Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart, Psalm 119:2
It is not those who just hear the Word, but do it. Many have the Word in their mind and memory, but not in their lives. The truly blessed men are those that consider it a great obligation to obey it. God takes into sweet fellowship and communion those who keep his commandments. He will manifest himself in an intimate and gracious communion. The whole Trinity will come and dwell in his heart (John 14:23). We might consider two ways to keep God’s commandments: legal and evangelical. By legal, I mean keeping them in perfect, absolute obedience. If this were intended, no one would be blessed. The best of believers have failures in obedience. By evangelical obedience, I mean someone who in love and sincerity seeks to obey fully, but enjoys the gracious pardon for his failures. The apostles had many failures, yet Christ speaks of them to his Father, ‘They have kept your word’ (John 17:6). When the heart is sincere, God will pass by our failings. ‘You have heard of the patience of Job’ (James 5:11), aye, and of his impatience too, and his cursing the day of his birth. But the Spirit of God puts a finger upon the scar, and takes notice of what is good. So long as we bewail sin, seek remission of sin, strive after perfection, and endeavor to keep close and sensitive to his commandments, though a naughty heart will carry us aside sometimes, we keep the testimony of the Lord in a gospel sense, and can be included in the compass of David’s blessed man. If you bewail sin, seek pardon, and strive after perfection, this argues for sincerity and uprightness and honours the gospel. We have arrived at David’s blessed man if we esteem God’s testimonies and desire them to be impressed upon our hearts, and expressed in our lives.
Dr. Packer has had a long-standing passion for the Puritans. Their understanding of God and His ways with man has largely formed his own spirituality and theological outlook. In A Quest for Godliness, the esteemed author of Knowing God and a dozen other books shares with his readers the rich world of Puritanism that has been so influential in his own life.
Dr. Packer masterfully uncovers the hidden treasures of Puritan life and thought. With crystalline clarity he reveals the depth and breadth of Puritan spiritual life, contrasting it with the superficiality and deadness of modern Western Christianity.
Drawing on a lifetime of study, Dr. Packer takes the reader on a survey of the lives and teachings of great Puritan leaders such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Jonathan Edwards. He offers a close look at such subjects as the Puritan view of the Bible, spiritual gifts, the Sabbath, worship, social action, and the family. He concludes that a main difference between the Puritans and ourselves is spiritual maturity–the Puritans had it; we don’t.
In a time of failing vision and decaying values, this powerful portrait of Puritans is a beacon of hope that calls us to radical commitment and action when both are desperately needed.
A Quest for Godliness is a profoundly moving and challenging exploration of Puritan life and thought in a beautifully written book. Here is J. I. Packer at his very best.