Tag Archive for 'mystery'

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

Quotes of the Day: Calvin and Augustine on Mystery

If at any time thoughts of this kind come into the minds of the pious, they will be sufficiently armed to repress them, by considering how sinful it is to insist on knowing the causes of the divine will, since it is itself, and justly ought to be, the cause of all that exists. For if his will has any cause, there must be something antecedent to it, and to which it is annexed; this it were impious to imagine. The will of God is the supreme rule of righteousness, so that everything which he wills must be held to be righteous by the mere fact of his willing it. Therefore, when it is asked why the Lord did so, we must answer, Because he pleased. But if you proceed farther to ask why he pleased, you ask for something greater and more sublime than the will of God, and nothing such can be found. Let human temerity then be quiet, and cease to inquire after what exists not, lest perhaps it fails to find what does exist. This, I say, will be sufficient to restrain any one who would reverently contemplate the secret things of God.

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Many say that Calvinists put God in a box (whatever that silly phrase means). But little do they realize how much mystery Calvinists (should) embrace.

You a man expect an answer from me: I also am a man. Wherefore, let us both listen to him who says, ‘O man, who art thou?’ Believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge. Seek merits; you will find nought but punishment. O the height! Peter denies, a thief believes. O the height! Do you ask the reason? I will tremble at the height. Reason you, I will wonder; dispute you, I will believe. I see the height; I cannot sound the depth. Paul found rest, because he found wonder. He calls the judgments of God ‘unsearchable;’ and have you come to search them? He says that his ways are ‘past finding out,’ and do you seek to find them out?

–Augustine (August. de Verb. Apost. Serm. 20)

Sometimes we need to let things go and not try to intellectualize every little thing. Otherwise, I believe it’s great to grow more and more in knowledge and wisdom as God teaches us, and know what we believe, from Scripture and others whom God has gifted to help us.

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.
But I have calmed myself and quieted my ambitions.
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content. Israel,
put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.
Psalm 131

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding–
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6

Quote of the Day: Mystery and Paradox

Mystery and paradox abound in our experience, and I don’t think we as Christians should be ashamed, or too proud, or too afraid to admit that mystery exists even in the areas that confuse and scare us the most and that cause us the most doubt. Any theological answer must humbly make room for the amount of answers we don’t have.

–Damian Caruana, Castle of Nutshells

Colossians and the Gospel Based On Christ

Colossians 2:3-8 HCSB
In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
4 I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments. 5 For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the strength of your faith in Christ. 6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

It was essential to listen to Paul’s warning in his own day: it is even more essential to heed it in our day when the arts of persuasion, and the means by which they can be exercised, are so highly developed. There is a fresh responsibility laid on Christians to examine all teaching for the truthfulness of its content rather than the attractiveness of its packaging. There is a new call to be sceptical of exaggerated rhetoric, the tendentious anecdote, or the theatrical appeal, for nothing is so dangerous as feeble reasoning allied to fast talking.

–R.C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon, 1980

Paul’s answer for his friends was startlingly simple; the mystery of all mysteries was the (now public) good news of what Jesus did on the cross for his people (Colossians 1:28-2:5). Moreover, Paul made it plain that maturity came through understanding this gospel better and better, not through laws, experiences and revelations.

–Mark Strom, The Symphony of Scripture

I’m learning the basic gospel message as revealed through Christ is of central importance not just to salvation and then we move on to other things; it is always of central importance.

To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.”

“This is the gospel by which we were saved, and it is the gospel by which we must live every day of our Christian lives…If you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.

–Jerry Bridges

Colossians has become one of my favorites and I will revisit it in the future.

Here is a related post I came across:
A Sense of Christ’s Sufficiency