J.I. Packer
Crossway, 2013, 128 pp., $11.44

Now and again, the preacher needs to listen to an older voice—and J.I. Packer provides this type of sage wisdom in this pithy title that will preach. In fact, any pastor looking to do a sermon series based on 2 Corinthians would find Weakness is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength to be a faithful commentary—insightful and compelling—embracing the theme of Paul’s personal and theological discourse on human weakness, and the good news of Christ’s strength. Packer unpacks the meat of Paul’s correspondence to this struggling congregation in Corinth, and adds ample doses of personal testimony, Bible scholar and humor.

This book is refreshing in many ways. As Packer points out, we now live in a time (in America) when weakness is regarded as anathema, including in the church. Most sermons and ministries will focus on success, standing strong, and not showing any evidence of doubt or vulnerability. Faith only works for most people when it is the in-your-face variety or produces abundant rewards and evidences of God’s favor.

What about the truth of our sins, our flaws or weaknesses? The apostle Paul outlined all these realities centuries ago and yet offers us the greater strength of Christ. Even as Packer proceeds into a lengthy section on stewardship (yes, there’s a stewardship message here, too!) he writes eloquently about our need to give and work out of our human weakness—not because this is what we want to be—but because we trust in the enormous strength-grace of Christ.

The most wonderful aspect of this book is Packer’s interpretation of Paul’s theology. Packer has a marvelous knack for making the complex simple while also addressing the odd and antithetical nuances of the American church, namely that we value personal success more than the cross and the triumph of our own lives over the triumph of Christ.

Preachers will discover in this book a timely resource and a quick read that will linger long after the final page. 

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