Saturday, January 31, 2009

I0131-Four Week Reflection

FOUR WEEKS BEHIND US! Wow and Praise the Lord for his great blessing.

We should now have completed the reading up to Book 1, Chapter 13, Section 3 (1.13.3)

Seems like a good time for reflection…………………

EVOLUTION: seems even back in the day there was the issue of replacing the one True God of Scripture with a demonic God of naturalism. Denying the Creator and worshiping the creature. Did Calvin read Darwin?

He will not say that chance has made him differ from the brutes that perish; but, substituting nature as the architect of the universe, he suppresses the name of God.” 1.5.4

Or after quoting the poet Virgil, Calvin writes:

The meaning of all this is, that the world, which was made to display the glory of God, is its own creator.” 1.5.5

FATHERHOOD of GOD: Calvin first treats of God the creator before we can own him as Father.

Since, then, the Lord first appears, as well in the creation of the world as in the general doctrine of Scripture, simply as a Creator, and afterwards as a Redeemer in Christ....” 1.2.1

I’m not sure if it was this statement or another early on in the book which so encouraged me the first time I read Institutes in the early 1990’s. But the sense I received at that time was that one must know God as creator before he can acknowledge Him as Father. In otherwords, we must come to God as he truly has revealed himself and not after our own imaginations. For example: saying “I want God as my Father. But as to who this God is I don’t know, certainly not the creator of the universe, but rather a goodly and kindly Being alongside and participating in creation.” Or the excuse so often given, “I cannot come to God as Father, my father was so horrible how can I own this God to be Father – I have never known any father to be good.” God is God, let us not oppose our ownselves trying to imagine him the likeness of our early fathers.


What a High and Holy view of scripture we must have and such a view is pressed upon us in the Institutes. This aspect I appreciated so very much. It has also sparked some wonderful dialog with some of you over the course of reading Institutes.

Recently eating and sharing scriptures with a friend, he described to me how he had just read an apologetic book giving evidences and proofs for the genuineness of scripture. He prefaced his words with “I don’t need these evidences to tell me the Bible is the very word of God. This conviction I have from the Spirit of God. Then he went on to say nevertheless he enjoyed the book and found some benefit in it. This reminded me of what we read beginning maybe in Chapte 7:

Let it therefore be held as fixed, that those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce implicitly in Scripture; that Scripture carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit. Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own judgement or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human judgement, feel perfectly assured - as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it -that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God.” 1.7.5

Pause to reflect on those words and then read the rest of the paragraph:

We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which torest our judgement, but we subject our intellect and judgement to it as too transcendent for us to estimate. This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are wont to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth; not like miserable men, whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but because we feel a divine energy living and breathing in it - an energy by which we are drawn and animated to obey it, willingly indeed, and knowingly, but more vividly and effectually than could be done by human will or knowledge.” 1.7.5

So my prayer, O, God, For more men to proclaim today with such conviction:

...only let us now understand that the only true faith is that which the Spirit of God seals on our hearts. Nay, the modest and teachable reader will find a sufficient reason in the promise contained in Isaiah, that all the children of the renovated Church "shall be taught of the Lord," (Isaiah 54: 13.) This singular privilege God bestows on his elect only, whom he separates from the rest of mankind. For what is the beginning of true doctrine but prompt alacrity to hear the Word of God?” 1.7.5

SO EVEN THOUGH we are convinced not as a superstitious people but by the Spirit of God Himself, yet Calvin does go on to add some proofs to consider:

The first contains certain general proofs which may be easily gathered out of the writings both of the Old and New Testament, viz., the arrangement of the sacred volume, its dignity, truth, simplicity, efficacy, and majesty, see.1, 2. The second part contains special proofs taken from the Old Testament, viz., the antiquity of the books of Moses, their authority, his miracles and prophecies, see. 3-7; also, the predictions of the other prophets and their wondrous harmony, see.8. There is subjoined a refutation of two objections to the books of Moses and the Prophets, see. 9, 10. The third part exhibits proofs gathered out of the New Testament, e. g., the harmony of the Evangelists in their account of heavenly mysteries, the majesty of the writings of John, Peter, and Paul, the remarkable calling of the Apostles and conversion of Paul, see. 11. The last part exhibits the proofs drawn from ecclesiastical history, the perpetual consent of the Church in receiving and preserving divine truth, the invincible force of the truth in defending itself, the agreement of the godly,(though otherwise differing so much from one another,) the pious profession of the same doctrine by many illustrious men; in fine, the more than human constancy of the martyrs, see. 12, 13. This is followed by a conclusion of the particular topic discussed.” (intro 1.8)

Hope I didn’t write too long a piece. These are truths that fire my soul. God’s word is SURE. God’s Word is True. Forever O’ Lord thy word is settled in heaven therefore thy servant loveth it. Thy word is very pure. More to be desired than GOLD, YEA, than much fine Gold. May I daily walk worthy of such truth, living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, though I am truly unworthy, blessed be our saviour for God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

I leave you, looking very much forward to this next section. The discussion of Sabellius and Arius will prove very profitable as we consider the Unity of the Divine Essence in Three Persons. We will be walking on Holy Ground, for such a doctrine as the Trinity is not to be thought upon lightly or treated carelessly.

Thanking God for you all, for your emails, comments and conversations over the past four weeks. Looking forward to more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I0128-Magnificent Defense of the Authority of Scripture

Josh, emailed me the following:

In reading the Institutes I have especially appreciated Calvin's biblical, magnificent defense of the authority of scripture. He is quite bold and writes powerfully.

Here is a collage of my favorite statements defending the authority of scripture from recent reading.

"We have no great certainty of the word itself, until it be confirmed by the testimony of the Spirit" 1.9.3 2nd para

"our conviction of the truth of Scripture must be derived from a higher source than human conjecture, judgments, or reason; namely, the secret testimony of the Spirit. . .

Some worthy persons feel disconcerted, because, while the wicked murmur with impunity at the Word of God, they have not a clear proof at hand to silence them, forgetting that the Spirit is called an earnest and seal to confirm the faith of the godly, for this reason, that, until he enlightens their minds, they are tossed to and fro in a sea of doubts. 1.7.4 paras 1,2

"...John, again, fulminating in majesty, strikes down more powerfully than any thunderbolt the petulance of those who refuse to submit to the obedience of faith. 1.8.11

"Read Demosthenes or Cicero, read Plato, Aristotle, or any other of that class: you will, I admit, feel wonderfully allured, pleased, moved, enchanted; but turn from them to reading of the sacred volume, and whether you will or not it will so affect you, so pierce your heart, so work its way into your very marrow, that, in comparison of the impression so produced, that of orators and philosophers will almost disappear; making it manifest that in the sacred volume there is a truth divine, a something which makes it immeasurably superior to all the gifts and graces attainable by man. 1.8.1

Monday, January 26, 2009


From Mark:
Brothers, if you would, please listen to this bio on John Calvin. It's presented by John Piper. Many of you have probably heard it before as I have too, but I just listened to it again, and let me say it never grows old! Some of us are reading the Institutes right now so this should be especially meaningful. As you listen, be mindful of how Piper unfolds the overarching pursuit of God's glory in Calvin's ministry. Listen to the emphasis that Calvin put upon preaching to the Glory of God! mark

Since Mark is recommending Audios, Here is another one that I really liked on "The Calvin I never Knew." The speaker accesses and relates a tremendous wealth of information from the correspondance of John Calvin to various missionaries, even describes two who were sent to Brazil.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I0124-Institutes Proper View of Holy Scripture

Jim provides us with the following observations:

When reading the institutes I am amazed at how Calvin speaks to his contemporaries. Especially to those who falsely imagine that there is some other way than the scriptures of reaching God. These same fellows are thriving well in our day and they have a very large following. Calvin in speaking about them says, "not so much gripped by error but carried away by frenzy". They seem to be frantically looking for some new thing that will draw unbelievers to their throne room. "Jump, roll, holler, laugh, we will do whatever we have to do to get your attention". Anything but the reading and teaching of the Word.

He goes on to say, "exalting the office of the Spirit". Like some today would say, "why do we need the word, we have the Spirit that guides us, we are looking for something NEW, something that will give us excitement here and now". As if to say that Word and doctrine are insignificant or must be put in subjection to their new ideas. In similar fashion other religions subject the word of God to the authority of their religion. They never go to the word seeking the truth but instead come to the word with a set of their own ideas and end up taking out of the word only those things which support their own thinking. "The blind leading the blind"! Thanks be to God for having revealed Himself to us in the Word.

Paul tells us that the scripture are "foolishness to those who are perishing,but to us who are being saved it is the power of God". Therefore Calvin says, " But those who wish to prove to unbelievers that the scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known". So then, Word and Sacrament are foolish to all but God's elect who find life and peace in them. Praise be to God.

I Would like to add to Jim's words above, what I read in J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on Matthew 1.1-17 this afternon:

Let us thank God daily for giving us the Scriptures. The poorest Englishman who understands his Bible, knows more about religion than the wisest philosophers of Greece and Bome.

Let us remember our deep responsibility. We shall all be judged at the last day according to our light. To whomsoever much is given, of them much will be required.

Let us read our Bibles reverently and diligently, with an honest determination to believe and practise all we find in them. It is no light matter how we use this book. Eternal life or death depends on the spirit in which it is used.

Above all let us humbly pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. He alone can apply truth to our hearts, and make us profit by what we read.

The New Testament begins with the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. No part of the Bible is so important as this, and no part is so full and complete. Four distinct Gospels tell us the story of Christ's doing and dying. Four times over we read the precious account of His works and words. How thankful we ought to be for this ! To know Christ is life eternal. To believe in Christ is to have peace with God. To follow Christ is to be a true Christian. To be with

Christ will be heaven itself. We can never hear too much about Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of St. Matthew begins with a long list of names. Sixteen verses are taken up with tracing a pedigree from Abraham to David, and from David to the family in which Jesus was born. Let no one think that these verses are useless. Nothing is useless in creation. The least mosses, and the smallest insects, serve some good end. Nothing is useless in the Bible. Every word of it is inspired. The chapters and verses which seem at first sight unprofitable, are all given for some good purpose Look again at these sixteen verses, and you will see in them useful and instructive lessons.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I0121-Institutes Online Courses

Jim sent us the link to Covenant Seminary's Courses on Calvin's Institutes. I'm going to download the MP3's myself and see if they are helpful. With one year dedicated to reading the Institutes in addition to our reading together this could prove useful in gaining more insight. If any of you give these courses a try let me know how it goes and I'll do the same. Thanks Jim.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I0116-Institutes and Pilgrims Progess

Jim sent the following, good application and also really enjoyed his bringing Pilgrim's Progress into the discussion:

I am hoping that all are enjoying their daily read of Calvin's Institutes. I am again finding great joy in reading his pronouncements. I love this one in Chapter 5 " In seeking God, miserable men do not rise above themselves as they should, but measure him by the yardstick of their own carnal stupidity, and neglect sound investigation; thus out of stupidity they fly off into empty speculations. (reminds me of some of my past and most likely some of my present presuppositions) They do not therefore apprehend God as he offers himself, but imagine him as they have fashioned him in their own presumption. When this gulf opens, in whatever direction they move their feet they cannot but plunge headlong into ruin ".
Missteps are very costly. I cannot but be reminded of poor Pilgrim who at first is so easily lead into places like Legalism and other presumptive places, but for the grace of God that comes through the word of God he would have perished there. I also think of those who have fallen into the "Prosperity gospels, emergent gospel or the clever packages that say " have your best life now, become a better you". There are so many that the natural man cannot help but fall into ruin. Only grace and the work of the Holy Spirit can lead anyone out of these dark holes. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit we who are his have been fashioned by God for a better destiny.
May God richly bless you,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I0115-Institutes - Defeater Arguments

Josh sent the following:

I have also observed along with the others that Calvin is relevant to our time as well. Lately I have been kind of keeping my eye open for general and especially defeater arguments against Christianity treated by Christian authors. It would be very useful to compile a list of defeater assertions and their refutation by several of the best Christian authors.

I noticed Calvin's treatment of a common defeater taught in sociology in the beginning of 1.3.2

"It is most absurd, therefore, to maintain, as some do, that religion was devised by the cunning and craft of a few individuals, as a means of keeping the body of the people in due subjection..."
"A sense of deity is inscribed on every heart" 1.3.1

The idolatry of the wicked, even the fear of God the self-proclaimed god Caligula experienced later in his life are proof of the point. The fact that men use religion to their advantage does not disprove it. The truth is that men in their depravity have gone astray from the true God, as Paul points out in Romans one. Men the world over have fashioned idols to satisfy that faint, suppressed knowledge that God is, and that he probably is not pleased with all the things their consciences condemn them of.

Finding defeaters treated by Calvin is like icing on the cake. Of course my main priority in reading the institutes is summed up by the words of Calvin in his 1545 epistle to the reader (5th paragraph)

"read it, and diligently imprint on their memory, if they would in the first place have a summary of Christian doctrine, and, in the second place, an introduction to the profitable reading both of the Old and New Testament."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Using Google Reader is a great asset in staying current on reading your favorite blogs.

To assist in setting up my own google reader to select blogs, notify me of any updates within my
selected blogs, I found the following by Abraham Piper to be a fairly simply step-by-step guide:

Once you are set up you can add this blog to your list of blogs simply by clicking on the little orange icon on the far right side of the URL in your web browser's address box. This brings up a screen asking if you want to add this to google reader.

Unlike most blogs, it took some work to figure out how to add the Ref21 - "Blogging the Institutes" to my own google reader. When I followed the normal process all I would do is add REFORMATION 21 to google reader and not the subset for "Blogging the Institutes." Here is what you need to do instead of simply clicking on the little orange icon:

At the top of the right hand column for "BLOGGING THE INSTITUTES" is a heading "SUBSCRIBE." Underneath that heading is a clickable link, "Subscribe via RSS."

After clicking on "Subscribe via RSS" you are taken to a Subscribe Screen. Roll down until you see the blogging the institutes heading which looks as follows:

Blogging The Institutes

Receive Updates via RSS:

Click on the http: link, then when asked by google to confirm that you want to add this blog to google reader, you're done.

The immediately above link should take you to REF21's subscribe page.

Best thing, as new entries are posted by Ref21 or Taste-that-which-is-good you're google reader will log it, show it, and give you a preview or let you read the whole article. As far as I know it will be necessary to transfer from Google reader to read any comments. But, with each article is a chevron, which, if you click on it you will jump right to the blog and article.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I0112-Institutes - The Prefaces

Random Reflections and Observations from reading the Prefaces:
Preface to the Hendrickson Edition:
P. XII Calvin's "sudden conversion" something I didn't know.
P XIV Calvin encouraged vigorous congregational singing of the psalms.
P XV. Calvin's commentaries cover every biblical book except Song of Solomon and Revelations. Beginning in 2008 whenever I read a Puritan Paperback I create two tables in the back of the book one to log references to Song of Solomon and other logging references to Revelation.

P XVI - Two KEY Phrases which Calvin used to describe the Christian life:
1) Faith is the principal work of the Holy Spirit
2) prayer is the principal exercise of faith..

Introduction to the Original Edition of the Henry Beveridge Translation (1845)
by John Murray

Murray expresses a hope that may have bearing on us as we participate in this-wide-spread reading the Institutes project sponsored by the Ref21 guys. (Princeton is also sponsoring a read thru the Institutes in a year project.) "For what would be a better harbinger of another Reformation than widespread recourse to the earnest and sober study of the Word of God which would be evinced by the readiness carefully to peruse the Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Murray gives an excellent quote regarding the need to: with Godly fear handle the word of God faithfully. Isa 66.2

Also, Murray cites we owe an incalculable debt to Calvin for establishing sound canons of interpretation.

Calvin in his exegetical work has a concern for the analogy of Scripture..."and not therefore afflicted with the vice of expounding particular passages without respect to the teaching of Scripture elsewhere and without respect to the system of truth set for in the Word of God."

"Calvin was far above the weaknesses of aiming at the invention of novelties in theology, or of wishing to be regarded as the discoverer of new opinions."

Calvin was able to: "pack a great plenty of matter in a small room of words."

"there is none to be compared to this work of Calvin, both for his substantial sufficiency of doctrine, the sound declaration of truth in articles of our religion, the large and learned confirmation of the same, and the most deep and strong confutation of all old and new heresies; so that (the Holy Scriptures excepted) this is one of the most profitable books for all students of Christian divinity.


As I read this, I pondered to myself, what kind of King wouuld be persuaded by such an address. From even Calvin's own words in this letter, this King was already violently and cruelly persecuting the church (not Roman). I thought how appropriate to include such a preface, but also, how men in POWER might receive such a notice with great indignation. Kind of a "How Dare this worm speak to me?" or "Who does he think he is?" It is with sadness as I read this thinking how such a great address and appeal made to the King ought to succeed and ought to mollify the vindictiveness against the weaker party. A King should rule justly and in Truth. Not petty and self-seeking, but majestically and honorably.

ANALOGY OF FAITH: I was intrigued by this statement: "When Paul declared that all prophecy ought to be according to the analogy of faiths (Rom 12.6), he laid down th esurest rule for determining the meaning of Scripture. Let our doctrine be tested by this rule an dour victory is secure."
Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

John Gill Comments on this:
"or by "the proportion", or "analogy of faith", may be meant a scheme of Gospel truths, a form of sound words, a set of principles upon the plan of the Scriptures, deduced from them, and agreeably to them; and which are all of a piece, and consistent with themselves, from which the prophesier or preacher should never swerve: or the Scriptures themselves, the sure word of prophecy, the rule and standard of faith and practice: the scope of the text is to be attended to, its connection with the preceding or following verses, or both; and it is to be compared with other passages of Scripture, and accordingly to be explained: and this is to follow the rule directed to."

Which conclusion I'm not sure I would have ever arrived at from this verse though the practice I agree wholeheartedly.

John Calvin also comments on this verse:

"Whether prophecy, etc. By now bringing forward some examples, he shows how every one in his place, or as it were in occupying his station, ought to be engaged. For all gifts have their own defined limits, and to depart from them is to mar the gifts themselves. But the passage appears somewhat confused; we may yet arrange it in this manner, “Let him who has prophecy, test it by the analogy of faith; let him in the ministry discharge it in teaching,” 386386 The ellipsis to be supplied here is commonly done as in our version, adopted from Beza. The supplement proposed by Pareus is perhaps more in unison with the passage; he repeats after “prophecy” the words in verse 3, changing the person, “let us think soberly,” or “let us be modestly wise.” — Ed. etc. They who will keep this end in view, will rightly preserve themselves within their own limits.

But this passage is variously understood. There are those who consider that by prophecy is meant the gift of predicting, which prevailed at the commencement of the gospel in the Church; as the Lord then designed in every way to commend the dignity and excellency of his Church; and they think that what is added, according to the analogy of faith, is to be applied to all the clauses. But I prefer to follow those who extend this word wider, even to the peculiar gift of revelation, by which any one skillfully and wisely performed the office of an interpreter in explaining the will of God. Hence prophecy at this day in the Christian Church is hardly anything else than the right understanding of the Scripture, and the peculiar faculty of explaining it, inasmuch as all the ancient prophecies and all the oracles of God have been completed in Christ and in his gospel. For in this sense it is taken by Paul when he says,

“I wish that you spoke in tongues, but rather that ye prophesy,”

I truly loved the seven points. Maybe especially #4 where Calvin defends against the Roman charge of being opposed to the Fathers. There is an idea that some brand new type of christianity began with the reformation. This is the charge Calvin defends against here breifly but ably.

He cites rather the new inventions of his enemies:
  • celibacy imposed upon priests
  • laws on fasting
  • traditions exalted over scripture
  • speculative theology
  • anxiety over the dead/purgatory
  • transubstantiation
  • images
  • monks living off the substance of others
  • adorning with gold and riches.
And with each provides a quote from some Father contradicting clearly.

Andso in #1 this gospel, "it ought to resume its antiquity just as the returning citizens resumes his rights."

Epistle to the Reader (Calvin 1559)

"...that my object in this work has been, so to prepare and train candidates for the sacred office, for the study of the sacred volume, that they may both have an easy introduction to it, and be able to prosecute it with unfaltering step; for, if I mistake not, I have given a summary of religion in all its parts, and digested it in an order which will make it easy for any one, who rightly comprehends it, to ascertain both what he ought chiefly to look for in Scripture, and also to what head he ought to refer whatever is contained in it. Having thus, as it were, paved the way, as it will be unnecessary, in any Commentaries on Scripture which I may afterwards publish, to enter into long discussions of doctrinal points, and enlarge on commonplaces, I will compress them into narrow compass. In this way much trouble and fatigue will be spared to the pious reader, provided he comes prepared with a knowledge of the present work as an indispensable prerequisite."

1) Knowledge of God
2) Knowledge of ourselves

Institutes divided into four parts corresponding to the Apostles Creed

1) Father

2) Son

3) Spirit

4) Church


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell. [See Calvin]

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.


I0112-Institutes - Some Vocabulary

Institutes - Some Vocabulary

Reading Schedule:

Jan 12 – 16th: 1.1.1 through 1.5.11

Received this email from Josh: (1/12/09)

“I am at long last digging into the institutes. So far I have just read up to the middle of 6. in the prefatory address to King Francis. It is really, really awesome. I have no trouble following him, or becoming disinterested or distracted as I read. Although I am surprised how many words I have had to look up. It seems that "querulous", "supererogation," and "gormandize" were not in my vocabulary. At the very least this is a good exercise in English. Kudos to the translator. But I expect much more than only that.”

Josh caught me, reading those words I didn’t bother to look them up so here it is:

Querulous: habitually complaining

Supererogation: To do more than is required, ordered, or expected.

Gormandize: To eat gluttonously; gorge.

I did however look up the following words which one will run into frequently while reading church history:

See: The official seat, center of authority, jurisdiction, or office of a bishop.

[Lat. bulla=leaden seal], papal letter. As the diplomatic organization of the papal chancery progressed in the Middle Ages, the papal bull came to be more solemn than the papal brief or encyclical. The letter, traditionally sealed with lead, but in special circumstances with silver or gold, begins with the name of the pope and his title as servus servorum Dei [servant of the servants of God]. Today only the consistorial bull, the most solemn of all papal pronouncements, carries the leaden seal; all other bulls and lesser documents have a red ink seal. The titles of bulls are the first few words of its Latin text.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I0110-Institutes and Joel Olsteen and ilk

Mike sent in the following application:

What would Calvin say about, what the reformers were teaching from scripture versus today's American "SUPER STAR PREACHERS" -
Joel Olsteen, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Paula White, Frederick Price, Miles Monroe, TBN Network ect.......

I believe one response would be "this is the most surest and trustworthy mark to distinguish it from lying doctrines, which readily present themselfs, are recieved with attentive ears by all, and are listened to by an applauding world."(Battles page 28) click here for context

But I would also think that applies in different degrees in any church and even in a believer's own personal life. There are wheat among the tares in our churches and I believe there are wheat among the tares in my own life, but all true believers have this promise, He will prune us so we can bear more fruit to and for Him.

I found this encouraging when false teachers assault the true church (which we should expect) Calvin had this to say. " What were the apostles to do here? Ought they not to have dissembled for a time, or, rather, laid aside that gospel and deserted it because they saw that it was the seedbed of so many quarrels, the source of so many dangers, the occasion of so many scandals? Yet in tribulations of this sort they were helped by the thought that Christ is "a rock of offense, a stone of stumbling" (Battles page 29) click here for context

Lets keep seeking and proclaiming the truth of Jesus even if all the world were to hate us and those that hate us would go so far as to call themselves followers of Christ.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

I0108-The Institutes and the Faith Movement

Kwame, writes in below with quote and an application:

Really enjoying the institutes. I typed out the final paragraph on Method and arrangements:

"Man being at first created upright, but afterwards being not partially but toally ruined, finds his entire salvation out of himself in Christ, to whom being united by the Holy Spirit freely given, without any foresight of future works, he thereby obtains a double blessing- viz. full imputation of righteousness, which goes along with us even to the grave, and the commencement of sanctification, which daily advances till at length it is perfected in the day of regeneration or resurrection of the body, and this, in order that the great mercy of God may be celebrated in the heavenly mansions throughout eternity. Pg 30"

I liked a comment from Calvin in "address to the French King" about Catholicism.

"He, accordingly, who is most anxious about his stomach, proves the fiercest champion of his faith. In short, the object on which all to a man are bent, is to keep their kingdom safe or their belly filled; not one gives even the smallest sign of sincere zeal. Pg 7 and 8"

I am trying to apply this to the faith movement where all they care about is prosperity and as such their zeal for self aggrandizement which is mistakenly taken to mean "mountain moving faith in Christ" does not "'give even the smallest sign of sincere zeal."

I0108-Blogging the Institutes

Thanks Jim for some great encouragement as we are just beginning our own private "Blogging The Institutes." Following are Jim's remarks - hope to also follow up with another post by Kwame.

Back in the Institutes. What great teaching to bring glory to our God! I love Calvin's prefatory address to King Francis. I could use a number of quotes that tingle my spine and make a loud YES come from within. I especially like these three paragraphs on Miracles. Sound doctrine! I hope all of you are enjoying this as much as I am.
"As I remember from previously reading Institutes, I found the book to be very heart-inflaming and devotional" I agree that the reading of the Institutes about 7 years ago for me were like a breathe of fresh air to my Arminian delusional way of thinking. I am looking forward to all of your thoughts as we proceed. God's blessings to all!.........Jim


"In demanding miracles of us, they act dishonestly. For we are not forging some new gospel, but are retaining that very gospel whose truth all the miracles that Jesus Christ and his disciples ever wrought serve to confirm. But, compared with us, they have a strange power: even to this day they can confirm their faith by continual miracles! Instead they allege miracles which can disturb a mind otherwise at restthey are so foolish and ridiculous, so vain and false! And yet, even if these were marvelous prodigies, they ought not to be of any moment against God’s truth, for God’s name ought to be always and everywhere hallowed, whether by Miracles or by the natural order of things."

Perhaps this false hue could have been more dazzling if Scripture had not warned us concerning the legitimate purpose and use of miracles. For Mark teaches that those signs which attended the apostles’ preaching were Set forth to confirm it [Mark 16:20]. In like manner, Luke relates that Our “Lord … bore witness to the word of his grace,” when these signs and wonders were done by the apostles’ hands [<441403>Acts 14:3 p.]. Very much like this is that word of the apostle: that the salvation proclaimed by the Gospel has been confirmed in the fact that “the Lord has attested it by signs and wonders and various mighty works [Hebrews 2:4 p.; cf. Romans 15:18-19]. When we hear that these are the seals of the Gospel, shall we turn them to the destruction of faith in the gospel? When we hear that they were appointed only to seal the truth, shall we employ them to confirm falsehoods?

Since Christ affirms this test of doctrine, miracles are wrongly valued that are applied to any other purpose than to glorify the name of the one God.

Deuteronomy 13:2 ff.]. And we may also fitly remember that Satan has his miracles, which, though they are deceitful tricks rather than true powers, are of such sort as to mislead the simple-minded and untutored [cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10]. Magicians and enchanters have always been noted for miracles. Idolatry has been nourished by wonderful Miracles, yet these are not sufficient to sanction for us the superstition either of magicians or of idolaters."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I0106-Institutes - Some Motivation


Justin Taylor - Quoting J.I. Packer

"Great theology, like the Bible in which all great theology is soaked, is essentially transhistorical and transcultural, and interprets us, joltingly sometimes, as we seek to interpret it. The 1559 Institutio is great theology, and it is uncanny how often, as we read and re-read it, we come across passages that seem to speak directly across the centuries to our own hearts and our own present-day theological debates. You never seem to get to the book's bottom; it keeps opening up as a veritable treasure trove of biblical wisdom on all the main themes of the Christian faith. Do you, I wonder, know what I am talking about? Dig into the Institutio, and you soon will."

Click here for Ligon Duncan with 10 reasons to read through the Institutes in 2009:

I0106 - Institutes of the Christian Religion

This blog post represents the first of what hopefully will be a great year of reading together John Calvin's, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Brothers, it is with great anticipation that I look forward to this joint project. Together I expect we will by God's Grace learn and grow further than doing this simply as a solo project.

My copy of Institutes has now been shipped. Thus within a few days hopefully I can catch up with you all in the daily reading. But I have been reading the ref 21 blog - Now five entries so far for 2009 and 5 preparatory entries from 2008. One entry discusses which english translation is to be preferred, I'm using Beveridge as is also Josh and Kwame, Mike reports that he is reading Battles.

The translations listed by Justin Taylor are (his post here):
  • Thomas Norton (1561)
  • John Allen (1813)
  • Henry Beveridge (1845)
  • Ford Lewis Battles (1960)
I like the quote also by Packer as he evaluates the various translations:

"No English translation fully matches Calvin's Latin; that of the Elizabethan, Thomas Norton, perhaps gets closest; Beveridge gives us Calvin's feistiness but not always his precision; Battles gives us the precision but not always the punchiness, and fleetness of foot; Allen is smooth and clear, but low-key."

As I remember from previously reading Institutes, I found the book to be very heart-inflaming and devotional. At least it was for me at that time. Some 15 years have passed since then.

I didn't know and found it interesting to learn that Calvin considered this to be a companion to his commentaries, which Derek Thomas points out (read this article here):

"Calvin saw the Institutes as a handmaiden to his commentaries; the latter, as he explains in the Epistle Dedicatory to his commentary on Romans, written with "lucid brevity." The exegete cannot interpret soundly without the control of systematic theological formulation. The part cannot be understood without a firm grasp of the whole. Readers of Calvin's commentaries need to have a copy of the Institutes at hand. "

You can access Ref21's blogging thru the Institutes at the url:

Another post discusses the letter to the King of France.

All the posts are nice and short, easy to read, and I think helpful.

Plus I'm really looking forward also to reading Sinclair Fergeuson's entries on Ref21 who has also promised to join the blogging thru group of :
Trying to organize a blog around a group reading project is a new concept to me. I'm excited about it but I suspect I have much to learn. Feel free to leave any comments to add to the discussion. Also, as I'm able, I would like to take gleanings we might share via email, and add them as a separate blog post, or perhaps group our collected comments on a certain reading section in one blog post.

Please bear with me as we work on this together.