J.I. Packer on Knowing God

Finding Beauty in the Creator

Recently, I have been reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer and have found it both encouraging and challenging. I have noticed among young adults my age that the idea of “knowing theology” or true studying of God and his word are not popular things. Today, Christianity seems to be much more of an emotion rather than knowing about the Creator. J.I. Packer reacts to this idea and gives caution by saying:

“The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”[1]

As a college student at a state university, I am surrounded by worldviews that do not take into account anything from God’s word. Far too often this kind of thinking filters its way into the church and distorts peoples’ views of who God is. The danger for so many Christians, and myself included, is to be content with knowing the basics about God and not desiring more. For many in our culture, the human experience has in many ways superseded anything that the Bible has to offer us, and it seems to only be getting worse.

Romans 1 shows the desires of mankind to worship and serve themselves rather than God, and further, to pursue their own passions. Truth is no exception to that problem. We are constantly bombarded by other ideas that tell us there are more important things than God. Knowing who God is has become a chore for many, and popular Christianity today does not seem to view it as important either. Many Christians would rather listen to their favorite worship band than spend time reading God’s word and understanding him personally. Of course, worshiping God is important, but knowing truly who you are worshiping is also critical.

Often Christians complain about not knowing God enough, or saying that studying God is not for them. Even church leaders tend to preach more “relevant” messages rather than deal with the deeper things of God. I have been told many times by other young adults that theology just confuses them or seems difficult to understand so they do not even try. This is a dangerous road to take, because it leaves you uninformed about the Creator of the world, namely, the God who has given his word so you can know about him.

As Packer said, “disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded.” Refusing to spend time with God and to learn more about him will leave you unsatisfied in every other area of your life. You will be left empty searching for the fulfillment that only he can give you. God will never be sweeter to you if he does not continually grow in your heart and mind more and more towards who he truly is. The beauty of our Savior is found in his nature and character, which are exemplified in his works, attested in Holy Scripture.

Study his word today and be amazed at the greatness of the one who chose to save you. Every Christian has the struggle to fight their own desires and spend time with God, but when we are willing to set other things aside and see God for who he is, we will not be disappointed. Do not be foolish and waste your days searching elsewhere. Just like Jesus’ disciples recognized, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68–69). We are all in need of his grace and he is faithful to show us himself.

[1] Packer, Knowing God, 19.