In this chapter I was able to reflect a bit on what justification means to us as believers. In many instances, we tend to feel that the Gospel is only useful to our justification; once we are saved, we leave the Gospel behind. Packer points out that to know God in a genuine and personal way, we must know Him through Christ. I believe that if we fail to constantly remind ourselves of our desperate need of Jesus (the central message of the Gospel), our Christian lives merely becomes works-based all over again. To this end, Packer notes that “if one has been given a good bump of common sense one may frequently be able to use this learning to help floundering Christians of less stable temperament to regain their footing and develop a sense of proportion about their troubles.” This sentence stuck to me as I thought over my own interactions with brothers and sisters in church. Am I trying to use my knowledge to offer them practical advice so that they can help themselves or am I urging them to follow Jesus no matter the circumstances? I think that it’s very tempting for us to return to our old ways of self-improvement and self-help based on our own wisdom instead of surrendering ourselves to God.
The second point that impacted me in this chapter is Packer’s reminder on the four characteristics and the importance of prayer. I must confess that my prayer life is much less than where it should be and the example of Daniel is a very helpful illustration. Perhaps the reason why we are so unfamiliar with God is because we do not dialogue with Him in prayer. E.M. Bounds remarked that: “Prayer is a trade to be learned. We must be apprentices and serve our time at it. Painstaking care, much thought, practice and labour are required to be a skillful tradesman in praying. Practice in this, as well as in all other trades, makes perfect.” May we all enter into a deeper knowledge of God through a revitalized praying life!