Gary: In service of my risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Maranatha!

Concise Theology

A guide to historic Christian beliefs

J.I. Packer

Concise Theology a guide to historic Christian beliefs



God revealed as Creator

God revealed as Redeemer

God revealed as Lord of Grace

God revealed as Lord of Destiny

�This guide to historic Christian beliefs, from one who is without a doubt one of the greatest living theologians, is an extremely apt summary of the Christian faith. Written in a lucid style, it does not embroil itself in theological controversies, but provides a readily understandable statement of the Reformed doctrine, constellated at every point by scriptural documentation.�
Roger R. Nicole (-more info-) - Reformed Theological Seminary

�I am constantly on the lookout for succinct summaries of Christian thought that can be confidently and widely circulated in the church. This is one of the best.�
Donald A. Carson (-more info-) - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

�Concise Theology has all the hallmarks we have come to expect from its author: biblical and spiritual theology, tightly but securely packed, written with grace and calculated to produce praise and obedience. It will serve equally well as an introduction to doctrine, a manual of theological terms, or a devotional study.�
Sinclair B. Ferguson (-more info-) - Westminster Theological Seminary

�Concise Theology has rendered our faith�s grand verities with a graceful economy and lucidness available only to a master of both theology and the English language. A must for all who desire to clearly present God�s Word.�
R. Kent Hughes (-more info-) - College Church, Wheaton

�Biblical theology may be compressed as a trash compactor: the contents are there and may even be recognizable. Or it may be caught like a bud bursting into bloom. Jim Packer�s garden of theology has the precision of gem cutting, but like the hymns of the church, it lifts truth in praise.�
Edmund P. Clowney (-more info-) - Westminster Theological Seminary

�The ancient Greeks used to say that the goal of oratory is to give a sea of matter in a drop of language. J. I. Packer has done exactly that: he has compressed the essentials of Christian theology into manageable scope and thus has provided a readable, comprehensive handbook for thinking, learning Christians.�
James M. Boice (-more info-) - Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia

Packer James I. Packer (-more info-) is a professor of theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is a senior editor of Christianity Today. An ordained Anglican minister, he holds the D. Phil. from Oxford University. Dr. Packer�s many published works include the best selling Knowing God.

Section One: God revealed as Creator

  1. Revelation - Scripture is the Word of God
  2. Interpretation - Christians can understand the Word of God
  3. General Revelation - God's reality is known to all
  4. Guilt - The effect of general revelation
  5. Inward Witness - Scripture is authenticated by the Holy Spirit
  6. Authority - God governs His people through Scripture
  7. Knowledge - True knowledge of God comes through faith
  8. Creation - God is the Creator
  9. Self-disclosure - This is My Name
  10. Self-existence - God has always been
  11. Transcendence - God's nature is spiritual
  12. Omniscience - God sees and knows
  13. Sovereignty - God reigns
  14. Almightiness - God is omnipresent and omnipotent
  15. Predestination - God has a purpose
  16. Trinity - God is one and three
  17. Holiness - God is light
  18. Goodness - God is love
  19. Wisdom - God's twofold will is one
  20. Mystery - God is surpassingly great
  21. Providence - God governs this world
  22. Miracles - God shows His presence and power
  23. Glory - God's glory-showing requires glory-giving
  24. Idolatry - God demands total allegiance
  25. Angels - God employs supernatural agents
  26. Demons - God has supernatural opponents
  27. Satan - Fallen angels have a leader
  28. Humanness - God made human beings in His image
  29. Humankind - Humans are body and soul, in two genders

Section Two: God revealed as Redeemer

  1. The Fall - The first human couple sinned
  2. Original Sin - depravity infects everyone
  3. Inability - Fallen human beings are both free and enslaved
  4. Covenant - God takes sinful humans into a covenent of grace
  5. Law - God legislates, and demands obedience
  6. Law in Action - God's moral law has three purposes
  7. Conscience - God teaches and cleanses the heart
  8. Worship - God gives a liturgical pattern
  9. Prophets - God sent messengers to declare His will
  10. Incarnation - God sent His Son, to save us
  11. Two Natures - Jesus Christ is fully human
  12. Virgin Birth - Jesus Christ was born by miracle
  13. Teacher - Jesus Christ proclaimed God's kingdom and family
  14. Sinlessness - Jesus Christ was entirely free from sin
  15. Obedience - Jesus Christ fulfilled His Father's redemptive will
  16. Vocation - Jesus Christ's mission revealed at His baptism
  17. Transfiguration - How Jesus Christ's glory was revealed
  18. Resurrection - Jesus Christ was raised from the dead
  19. Ascension - Jesus Christ was taken up into heaven
  20. Session - Jesus Christ reigns in heaven
  21. Mediation - Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man
  22. Sacrifice - Jesus Christ made atonement for sin
  23. Definite Redemption - Jesus Christ died for God's elect

Section Three: God revealed as Lord of Grace

  1. Paraclete - The Holy Spirit ministers to believers
  2. Salvation - Jesus rescues His people from sin
  3. Election - God chooses His own
  4. Effectual Calling - God draws His people to Himself
  5. Illumination - The Holy Spirit gives spiritual understanding
  6. Regeneration - The Christian is born again
  7. Works - Good works are an expression of faith
  8. Repentance - A Christian changes radically
  9. Justification - Salvation is by grace through faith
  10. Adoption - God makes His people His children
  11. Sanctification - The Christian grows in grace
  12. Liberty - Salvation brings freedom
  13. Legalism - Working for God's favour forfeits it
  14. Antinomianism - We are not set free to sin
  15. Love - Loving is basic to Christian behaviour
  16. Hope - Hoping is basic to the Christian outlook
  17. Enterprise - A Christian lives to please God
  18. Prayer - Christians practice fellowship with God
  19. Oaths and Vows - Christians must be truthful
  20. The Kingdom of God - Christians must manifest kingdom life
  21. Apostles - Jesus' representatives exercised His authority
  22. Church - God plants His people in a new community
  23. Word and Sacrament - How a genuine church is identified
  24. Elders - Pastors must care for the church
  25. Sacraments - Christ instituted two seals of God's covenant
  26. Baptism - This rite exhibits union with Christ
  27. The Lord's Supper - This rite exhibits communion with Christ
  28. Discipline - The church must uphold Christian standards
  29. Mission - Christ sends the church into the world
  30. Spiritual Gifts - The Holy Spirit equips the church
  31. Marriage - Matrimony is meant to be a permanent covenant relationship
  32. The Family - The Christian household is a spiritual unit
  33. The World - Christians are in society to serve and transform it
  34. The State - Christians must respect civil government

Section Four: God revealed as Lord of Destiny

  1. Perseverance - God keeps His people safe
  2. Unpardonable Sin - Only impenitence cannot be forgiven
  3. Mortality - Christians need not fear death
  4. Second Coming - Jesus Christ will return to earth in glory
  5. General Resurrection - Dead in Christ will rise in glory
  6. Judgment Seat - God will judge all mankind
  7. Hell - The wicked will be banished into endless misery
  8. Heaven - God will welcome His people into everlasting joy

Preface to �Concise Theology�
by J.I. Packer

This book sets out in short compass what seems to me to be the permanent essentials of Christianity, viewed as both a belief system and a way of life. Others have other ideas of how Christianity should be profiled, but this is mine. It is Reformational and evangelical, and as such, so I maintain, historical and classic mainstream.

These briefings, which were first planned for a study Bible and have now been revised, have an intentionally scriptural cast and, like other of my writings, are peppered with texts to look up. I submit that this is how it should be, for it is basic to Christianity to receive biblical teaching as God�s own instruction, proceeding, as Calvin put it, via human agency from God�s holy mouth. If scripture is indeed God himself preaching and teaching, as the great body of the church has always held, then the first mark of good theology is that it seeks to echo the divine Word as faithfully as it can.

Theology is first the activity of thinking and speaking about God (theologizing), and second the product of that activity (Luther�s theology, or Wesley�s, or Finney�s, or Wimber�s, or Packer�s, or whoever�s). As an activity, theology is a cat�s cradle of interrelated though distinct disciplines: elucidating texts (exegesis), synthesizing what they say on the things they deal with (biblical theology), seeing how the faith was started in the past, (historical theology), formulating it for today (systematic theology), finding its implications for conduct (ethics), commending and defending it as truth and wisdom (apologetics), defining the Christian task in the world (missiology), stockpiling resources for life in Christ (spirituality), and corporate worship (liturgy), and exploring ministry (practical theology). The following chapters, sketchy as they are, range in these areas.

Remembering that the Lord Jesus Christ called those he wanted fed sheep rather than giraffes, I have aimed to keep things as simple as possible. Archbishop William Temple was once told that he had made a complex issue very simple; he was hugely delighted, and said at once: �lord, who made me simple, make me simpler yet.� My heart goes with Temple�s, and I have tried to keep my head in line with it.

As I often tell my students, theology is for doxology and devotion�that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness. It should therefore be presented in a way that brings awareness of the divine presence. Theology is at its healthiest when it is consciously under the eye of the God of whom it speaks, and when it is singing to its glory. This, too, I have tried to bear in mind.

These short studies of great subjects feel to me, now that I have done them, rather like the lightning tours of England that enterprising bus companies run for American visitors (fifteen minutes at Stonehenge, two hours in Oxford, theatre and overnight in Stratford, an hour and a half in York, an afternoon in the Lake District�phew!). Each chapter is a mere sketchy note. Yet I dare to hope that my compressed material, Packer-packed as it is, might expand in readers� minds to lift their hearts Godward, in the way that a different form of hot air lifts balloons and their passengers skyward. We shall see.

My frequent quoting of the Westminster Confession may raise some eyebrows, since I am an Anglican and not a Presbyterian. But since the Confession was intended to amplify the Thirty-none Articles, and most of its framers were Anglican clergy, and since it something of a masterpiece, �the ripest fruit of Reformation creed-making� as B.B. Warfield called it, I think I am entitled to value it as part of my Reformed Anglican heritage, and to use it as a major resource.

I gratefully acknowledge the hidden hand of my much-admired friend R.C. Sproul, from whom came the germ idea for several of these outlines. Though our styles differ, we think very much alike, and have cooperated happily in an number of projects. I find that we are sometimes referred to as the Reformed Mafia, but hard work breaks no bones, and on we go.

Thanks are also due to Wendell Hawley, my publisher, and LaVonne Neff, my editor, for helpfulness and patience in many forms. To work with them has been a privilege and a pleasure.

J.I. Packer

Concise Theology - a guide to historic Christian beliefs - J.I. Packer

God revealed as Creator: Revelation Interpretation General Revelation Guilt Inward Witness Authority Knowledge Creation Self-disclosure Self-existence Transcendence Omniscience Sovereignty Almightiness Predestination Trinity Holiness Goodness Wisdom Mystery Providence Miracles Glory Idolatry Angels Demons Satan Humanness Humankind

God revealed as Redeemer: The Fall Original Sin Inability Covenant Law Law in Action Conscience Worship Prophets Incarnation Two Natures Virgin Birth Teacher Sinlessness Obedience Vocation Transfiguration Resurrection Ascension Session Mediation Sacrifice Definite Redemption

God revealed as Lord of Grace: Paraclete Salvation Election Effectual Calling Illumination Regeneration Works Repentance Justification Adoption Sanctification Liberty Legalism Antinomianism Love Hope Enterprise Prayer Oaths and Vows The Kingdom of God Apostles Church Word and Sacrament Elders Sacraments Baptism The Lord's Supper Discipline Mission Spiritual Gifts Marriage The Family The World The State

God revealed as Lord of Destiny: Perseverance Unpardonable Sin Mortality Second Coming General Resurrection Judgment Seat Hell Heaven

In service of my risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Maranatha!
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