J.I. Packer Memoriam – A Man Who Knew God Well (1926-2020)

J.I. Packer met the Lord face-to-face on July 17, 2020, when he passed from this life just a few days prior to his 94th birthday.

VANCOUVER, BC – J.I. Packer met the Lord face-to-face on July 17, 2020, when he passed from this life just a few days prior to his 94th birthday.

I can think of no better way to remember J.I. Packer than to say that, beyond any doubt, he knew God. Everyone who knew him personally would agree that his focus was always on Christ. It seemed as though everything he said and all that he did pointed others to Christ. In 1973, he published Knowing God, considered one of the Top 50 books that have shaped Evangelicals.

Photo credit: What is Faith, Crossway, Youtube

His unwavering dedication to the person of Christ and the inerrancy of Scripture was demonstrated by his resistance to the ideas that “the newer is the truer, only what is recent is decent, every shift of ground is a step forward, and every latest word must be hailed as the last word on its subject.”

The humble theologian rested his case at the Cross. He reminded readers that it is the only place where we can find eternal forgiveness, redemption, and grace. In Knowing God, he pleaded with readers to understand God’s grace.

“Nobody can produce new evidence of your depravity that will make God change his mind. For God justified you with (so to speak) his eyes open. He knew the worst about you at the time when he accepted you for Jesus’ sake; and the verdict which he passed then was, and is, final.”

One of the preeminent theologians of our time, Packer believed that it is necessary for people to learn to engage both their minds and their hearts to know God, whether first experiencing saving faith or learning to live by that same faith. He had a passion for leading Christians to seeing life with a biblical worldview.

Justin Taylor, in a tribute published by The Gospel Coalition, noted that “in every single encounter that I was privileged to have with him, I came away thinking of him not as a great man, but as a man who had personally encountered a Great Savior. Each time I had the deep sense of longing not to be more like Packer, but to be more like Christ.”

Timothy George, a longtime friend, described Packer as a person.

  • His smile is irrepressible and his laughter can bring light to the most somber of meetings.
  • His love for all things human and humane shines through.
  • His mastery of ideas and the most fitting words in which to express them is peerless.
  • His saintly character and spirituality run deep.

Regardless of all the profound platitudes that could be published to praise Packer, just five years ago, he shared how he would like to be remembered after he was gone.

“I would like to be remembered as a voice that focused on the authority of the Bible, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the wonder of his substitutionary sacrifice and atonement for our sins.

I would like to be remembered as a voice calling Christian people to holiness and challenging lapses in Christian moral standards.

I should like to be remembered as someone who was always courteous in controversy, but without compromise.:

Mr. Packer, you have blessed our lives, and that is exactly how we shall remember you.

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