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Knowing God

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  41,206 ratings  ·  919 reviews
For over thirty years, 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. Now more than ever, next to Scripture, this could be the most significant book you will read this year ... or next.
Paperback, 286 pages
Published 1993 by Intervarsity Press (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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Ellen
Sep 03, 2012 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
Linda
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
Jonathan Terrington

"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
...more
Ezra
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Packer's dispensation of wisdom is matched only by the dispensation of tote bags at university open-days. His delivery of insight only matched by Amazon prime. The grounded-ness of his doctrine matched only by the groundy-ness of terribly made coffee.

Each chapter discusses something different about God as Packer unPACKs (see what I did there) potent biblical doctrines; doctrines of a very much varied and occasionally overlooked nature. I really enjoyed the way in which the author addresses the
...more
Jeremy
Early on in the book, I thought that I might give it 3 stars, because it didn't seem that groundbreaking, as far as what I was learning from it. I realized that that was a testament to the good teaching that I have received throughout the years. But as I heard more, some really good parts jumped out, and I came to value the book much more. I should read my paperback edition sometime, which includes the preface from 1993. Packer turned 93 soon before I finished.

Preface (1973)
feels like a clowns
...more
Barry Wallace
Apr 07, 2012 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,
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Aaron Ventura
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s a classic for a reason.
Becky Pliego
2018: When a Theology book touches the mind and the heart, it is worth reading.

2012: A Theology book that touches deep within your heart, brings you to your knees and makes you cry is worth reading/ listening at least once a year, every year.

I had read this book before but this time (August 2012), I am listening to this audio version which I am loving. The narrator, Simon Vance, does an amazing job, not to mention that he is British which is perfect because Packer is British as well. Each
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Andrew Pendleton
Though it was originally said of Jonathan Edwards, I feel that this can also be said of Packer in this book: his doctrine was all application, and his application was all doctrine. Therefore “Knowing God” is full of heart-searching application of amazing gospel truths and attributes of God. I especially appreciated and benefitted from his chapters on adoption and God’s guidance in the life of a believer.
Jacky
May 19, 2007 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
...more
Abigail Hartman
Feb 12, 2013 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 ...more
Andy Bonikowsky
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereads
Jan 2, 2019... starting the 27th reading. Finished on Jan 27, all I can say is WOW, what a blessing!
Jan 13, 2018... reading for the 26th year. 20180204
(Feb 6, 2017... starting this book for the 25th year...20170418)
(Mar 30, 2016) ALMOST LIKE FIREWORKS. Just finished my 24th reading-- can't wait 'till next year again! For years I have considered the 22nd chapter (The Adequacy of God) as the best one I've ever read outside the Bible. It's kind of like the eight nights of the international
...more
Rob
Jan 21, 2008 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
...more
Dkovlak
Mar 04, 2013 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.
Brian
Feb 19, 2012 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
...more
David Sarkies
Jun 24, 2013 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
...more
Josiah Brown
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
J.I. Packer's plain explanation of the character of God is so easy to understand! He pointed things out to me right and left that I realized I didn't really know about God, or that I didn't really appreciate before. Packer shows clearly how all the things in his book are derived from scripture, and how the scriptures help us to understand and get to know God better. A great book, and one that has changed the way I look at the scriptures, and the Creator Himself.
Jeremy
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best Christian books I've ever read. Comprehensive, worshipful, informative. It's convicting to consider knowing facts about God (steeped in theology ... not that this is bad) without knowing God himself (perhaps, experientially). Highly commend.
Catherine Gillespie
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, theology
Knowing God by J.I. Packer is one of THE best books on being a Christian that I have ever read. Although Packer’s writing style is accessible and engaging, the topics he deals with are deep and require lots of thought so this is not a book to be read quickly. I took months to read through it in little bits and got so much out of it that I scarcely know where to begin.

The book turns on the central thesis that in order to pursue the Christian life rightly, the Christian’s life focus must be to
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Ashley Tegart
I highly recommend this book! Knowing God is an excellent introduction to theology. It's fairly short (about 300 pages), but is a wonderful, biblical look at the nature of God.
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.
Josh
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply outstanding. One of the few modern must-reads. Also read in 2013.
Hannah Ross
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, a quietus for every grief, and in the influence of the Holy Spirit, a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so ...more
Dawn
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is like sitting down with a loving and honest pastor and listening to them talk straight to your questions and concerns about the Christian life. Perhaps you would have thought that your own behavior would be addressed, or your shortcomings, or your strengths. But no, as you listen and absorb the material presented, you realize that the information is so much more vital and life-changing than anything like that. Just as in Scripture, the writer is focusing instead on God and ...more
Hudson Christmas
Knowing God by J.I. Packer is one of the foundational theological books that every Christian should read at least once (if not more) in their lifetime. In his book, Packer identifies and analyzes the many attributes of God and how they should change the believer's perspective and walk, culminating in a glorious and joy-filled chapter on Romans 8.
Sadly, it took me quite a while to finish this book, but I will chalk that up to the fact that life was busy and this book is dense, but in the best
...more
Rachel
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite chapter was definitely 19 "Sons of God" speaking on being adopted as a child of God.

"Good parents never simply ignore what their children are saying, nor simply disregard their feelings of need, and neither does God; but often He gives us what we should have asked for, rather than what we actually requested."
Josh Kary
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can’t believe I completed Seminary without reading Packer’s classic! A must read.
Matt Witten
Incredibly challenging, thorough but digestible, and impactful. I think this will be a book I revisit multiple times through my life.
Noah Austria
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charles Spurgeon:
"It has been said that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

There is something exceedingly improving to the mind
...more
Cara DeBenedictis
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really really dense. But SO good. So 1 less star for readability but dang, full of really good truths.
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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
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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.” 196 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.” 139 likes
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