Posted by: J. | May 6, 2010

Even the drops are under His Dominion

So, I was listening to one of the messages from the Desiring God National Conference yesterday and the speaker quoted Calvin and emphasized a certain line.  Then that night I was doing my reading and what do I come upon the same line!  Talk about the sovereignty of God!

“If we accept these things it is certain that not one drop of rain falls without God’s sure command.” 1.16.5

Not one drop of rain.  Amazing.

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Posted by: J. | May 3, 2010

Fight and Keep Fighting with the Help of God

Calvin has a significant section on the devil and the spiritual powers of evil.  I was struck by the importance of the Christian to not grow apathetic to spiritual realities that clamor at our souls.

“We have been forewarned that an enemy relentlessly threatens us, an enemy who is the very embodiment of rash boldness, of military prowess, of crafty wiles, of untiring zeal and hast, of every conceivable weapon and of skill in the science of warfare.  We must, then, bend our every effort to this goal: that we should not let ourselves be overwhelmed by carelessness or faintheartedness, but on the contrary, with courage rekindled stand our ground in combat.  Since this military service ends only at death, let us urge ourselves to perseverance.  Indeed, conscious of our weakness and ignorance, let us especially call upon God’s help, relying upon him alone in whatever we attempt, since it is he alone who can supply us with counsel and strength, courage and armor.” 1.14.13.

How often do we think we are in military service till death in the Christian walk??  I wonder what would happen if I consistently acted in this way?  There are no “days off” in this agreement.  I think the common enticement for me in North America is to take a ‘day off’ to not actively pursue God and fight the enemy.  It’s a selfish move.  The author of Hebrews challenged his readers to resist sin to the point of shedding blood.  This is a real fight.  Perseverance comes on our knees in humble dependence upon God.

Posted by: J. | April 29, 2010

Focus Scripture Reading on Edification

Well, school is over so I am going to try to read a few pages a day from the Institutes again.  Today was a great read!  I don’t even know where to start Calvin as a way of packing so much stuff into so few pages! Here are the things that impacted me today.

In searching out God and seeking Him we can become quickly confused if we go about it in man’s wisdom and way.  Calvin writes, “For just as eyes, when dimmed with age or weakness or by some other defect, unless aided by spectacles, discern nothing distinctly; so, such is our feebleness, unless Scripture guides us in seeking God, we are immediately confused.” 1.14.1  Christian’s must go to the Scriptures to follow God in faithful obedience.

I loved this quote by Calvin, “in the reading of Scripture we ought ceaselessly to endeavor to seek out and mediate upon those things which make for edification.  Let us not indulge in curiosity  or in the investigation of unprofitable things.”  1.14.4 What an exhortation and challenge here especially to those of us who have had some type of theological education.  So easily we can become entrapped in meaningless arguments that do nothing for our own edification.  Here is Calvin an astute scholar of the Scriptures telling his readers, read the bible and meditate on it for edification.  Don’t get wrapped up into all kinds of controversial sideline issues.

Finally, the humorous line of the day.  “When a certain shameless fellow mockingly asked a pious old man what God had done before the creation of the world, the latter aptly countered that he had been building hell for the curious.”  1.14.1  There is one way to get out of meaningless theological debates!

Posted by: J. | January 23, 2010

Keeping from Distractions in regards to the Trinity

Calvin quotes Gergory of Nazianzus on the threeness of the Trinity:

“I cannot think on the one without quickly being encircled by the splendor of the three; nor can I discern the three without being straightway carried back to the one.”  Calvin continues in his own words, “Let us not, then, be led ot imagine a trinity of persons that keeps our thoughts distracted and does not at once lead them back to that unity.  Indeed, the words ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ and ‘Spirit’ imply a real distinction – let no one think that these titles, whereby God is variously designated in from his works, are empty-but a distinction, not a division.”  (1.8.17)

Calvin takes a balanced approach to the Trinity – keeping a solid base on the revelation of Scripture in regards to the Trinity.  Calvin was impressed with the importance of keeping a clear understanding of unity of essence but also in that not disregarding the distinction of Father, Son, and Spirit.

Calvin writes, “Therefore, let those who dearly love soberness, and who will be content with the measure of faith, receive in brief form what is useful to know: namely, that, when we profess to believe in one God, under the name is understood a single, simple essence, in which we comprehend three persons, or hypostases.”  (1.8.20)

It seems best for us to steer clear of distractions in considering the Trinity and stick to what has been revealed.

Posted by: J. | January 15, 2010

On Vocation

I am working on a paper for a pastoral theology course on calling/vocation.  It has been an interesting week of study.  In my study I came across a quote by Calvin from the Institutes.  Someone by the name of Douglas J. Schuurman quoted it in his book Vocation: Discerning our Callings in Life. I have yet to get this far in the Institutes but the quote really impacted me. By the way what I read of Schurrman’s book was excellent.  He bases much of his argument for vocation in the Reformation and loves to quote Luther and Calvin.

Calvin writes, “We are not our own: in so far as we can. Let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours.  Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions.  We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal…For, as consulting our self-interest is the pestilence that most effectively leads to our destruction, so the sole haven of salvation is to be wise in nothing and to will nothing through ourselves but to follow the leading of the Lord alone.” 3.7.1.

So often we think our “calling” is to work towards our self-fullfiment.  Consulting our self-interest will only lead to our destruction.  Our hearts are deceitful and will not lead us to the truth.  To know or find our calling we must follow the lead of the Lord alone.  Something I discovered in my thinking on calling is that it comes from God and is given back to God.  The point of calling is God!  To him be the glory!

Posted by: J. | December 13, 2009

Words, Words, Words.

I have read a lot of them over the semester.  I figured I marked over 400 first year college papers for the professor I am working for.  Some make you wonder if they learned anything about writing/grammar in high school while others were done with excellent precision.

I picked up Calvin again this freezing Sunday morning.  It is something like -45 C or lower with the windchill.  I have started into his work on the Trinity.  He writes on how the faith has created words to talk about truth that is revealed in Scripture, such as the Trinity.  I appreciated the ‘rule’ he gives on thinking and speaking about Scripture in these matters.  He writes, “we ought to seek from Scripture a sure rule for both thinking and speaking to which both the thoughts of our minds and the words of our mouths should be conformed” (1.8.3)

Calvin displays the necessity of words such as homoousious by writing, “that mere word marked the distinction between Christians of pure faith and sacrilegious Arians” (1.8.4)  Words become important to guarding the faith against false teaching and doctrine.

So, what some may say is an issue of “mere semantics” in actuality can be a serious issue of orthodox doctrine. Words are important especially those shaped by the history of the church through careful reading of the Scripture.

Posted by: J. | October 25, 2009

I have not forgotten about this blog!

I feel bad for not posting in a long time.  I have not forgotten and desperately want to get back into the Institutes.  Just trying to catch up on the studies and hope to be soon blogging here again!

In the meantime if you haven’t checked out the desiring God conference this year…you should!  I have watched a couple of the messages online.  check out http://www.theaterofGod.com

Today I read on the relationship between Scripture and the Holy Spirit.  There is no other way of reaching God then through the Word of God.  The Word of God is confirmed by the Spirit of God.  To say a person has had some special impact of the Spirit upon their life and is now speaking the truth but that truth is divorced from Scripture is a lie.  Calvin writes,”Therefore the Spirit, promised to us, has not the task of inventing new and unheard of revelations, or of forging a new kind of doctrine, to lead us away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but of sealing our minds with that very doctrine which is commended by the gospel” (1.9.1).  The Holy Spirit is not focused on building up new revelations, new truths, new avenues for ways of salvation.  The truth is the truth and always will be the truth.  The Holy Spirit will not act in a way that is contrary to the truth of God and the doctrine of the gospel.

Calvin writes in opposition to opponents who believe they have dreamed up some special revelation from the Holy Spirit. “What say these fanatics, swollen with pride, who consider this the one excellent illumination when carelessly forsaking and bidding farewell to God’s Word, they, no less confidently than boldly, seize upon whatever they may have conceived while snoring?”  Don’t you wish you could have known Calvin today?  The man pulled no punches and gets to his point.

So…just because we can dream something up doesn’t mean we should believe it!  In a time in history where we we are pragmatic and base our decisions on our experiences Calvin’s biblical word should sting us.  Do we know the Scriptures?  And has the Spirit’s work in our lives confirmed truth revealed in Scripture?  Today, we hear tons of feel good messages about dreaming or unleashing our creative spirits but in our efforts to transform the world have we been transformed?  Have we been transformed by the power of the gospel revealed to us in the Scripture sealed in us by the Holy Spirit?

Posted by: J. | August 29, 2009

Calvin on Scripture

“As far as Sacred Scripture is concerned, however much forward men try to gnaw at it, nevertheless it clearly is crammed with thoughts that could not be humanly conceived.  Let each of the prophets be looked into: non will be found who does not far exceed human measure.  Consequently, those for whom prophetic doctrine is tasteless ought to be thought of as lacking taste buds.” (1.8.2).

Scripture contains things that are beyond human conceived this is part of Calvin’s argument for proofs of the credibility of Scripture.  He has a long list of many things he dives into here.  From the antiquity of Scripture, God confirming prophetic words, how the transmission of the law is to be trusted, to martyrs died firmly for Scriptures doctrine, and a few more could be added to this list.

I love how Calvin is unafraid to get at a point and take a jab at those who would disagree.  The last part of the above mentioned quote sticks out.  If reading the prophets is tasteless then the reader is lacking taste buds.  It is not Scripture’s fault but the reader’s!  The content is more than there!

Posted by: J. | August 25, 2009

Be a student of Scripture

Here is the quote that jumped off the page at me tonight.

“Now, in order that true religion may shine upon us, we ought to hold that it must take its beginning from heavenly doctrine and that no one can get even the slightest taste of right and sound doctrine unless he be a pupil of Scripture” (1.6.2).

Scripture is not man’s idea.  Scripture is God speaking it is God’s Word.  Calvin is so direct you want to know how to think about God correctly, you want sound doctrine, then be a student of the Scripture.  The more you know of Scripture chances are the better and more clear our thinking will be about God and serving Him.

Second, the other key thought for tonight. “the highest proof of Scripture derives in general from the fact that God in person speaks in it” (1.6.4).  The highest proof of reason for Scripture is not that man says that this is a Holy Book but that God is the originator of it.

alright that is it for the night!

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