J. I. Packer’s Living Epitaph

Greg Strand – November 16, 2015 3 Comments

J.I. Packer has been greatly used of God for many years. His books have served the people of God in the church of Christ for many years. I have read many of them, including his classic Knowing God numerous times. He refers to himself as an ecclesial theologian, i.e. a theologian of the church not the academy, and an adult catechist, i.e., one who teaches and instructs adults.

In conjunction with the release of a couple of new biographies of Packer, a 20 minute documentary was filmed of him. Although we do not determine what others will say about our legacy, what we say and the way we live our lives are what determine that legacy. We desire to be faithful to the Lord, entrusting ourselves to him, and we do not become concerned about what others will or will not say about us. The “well done” is sought by the Lord alone.

When Packer was asked how he would like to be remembered, he stated the following:

As I look back on the life that I have lived, I would like to be remembered as a voice, a voice that focused on

  • the authority of the Bible,
  • the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • 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.

I ask you to thank God with me for the way that he has led me and I wish, hope, pray that you will enjoy the same clear leading from him and the same help in doing the tasks that he sets you that I have enjoyed.

And if your joy matches my joy as we continue in our Christian lives, well, you will be blessed indeed.

My gratitude to the Lord for this mentor/model from a distance only increases as I read these words from Packer.

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

3 responses to J. I. Packer’s Living Epitaph

  1. JIP is probably my favorite theologian. I remember a class I had with him at TEDS when he was a visiting professor with great fondness. He was brilliant, but humble, gentle but absolutely committed to the historic Reformed theological heritage while still extremely gracious to those of other orthodox Christian traditions..

    I only wish he had written more. I’ve heard that he had a complete Systematic Theology ready– David Wells, said that once, I believe. I wish he had published it. Perhaps he still will.

    BTW– I believe he was an amil as well. 🙂

    • I also have great respect for Packer. What a privilege to sit under his teaching. I am not sure of Packer’s eschatological position, but as an Anglican, he would have affirmed the Thirty-Nine Articles, which states, IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ, “. . . wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.” That is the extent of it! I am not surprised you resonate with that, John! Although today I think it is important to say something more than this, e.g. bodily, in glory, etc.

  2. Greg, It was indeed a privilege to sit under his teaching.

    BTW, I really do like your summary of historic Anglican eschatology along with your suggested additions. Perhaps a model for future EFCA revisions? 🙂

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