J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Knowing God or No’ing God

noThe following is a quote from the book “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer.  Though I fear quoting such a long section, I cannot help but post these two paragraphs from the second chapter.

The attitude we show to the world is a sort of dried-up stoicism miles removed from the ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’ which Peter took for granted that his readers were displaying (I Peter 1:8).  ‘Poor souls,’ our friends say, ‘how they’ve suffered’ – and that is just what we feel ourselves!  But those private mock heroics have no place at all in the minds of those who really know God.  They never brood on might-have-beens; they never think of things they have missed, only of what they have gained.  ‘What things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ,’ wrote Paul.  “Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:  for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him…that I may know him…’ (Phil 3:7-10).  When Paul says he counts the things he lost ‘dung’ he means not merely that he does not think of them as having any value, but also that he does not live with them constantly in his mind:  what normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of manure?  Yet this, in effect is what many of us do.  It shows how little we have in the way of true knowledge of God.

We need frankly to face ourselves at this point.  We are, perhaps, orthodox evangelicals.  We can state the gospel clearly, and can smell unsound doctrine a mile away.  If anyone asks us how men may know God, we can at once produce the right formulae – that we come to know God through Jesus Christ the Lord, in virtue of His cross and mediation, on the basis of His word of promise, by the power of the Holy Spirit, via a personal exercise of faith.  Yet the gaiety, goodness, and unfetteredness of spirt which are the marks of those who have known God are rare among us – rarer, perhaps, than they are in some other Christian circles where, by comparison, evangelical truth is less clearly and fully known.  Here, too, it would seem that the last may prove to be first, and the first last.  A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge of Him.

Whew, if I wasn’t so convicted by what Packer was saying, I would yell to him telling him how insensitive he is to those in need.  But you know what, he is not being insensitive.  People hurt and suffer – look at what Peter was dealing with in his letter – but Packer is saying that knowing God, really knowing Him intimately and not just cognitively, is a balm to our souls.  It is the glimpse of happiness that we hope for in the midst of trials and regrets.  To flesh that out, Packer gives these maxims for us to consider…

One can know a great deal about God without much knowledge of Him.

One can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of God.

So what does the knowledge of God look like then?

Those who know God have great energy for God.

Daniel 11:32 “The people that know their God shall stand firm and take action”

Those who know God have great thoughts of God.

Daniel 2 “Blessed be the name of God for and ever:  for wisdom and might are His:  and He changes the times and the seasons:  He removes kings, and sets up kings:  He gives wisdom, He knows what is in the darkness and what is in the light.”

Those who know God show great boldness for God.

Acts 20:24 “Neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy.”

Those who know God have great contentment in God.

Romans 5:1 – ‘being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’


First, we must recognize how much we lack knowledge of God – “We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge about God, not by our gifts and responsibilities in the church, but by how we pray and what goes on in our hearts.  Many of us have no idea how impoverished we are at this level.”

Second, we must seek the Savior – “It is those who sought the Lord Jesus till they have found Him – for the promise is that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we shall surely find Him – who can stand before the world to testify that they have known God.”

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner


September 19, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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