Friday, June 18, 2010

What was most important to Calvin?

Continuing my Calvin studies for the fifth day in a row (I'm almost through reading and writing on the Institutes) I have learned something I guess I already knew but am very mindful of now.

The longest, most involved sections of his magnum opus, "The Institutes of Christian Religion" are as follows (in descending order):

3. Of Faith. The Definition of It. Its Peculiar Properties (31 pages, 43 sections)

2. Of Prayer- A Perpetual Exercise of Faith. The Daily Benefits Derived from It. (47 pages, 52 sections)

1. Of the Lord's Supper, and he Benefits Conferred by It (50 pages, 50 sections)

I think this serves to illustrate what doctrines were actually most important to Calvin. His chapter on prayer is absolutely brilliant and blessed. I find it ironic that Calvin is often painted as a rigid, cold, fatalist (due to his doctrine of predestination), yet his second longest chapter in the four full books of the Institutes is on prayer.

Feast on this from Book 3, Chapter 20, Section 2-

To prayer, then, are we indebted for penetrating to those riches which are treasured up for us with our heavenly Father. For there is a kind of intercourse between God and men, by which, having entered the upper sanctuary, they appear before Him and appeal to his promises, that when necessity requires they may learn by experiences that what they believed merely on the authority of his word was not in vain. Accordingly, we see that nothing is set before us as an object of expectation from the Lord which we are not enjoined to ask of Him in prayer, so true it is that prayer digs up those treasures which the Gospel of our Lord discovers to the eye of faith. The necessity and utility of this exercise of prayer no words can sufficiently express. Assuredly it is not without cause our heavenly Father declares that our only safety is in calling upon his name, since by it we invoke the presence of his providence to watch over our interests, of his power to sustain us when weak and almost fainting, of his goodness to receive us into favour, though miserably loaded with sin; in fine, call upon him to manifest himself to us in all his perfections. Hence, admirable peace and tranquillity are given to our consciences; for the straits by which we were pressed being laid before the Lord, we rest fully satisfied with the assurance that none of our evils are unknown to him, and that he is both able and willing to make the best provision for us.


Woody Woodward said...

Dear “feasting on the Saints of old” Pastor Tony, I am currently reading a fascinating book by Warren W. Wiersbe called, "50 People Every Christian should know.... Learning from the Giants of the Faith." What a joy beyond words to glean such encouragement from such profound men and women of faith. We have much to learn from these anointed visionaries of the past. God has always called great people of faith to bring glory unto Himself. I stand amazed at how these folks gave and gave and gave, living out Philippians 2:2-5 to the fullest. You proposed the question, “What was important to Calvin?” What I have learned from my very limited studies is the common thread that all these great warriors kept as their sacred stitch for holy living; an uncompromising trust in a Sovereign God, a relentless study of the Word, with unquenchable passion they lived a life each day that was a witness to everyone they came in contact with; they seem to grasp at every available second, seizing every opportunity to share the Good News, denying self, bringing all the glory to God. I know that great teachers like RC Sproul, John MacArthur, Ravi Zechariahs are certainly His chosen for today, and I believe you are getting real close.

Qayaq said...

What are you getting your degree in? It looks like you are up to reading Calvin's Institutes. I had to read the entire thing and Turretin for my degree at WTS.

Reepicheep said...

Doctor of Arts in Religion through Whitefield.

I can upgrade to Ph.D by doing a dissertation, but at this point I'm just working on finishing the D.A.R