Published on August 11, 2022 by Eugene Ho

Crossway, 1992 | 276 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

by Kirsten Birkett


About the Author

J. I. Packer was Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was the author of many bestselling books including Knowing God.



  1. What holiness is, and why it matters
  2. Exploring salvation: why holiness is necessary
  3. Appreciating salvation: where holiness begins
  4. Holiness: the panoramic view
  5. Growing downward to grow up: the life of repentance
  6. Growing into Christlikeness: healthy Christian experience
  7. Growing strong: the empowered Christian life
  8. Hard gaining: the discipline of endurance


General Summary

A theological overview of holiness, combining pastoral insight with intense love of God.


Chapter 1: What holiness is, and why it matters

Christian teaching on holiness has been forgotten, although it is “central to the glory of God and the good of souls.” It used to be highlighted. This book is to recover the old truth.

  • Holiness must be learned through experience.
  • The process is like school or a gym, involving hard work that we don’t enjoy.
  • Jesus is with us, as our teacher; the closer we follow him, the more we will grow.

Ryle’s 12-point description of holiness:

  1. a habit of “being of one mind with God”
  2. a desire to do God’s will
  3. striving to be like Christ
  4. seeking kindness and patience
  5. temperance and self-denial
  6. charity and “the golden rule”
  7. mercy and benevolence
  8. purity of heart
  9. fear of God
  10. humility
  11. faithfulness in duty
  12. spiritual-mindedness.

Holiness has to do with:

  • My heart – the desire and passion to please God in what I do and what I avoid, in gratitude for grace
  • My temperament, which I will challenge or encourage in whatever way is most like Christ
  • My humanness – being human in the way the Creator intended, as Jesus was human
  • My relationships – holiness does not require isolation, but is worked out in service

Holiness is both inward and outward; motivation and action; grace and effort. It is Spirit-led fruitfulness; wholly supernatural, and true humanness. Holiness is not properly valued today, in Christian books, leaders, or evangelism, but God commands it. Holiness thwarts Satan, makes our witness credible, and brings happiness. It is true Christian spirituality. . . .

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Crossway, 1992 | 276 pages

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