Training in Righteousness
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Entries in J.I. Packer (8)


Say it over and over 

Words to encourage, from J.I. Packer, on our assurance:

Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my 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. Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time when your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is utterly and completely true.



Our Perplexing Trials

From Knowing God, by J.I. Packer:

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 attained yet, and he is dealing with us accordingly. 

Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under especially difficult conditions. Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us. Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit. 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 the heaviest. 


Utterly realistic

From J.I. Packer, Knowing God:

What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it -- the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me, and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.

This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort -- the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates -- in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.


Rediscover holiness

As praise to God for his transcendent greatness is the doxological basis of holiness, so commitment to spend one's life expressing gratitude for God's grace, every way one can, is its devotional basis. As the Puritans used to say, the heart of holiness is holiness in the heart. The holy sacrifice that gives God pleasure is the Christian whose heart never ceases to be grateful to him for his grace. God is pleased with the Christian whose aim every day is to express that gratitude by living to him, through him, and for him, and who is constantly asking, with the psalmist, "What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?" (Psalm 116:12).

I read this on the weekend from the The J.I. Packer Classic Collection. It's quoted from his book Rediscovering Holiness. It has been on my mind a lot since I read it.

How concerned are we with personal holiness? Are we more concerned with our favourite issues than holiness? How concerned are with with the day to day thoughts and actions that make up the majority of our lives? How is our holiiness reflected in our conduct? How often do we think about verses like Romans 12:1-2, and think about how we can offer our lives as a living sacrifice?

Are we more concerned with being right? Being noticed? Getting attention? Having the last word? How often do we claim our desire for importance and attention is "ministry?" How often are we willing to be unnoticed and ignored?

Sad to say, many who consciously want to pursue holiness are often labelled legalists. The fact of the matter is that living a holy life does require making conscious decisions to put ourselves in places where holiness happens. I will have a lot of trouble with holiness if all I care about is how much attention I'm getting, or how often I'm right. I may a little dense, but somehow, I think holiness has a lot to do with making myself of no account.

I suppose this isn't a very Christmasy thought. But isn't that exactly what Christ did by being born in human flesh? Make himself of no account? Isn't that what we celebrate in December? 


Words worth repeating

Daily; hourly, if necessary:

The source of strength is the knowledge of God, recalled, reviewed, refocused, thought through, and applied to the matters in hand.

J.I. Packer, A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom From the Book of Nehemiah.