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
“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.