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Knowing God

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  25,219 Ratings  ·  582 Reviews
A lifelong pursuit of knowing God should embody the Christian's existence. According to eminent theologian J.I. Packer, however, Christians have become enchanted by modern skepticism and have joined the "gigantic conspiracy of misdirection" by failing to put first things first. Knowing God aims to redirect our attention to the simple, deep truth that to know God is to love ...more
Published June 1st 2011 by eChristian (first published 1973)
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Kate In our society - not just American, in my case, but also much of the world influenced by Christianity - we have a tendency to throw the phrase…moreIn our society - not just American, in my case, but also much of the world influenced by Christianity - we have a tendency to throw the phrase "knowing God" around flippantly. The homeless and needy need to "know God", the emotionally driven spiritualists "know God" from a religious experience, and many churches throw around the phrase in a way that does not encourage true intimacy and knowledge, but a cliche.

In Chapter 3, Packer talks about what it means to genuinely know God and discusses many of the barriers, tendencies, and truths of this narrow path. In many ways it is a chapter long thesis statement he takes apart throughout the rest of his book.

1. Knowing God does not narrow your world into a dour set of sufferings we have to stoically bear until we meet our Judge. (This idea was common in the 1800s and carried into our time)

2. Knowing God does expand your world, remove boredom, and set on fire a desire to love, honor, and obey Him. Without God everything is a bore; He alone can catch our imagination and claim our allegiance without disappointment. He has swept us into a cosmic epic played throughout the ages.

3. He is not a neighbor, peer, something unknowable or inanimate, but he is above us. To know Him means he first knew us.

4. Knowing God involves knowing God's Word, the Bible.

5. You can only know God if you know Jesus.

6. Knowing about God does not mean you know God.

7. Knowing God is a matter of personal dealing - each person has their own relationship

8. Knowing God is a matter of personal involvement - Mind, will, and feeling. Like really knowing people, you must involve all of yourself in knowing God. With God you can't hide though, and bits of you are broken before him. Sometimes it is a mind obsessed with doubt or the emotions unable to feel for good things after years of abuse. Knowing God means he will clean those wounds and they will heal in time, but it is not usually a comfortable process.

- On the emotional note he puts - There are two camps - extremes - either God is an emotional experience or you can't truly 'know God' if your emotions are too high. Both are self absorbed, one dependent upon their own feelings about God and the other on lofty thoughts. Like all things there is a balance. The things is when people are broken in one area they favor the other, like a crippled leg, because it hurts to heal.

After all of this what really matters as Packer wrote, "is not... the fact that I know God, but the larger fact... that He knows me."

To sum it up, "There is tremendous relief in knowing His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me , so that no discovery can disillusion him about me , in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me. "

The first time I read this I couldn't finish the book because this chapter was so absorbing. It answered questions I didn't know how to word and expressed my own self absorbed crippled state.

The rest of the book is just as beautiful if only because Packer constantly draws us back to Christ.
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Sep 06, 2012 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely the most significant book I've read in the past year, and, next to the Bible, probably had the biggest impact on me of any book I've ever read. I don't even know what to say about it. I could detail/analyze the contents, but others have done that already, and better than I could; I think I'll just say that the Lord used Knowing God (in conjunction with a few other books) to re-calibrate my focus, adjust my priorities, and teach me some huge, huge lessons, at a time when I was in great ...more
If, like me, you were raised going to a Christian church, reading the Bible, and participating in Bible studies, you might think you know all there is to know about God. But the goal of the Christian shouldn't be merely to know about God. We must realize, first, how little we know God and secondly, why it's important to do so. In "Knowing God," Packer stresses the importance of really understanding who God is and attempts to excite and motivate the Christian to strive towards knowing Him better. ...more

"As clowns yearn to play Hamlet, so I have wanted to write a treatise on God. This book, however, is not it."

J.I. Packer begins this book by pointing out that there are two types of probable readers for his book. There are those who are on a journey or in the arena - rather, whatever metaphor you wish to use for actually exploring the notion of Knowing God - and then there are the balcony watchers. The 'balconeers' and travelers may think about the same concept, but there are two different ways
Barry Wallace
Apr 07, 2012 Barry Wallace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I initially bought and read Knowing God almost 35 years ago. I was a new Christian, young and ignorant; but as is true of many young people, I had no idea just how ignorant I really was.

I don't think I can adequately express how thankful I am for Packer's book. It was a Godsend to me. It taught me not simply how to approach theology, but how to approach God himself. It shaped my heart and my mind in ways that I'm certain saved me from making even more mistakes than I did in my exuberant, youthfu
Abigail Hartman
Mar 17, 2013 Abigail Hartman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
An excellent work that I really should have read much sooner. Packer, in the pointed style of many solidly theological British authors before him, carries the reader through the nature of the Triune God; the attributes or perfections of God; and the work of God through justification, sanctification and glorification. I particularly appreciated his emphasis (certainly not excessive or unbalanced) on the work of the Holy Spirit, frequently overlooked, and on the gift of adoption and its implicatio ...more
Mar 04, 2008 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knowing God is a modern Christian classic about the basics of Christian theology, yet it is written at a level that the public can understand. It is pastoral in tone, exhorting the believer to know God truly as He is, not as humans often misconceive. The book is especially good for someone who has never studied theology, but even the person who has will gain something.

Perhaps the most edifying portion of the book comes at the beginning, when Packer stresses the dangers of studying theology for i
Sep 06, 2013 Dkovlak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should be a textbook. The author is truly a genius. One of the great benefits of reading this book is that the author goes into deep analysis in many areas.
David Sarkies
Jan 17, 2015 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to David by: Holy Trinity Church
Shelves: christian
Helping the modern world understand God
30 June 2013

This is sort of one of those books that if you have been a Christian for a while you have probably stumbled across or even read. Well, I'm actually not quite so sure about that now because the book was published over 35 years ago and as is typical for our modern Western culture, the older it is the less relevant it becomes. Personally, I really don't think that this book is necessarily all that irrelevant because the teachings that it proposes
Oct 17, 2007 Jacky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
One of the best books on describing God and how much we need to KNOW Him as a crucial aspect of our worship of Him. There is today far too much heretical teaching even within churches, disabling us from worshiping an objective truth, leading us to worship a variety of different Jesuses instead.

It is crucial for any Christian to read books like this, and familiarise themselves not just with the Bible but with a variety of systematic commentaries and test the Word day-in, day-out.

JI Packer hits sh
Nathan Schneider
There's a reason this book consistently shows up on "Books Every Christian Should Read" lists. I will be reading this one again.
Feb 27, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After Piper's Desiring God, I somewhat dreaded this book, but I was happily surprised and challenged. This is a wonderful book which could easily be read as full of cliches, but if you actually stop to take the cliches seriously, it gets deep and very uncliched very fast. Here's a sampler:
"“Nor is it the spirit of those Christians-alas, they are many-whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing u
Mike E.
I first read this in college (over 20 years ago!). This book is Packer's take on what it means to know God--the God of the Bible in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

For a class I am now teaching, I just re-read it--and I am glad that I did! For some readers this book may be slightly laborious--hang in there. The Lord used this book in many ways during my second reading. Perhaps most significantly and most surprising was Packer's emphasis on adoption toward the end of the book:

"Were I asked t
Catherine Martin
Mar 17, 2010 Catherine Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: to anyone who wants to go deep and truly know God
Shelves: top-ten-books
If you want to read a deep book, this is it. J.I. Packer helped me understand that the greatest thing in life is knowing God. Knowing God became my pursuit in life after reading this book many years ago. I have many favorite chapters and quotes and I read sections of this book again and again. In fact, when I go on retreats with the Lord, I always take this book with me. I especially like the edition with the study guide. There is a great definition of "meditation" in the study guide that I ofte ...more
Josh L
Mar 02, 2012 Josh L rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I cannot recommend J.I. Packer’s Knowing God too highly, primarily because I have never read a book that has more practically changed my own life. No work – obviously excepting the divinely inspired Word of God – has taught me more truth, opened my eyes more often, or spurred me to love God more strongly. As the dustcover says, “J.I. Packer’s classic has revealed to over a million Christians around the world the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God.” I can’t think of a better, more entic ...more
Apr 06, 2012 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I started reading this book I expected to exercise my mind. This book ended up doing so much more than that. No other book has ever challenged me the way this book did. It exercised my mind but also my heart. By studying the attributes of God it becomes impossible to not be totally and completely amazed by Him.

J.I. Packer is a very intelligent man who also has such a heart for God. He continually reminds the reader to not just know ABOUT God, but to also know Him in a way where we are in a
Thomas Kidd
Jan 01, 2015 Thomas Kidd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Critics of this book to the contrary, Packer did not write in a dry, rationalistic manner, but instead produced a warm and encouraging work on knowing and experiencing God. He does not divide the heart from the mind, but encourages the whole man!
Mike (the Paladin)
Excellent book on theology. It leads into a specifically Presbyterian view of God. While I'm not of the same denomination I do find Rd. Packer's insight helpful and interesting.
Patrick McWilliams
Great book. Motivates you to further study and causes you to see yourself as the finite recipient of infinite grace from an infinite God. Packer stumbles a bit in some places with regard to epistemology and impassibility, but these bits are overshadowed by the large amounts of wonderful material which affirms the biblical view of these and many other subjects. Recommended!
D.J. Edmonston
Oct 10, 2015 D.J. Edmonston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspirational
I Love this book. Packer is deep, his insight and theology is equally deep but also inspires. His work instills and reinforces in me as a reader the awesome Power and majesty of God but also the love and compassion of our God and Father. I try and read and reread this book every year, it's that good!
Jul 20, 2015 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Knowing God: a concept worth pondering and a pursuit worth endeavoring. This has probably been my favorite theology book. The use of the word “theology” seems scary to some and impractical to others, but Packer clears this up in the first few pages by letting us know that this “is the most practical project anyone can engage in. Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives.” The study of God informs us who God is which results in a lifestyle and attitude of joyfulness whi ...more
Aug 02, 2015 Eunice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The priority of every human being is to know God in Christ. The book is broken into 3 parts (Know the Lord, Behold your God!, If God Be For Us). Each chapter either reveals an angle of knowing God, an attribute of God or an aspect of the Gospel. It's beautifully laid out - although hard to read because there is much to digest. Best read while reading the study guide concurrently with the chapter - this helped me understand Packer's points and distil each chapter.

A particularly memorable part of
David Woods
First off, I'll say that Packer is definitely a very intelligent, educated guy, far beyond me. I think I would have liked the book a lot better if it were about half its length. After I finished I flipped back through to look at all my underlines and markups, and there were a lot of really profound sections that resonated deeply with me. And then there were a lot of long expositions on topics like Sin, God's Wrath, His severity, propitiation, representative substitution, etc etc. The book reads ...more
This is really a tremendous book and I truly got a lot out of it, giving it 3 stars over all. There was, however, one chapter that almost undid all the blessings I had received up to that point. It was chapter 15 entitled "The Wrath Of God". I was extremely disappointed to find that the author does not believe the orthodox Bible doctrine that the lost are consciously and eternally punished. Unlike the claim of the critics, true Christians take no glee in the reality of Hell and the Lake of Fire, ...more
Alexis Neal
Apr 25, 2016 Alexis Neal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, religion
This. Book. Rocks. Solid, dense, and hard-hitting, Packer presents the reader with a crash course on Christian theology. He starts with the importance of knowing God, then introduces the three persons of the Trinity. From there, he walks through the attributes of God and then clearly, thoroughly, and repeatedly explains the gospel and its effect on the lives of Christians. The end result is both deeply convicting and extremely encouraging.

Packer is particularly focused on the gospel as adoption
Johannes Ardiant
Mar 02, 2012 Johannes Ardiant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Packer argues that knowing God is at the very core of our Christian belief. It humbles ourselves, and provide the utmost consolation to us by knowing that our entire life is in the hand of God, a Spirit infinite and eternal, unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. However we need to be aware of the danger of falling into the pitfall of just "knowing about" God.

He stresses the importance of "knowing God," not just "knowing about God." If we
Chase Collins
May 15, 2011 Chase Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a big book. Not in size, for it is only 286 pages, but in topic. I mean just look at the title. J.I. Packer chose a vast subject in writing this book. Yet he does a remarkable job. Knowing God is considered a modern classic by many and I would have to say that I agree. Packer has written a powerful book.

He starts off the book by clarifying the difference between knowing about God and actually knowing God. There is a vast difference between the two. Later he goes on to discuss several att
Kelly Belvis
Jun 06, 2010 Kelly Belvis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The final 42 pages of 'Knowing God' had a profound effect on me. It was one of those instances where you are reading something at the precise moment when you are experiencing it's topic. The best advice for me from these pages: "Think against your feelings, argue yourself out of the gloom they have spread; unmask the unbelief they have nourished; take yourself in hand, talk to yourself, make yourself look up from your problems to the God of the gospel; let evanelical thinking correct emotional t ...more
Dec 12, 2010 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rated: A

This book is a must read – a true classic for those who are followers of Jesus Christ. With great attention to biblically based theology, Packer pulls from scripture to support his revelations on the true nature, attributes and essence of God. Perhaps it is human nature to worship the God we like and underline the likeable things about God that we read in the Bible. But the one true living God is much more. God is love is positive and reassuring. God is our Father and wants us to be with
May 30, 2013 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everybody always told me that this was a “classic.” But I’ve actually never read it before now. And now I see why. Packer’s insightful treatments of a series of doctrinal concepts related to God and his application of these concepts is a paradigm that has borne a large influence on the past decades of the church. I walked away from the book convicted, thinking, desiring to read more, and loving my God all the more. You simply cannot walk away unchanged from a treatment like that of the adoption ...more
May 11, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars all the way.

I can't think of a single Christian book that has challenged me as much as this one in so many areas of theology.

Every time I listened to a new section it was like hearing things I have grown up with in church in a very refreshing, intelligent way. He teases out so many phrases and attributes of God that apparently I've taken for granted. Who knew that there was so much meaning packed in one word AND how much there was to disentangle in my own understanding of those words b
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What do J. I. Packer, Billy Graham and Richard John Neuhaus have in common? Each was recently named by TIME magazine as among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

Dr. Packer, the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College, was hailed by TIME as “a doctrinal Solomon” among Protestants. “Mediating debates on everything from a particular Bible translation to the acceptabi
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“Wait on the Lord" is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.” 160 likes
“Your faith will not fail while God sustains it; you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you.” 118 likes
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