Dr. J. I. Packer: Thoughts for New and Old Christians

At last night’s service in Bath with Dr. J. I. Packer we were treated to a quick question and answer time before the main message (which incidentally was taken from Luke 1:67-80 entitled, “Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment.”) From this Q & A session I want to highlight three questions and their answers that I found particularly insightful and helpful.

1. What advice would you give to Christians young in the faith?

  • “Soak yourselves in Scripture.” Packer hit first and foremost the absolute neccesity that we need to be in the Bible often. Packer is in his 80’s I believe and he mentioned that fact that people don’t read their bibles as their fathers and grandfathers once did. What does that mean for me who could be his great-grandson?!

    At this point he talked about the ESV Study Bible for which he served as Theological Editor and mentioned that is much more than just another study Bible, but rather it is, “put together as a resource for the Christian life.” That is, that the study Bible complete with articles, notes, charts, maps etc. was designed to help the Christian in all matters of their faith.

  • The next point that he made was that we need to be in prayer. We were exhorted to, “practice prayer, both in company, and on your own.” As well as having a life of personal prayer we need to, “get into a prayer group.” Packer stressed the importance of the Christian walk being that as a walk of fellowship, and not isolation.

    I thought that was great coming from a man who might actually be able to remember the beginning of modernity. I find that many among the crowd who want to do church in a ‘post-modern’ way seem to think that they have discovered ‘community’ for the first time. Ahh, but not so. Because it, as with other doctrines, have been dismissed by some in some generations in the past does not mean that it is a new or bold discovery.

  • Dr. Packer also told us that we need to be actively seeking to discover what gifts God has given to us. When we discover our gifts we can then begin to use them! We are “saved to serve” and church is not a place to sit idly by without joining in and fulfilling our own unique role in the body (Col. 1:24 – verse added).

And what about Christians at the other end, those much older in their faith?

  • “Remember that the Good Lord never changes.” I’m only 25 so I’m nodding appropriately and writing and thinking that hopefully one day this might mean a little more to me. All I can take it for is that when you have seen a lot of life, and a lot of change, we must remain strong and take heart in the Unchanging One.
  • “Remind yourselves of the works of God.” This is one that I think is good for us all. We must remember to be thankful and give praise to God for the wonderful things that He has done in our lives.

3. For what can we pray for you?

Finally, the question was asked for what can we pray for Dr. Packer? As you may know, Dr. Packer and others from his church have been having a rough run of it of late. The whole sad ordeal to me highlights the state of some parts of the church. The glimmer of hope to be found is in the people who made a stand, take God at His word and take His Word very seriously.

It is a brave man who is still very much passionate about His God to stand firm, when He has been standing so strong for all his life. Dr. Packer in this regard is an inspiration to me and a testimony of the Holy Spirit’s grace that enables sinners to run hard, run strong, and finish well. My prayers will be with him and his church over the next few weeks.