Posted by: Billy Marsh | April 8, 2008

The One Book Packer Won’t Sign

I read the featured portion of this post over at the ESV Blog and was deeply moved. Praise God for men like Packer who have left humble examples in the way of scholarship and in the Christian life.

Josh writes:

After I had my book [Knowing God] signed, many more pressed him. He signed books as he answered questions. The insight he provided into the Puritans in those few minutes still have a lasting impact on me. During the conversation, a young man (my age) approached Packer with a newly purchased ESV Bible (of which Packer was a general editor). Excitedly, he asked Packer to sign it and handed it to him. For a few moments Packer held the Bible in his hand, and quietly returned it to the young man. He said, “Son, this is God’s book. If you want it signed, you will need to ask him.”

  • Read this post at the ESV Blog
  • Read the full post by Josh Gelatt at his blog, “Ephemeros”




  1. I’m sure he wouldn’t sign this one either.

  2. After living/serving as a true rebel for 32 years,then finding Jesus ,delivered from a 14 year daily pot habit in one day(with just the WORD) and then later serving in the Church for 14 years(in both flavors-see above)and in frustration leaving the Church for the last 9 years as a backslider,I’m slowly coming back around to where I started (with just the Word)which is where I thrived and grew,,my conclusion about the matter is their both wrong (in general}…..

  3. Steve Kennedy,
    I’m not sure I’m following what you are saying. Are you saying both the world and the church are wrong? Or are you making a remark at the Word?

  4. Packer had made mention that to him his ESV contribution was his greatest achievement.

    I loves me some Packer!

  5. SORRY for the confusing e-mail,it was a late night. What I meant is the ongoing century’s long “war” over “election and freewill” I.E. Calvinism etc. After intense study of the WORD ,Being Saved and transformed and delivered I never considered “election and freewill” until entering the CHURCH, I entered leadership,elected Deacon in the ASSEMBLIES of GOD,did some Bible teaching etc,,also in the beginning attended “some non-free will” church’s. Although I admit my backslide was a very unwise move and I have suffered for it , it did cleanse me of the Church politics and opinions preached from the pulpit which were treated as doctrine,,which became welded to my spirit and mind. I have come to the conclusion Church, which is a BIBLICAL duty and should be attended, be treated the same as eating chicken ,,,,keep the meat and toss the bones …far away…. peace2u

  6. Steve,

    Thanks for clarifying your earlier comment, I was struggling to make sense of what you were saying. I appreciate your honesty and transparency in discussing your backsliding tendencies. I hope now that God has gripped you like never before with his grace and that you have committed yourself to take up your cross and follow Jesus daily.

    As far as your comments on “election and freewill” and the debate, you must know that it isn’t just this past century’s debate, it has been going on all the way back to Jesus’ time. A good example would be the early tustles between Augustine and Pelagius, and then later during the Reformation with Luther and Erasmus.

    Though I do share your sentiments that we often spend too much time bickering over certain issues, I’m not sure I’d say that this was one of them. Nor would I chalk “calvinism” up to a man-made doctrine, even though the title may be, that has no roots in Scripture. In your comment you said that you never really thought much about “election or freewill” until entering the church. I’m not sure that the Church ought to be looked upon negatively for exposing you to these issues. The Bible itself is packed full with terms such as “predestined,” “foreknowledge,” “chosen,” and “elect.” Passages such as Philippians 2:12-13 do not allow the attentive Bible reader to walk away from its meaning without wrestling with the relationship between man’s freedom and God’s sovereignty. Moreover, what you believe about God’s role in salvation will probably determine just exactly what you believe about a whole number of other major tenets of the Christian faith such as man’s depravity, the atonement, and perseverance.

    These are all honest questions to ponder and deserve honest answers. However, I will admit that Christians do not always do a good and godly job of discussing these topics. Just make sure that when you eat the chicken, the bones you are wanting to throw away are not in fact the very meat that you need to survive.

  7. Packer is greatness!

  8. great story thanks for sharing.

    Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you

  9. Bro,Billy, thanx for response,your right, the bones could be the food that The Lord intends for me rather than the easy steak,, one thought that stuck with me from my Christain beginning, GOD’s GOAL for mankind is to save as many people as GODLY possible, which defined in scripture
    “as not everybody is coming”, but considering all the differences in the Body since the beginning i,e. doctrine differences,denominations etc, this is the plan of the LORD TO EXTRACT the maximum number of souls which would equal the exact number He proclaimed from the beginning.which only HE knows.I know this sounds confusing but it shows an integration of “election/freewill” rather than seperation. stevek

  10. Steve,
    I appreciate your comments and openness to share what the Lord has been teaching you. There are several doctrines that are hard to reconcile as well as theological issues such as why there is a huge variety of denominations and doctrines if we all share the same Spirit.

    You’re right, God’s plan to save the elect will not be thwarted, however, there will not be one single person who is one of God’s elect who will come to salvation by any other way than Jesus and his gospel. So, although I, as a baptist, may differ with a presbyterian on the issue of baptism, I do believe that if he has believed on Jesus Christ as God’s Son and his atoning work on the cross for salvation and has repented of his sins, then he will be saved. However, the fact that this is the case should not have any bearing on treating the doctrine of baptism lightly.

    God’s people are called to pursue, uphold, and promote sound doctrine and to make sense of his Word despite, for example, whether not the issue of multiple elders or single elder led churches is as necessary for salvation as is Christology. Yet, working out doctrines must not be viewed merely as the building up of information. Instead, we must understand that theology is inextricably related to spirituality, and therefore, has a non-negotiable role in our holiness and sanctification.

    As far as the point you were trying to make in your last comment, I agree that God’s elect will be saved, even if someone holds a different doctrine, yet affirms the gospel. However, this truth should not affect our pursuit of understanding and making sense of the Bible, in both the big and small things.

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