Packer and Paul’s Weak Offering: a book review

J.I. Packer knows something about weakness. As a child he suffered a near fatal accident when hit by a truck. He had to wear a steel plate over a hole in his head for a year (incidentally,  the injury kept him out of World War II and sent him off to Oxford. How’s that for providence!).  Now that he is ‘well advanced in years’  he has to deal with aging, mortality, and convalescing from a hip replacement surgery.  The apostle Paul  also knew something about weakness.  He suffered his share of persecution and hardship.  In 2 Corinthians, Paul sets out to defend his apostleship from the Corinthian church who dismissed him for his weakness. Paul points the Corinthians to the fact that “weakness is the way” for those who seek to live out the Christian life.

In “Weakness is the Way: Life With Christ Our Strength,” Packer reflects on Paul’s words about weakness and what they have to say to us. In four brief chapters these meditations describe what weakness is, the Christian calling, the Christian understanding of giving, and  the Christian hope in the resurrection.  The first meditation speaks about 2 Corinthians more generally, whereas the other three chapters interact directly with particular passages from the letter.

Packer has a rare gift of packaging deep theological insights accessibly.  As he broods over this peculiar Corinthian correspondence, he challenges us to learn from Paul to not rest on our own strength, but to confidently lean on Christ to be our strength and provision.  He challenges us to trust God in and through our giving rather than trusting our own wealth and financial security. Finally Packer paints a compelling vision of the Christian hope in the resurrection which looks ahead to the good things God has in store in Christ for us.

Paul wrote, “When I am weak I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).  Our spiritual state is that we are all weak and inadequate. Sin in our lives has crippled us. What Packer and Paul have to teach us is that our true strength lies not in our own resources and whatever energy we can muster.  Jesus Christ is our strength.  This of course, is not news to anyone who has walked with Christ: weakness has always been the way. But this is a message  we need to hear often.  I know I do.

 

I give this book five stars–★★★★★.

Thank you to Crossway Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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