The Pinnacle of Knowing God
*This final chapter of Packer’s book is much too long to be adequately summarized here, so I will simply encourage you to get a copy of the book and read it for yourself.
In the final chapter, Packer attempts to bring the study to a close by considering what he calls the high peak of the Bible, Romans 8. Without going into extensive detail, which would take a great deal of space, he suggests that this chapter deals with two basic truths: “the adequacy of the grace of God” in v.1-30, followed by “the adequacy of the God of grace” in v.31-39. The apostle Paul is most concerned, according to Packer, with how we respond to the revelation of the grace of God. “Think of what you know of God through the gospel, says Paul, and apply it. Think against your feelings; argue yourself out of the gloom they have spread; unmask the unbelief they have nourished; take yourself in hand, talk to yourself, make yourself look up from your problems to the God of the gospel; let evangelical thinking correct emotional thinking.” In order to help us think through the effects of the gospel on ourselves, Paul asks us to consider 4 important questions.
First: If God is for us, who is against us? Packer says, “what is being proclaimed here is God’s undertaking to uphold and protect us when people and circumstances are threatening, to provide for us as long as our earthly pilgrimage lasts, and to lead us finally into the full enjoyment of himself, however many obstacles may seem at present to stand in the way of our getting there.” In other words, “no opposition can finally crush us.”
Second: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? And Packer explains that “he will give us all things” means “one day we shall see that nothing–literally nothing–which could have increased our eternal happiness has been denied us, and that nothing–literally nothing–that could have reduced that happiness has been left with us. What higher assurance do we want than that?” In other words, “no good thing will finally be withheld from us.”
Third: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? This describes God’s sovereignty in judgment. “If it is God, the Maker and Judge of all, who passes the justifying sentence–that is, who declares that you have been set right with his law and with himself, and are not now liable to death for your sins, but are accepted in Christ–and if God has passed this sentence in full view of all your shortcomings, justifying you on the explicit basis and understanding that you were not righteous, but ungodly, then nobody can ever challenge the verdict.” In other words, “no accusation can ever disinherit us.”
Fourth: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Packer submits that God is adequate as our Keeper in that “you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you.” He further argues that God is adequate as our End in that “in knowing him fully we shall find ourselves truly satisfied, needing and desiring nothing more.” In other words, “no separation from Christ’s love can ever befall us.”
This God, who has given of himself to meet our greatest need and satisfy the demands of his holiness and justice, is our refuge, our counsel, our security, and our source of true joy and eternal happiness. This is truly, as J. I. Packer has said, “as high in the knowledge of God as we can go this side of glory.”