Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Confession: Chapter 10, Section 1 (Post 3)

CHAPTER 10: Of Effectual Calling


1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

I love this paragraph of the Confession! I'm not sure how many posts I'll end up writing about it, but it is so packed with glorious Gospel truth. A few months ago, I preached a sermon at New Covenant Presbyterian in Abingdon, MD, on Eph. 2:1-10, entitled "But God . . ." (http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=716151451286). You may find the sermon helpful for today's section of the Confession.  

We have seen so far who God calls and how God calls, but today we see what God calls us from and what He calls us to. God calls us . . .

OUT OF that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature
TO grace and salvation
BY Jesus Christ

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:13-14

By nature, we are born dead in sins and under the threat of God's wrath (Eph. 2:1-3). God calls us out of this state of death and danger into His grace and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:4-9). The Gospel is as simple and glorious as this truth: On our own, we are cut off from God and without hope in the world (Eph 2:12), but God has called us by Christ out of this hopeless state into salvation. Praise HIM!! 

Calvin: Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 11

11. The divinity of Christ in the New Testament: witness of the apostles

Calvin's way of confirming the divinity of Christ from the New Testament is very wise and effective; it is especially useful to master for use in conversations with Jehovah's Witnesses. The New Testament's use of the Old Testament cited here by Calvin is very helpful for demonstrating to JWs that the apostles believed and taught that Jesus is Jehovah (YaHWeH).

Consider these examples:

Example 1: Isaiah 8:13-15, quoted in Rom. 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:7-9

But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken. - Isaiah 8:13-15

In Romans 9:33, Paul refers to Jesus as the stone of offense and the rock of stumbling. Peter applies this to Jesus in 1 Peter 2:7-9. 

Example 2: Isaiah 45:22-23, quoted in Philippians 2:9-11

“Turn to me and be saved,
    all the ends of the earth!
    For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn;
    from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
    a word that shall not return:
'To me every knee shall bow,

    every tongue shall swear allegiance.’" - Isaiah 45:22-23, ESV

Paul quotes this passage in Philippians 2:9-11 -

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV)

Example 3: Psalm 68:18, quoted in Ephesians 4:18

You ascended on high,
    leading a host of captives in your train
    and receiving gifts among men, - Psalm 68:18

 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
    and he gave gifts to men.” - Eph. 4:8

Each of these three Old Testament passages clearly refer to the LORD (YaHWeH or Jehovah) and is quoted by an apostle and applied to Christ, who is fully God, who is the LORD incarnate.

But beyond these three examples, Calvin gives us more:

In John 12, John quotes Isaiah twice and then says, "Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him (v. 41, ESV)." John is referring to Jesus' glory, but whose glory did Isaiah see in Isaiah 6? "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne . . ." (Is. 6:1, ESV)

The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 101 and Psalm 96 in Hebrews 1 and applies these quotes about God to Jesus.

All of these Old Testament quotes are clear demonstration that the apostles viewed Jesus as the God of Scripture, the Lord God Almighty, the one, true God. These are in addition to the numerous times when the apostles clearly call Jesus God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - John 1:1

To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. - Romans 9:5

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped - Philippians 2:6

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. - 1 John 5:20

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Confession: Chapter 10, Section 1 (Part 2)

CHAPTER 10: Of Effectual Calling


1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

How does God call us effectually to Himself? "By his Word and Spirit." 

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. - Romans 10:14-17, ESV

God creates saving faith in the hearts of His people by a combination of the Word and the Spirit, especially the Spirit's anointing of the Word. Many people hear the Word of God but do not come to faith in Christ. It is because the Spirit does not empower the Word for the purpose of drawing them to Christ. 

In John 6, Jesus gives His most divisive teaching, about eating His flesh and drinking His blood to have eternal life. It's a teaching that drives most of the followers and onlookers away. In verse 44, Jesus says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." He later says in verse 63, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." 

Jesus is saying:
1. His words are spirit and life; they are Spirit-breathed, life-giving truth.
2. However, most people who heard them did not find life from them, because no one can come to Jesus in true faith unless the Father draws him.
3. It is the Spirit who gives life. That is, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to breathe life into the soul of a dead sinner, thus becoming the way the Father draws people to Christ.  

So it is by His Word and His Spirit that God effectually calls us to salvation.

Calvin: Book 1, Chapter 13, Sections 7-10

The eternal deity of the Son, Part 1

Proving the doctrine of the Trinity from the Bible consists in three main parts:

1. Proving that the Bible teaches monotheism, that there is only one God.
2. Proving that the Bible teaches that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are fully God.
3. Proving that the Bible teaches that the Son (Jesus) and the Spirit are distinct from the Father.

Calvin has already spent some time on #3, proving over the last several sections that we must distinguish between the Father, the Son and the Spirit as distinct Persons or subsistences. Now, he turns his attention to the second point, which will take up sections 7-15 of this chapter. Sections 7-13 cover the deity of the Son, which is usually the more debated truth.

In sections 7-8, Calvin addresses the deity and eternity of the Word, which is the title for Jesus used several places in Scripture, most famously in John 1:1-5, 14. Then, in sections 9-10, he addresses the deity of the Son in the Old Testament, with a special emphasis on Christ's Messianic titles and on the Angel of the Lord as a pre-incarnate manifestation of the Son of God as mediator.

In understanding the Bible, we need to distinguish between the Word, or the Eternal Wisdom of God, which is unchanging, and the words of God, which come forth through prophets and are found in Scripture. Surely, the words of God come from the Eternal Word of God. The Eternal Word or Wisdom of God is asserted in Scripture to be fully divine and eternal. See John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1:2-3, Proverbs 8:22ff

In he Old Testament, several of the prophecies and psalms regarding the Messiah bring forth His deity, as do the Son's appearances as the Angel of the Lord:

"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever." - Ps. 45:6

"For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6  


"Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called:‘The Lord is our righteousness.’" - Jeremiah 23:5-6


For the most compelling Angel of the LORD appearances, see Gideon's encounter in Judges 6, especially the fact that the angel accepts his sacrifice in verse 21, and the encounter Manoah and his wife have in Judges 13:15-23. See also Gen. 17 and Gen. 32:22-32. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Confession: Chapter 10, Section 1 (Part 1)

CHAPTER 10: Of Effectual Calling

1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

I just preached on this yesterday in our summer series through Romans 8, as we reached verses 29-30:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)

Here in these two verse, Paul is linking together five salvation events in an unbreakable chain, forged in the purposes of God and held together by the determination of God. The Confession opens Chapter 10 by simply stating clearly what is equally clear in verse 30: "those whom he predestined he also called." To distinguish between the kind of calling Paul has in mind in Romans 8:30 from the general call of the Gospel that goes out to all, the Confession adds the word "effectually." This is another way of saying what Paul says at the end of verse 28, "called according to His purpose." When God calls according to His purpose, He calls in a way that is always effective for salvation. It is a call that accomplishes its intended effect, as we'll see in the coming days.

This is a rich and wonderful paragraph, so we'll spend a few days on it . . .  

Calvin: Book 1, Chapter 13, Section 6

6. The meaning of the most important conception.

Here, Calvin tries to clearly define what He means by the persons within the Godhead. Instead of the controversial term "persons," which some people have said indicates three gods and now One True God, Calvin here uses the term "subsistence." The wholeness of God he refers to as "essence." Each subsistence, then - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - is distinguished from the others by a special mark or a special quality. Thus, each subsistence, while being fully God and in the one essence of God, has unique qualities which apply only to it and not to the others.

Think about it this way: When we say "God," we mean the essence that is the one true God. But within the unity of essence of God, we an distinguish the Father, the Son and the Spirit from each other. They are not the same. Only the Son became incarnate. When He did, He submitted Himself to His Father in everything and was empowered by the Spirit in His earthly ministry. Thus one God was working in harmony together as one essence, but each subsistence was unique in its characteristics.

Next, Calvin will seek to prove from Scripture and reason that the Son and the Spirit are each fully God. Tomorrow, we will tackle sections 7-13 of Chapter 13, which all deal with the deity of the Son.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

On Vacation Until Monday, Aug. 24th

Calvin and the Confession is taking the next week off. We'll be back on Monday, August 24th.