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A Quest for Godliness

January 28, 2011

Justin Taylor uses a section from J. I. Packer’s A Quest for Godliness to show the differences between how the Puritans and current Evangelicals view communion with God:

A convicting quote I return to again and again:

Whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing.

The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not.

The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it.

When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God.

Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God. Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour.

We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters.

Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us.

But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God.

Taylor also gives this quote from the book on the landscape of piety:

For the Puritans, the landscape of piety—that is, the spiritual topography of the ongoing life-situations in which each saint serves God—was determined by four realities, on all of which, as their books show, they laid out a great deal of expository effort.

These were

the sovereignty and sanctity of God, under whose eye we live, in whose hands we are, and whose purpose to have us holy, as he is holy, explains his way with our lives;

the dignity and depravity of human beings, made for God but ruined by sin and now needing total renewal by grace;

the love and Lordship of Christ, the Mediator, the Christian’s Saviour-King;

and the light and power of the Holy Spirit, who convicts, quickens, regenerates, witnesses, leads, and sanctifies.

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