Never Beyond Hope: How God Touches and Uses Imperfect People

J. I. Packer, Author, Carolyn Nystrom, Joint Author
J. I. Packer, Author, Carolyn Nystrom, Joint Author InterVarsity Press $15 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8308-2232-4
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 178 pages - 978-0-8308-3272-9
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The introduction to this book takes the aphorism ""While there's life, there's hope"" and reverses it to ""Only while there's hope is there life."" Hope is a gift from God, Packer (an evangelical theologian at Regent College best known for Knowing God) and Nystrom (a writer of Bible study guides) state. The authors expound upon the implications of hope for ""all problem people"" by retelling the stories of eight biblical characters (Jacob, Manoah's wife, Samson, Jonah, Nehemiah, Martha, Thomas and Peter), emphasizing their particular flaws and the ways in which they were nevertheless used by God. If God can use defective people such as these, say the authors, there is hope for us as well. Packer and Nystrom cite the Biblical reference for each character's narrative frequently throughout each chapter, adding some paraphrasing, embellishment and quite a bit of interpretation. Sometimes they veer into sheer speculation, as when they criticize Manoah and his marriage. They extrapolate a great deal from only a few verses, and while their method is entertaining and effective in conveying their point about the characters' flaws, it flirts with inaccuracy. The text is always readable and often folksy, as when the authors describe Jacob as both ""ambitious"" and a ""corner-cutter."" (Apr.)
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