An Interview with J. I. Packer on Cultivating Awe, Christian Meditation, and Knowing Christ

In the foreword for Mark Jones’ new book, Knowing Christ, J. I. Packer writes:

The Puritans loved the Bible, and dug into it in depth. Also, they loved the Lord Jesus, who is of course the Bible’s focal figure; they circled round him, centred on him, studied minutely all that Scripture had to say about him, and constantly, conscientiously, exalted him in their preaching, praises, and prayers.

Mark Jones, an established expert on many aspects of Puritan thought, also loves the Bible and its Christ, and the Puritans as expositors of both; and out of this triune love he has written a memorable unpacking of the truth about the Saviour according to the classic Reformed tradition, and the Puritans supremely. It is a book calculated to enrich our twenty-first-century souls, and one that it is an honour to introduce.

Just here, however, there lies—or maybe I should say we have, or perhaps even we are—a problem. To put it pictorially, souls are small in the modern Western world, and we have less of an appetite for this kind of nourishment than our spiritual health actually requires. We would do well to ask ourselves some questions.

Have we ever, up to now, worked our way through any book that fully displays our Saviour as the brightest lights in the historic Reformed firmament have viewed him? Here is such a book: are we interested?

Have we ever formed the holy habit of contemplating Jesus in solitude, allowing Scripture passage after Scripture passage to show us his many-sided glory and to draw us out in the many-angled adoration that is our proper response? This book will help us form that habit.

Do we cultivate awe in the presence of the one who calls us who believe his brothers and sisters, and who once took the place of each of us under the unimaginably horrific reality of divine retribution for our sins? And do we often make a point of telling ourselves, and telling him, how lost we would be without him? Or are our minds as Christians always on other things? The present book will lead us in the right path.

Do we constantly acknowledge the presence of Christ, who through the Holy Spirit keeps his promise to be with us always, whether we cherish his gracious and triumphant companionship or not? This book will help us to possess our possession at this point.

Thank you, Mark Jones; you serve us well. May we all benefit from the wealth of enlivening gospel truth and wisdom that you have put together for us in the pages that follow.

The book is available from WTS Books, Amazon, and others.

Below is a conversation between Dr. Jones and Dr. Packer:

And a couple of blurbs about the book:

“This is a work that will serve the church permanently in helping readers ‘to know,’ whether much better or for the first time, ‘the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.’ I commend it most highly.”
—Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

Knowing Christ is a majestic gem that will be passed down from generation to generation as a beloved devotional. Its author takes the reader by a loving pastoral hand into depths and riches, exhorting us to know Christ better and to love him more.”
—Rosaria Butterfield