Friday, April 03, 2009

Calvin’s Greatest Challenge

Want to be challenged by Calvin?

Our first thought is to jump to the mysteries of predestination, the criticism of limited atonement, or tweaking the perseverance of the saints. (All of these will be looked at later)

But Calvin’s greatest admonishment has nothing to do with the TULIP acronym.

Calvin’s greatest challenge to me is grasping the concept of ‘dying to myself’.
Look at what he says in his Golden Booklet of the Christian Life:

We are not our own:
neither our reason nor our will should guide our thoughts and actions.

We are not our own:
therefore we should not seek what is expedient for the flesh.

We are not our own:
therefore, let us forget ourselves and our own interests as far as possible.

to Him, therefore, let us live or die.

therefore, let His wisdom and will dominate our actions

therefore let every part of our existence be directed toward Him as our only legitimate goal.

Here are some more shots:

“The object of regeneration is to manifest in the life of the believer a harmony between God’s righteousness and their obedience and thus confirm the adoption they have received as sons.” (Here, I give a shout out to Mike Graham- our obedience flows out of adoption- no pole vaulting from justification to sanctification… right?)

How about this one?
“ No one has rightly denied himself unless he has wholly resigned himself to the Lord and is willing to leave every detail to His good pleasure. IF WE PUT OURSELVES IN SUCH A MIND, THEN WHATEVER MAY HAPPEN TO US, WE SHALL NEVER FEEL MISERABLE OR ACCUSE GOD FALSELY BECAUSE OF OUR LOT

A few more punches (hurts so good):
“We should not insist on absolute perfection of the gospel in our fellow Christians, however MUCH WE MAY STRIVE FOR IT IN OURSELVES”

This point is made so well by Jerry Bridges in the book on Calvin:
He points out that not only should we think of others before ourselves…. We should seek their advantage - Tough on ourselves and tender to others.

This is Holy Spirit empowered cross bearing.. impossible. It flows out of a confidence we have in a justification from Christ alone. We act not to merit our salvation, we act out of the fact of our salvation.

And of course, I love the Scriptural balance that Calvin always shows. He keeps us from going to unnecessary extremes.
In his writing about the ‘right use of the present life’ Calvin is quick to encourage us to live and enjoy the pleasures of life… in moderation. This is no ‘code of conduct’ it is a ‘conformity to Christ’.

In the end, he encourages me – “let us not despair because of the smallness of our accomplishment.”

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