In Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes, under the heading “One can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of God”:
Whatever else might be said about this state of affairs, it certainly makes it possible to learn a great deal secondhand about the practice of Christianity. Moreover, 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, and in this way one may gain for oneself a reputation for being quite a pastor. Yet one can have all this and hardly know God at all. (page 27)I think he’s right. If you have some charisma and public speaking skills, it’s not too hard to be thought of as a great preacher. If you have a good library and head for books, you will probably be able to explain the Bible well and be thought of as a good teacher. If you are socially aware and observant, you may even prove to be a good counselor. But none of those things are proof that you actually know God.
So pastors should ask ourselves: what fuels my ministry? My skills and strengths? The things I know about God? Or a deep knowledge of God?
Packer suggests two things to those who desire this knowledge (page 32):
First, recognize how much we lack knowledge of God. “We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge about God, not by our gifts and responsibilities in the church, but by what we pray and what goes on in our hearts.”
Second, seek the Savior. “It is those who have sought the Lord Jesus till they have found him – for the promise is that when we seek him with all our hearts, we shall surely find him – who can stand before the world to testify that they have known God.”
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