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"The Adequacy of God" (Chapter 22, Part 1)

Knowing God by J. I. Packer  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:19
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A Summary of Chapter 22 of Knowing God by J. I. Packer


Knowing God by J. I. Packer

“The Adequacy of God” (Chapter 22, Part 1)

In this chapter, J. I. Packer addresses the unbelief, doubts, and insecurities that hold us back from progress in the Christian life and from fully fulfilling our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ. What holds us back is a failure to trust, to completely rely on the adequacy of God for everything that we need from now to eternity.
In order to show us these truths, he leads us to Romans, because Romans encapsulates much of the Bible’s teachings about God, salvation, and the Christian life.
“All roads in the Bible lead to Romans, and all views afforded by the Bible are seen most clearly from Romans.” - J. I. Packer

Romans: Book of Riches

What those who are wise seek for in the Bible and you can find in Romans:
Doctrine - Truth about God: God, man, sin, law, judgment, faith, works, grace, creation, redemption, justification, sanctification, the plan of salvation, election, reprobation, and the person and work of Christ, the work of the Spirit, the Christian hope, the nature of the church, the place of Jew and Gentile in God’s purpose, the philosophy of the church and world history, the meaning and message of the Old Testament, the significance of baptism, the principles of personal piety and ethics, the duties of Christian citizenship—et cetera!
A Book of Life - showing by exposition and example what it means to serve God and not to serve him, to find him and to lose him in actual human experience.
The Book of the Church, where the God-given faith and self-understanding of the believing fellowship are voiced.
God’s Personal Letter to each of his spiritual children.
The magnificence and depth of Romans can only be appreciated the higher a Christian climbs in the Christian life (as the peak of Everest can only be appreciated after climbing it).
The heart of Romans, Romans chapter 8, can only be truly grasped by plumbing the depths of Romans 1-7.
What does Romans 8 contain?
The adequacy of the grace of God to deal with a whole series of predicaments (1-30):
the guilt and power of sin (1-9)
the fact of death (6-13)
the terror of confronting personal holiness (15)
weakness and despair in face of suffering (17-25)
paralysis in prayer (26-27)
the feeling that life is meaningless (28-30)
The adequacy of the God of grace - the emphasis moves from the gift to the giver, the Christian’s proper response to the grace of God in vv. 1-30 (31-39).

The Doctrines Applied

“What then shall we say in response to these things?” (v. 31)
What defines true Christians in every age:
Commitment to all-round righteousness - yielded to God as “slaves of righteousness” seeking to do the will of God fully.
Exposure to all-round pressures - with material hardship and human hostility as the common lot of all Christians.
What does Paul want to happen to Christians?
He wants them to “possess their possessions” - to know what is theirs in Christ and to live in light of it.
He wants them to know the peace, hope, and joy in God’s love which are the Christian’s birthright.
“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.” - J. I. Packer
“What then shall we say in response to these things?” Paul provides us with four thoughts...

If God Is For Us

“If God is for us, who is against us?”
No opposition can finally crush us.
The adequacy of God as our sovereign protector
The Lord Jehovah - strong and mighty
“This is the God who showed his sovereignty by bringing Abraham out of Ur, Israel out of captivity in Egypt and later in Babylon, and Jesus out of the grave; and who shows the same sovereignty still every time he raises a sinner to spiritual life out of spiritual death.”
The decisiveness of his covenant commitment to us
“For us” - declares God’s covenant commitment
“This covenant relationship is the basis of all biblical religion: when worshipers say “my God,” and God says “my people,” covenant language is being talked. - J. I. Packer
What was Paul’s purpose in asking this question: “If God is for us, who is against us?”
He is countering fear - the timid Christian’s fear of the forces which he feels are massed against him.
Paul knows that sooner or later this becomes a problem for every Christian.
“Think! says Paul in effect. God is for you; you see what that means; now reckon up who is against you, and ask yourself how the two sides compare.” - J. I. Packer
“You will find in thus knowing God as your sovereign protector, irrevocably committed to you in the covenant of grace, both freedom from fear and new strength for the fight.” - J. I. Packer

No Good Thing Withheld

“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?”
No good thing will finally be withheld from us.
The adequacy of God as our sovereign benefactor
The decisiveness of his redeeming work for us
The costliness of our redemption - “He did not spare his own Son.”
“In saving us, God went to the limit. What more could he have given for us? What more had he to give?” - J. I. Packer
“So if God has already commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (5:8), it is believable, to say the least, that he will go on to give us “all things” besides.” - J. I. Packer
The effectiveness of our redemption - “God gave him up for us all.
“This fact is itself the guarantee that “all things” will be given us, because they all come to us as the direct fruit of Christ’s death.” - J. I. Packer
“The unity of God’s saving purpose makes such further giving necessary, and therefore certain.” - J. I. Packer
“The New Testament view is that the death of Christ has actually saved “us all”—all, that is to say, whom God foreknew, and has called and justified, and will in due course glorify. For our faith, which from the human point of view is the means of salvation, is from God’s point of view part of salvation, and is as directly and completely God’s gift to us as is the pardon and peace of which faith lays hold.” - J. I. Packer
“Psychologically, faith is our own act, but the theological truth about it is that it is God’s work in us: our faith, and our new relationship with God as believers, and all the divine gifts that are enjoyed within this relationship, were all alike secured for us by Jesus’ death on the cross. For the cross was not an isolated event; it was, rather, the focal point in God’s eternal plan to save his elect, and it ensured and guaranteed first the calling (the bringing to faith, through the gospel in the mind and the Holy Spirit in the heart), and then the justification, and finally the glorification, of all for whom, specifically and personally, Christ died.” - J. I. Packer
“The saving purpose of God, from eternal election to final glory, is one, and it is vital for both our understanding and our assurance that we should not lose sight of the links that bind together its various stages and parts.” - J. I. Packer
The consequences of our redemption - “God will give us all things.”
The Christian’s sins of infirmity cannot endanger God’s continued acceptance of him.
In forsaking the world for Christ, the Christian is in reality surrendering nothing, because God will in the end give us “all things.”
We may, without fear of lack, commit ourselves wholly to God and God alone, knowing that he is our sovereign benefactor who will give us “all things.”
We are to worship and serve God and God alone, not only because we owe it to him as our redeemer, but also because he is worthy of our entire and exclusive trust. (Israel needed to be loyal to YHWH alone, because he would supply all things - it was an affront to God’s sufficiency and adequacy for them to worship another god depending on that god for anything.)
“We are unlike the Christians of New Testament times. Our approach to life is conventional and static; theirs was not. The thought of “safety first” was not a drag on their enterprise as it is on ours. By being exuberant, unconventional and uninhibited in living by the gospel they turned their world upside down, but you could not accuse us twentieth-century Christians of doing anything like that. Why are we so different? Why, compared with them, do we appear as no more than halfway Christians? Whence comes the nervous, dithery, take-no-risks mood that mars so much of our discipleship? Why are we not free enough from fear and anxiety to allow ourselves to go full stretch in following Christ? One reason, it seems, is that in our heart of hearts we are afraid of the consequences of going the whole way into the Christian life.” - J. I. Packer
“It is these half-conscious fears, this dread of insecurity, rather than any deliberate refusal to face the cost of following Christ, which make us hold back. We feel that the risks of out-and-out discipleship are too great for us to take. In other words, we are not persuaded of the adequacy of God to provide for all the needs of those who launch out wholeheartedly on the deep sea of unconventional living in obedience to the call of Christ. Therefore, we feel obliged to break the first commandment just a little, by withdrawing a certain amount of our time and energy from serving God in order to serve mammon. This, at bottom, seems to be what is wrong with us. We are afraid to go all the way in accepting the authority of God, because of our secret uncertainty as to his adequacy to look after us if we do.” - J. I. Packer
Paul’s “all things” is not a plethora of material possessions, and the passion for possessions has to be cast out of us in order to let the “all things” in. For this phrase has to do with knowing and enjoying God, and not with anything else. The meaning of “he will give us all things” can be put thus: 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?” - J. I. Packer
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