understanding of the nature and character of God as revealed in Scripture. The short chapters allow the material to be accessible for all who seek to grow in their walk with the Lord. It is a perfect resource for either individual or group study. Knowing God provides a biblical foundation on which to know God rightly, and to seek to know him more.
Knowing God most definitely falls within the Reformed tradition of theological persuasion. A an excellent resource that is similar in scope, but is not written by a Reformed theologian is Thinking About God: An Introduction to Christian Theology, 3rd Ed. by Dr. Fisher Humphreys (Insight Press, 2016).
Photo courtesy of Crossway.
Editor’s Note: This resource was received by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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