The Gospel and Knowing God

What happens is that the almighty Creator, the Lord of hosts, the great God before whom the nations are as a drop in the bucket, comes to you and begins to talk to you through the words and truths of Holy Scripture. Perhaps you have been acquainted with the Bible and Christian truth for many years, and it has meant little to you; but one day you wake up to the fact that God is actually speaking to you – you! – through the biblical message. As you listen to what God is saying, you find yourself brought very low; for God talks to you about your sin, and guilt, and weakness, and blindness, and folly, and compels you to judge yourself hopeless and helpless, and to cry out for forgiveness.


But this is not all. You come to realize as you listen that God is actually opening his heart to you, making friends with you and enlisting you as a colleague – in Barth’s phrase, a covenant partner. It is a staggering thing, but it is true – the relationship in which sinful human beings know God is one in which God, so to speak, takes them onto his staff, to be henceforth his fellow workers (see 1 Cor 3:9) and personal friends. The action of God in taking Joseph from prison to become Pharaoh’s prime minister is a picture of what he does to every Christian: from being Satan’s prisoner, you find yourself transferred to a position of trust in the service of God. At once life is transformed. – J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 36

So much to say about this quote from Packer’s Knowing God. First, it is a beautiful depiction of the transformational power of the Gospel. The first paragraph leaves the reader “hopeless and helpless” without anywhere to turn to. Then the second paragraph comes in and provides that miraculous hope: not only has God rescued you, but He has also enlisted you.

Second, it is a great description of what Jared Wilson describes as “gospel wakefulness” – when you treasure Christ and what he has done for you more and more. As we better understand this transformation from death to life, from prison to throne room, from convict to colleague, we appreciate the Gospel more and more.

Third, I love the analogy Packer uses with Joseph becoming Pharaoh’s prime minister. I had never looked at that narrative in that light, but it is so true. We were once slaves to sin (and Satan), but at just the right time we were raised up out of the mire and seated in the palace. Not because of anything we did or could do, but because of who God is. We have now been “transferred to a position of trust” as we join God in the renewal of all things. What an amazing transformation! What an amazing task! What an amazing God!

For more amazing quotes from Packer, be sure to pick up this classic: Knowing God.

Brandon Schmidt

I am Brandon Schmidt: writer, husband, father, brother, reader, and laugher.

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