Dr. J.I. Packer’s public ministry is coming to an end. Packer has spiritually and theologically influenced untold numbers of Christ followers and servants in the church. His book “Knowing God” radically impacted me as a young seminary student. I learned about Dr. Packer’s ministry from Dr. Roger Nicole, my Systematic Theology Professor. In the twilight of Dr. Nicole’s career, while serving as visiting Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, he also taught at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, in the Florida Extension Center in the late 1990s. He is now at home with the Lord.
Dr. Nicole was a contemporary and friend of Dr. Packer’s. Dr. Packer wrote in the introduction of Dr. Nicole’s biography:
“For a man of such power of mind, clarity of thought, range of knowledge and strength in argument, Roger’s patience and courtesy toward the less well favored is a marvel that has become a legend. He was said when first I knew him to have learned to greet people in something like fifty different languages so that he could always welcome overseas students and make them feel at home. Such sweet pastoral care in the conventional coolness of academia is also the stuff of legend, and deservedly so. No one could ever accuse Roger of throwing his weight about; very much a Swiss gentlemen in style, he is also a gentle man and a great encourager, overflowing with goodwill at all times. He has been a model for me in this, as in so much more. Roger stands at the head of my private list of persons worth celebrating, and I am sure I am not the only one who would say that.”
Dr. Packer was recently interviewed by The Gospel Coalition about his own public ministry now coming to a close. He said, “God knows what he is doing,” and “some good, something for his glory, is going to come out of it.”
“I find it more possible to concentrate on God himself and his plans, purposes, and performance than I used to do. I suppose that all these things have rooted themselves more deeply in my mind and heart. And I trust there’s less superficiality than there used to be.
Packer told TGC that his final words to the church would be: “Glorify Christ every way.” The words we say now are important, and the words we leave behind will be significant. I can think of none better than the ones Dr. Packer has left for us to live by.
Note- Dr. Packer has a rare Puritan Library that has been digitized and is free online now.