Crossway has a fine series of books being published called “Theologians on the Christian Life,” edited by Stephen J. Nichols and Justin Taylor. I have referenced others here before (e.g., Luther on the Christian Life by C. Trueman); today I call attention to the latest offering: Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit, written by Sam Storms (2015).
The publisher has this brief summary of the book on its website:
J. I. Packer is widely recognized as a pillar of 20th-century evangelicalism and has had a profound impact on millions of Christians living today. Now in his late eighties, Packer still exerts an enormous influence on pastors and laypeople around the world through his many books, articles, and recorded lectures—works that overflow with spiritual wisdom related to the Christian life. In this soul-stirring book, well-known pastor Sam Storms explores Packer’s legacy and profound insights into prayer, Bible study, the sovereignty of God, the Christian’s fight against sin, and more, offering readers the chance to learn from a true evangelical titan.
I started browsing and reading the book this past weekend and found the content a delight as well as edifying, not least because I have enjoyed J.I. Packer’s writings for some time. Storm handles Packer’s voluminous writings with ease and clarity, often quoting him at length – a wise and profitable thing to do!
To give you an idea of the material covered by Storms in this work, here is the table of contents as provided by Crossway:
- Packer the Person: A Puritan, Theological Exegete, and Latter-Day Catechist
- The Central Reference Point for Christian Living: Atonement
- Authority for Christian Living: The Role of the Bible
- The Shape of Christian Living: What Is Holiness?
- The Process of Christian Living: The Meaning and Means of Sanctification
- The Struggle of Christian Living: The Battle with Indwelling Sin (Romans 7)
- The Catalyst for Christian Living: The Person of the Holy Spirit
- Power for Christian Living: The Necessity of Prayer
- Guidance in Christian Living: Discerning the Will of God
- The Cauldron of Christian Living: The Inevitability of Suffering
- The Hub of Christian Living: Theocentricity
- The Conclusion of Christian Living: How to End Well
Appendix: Additional Exegetical and Theological Evidence for Seeing the Man of Romans 7 as a Christian
To give you a little taste of this work and its content, I provide these quotes from Packer himself:
If it is right for man to have the glory of God as his goal, can it be wrong for God to have the same goal? If man can have no higher purpose than God’s glory, how can God? If it is wrong for man to seek a lesser end than this, it would be wrong for God, too. The reason it cannot be right for man to live for himself, as if he were God, is because he is not God. However, ir cannot be wrong for God to seek his won glory, simply because he is God. Those who insist that God should not seek his own glory in all things are really asking that he cease to be God. And there is no greater blasphemy than to will God out of existence (p.27 – from Packer’s Hot Tub Religion, Tyndale, 1987).
You have never told God that, while you are grateful for the means and opportunities of grace that He gave you, you realize that you have to thank not Him but yourself for the fact that you responded to His call. Your heart revolts at the very thought of talking to God in such terms. In fact, you thank Him no less sincerely for the gift of faith and repentance than for the gift of a Christ to trust and turn to…. You give God all the glory for all that your salvation involved, and you know that it would be blasphemy if you refused to thank Him for bringing you to faith. Thus, in the way that you think of your conversion and give thanks for your conversion, you acknowledge the sovereignty of divine grace (p.192 – from Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, InterVarsity, 1971).