Sunday, November 19, 2006

A conversation with J.I. Packer

The November issue of Decision Magazine contains a conversation with J.I. Packer in which he talks about knowing God. Here is a sample:
Q: What are the disciplines in your own life that you have found helpful in experiencing the reality of knowing God?
A: For me, the stewing over the Bible has been a really formative thing. “Soaking” yourself in Scripture is another way of putting it. Reading, re-reading and thinking about what I’ve read in Scripture, frankly, just enriches me more and more as I get older. As I do this, I’m able to see each bit of Scripture that I read more clearly in relation both to the rest of what’s in the Bible and the moral practical realities of human life—my life and the life of people around me. That insight grows as one becomes more and more, shall I say, impregnated with Scripture, as the truth sinks down to a deeper and deeper level of one’s mind. As we take the Bible into our system by reading and re-reading and meditating on the truths, we see more clearly, and our minds are transformed at a very deep level. At any rate, and I imagine I’m not alone in this, I often find that I have faults, insights, perceptions, references to Scripture and applications of Bible truth that come out in discussion that I didn’t consciously know I had until the discussion pulled them out of me. We take in more than we know when we allow ourselves to read the Bible thoughtfully and meditate on what we discern.
I just love the rich expressions Packer uses: "stewing over" and "soaking" oneself in the Scriptures or being "impregnated" with the word of God. These expressions bring to mind the fact that God's word provides the believer with more than mere information.
I'm reminded of the polluting effect of life in this world. The Lord knows that in my work at a public high school I daily hear and see things which tend to pollute the soul. It can't be avoided. Can you relate? How necessary it is, then, for Christ's followers to regularly "soak" themselves in God's cleansing, healing word.
The word "impregnated" naturally speaks of an intimate relationship. Of course, there is no relationship with God apart from His word. However, if we, as believers, are to know God deeply, we must spend daily, unhurried time alone with God in His word.

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