Tag Archive for 'Calvin'

Calvin Quote: Adherence to Scripture

For it is not right that the things which God has sought to conceal and whose knowledge he has kept secret himself should be scrutinized in this way by men. Nor is it right that the lofty wisdom which he wished us to revere rather than comprehend, so that we might wonder at his greatness, should be made subject to the human mind or sought out in the depths of his eternity. As for the secrets of his will which he thought good to impart to us, he has borne witness to them in his word. And what he thought good to impart to us was everything which he knew would be relevant and rewarding to us. Once we grasp the idea that God’s word is the only path which allows us to investigate all that we may lawfully know about him, and is likewise the only light by which we behold all that may be lawfully seen of him, it will easily stop us from acting impulsively. For then we will realize that by going beyond the bounds of Scripture we will be straying off into darkness, and will inevitably with every step wander, stumble and trip up.

–John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, pg. 464, 1541 edition translated by Robert White – you can find this in the final version in III.21.1-4

Although Scripture is perspicuous in its basic doctrine, as the scholars say, it’s obviously not an easy book to comprehend in many places. I like reading Calvin because there is so little speculation; everything is based on Scripture. For the most part, the Puritans carried this on. The better we know the Bible, the easier we can tell if someone is speculating or speaking from their own knowledge of the Bible. I don’t see it as being confined, but staying in bounds.

He who looks into the mystery of God
will be overwhelmed with his glory.
Proverbs 25:27 (unknown translation – included in the book)

I have added:

You said, ‘Who is this that belittles my advice without having any knowledge about it?’ Yes, I have stated things I didn’t understand, things too mysterious for me to know.
Job 42:3 GW

My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
Psalm 131:1 NIV

And of course:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36 NIV

The King Reigns After Death

“Their King … commences his reign by advancing to death.”

–John Calvin

What a great quote. It’s from his commentary, referring to John 12:12.

12 The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: ” Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One–the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written:

15 Fear no more, Daughter Zion.
Look, your King is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt.

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
John 12:12-16 HCSB

HT: Pastor Tom Provost

On Reading Calvin’s Institutes and Other Matters

  • Calvin’s Institutes are “a distilled readers’ guide to the main teachings of the Scripture and how they fit together.”
    –Timothy Keller, The Counterintuitive Calvin – a great read on his experience and observations in reading the Institutes

  • 8 Things Wesleyans Need to Learn from Neo-Calvinism // Asbury Seedbed – It may not be as appropriate for a Calvinist (me) to post this as would a Wesleyan/Arminian, but at least it’s written by a Wesleyan and I don’t think there’s anything to argue about.
  • Spurgeon, Impressions, and Prophecy | the Cripplegate

  • “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
    –Apostle Paul

    I love this verse. It really says a lot. It also makes me feel like he’s a kindred spirit. Wouldn’t the first thing you ask for be the whole Bible and your books?

    HT: Thanks to T.C. on FB for the reminder

Components of Repentance According To Calvin

Here is something I put together based on Calvin’s Institutes and A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes.

Mortification of the flesh through a true knowledge and hatred of sin (Is 1:16) is the prelude and companion to vivification of the spirit (Is 1:17)–arising from rebirth, and living to God–which are the two parts of repentance.

Specifically, vivification is:

“the desire to live in a holy and devoted manner, a desire arising from rebirth; as if it were said that man dies to himself that he may begin to live to God.”

–John Calvin, Institutes, (III.iii.3)

And its three components:

  1. Participation in Christ unto righteousness
  2. Spirit-governed life
  3. Doing good works

–Joel Beeke, A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes, pg 297-298

Obviously whole books are written on these things, but if you’re unfamiliar and come across them, at least you’ll hopefully have a framework, if you should happen to remember this. I’ve got it in Evernote and will re-read about it more widely in these books as necessary (cuz I won’t reember all of it) while living it out.

You can easily find the Beveridge translation of the Institutes of the Institutes for free online in many different formats.

One Reason I’m Reading “The Institutes”

I was planning on reading Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion later on this year. After having read so many commentaries, I wanted to read a bunch of ‘regular’ books. I burned through three or four and enjoyed them a lot, including The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. But I thought, why put it off? I’ve heard so much about not only how important this work is, but how enjoyable it is to read. I looked at the beginning of the table of contents, and it looks like exactly the type of thing I like to read anyway.

Also, as a Calvinist, I need to know what he thought, as he wrote it. I’ve read more than one introduction to Calvinism and scores and scores of blog posts and articles. Is this what he thought? Not that he is anything special compared to God and the inspired writers of Scripture, but I know that what Calvinism now, especially as we see it on the interweb machine, may not be classic Calvinism. So, in the introduction to the Battle translation, which I’m told is much better than the other one–which is out of copyright and can be found for free in electronic format–I find this in the introduction:

In our generation, when most theological writers are schooled in the use of methods, and of a terminology, widely differing from those employed by Calvin, this masterpiece continues to challenge intensive study, and contributes a reviving impulse to thinking in the areas of Christian doctrine and social duty.

It’s about time I read it.

Was Rahab Wrong To Lie?

Joshua 1:1-6
Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night. 2 But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”

3 So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.” 4 Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5 They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” 6 (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.)

I’ve often thought about Rahab’s lie and how she was commended in the New Testament (Heb 11:31; James 2:25). John Calvin has quite a bit to say about this in his commentary and is able to embrace the fact that not everything is black and white.

Jos 2:4 –
4. And the woman took the two men, etc. We may presume that before Rahab was ordered to bring them forth the rumor of their arrival had been spread, and that thus some little time had been given for concealing them. And indeed on receiving the kingメs command, had not measures for concealment been well taken, there would have been no room for denial; much less would she have dared to lie so coolly. But after she had thus hidden her guests, as the search would have been difficult, she comes boldly forward and escapes by a crafty answer.

Now, the questions which here arise are, first, Was treachery to her country excusable? Secondly, Could her lie be free from fault? We know that the love of our country, which is as it were our common mother, has been implanted in us by nature. When, therefore, Rahab knew that the object intended was the overthrow of the city in which she had been born and brought up, it seems a detestable act of inhumanity to give her aid and counsel to the spies. It is a puerile evasion to say, that they were not yet avowed enemies, inasmuch as war had not been declared; since it is plain enough that they had conspired the destruction of her fellow-citizens. It was therefore only the knowledge communicated to her mind by God which exempted her from fault, as having been set free from the common rule. Her faith is commended by two Apostles, who at the same time declare, (Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25) that the service which she rendered to the spies was acceptable to God.

It is not wonderful, then, that when the Lord condescended to transfer a foreign female to his people, and to engraft her into the body of the Church, he separated her from a profane and accursed nation. Therefore, although she had been bound to her countrymen up to that very day, yet when she was adopted into the body of the Church, her new condition was a kind of manumission from the common law by which citizens are bound toward each other. In short, in order to pass by faith to a new people, she behooved to renounce her countrymen. And as in this she only acquiesced in the judgment of God, there was no criminality in abandoning them.

As to the falsehood, we must admit that though it was done for a good purpose, it was not free from fault. For those who hold what is called a dutiful lie to be altogether excusable, do not sufficiently consider how precious truth is in the sight of God. Therefore, although our purpose, be to assist our brethren, to consult for their safety and relieve them, it never can be lawful to lie, because that cannot be right which is contrary to the nature of God. And God is truth. And still the act of Rahab is not devoid of the praise of virtue, although it was not spotlessly pure. For it often happens that while the saints study to hold the right path, they deviate into circuitous courses.

Rebecca (Gen 27:1-46*) in procuring the blessing to her son Jacob, follows the prediction. In obedience of this description a pious and praiseworthy zeal is perceived. But it cannot be doubted that in substituting her son Jacob in the place of Esau, she deviated from the path of duty. The crafty proceeding, therefore, so far taints an act which was laudable in itself. And yet the particular fault does not wholly deprive the deed of the merit of holy zeal; for by the kindness of God the fault is suppressed and not taken into account. Rahab also does wrong when she falsely declares that the messengers were gone, and yet the principal action was agreeable to God, because the bad mixed up with the good was not imputed. On the whole, it was the will of God that the spies should be delivered, but he did not approve of saving their life by falsehood.

* A guy named Ed. wrote that a misprint of Genesis 28:0 should be 27:0. I assume this means the whole chapter of Genesis 27. And I know that Ed. means editor.

Calvin and Innerancy

Calvin was not naive about the apparent discrepancies in Scripture, nor did he expect biblical numbers to be exact. He accepted that Scripture uses phenomenological language and figures of speech. He often probed the difficult issues stemming from mistakes in translation and transmission. All that to say, he made the same sort of distinctions careful modern-day inerrantists make.

More to the point, however, he held to the same view of verbal, plenary inspiration. Calvin never rejected the truthfulness of any Scriptural affirmation. He believed the Bible to be the Word of God and without error. He argued on many occasions that to disagree with the Bible was to disagree with God himself. Conversely, those submissive to God, he maintained, would submit themselves to the Scriptures. They would never be led by the Spirit away from the Bible, for the Bible is the Spirit’s book.

–Kevin DeYoung, Did John Calvin Believe in Inerrancy?

I added emphasis to part of the quote that I’ve always believed but haven’t been able to articulate very well.

Also see:
What Inerrancy is Not
What Good is Inerrancy If We Don’t Have the Original Manuscripts?

Calvin’s Institutes: Where does he talk about reward?

I firmly believe that God rewards people differently in the end (possibly a future post) and read that Calvin believes that everyone’s reward is equally salvation.

I haven’t read the Institutes yet but have the Battles edition. There isn’t a subject index and I didn’t see it in the table of contents. I thought it would be in Book III. Does anyone know where he writes about this?

Finally Got Calvin’s Institutes

Mike Aubrey suggested I save a search for Calvin’s Institutes so that I would get an e-mail message each day notifying me of new items up for bidding. I’ve bid on a few and most are going for about $40 which is more than I want to pay much less the $50 new on Amazon.

So I saw one come up with a Buy It Now price of $25 plus $4 shipping in like new condition. Since that’s so much lower than what they’ve been going for I thought I better get it while I’m up with this dreadful insomnia.

I probably won’t read it until next year but at least I have it now. After that I’d like to read some of the earlier Puritans and move on to a book or two by Jonathan Edwards.


Free (plus S&H) Calvin Book for Pastors

Reformation Trust is offering John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology free for pastors (with $5 shipping).

This book was reviewed on this blog earlier.

HT: Challies

Calvin’s Institutes Giveaway

Nick Norelli at Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth will be giving away a copy of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.

I’m sure that whoever wins will greatly benefit from reading it.

Nick requested a review copy and also a copy to give away so we have him and Westminster John Knox Press to thank for giving us the opportunity.

Calvin on Hebrews

Aside from the Gospels, Colossians and Hebrews are my favorites. John Calvin expresses my sentiments better than I could:

There is indeed, no book in Holy Scripture which speaks so clearly of the priesthood of Christ, which so highly exalts the virtue and dignity of that only true sacrifice which He offered by His death, which so abundantly deals with the use of ceremonies as well as their abrogation, and, in a word, so fully explains that Christ is the end of the Law.

Should Christians Observe the Sabbath?

Are the Sabbath laws binding on Christians today?
Christians and the Sabbath – John MacArthur
See the comments for a (weak) rebuttal if you are so inclined.

Colossians 2:16-17 HCSB
Therefore don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah.

Hebrews 4:9-10 HCSB
A Sabbath rest remains, therefore, for God’s people. 10 For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.

Interesting that HCSB capitalized Sabbath in Hebrews but not in Colossians.

Galatians 4:10-11 HCSB
You observe special days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am fearful for you, that perhaps my labor for you has been wasted.

Romans 14:5 HCSB
One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.

Suffering 3

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 1:9
Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

Our human nature wants us to place our confidence on our own strength and intellect rather than on God.

Calvin says, “We are not brought to real submission until we have been laid low by the crushing hand of God.”

Garland says, “When things are at their worst and all human resources are exhausted, then one is most receptive to learning about the power of God.” And, “God’s power is made perfect in the weakness of the cross of his Son, and that divine pattern of working in the world continues in the cruciform ministry of his apostle.”

Dr. Roger Spradlin says, “Most Christians, want the product of Paul’s life (his maturity), but not the process of his life (the suffering).”

We need to also allow God to work in our loved ones lives in this way. We should certainly pray for healing and deliverance. But we should also pray for (true) comfort, patience, perseverance, and that they would seek God in their suffering and allow Him to glorify Himself in whatever way He sees fit.