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A Tribute to J.I. Packer Upon His Departure to be with Christ

J.I. Packer departed to be with the Lord yesterday at the age of 93.  He was a great theologian.  He was a greater Christian.  His writings always educated me but they also filled my heart with passion to  love, serve, know, and reverence God.   

He summed up Christianity in three words.  “Adoption through propitiation.”  That is lost upon most Christians in our day.  They have no idea what propitiation means.  Yet, I would contend it is the most important word in the Bible (cf. Rom. 3:25, 1 John 2:2; 4:10). 

1 John 4:10: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Jesus’s sacrificial death was propitious in its effect upon God.  It removed his wrath and made the way for his grace.  The highest expression of that grace is adoption.  The moment a person believes in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, he goes from being a children of wrath to a child of God.  God becomes his Father.  He is adopted. 

1 John 3:1: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 

Knowing God is his most read book.  That is where this quote is found.

“Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation.” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 194)

My personal favorite (though it is hard to choose) is Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs.  It is excellent.  I used it to help teach my four children the essential doctrines of the Christian faith.  I also quoted it often to my students in the Sovereign Grace Pastors College while teaching Systematic Theology.  From my perspective, no one has expressed theological truths with more clarity and conciseness than perhaps R.C. Sproul.

That is also apparent in the ESV Study Bible.  Packer was the Theological Editor.  From cover to cover, it puts forth a gush of outstanding theology in introductions, commentary and articles.  He considered it his greatest contribution to the Church.  I’d encourage people to read and study them.  In my opinion, it is the finest study Bible in existence though the translation is not my preferred one.

J.I. Packer was a man of sincere faith.  No one was a greater gentleman.  What he taught he lived.  He lived it because he loved it.  Not the doctrine by itself, but the God of the doctrine that was revealed through it.  That is what we need in our day. 

Other Tributes

Remembering J.I. Packer

Regent College

July 17, 2020

Theologian and churchman J.I. Packer dies at age 93

“God saves sinners” was his simple summation of the gospel

By Jamie Dean

July 17, 2020

J. I. Packer (1926–2020)

Justin Taylor

July 17, 2020

J. I. Packer, ‘Knowing God’ Author, Dies at 93

The influential evangelical theologian leaves a final lesson for the church: Glorify Christ every way.

Leland Ryken

July 17, 2020

Here is an older article. 

Crossway: Why J.I. Packer’s Ministry Has Ended

Publisher reveals respected author and speaker is going blind.

Jeremy Weber

January 14, 2016


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