J. I. Packer is perhaps one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Like C. S. Lewis before him, he has spent a lifetime popularizing complex theological ideas and reaching a diverse audience through winsome writing alive with passion and charisma. The author of many classic books on the Christian life and theology (see our recommendations below), the theologian continues to inspire Christians across the theological spectrum.
This fall, Lexham Press is releasing Pointing to the Pasturelands, which recovers decades of Packer’s insights from his columns and articles in Christianity Today. Pre-order Pointing to the Pasturelands in the digital Logos edition and hardcover now! (Hint: when you order a paper book through Lexham Press, shipping is free in the US.)
In his honor, we’re sharing some of our favorite J. I. Packer quotes:
Whatever else in the Bible catches your eye, do not let it distract you from Him. –J. I. Packer Click To Tweet
“I need not torment myself with the fear that my faith may fail; as grace led me to faith in the first place, so grace will keep me believing to the end. Faith, both in its origin and continuance, is a gift of grace.”
He that has learned to feel his sins, and to trust Christ as a Savior, has learned the two hardest and greatest lessons in Christianity. –J. I. Packer Click To Tweet
“How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”
Real spiritual growth is always growth downward, so to speak, into profounder humility, which in healthy souls will become more and more apparent as they age. –J. I. Packer Click To Tweet
“Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”
We are only living truly human lives just so far as we are labouring to keep God's commandments; no further. –J. I. Packer Click To Tweet
“A God whom we could understand exhaustively, and whose revelation of Himself confronted us with no mysteries whatsoever, would be a God in man’s image, and therefore an imaginary God, not the God of the Bible at all.”
The purpose of the church is to make the invisible kingdom visible through faithful Christian living and witness-bearing. –J. I. Packer Click To Tweet
“For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”
Good works begin with praise, worship, and honoring and exalting of God as the temper of one’s whole waking life. Click To Tweet
“The pursuit of holiness is thus no mere private hobby, nor merely a path for a select few, but a vital element in Christian mission strategy today. The world’s greatest need is the personal holiness of Christian people.”
Prayer to God as Father is for Christians only. –J. I. Packer Click To Tweet
“Catechesis is the church’s ministry of grounding and growing God’s people in the Gospel and its implications for doctrine, devotion, duty, and delight.”
Any theology that does not lead to song is, at a fundamental level, a flawed theology. –J. I. Packer Click To Tweet
A deepening sense of one’s sinfulness remains a touchstone of the genuine Christian life. –J. I. Packer Click To Tweet
“What we often feel in ecstatic moments in this world—’I don’t ever want this to stop’—will be the constant thought of our hearts in that world. We shall think it, knowing that in fact it never will stop.”
“My advice to a new husband is nothing more than ‘husbands, love your wives.’ And ‘love your wife as Christ has loved the church.’ Never forget that you are Christ’s representative in serving your wife.”
“The Puritan ethic of marriage was first to look not for a partner whom you do love passionately at this moment but rather for one whom you can love steadily as your best friend for life, then to proceed with God’s help to do just that.”
Dig into J. I. Packer’s books on doctrine, holiness, and the Christian life
Reflect on evangelicalism, doctrine, and culture
Pointing to the Pasturelands recovers several decades of Packer’s contributions to the pages of Christianity Today. This includes his editorial columns, longer articles, and brief answers to readers’ theology questions. The book concludes with a profile of Packer from Mark A. Noll. Enjoy timeless insights from a man whose life was devoted to knowing God and making him known.
Study formative Christian creeds, commands, and prayers
In Affirming the Apostles’ Creed, Packer explains the meaning and implications of each phrase of the creed. Each concise chapter serves as an invitation to dive further into the essentials of the Christian faith via the creed and concludes with discussion questions and suggestions for further study.
Similarly, in Praying the Lord’s Prayer, Packer presents a powerful truth: that prayer is a natural activity between the Heavenly Father and his children. As Packer works through each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, readers will begin to grasp the basic principles and guidelines of prayer set out by Christ and strengthen their own prayer life.
In Keeping the Ten Commandments, Packer probes the purpose and meaning of the commandments, which he believes are often mistakenly viewed as a legalistic list of dos and don’ts. Under Packer’s guidance, readers discover that these precepts are God’s blueprints for the best life possible—containing the wisdom everyone needs for relational, spiritual, and societal blessing.
Focus on holiness and growth
In the classic A Quest for Godliness, Packer explores the depth and breadth of Puritan spiritual life. Drawing on a lifetime of study, he surveys the lives and teachings of great Puritan leaders such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Jonathan Edwards. He examines the Puritan view of the Bible, spiritual gifts, the Sabbath, worship, social action, and the family. The Puritans’ faith, Packer argues, stands in marked contrast with the superficiality of modern western Christianity.
Then, in A Passion for Faithfulness, Packer takes an enlightening and lively look at the book of Nehemiah, gleaning from this man’s life key principles of leadership, decision-making, obedience, and godliness that leaders need today.
Explore challenging topics
In Weakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength, Packer argues that for Christians, weakness should be a way of life. Yet many believers desperately try to be self-sufficient, resenting their needs and limitations. Reflecting on his own life experiences of frailty—having been hit by a truck at a young age—Packer teaches the importance of embracing frailty and looking to Christ for strength, affirmation, and contentment.
Richard Baxter’s timeless memoir of his wife’s life and death describes a love story, not of fairy tales, but of faithfulness from beginning to end. After losing his wife of 19 years, Baxter sought consolation and relief in Scripture and writing. Within days, he produced a poignant lover’s tribute that has become a classic memoir. In A Grief Sanctified: Through Sorrow to Eternal Hope, Packer has added his own astute reflections along with his edited version of Baxter’s memoir. Packer guides you through six of life’s realities—love, faith, death, grief, hope, and patience—comparing and contrasting the world’s ideals with those of the Bible. The powerful combination of Packer’s insights and Baxter’s grief provides a beacon in the often dark realm of grief.
Explore more J. I. Packer works in Crossway’s J. I. Packer Collection, which includes these resources and also God’s Plans for You, Growing in Christ, and Taking God Seriously.
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More about J. I. Packer:
- J. I. Packer (1926–2020): Known by God
- J. I. Packer on the Cure for Charlie Brown Syndrome
- J. I. Packer on Preaching and Listening to Sermons
- J. I. Packer on Why We Still Need the Puritans
- J. I. Packer’s Timeless Bible Study Advice