Adopted

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 
(Ephesians 1:5-6)

During my time of daily worship this morning, the following quote, and devotional suggestion, from J. I. Packer’s Knowing God popped into my mind from the chapter titled “Sons of God.” (If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend you grabbing a copy.) In this chapter, Packer explains the importance of the theme of adoption within the Christian faith. Although I was familiar with the theme, after reading this book, I saw it from a fresh perspective. Packer argues that, as Christians, we should meditate on this biblical truth.

He writes,

Meanwhile, the immediate message to our hearts of what we have studied in the present chapter is surely this: Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too. Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time when your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is all utterly and completely true. For this is the Christian’s secret of – a happy life? – yes, certainly, but we have something both higher and profounder to say. This is the Christian’s secret of a Christian life, and of a God-honoring life, and these are the aspects of the situation that really matter. May this secret become fully yours, and fully mine.

I’ve taken Packer up on the challenge to meditate on this truth. Will you do the same?

3 Responses to God’s Goodness and Severity

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading J.I. Packer’s Knowing God in a Systematic Theology class. I’ve tried to read slow, taking notes, and making highlights as I work through the pages of this classic. Some pages in my book seem as if a rainbow exploded on the pages from all my highlights. If you haven’t read this one yet, I recommend you grabbing a copy and settling in with a cup of coffee (or tea). You won’t regret it, because it is deep, but at the same time accessible.

In Chapter 16, Packer deals with the seemingly contrary concepts of God’s goodness and His severity (see Rom 11:22). Although I risk oversimplifying his work, Packer argues many focus on the goodness of God to the neglect of the severity of God. In short, this fixation creates a “Santa Claus theology” that misrepresents the God of the Bible. We must remember God is good, but it is a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God” (Heb 10:31).

Packer gives three responses to the both the goodness and severity of God. I would like to share these responses with some of my own thoughts.

1. Appreciate the goodness of God.

God is good, and all good things come from Him (Jms 1:17). There is not a blessing you and I receive that doesn’t pass through our Father’s hand. We should be grateful for even the smallest blessing.

2. Appreciate the patience of God.

Next, we are to appreciate God’s patience. The scariest declaration in the Bible is that God is good. Why? Because we are not good. We are rebellious creatures and if we do not repent and be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, the wrath of God will be poured out on us. Therefore, when we understand the goodness of God, we should also be grateful for His patience towards us.

3. Appreciate the discipline of God

Finally, it is God’s goodness that causes Him to chastise us. Much like a loving parent, disciplining us for our betterment, God uses events and situations to conform us to the image of His son. When we realize this, we can appreciate both God’s goodness and severity.

J.I. Packer, Knowing God, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2021), 158-166.

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Feelings & Theology

Over the past few months, I’ve returned to Belhaven University to finish my MA in Biblical and Theological Studies. It was a needed hiatus, but I’m glad I returned. I finished my first course in Old Testament Histories last week. The study of how the theme of kingship develops through 1 Samuel to Nehemiah gave me some ideas for a fantasy series (I may write about this in the future). However, today makes the end of my first week in Systematic Theology and so far, it’s amazing!

The assigned texts are John Frame’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief and J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. The program also uses video lectures from Third Millennium Ministries. This week’s video lesson is called “What is Theology?” In the video, they state the primary goals of theology as orthodoxy (right thinking), orthopraxis (right behavior), and orthopathos (right feelings). The first two concepts are familiar to many, but the last idea of having correct emotions is often overlooked. We should balance these three in order to make sure our theology is sound.

Why is the emotional goal of theology not as familiar? I can only speak to my faith tradition, which is protestant evangelical. Our tradition teaches us that our feelings are not to be trusted. Feelings are subjective. However, the video argues that proper feelings are important for a wholistic theology. I found this very interesting. Here is a link to the video here. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments section.

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