Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Calvin & the Confession: Returning in July

I began this blog in 2012 and continued it into 2013, blogging through Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion and the Westminster Confession of Faith, while serving as pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Cheraw, SC. I ended the blog in 2013 and then transitioned to serving as the Upper School Principal of Whitefield Academy in the Atlanta area.

In July, I will begin serving as the pastor of Forest Hill Presbyterian Church. At this time, I will also begin blogging again on Calvin & the Confession. In 2012-13, I posted daily on both Calvin and the Confession. In July, my plan is to write one post per day, alternating between Calvin and the Confession.

I plan to pick up right where I left off in 2013, so feel free to look through the previous posts between now and then. I hope this site will be beneficial to many for the glory of God and the good of His church.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Calvin: Book 1, Chapter 10, Section 1

Chapter 10: Scripture, to Correct Against All Superstition, Has Set the True God Alone Over Against All the Gods of the Heathen

1. The Scriptural doctrine of God the Creator.

Calvin has already explored the truth that God the Creator may be truly seen in His works, in what we might call "general revelation," the knowledge of God through the created world. Now he turns his attention to the Scripture to see if the Bible shows us the same Creator God that we see in nature. He warns that this kind of study could be quite lengthy and in-depth but that he will just give "a sort of index" to what the Scriptures say about God the Creator.

What we see when we turn to the Bible is that God is "the Maker of heaven and earth" who "governs the universe" He created. We also see evidence of how good and patient God is toward His creation. Yet we also see how severe He can be as "the righteous avenger of evil deeds" when His patience is ignored.  

Confession: Chapter 6, Section 6

CHAPTER 6: Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof

6. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.
We tend to think that our sin is "no big deal" and we look for every excuse to minimize, deflect, rationalize and contextualize our sin. We do not see our sin for what it is- vile in the sight of God and an absolute offense against His holy nature. Each and every sin we commit brings guilt upon our soul that adds to our original guilt. This guilt weighs heavily upon us, making us legally subject to God's wrath and curse and personally subject to death in every sense of the word. Such a realization ought to drive us to flee to God for mercy!      

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Confession: Chapter 6, Section 5

CHAPTER 6: Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof

5. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." - 1 John 1:8
Even when we are born again by God's grace, made alive by his Spirit, we still have a sinful nature and we still sin, "truly and properly." Sin, though forgiven and even put to death in Christ, still lingers in us and is real and present in every believer. This is both frustrating and comforting news. It is frustrating because I know I will never be totally free of sin in this life, but comforting because I do not need to doubt my salvation because I sin.   

Calvin: Book 1, Chapter 9, Section 3

Chapter 9: Fanatics, Abandoning Scripture and Flying Over to Revelation, Cast Down All the Principles of Godliness

3. Word and Spirit belong inseparably together.

"The Word is the instrument by which the Lord dispenses the illumination of his Spirit to believers."

Some who disregard Scripture accuse those of us who have a high view of Scripture of following "the letter that kills." But that reference by Paul (2 Cor. 3:6) is to those who teach the Law of God apart from its fulfillment in Christ. It is not a reference to the Christ-exalting, Spirit-illumined teaching of Scripture. In his New Covenant promise, God says he will "engrave his law in the inward parts of believers" (Jer. 31:33). The Spirit who inspired the Word also writes that same Word deeply on our hearts, so that we might know him. Indeed, we cannot know him apart from his Word, illumined by his Spirit. The same Spirit who gave the Word confirms that Word in our hearts. Word and Spirit are inseparable.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Confession: Chapter 6, Section 4

CHAPTER 6: Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof

4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

Before the Flood: "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." - Gen. 6:5, ESV

After the Flood: " . . . the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth." - Gen . 8:21, ESV

Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." - Luke 18:19, ESV

We are so accustomed to saying things like "He's such a good man" that it can be hard to really believe what the Bible says about our sinful human nature. Yet we really are "wholly inclined to all evil" and "made opposite to all good" because we are corrupt and natural-born rebels against God, who is the only source of good. Our sin comes not primarily from our environment or our upbringing but from our hearts, from our nature. We sin because we are sinners; we rebel because we are rebels.

Calvin: Book 1, Chapter 9, Section 2 (Post #100)

Chapter 9: Fanatics, Abandoning Scripture and Flying Over to Revelation, Cast Down All the Principles of Godliness

2. The Holy Spirit is recognized by his agreement with Scripture.

"If we want to receive any gain and benefit from the Spirit of God," Calvin directs us "zealously to apply ourselves both to read and to hearken to Scripture." Some people object to this and say, "Why should the Spirit of God subject himself to the Scriptures?" The answer is simple: The Holy Spirit wants us to be able to recognize him and not be confused by some other spirit. So, "he would have us recognize him in his own image, which he has stamped upon the Scriptures." After all, "He is the Author of the Scriptures; he cannot vary and differ from himself."