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J. I. Packer on the Promises of God

Knowing God

The Promises of God

A few weeks ago I was deeply encouraged when a young woman in our church sent me the following quote from J. I. Packer.

In this quote he gives a passionate plea that we return to the age-old practice of strengthening our faith by praying over God’s promises.

What He Said

“In the days when the Bible was universally acknowledged in the churches as “God’s Word written,” it was clearly understood that the promises of God recorded in Scripture were the proper, God-given basis for all our life of faith, and that the way to strengthen one’s faith was to focus it upon particular promises that spoke to one’s condition.

“Latter-day Puritan Samuel Clark … wrote as follows:

A fixed, constant attention to the promises, and a firm belief of them, would prevent [fear] and anxiety about the concerns of this life.

It would keep the mind quiet and composed in every change, and support and keep up our sinking spirits under the several troubles of life …

Christians deprive themselves of their most solid comforts by their unbelief and forgetfulness of God’s promises. For there is no extremity so great, but there are promises suitable to it, and abundantly sufficient for our relief in it.

A thorough acquaintance with the promises would be of the greatest advantage in prayer. With what comfort may the Christian address himself to God in Christ when he considers the repeated assurances that his prayers shall be heard!

With how much satisfaction may he offer up the several desires of his heart when he reflects upon the texts wherein those very mercies are promised! And with what fervor of spirit and strength of faith may he enforce his prayers, by pleading the several gracious promises which are expressly to his case!

“These things were understood once; but liberal theology, with its refusal to identify the written Scriptures with the word of God, has largely robbed us of the habit of meditating on the promise, and basing our prayers on the promise, and venturing in faith in our ordinary daily life just as far as the promises will take us.”

(J. I. Packer, Knowing God [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1973], p. 115, formatting mine.)

Crucial Quotes

“The promises of God [are] the proper, God-given basis for all our life of faith” — so we must learn, and trust, God’s promises.

“The way to strengthen one’s faith [is] to focus it upon particular promises that [speak] to one’s condition” — so whenever we are weak in faith we should open up God’s word and set our hearts upon appropriate promises.

“A constant attention to the promises, and a firm belief of them, would prevent fear and anxiety” — so fear and anxiety show that we are not trusting some promise in God’s word.

“There is no extremity so great, but there are promises suitable to it” — which means that there is a promise in God’s word for every problem we will ever face.

We must return to “the habit of meditating on the promise, and basing our prayers on the promise, and venturing in faith in our ordinary daily life just as far as the promises will take us.”

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Category: God's Promises

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One Response

  1. Enjoyed your blog. It is amazing how life changes when we believe that God is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do. We are then free from condemnation, fear, and want, among other things!

    – Beth Gable Hicks, author
    “Finding Freedom in God’s Promises”

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