As most of you know, I love books. Reading is a passion of mine and has been for a long time. I usually will read a book or two a week. The vast majority of books that I read are theological or Biblical in nature, but occasionally I will venture into the realm of Fiction and History. While I understand that most people are not like me and do not read as much, I do find it extremely helpful in my walk with the Lord to read good Christian books and I would encourage everyone to read as well. These books constantly convict, refresh, and teach and that is why I can’t get enough of them. Since I do believe reading Christian non-fiction books are very profitable in the life of a Christian, I would like to write on that subject in this year’s Voice articles. Each month I am going to take a book that I have read that has had a profound impact upon me, or that I just think is extremely helpful for our church members to read, and explain what the book is about to inspire others to read it. Basically, this year is going to be about Mark’s Recommended Reading List. This month’s book is the classic: Knowing God by J.I. Packer.
While I attended a Christian church throughout high school, I was not actually converted until I went off to college. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area but went off to school to Orange County and Long Beach State. I was out on my own, away from home, but somehow by God’s grace I found a Bible teaching church and it was there that I came to know the Lord. If you haven’t heard, college campuses can be a place that is not very welcoming to born-again Christians. Yes, I had my church family, godly pastors, and even a Christian club that I regularly attended, but the vast majority of my time was spent around unbelievers who encouraged ungodly lifestyles. I knew it was my responsibility to work hard on my spiritual growth and I resolved to settle down and read Christian books during my breaks between classes and other portions of free time.
I can’t even recall how Knowing God entered into my possession. I’m pretty sure I bought it at the local Christian bookstore in Long Beach probably at the suggestion of someone in the church I was attending or because it had a little sticker on it that said it had sold over 1,000,000 copies. That meant it had to be good, right?
The book is exactly what you would expect from the title. It is basically a theological book, written in layman’s terms, to help Christians understand who God is. Each chapter covers a different attribute of God and explains those attributes in ways that help the reader ‘know God.’ There are chapters on God’s love, God’s majesty, God’s wisdom, God’s wrath, etc.
In reality, this is what we are doing when we read or study the Bible. We are trying to learn about God more, to know Him. The Bible was not written as a manual for our life. It contains that, of course, but that is not why it was written. God wrote the Bible to reveal Himself. That’s what the Scripture is. It is a revelation of the Divine, Perfect, Glorious, All-Knowing God. The infinite God has made Himself known to His creatures, and so when we read the Bible, we are discovering more and more what God is like. And because God is infinite, our knowledge of Him is able to grow and grow without ever being exhausted.
Packer does a great job taking these profound theological truths and explaining them in ways any Christian can understand. I remember taking 15-20 minutes between classes and finding a bench somewhere to read a chapter and being amazed at how God can be completely unlike us, but also, command us to be like Him. We can never be unchanging or majestic like God, but we can be loving and wise like God. This is where Knowing God is so helpful. I think over the years I have read through this book numerous times.
I encourage you to get this book and make your ambition in life to know God more and more. There are a lot of things we spend our time trying to know. We try to know about sports, or the stock market, or movie stars. But knowing God should be our ultimate goal. This book will help in that endeavor, but it is not the final stop on that journey. It is merely a help that guides us into knowing Him more and more.
- Pastor Mark Scialabba