Summary: Christians must study God rigorously, for there is no higher calling. The Christian concept of God’s ability to be known is unique and should be a great resource, comfort and motivation for Christians. God is known chiefly in Jesus, the incarnation of God himself, which we know through the Bible and with the illumination of the Holy Spirit. God has unchanging authority. He love and tenderness are manifested at times in his wrath and anger. His wisdom guides us. Practically, all this means that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us gives us the right to be adopted into his family and have strong intimacy with the Almighty. This grace and intimacy are the resources we need to walk through life’s uncertainties, struggles, and pains.
Critique: Packer packs a punch! This dense book contains more than it seems. Packer starts with some introductory prolegomena and then launches into characteristics of God, and finishes the book with several chapters of very practical application based on the sound theology of the middle section. Each chapter, though, ends with pastoral advice on the meaning of the particular doctrine discussed, with compassion and sensitivity. There is a reason this book is so popular. Each chapter is quite separate in its thought, and they are arranged thematically, and do not necessarily flow from one to the other well. After all, they each began as separate articles in a magazine.
The section on adoption is particularly helpful, and since he wrote it, more has been written on the topic, but still not enough, I think. Some explanation and help with spiritual disciplines might make the book stronger. That is, how can we meditate on these matters? How can we feel more deeply the truths presented here?
Highly recommended. This is a classic for good reason. Don’t borrow it, buy it and read it over and over.
Best Quote: “But this is not to says that justification is the highest blessing of the gospel. Adoption is higher, because of the richer relationship with God that it involves. Some textbooks on Christian doctrine – Berkhof’s for instance – treat adoption as a mere subsection of justification, but this in inadequate.” p. 207.