Theology

Something That Calvin Said…

Way back, long ago there was a reformer named John Calvin.  In a book that he wrote, “Institutes of the Christian Religion” he wrote many an interesting notions.  One of these notions I truly chuckled at due to its relevance today, albeit applied to a different group of people.  You see, back in the 1500’s the Roman Catholic Church had these pope guys who fancied themselves vicariously god on Earth.  As such, they came up with all kinds of new revelations that weren’t in the Bible, and when people expressed an interest in reading the Bible for themselves these, “popesicles” would actually tell people that it was dangerous and bad for them to try to read it, and that they were the only ones allowed.  Except, they didn’t care much for the Bible and would come up with all kinds of new spiritual heresies to teach everyone.  This is not unlike a problem we have today.  We see it with all of the liberal, “Christians” who tell us the Bible is allegorical, up to individual interpretation, or inaccurate.  They use a feeling, or cultural consensus to interpret the Bible through.  We know that God wrote the Bible, His Holy Spirit illumines it and His intent to us, if indeed we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  I contest that liberals do not if they so demonstrate, by misinterpreting, twisting, and corrupting the Bible to coincide with their heretical beliefs.  Here is what Calvin said about it all of those years ago;

Chapter 9. All the principles of piety subverted by fanatics, who substitute revelations for Scripture.

Sections

1. The temper and error of the Libertines, who take to themselves the name of spiritual, briefly described. Their refutation. 1. The Apostles and all true Christians have embraced the written Word. This confirmed by a passage in Isaiah; also by the example and words of Paul. 2. The Spirit of Christ seals the doctrine of the written Word on the minds of the godly.
2. Refutation continued. 3. The impositions of Satan cannot be detected without the aid of the written Word. First Objection. The Answer to it.
3. Second Objection from the words of Paul as to the letter and spirit. The Answer, with an explanation of Paul’s meaning. How the Spirit and the written Word are indissolubly connected.

1. Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much under the influence of error as madness. For certain giddy men have lately appeared, who, while they make a great display of the superiority of the Spirit, reject all reading of the Scriptures themselves, and deride the simplicity of those who only delight in what they call the dead and deadly letter.

But I wish they would tell me what spirit it is whose inspiration raises them to such a sublime height that they dare despise the doctrine of Scripture as mean and childish.

If they answer that it is the Spirit of Christ, their confidence is exceedingly ridiculous; since they will, I presume, admit that the apostles and other believers in the primitive Church were not illuminated by any other Spirit. None of these thereby learned to despise the word of God, but every one was imbued with greater reverence for it, as their writings most clearly testify. And, indeed, it had been so foretold by the mouth of Isaiah. For when he says, “My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever,” he does not tie down the ancient Church to external doctrine, as he were a mere teacher of elements; he rather shows that, under the reign of Christ, the true and full felicity of the new Church will consist in their being ruled not less by the Word than by the Spirit of God. Hence we infer that these miscreants are guilty of fearful sacrilege in tearing asunder what the prophet joins in indissoluble union. Add to this, that Paul, though carried up even to the third heaven, ceased not to profit by the doctrine of the law and the prophets, while, in like manner, he exhorts Timothy, a teacher of singular excellence, to give attention to reading (1Ti_4:13). And the eulogium which he pronounces on Scripture well deserves to be remembered, viz., that “it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect” (2Ti_3:16). What an infatuation of the devil, therefore, to fancy that Scripture, which conducts the sons of God to the final goal, is of transient and temporary use? Again, I should like those people to tell me whether they have imbibed any other Spirit than that which Christ promised to his disciples. Though their madness is extreme, it will scarcely carry them the length of making this their boast. But what kind of Spirit did our Saviour promise to send? One who should not speak of himself (Joh_16:13), but suggest and instil the truths which he himself had delivered through the word. Hence the office of the Spirit promised to us, is not to form new and unheard-of revelations, or to coin a new form of doctrine, by which we may be led away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but to seal on our minds the very doctrine which the gospel recommends.

2. Hence it is easy to understand that we must give diligent heed both to the reading and hearing of Scripture, if we would obtain any benefit from the Spirit of God (just as Peter praises those who attentively study the doctrine of the prophets (2Pe_1:19), though it might have been thought to be superseded after the gospel light arose), and, on the contrary, that any spirit which passes by the wisdom of God’s Word, and suggests any other doctrine, is deservedly suspected of vanity and falsehood.

Since Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, what authority can the Spirit have with us if he be not ascertained by an infallible mark?

And assuredly he is pointed out to us by the Lord with sufficient clearness; but these miserable men err as if bent on their own destruction, while they seek the Spirit from themselves rather than from Him. But they say that it is insulting to subject the Spirit, to whom all things are to be subject, to the Scripture: as if it were disgraceful to the Holy Spirit to maintain a perfect resemblance throughout, and be in all respects without variation consistent with himself. True, if he were subjected to a human, an angelical, or to any foreign standard, it might be thought that he was rendered subordinate, or, if you will, brought into bondage, but so long as he is compared with himself, and considered in himself, how can it be said that he is thereby injured? I admit that he is brought to a test, but the very test by which it has pleased him that his majesty should be confirmed. It ought to be enough for us when once we hear his voice; but lest Satan should insinuate himself under his name, he wishes us to recognise him by the image which he has stamped on the Scriptures. The author of the Scriptures cannot vary, and change his likeness. Such as he there appeared at first, such he will perpetually remain. There is nothing contumelious to him in this, unless we are to think it would be honourable for him to degenerate, and revolt against himself.

3. Their cavil about our cleaving to the dead letter carries with it the punishment which they deserve for despising Scripture. It is clear that Paul is there arguing against false apostles (2Co_3:6), who, by recommending the law without Christ, deprived the people of the benefit of the New Covenant, by which the Lord engages that he will write his law on the hearts of believers, and engrave it on their inward parts. The letter therefore is dead, and the law of the Lord kills its readers when it is dissevered from the grace of Christ, and only sounds in the ear without touching the heart. But if it is effectually impressed on the heart by the Spirit; if it exhibits Christ, it is the word of life converting the soul, and making wise the simple. Nay, in the very same passage, the apostle calls his own preaching the ministration of the Spirit (2Co_3:8), intimating that the Holy Spirit so cleaves to his own truth, as he has expressed it in Scripture, that he then only exerts and puts forth his strength when the word is received with due honour and respect.
There is nothing repugnant here to what was lately said (chap. 7) that we have no great certainty of the word itself, until it be confirmed by the testimony of the Spirit. For the Lord has so knit together the certainty of his word and his Spirit, that our minds are duly imbued with reverence for the word when the Spirit shining upon it enables us there to behold the face of God; and, on the other hand, we embrace the Spirit with no danger of delusion when we recognise him in his image, that is, in his word. Thus, indeed, it is. God did not produce his word before men for the sake of sudden display, intending to abolish it the moment the Spirit should arrive; but he employed the same Spirit, by whose agency he had administered the word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the word. In this way Christ explained to the two disciples (Luk_24:27), not that they were to reject the Scriptures and trust to their own wisdom, but that they were to understand the Scriptures. In like manner, when Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Quench not the Spirit,” he does not carry them aloft to empty speculation apart from the word; he immediately adds, “Despise not prophesying” (1Th_5:19, 1Th_5:20). By this, doubtless, he intimates that the light of the Spirit is quenched the moment prophesying fall into contempt. How is this answered by those swelling enthusiasts, in whose idea the only true illumination consists, in carelessly laying aside, and bidding adieu to the Word of God, while, with no less confidence than folly, they fasten upon any dreaming notion which may have casually sprung up in their minds? Surely a very different sobriety becomes the children of God. As they feel that without the Spirit of God they are utterly devoid of the light of truth, so they are not ignorant that the word is the instrument by which the illumination of the Spirit is dispensed. They know of no other Spirit than the one who dwelt and spake in the apostles–the Spirit by whose oracles they are daily invited to the hearing of the word.

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I’m really rotten

I’m really rotten. When I am weary, people can catch a whiff of the corpse that is with me. I can try to perfume my corpse and cover it with ornate raiment, but that stench permeates and exudes forth in my futile efforts to conceal my corruption. It might not be evident to all, but it is ever before me, haunting my conscience with the knowledge of all I’ve done wrong and failed to do good.  Only the continual washing of grace can cleanse the festering corruption. One day that rotten body of death will no longer be with me. I will be glorified in Heaven with God. I will be finally free from sin in all of its forms.  By the obedient loving work of Jesus on the cross and the Holy Spirit in my regeneration in accordance with the Fathers will, I will know what it is to be free from sins corruption for all eternity, an ageless age!  O how I love Jesus!  Praise His name!  The one who saves the hopeless and gives victory over sin!

Apologetics · Church · Theology

Two Types of Faith.

Alexandre_Bida_Jesus_and_Peter_on_the_water_700There are two types of faith. One type of faith is willingness to believe in something, which isn’t proved, or a hope in something that may be. Then there is a saving faith, which is granted by God to those who He has elected, and predestined.
The first type you might have had in a person. For instance, perhaps they told you that they would do something for you, and you believe that they will. Then you act on that faith in hopes that they will fulfill their promise to you. Some people have that type of faith in God, in a general sense. They believe there is a God, and they hope He is merciful. They might even believe He is merciful. They might even believe they are saved. Have you talked with someone who has many heretical beliefs, bad fruit, and still insists that they are a Christian? I’m sure you probably have. This person doesn’t have the second type of faith.
The second type of faith is the saving kind. It isn’t something we can come to without God. It must be granted to the person by God. You can want to believe, but without God granting it, you could never have it. Have you ever been talking with someone, sharing the gospel with them, and had them say, “Wow! That really sounds like a great gift, I just can’t believe in a God that would_______.” They can understand the gospel intellectually, they might even like it as a philosophy, but they just can’t believe it.
The second type of faith, when God grants it to a person, allows them to believe in Him rightly. It allows them to believe in the work of Jesus on the cross. Without it the cross is just another mythology. The true believer has the faith to do things that doesn’t make sense to the world. We have the faith to put into practice the doctrines of the Bible. God fulfills His promises and makes effectual that which He has willed. The believer will produce fruit in keeping with the spirit of salvation. The believer will persevere until the end. The believer will operate with the presupposition that the Bible is true. The believer will love Jesus. The believer will love others. You get the idea. They don’t do the things they do because they want to believe, they do them because they actually believe. This is a gift from God. It is coupled with true repentance when a person is justified by Christ.

Theology

The theology of prayer, and an omnipotent, sovereign God.

We tend to think of prayer as having an effect on God and His decision making process. It is sort of like petitioning a parent for something desired. If God is sovereign and omniscient, how can we change His mind on anything? He already knows what we are going to pray about before the situation even occurred, before we realized we were going to pray, before we were born, before the Earth was made He knew what we would be praying for and had already determined whether or not He would answer the prayer with a yes, no, or wait. Since this is true, we might ask, “Why should I even pray?” Simply put, we should pray because we are told to be in prayer without ceasing. So the short answer is that we do it to be obedient to God.

congregational-prayer

We are going to look at some deeper reasons to pray. Just like a child who understands to obey out of knowledge of punishment matures into obedience out of love and respect so too should mature Christians obey. We move on to deeper understandings. I think that prayer is a blessing, grace, and it is sanctifying. We are blessed because of the work of Christ He made it possible for us to pray directly to God with Him as our intercessor instead of a human priest in a temple. Christ hears us because the Holy Spirit has made our prayers acceptable to God. It is a grace, because in prayer we sense the relationship with God and feel closer to Him. It is something He has given us to involve us in the carrying out of His will. It is sanctifying because as we are conformed to His word and will we pray for the things that our new natures desire. This also ties into the grace of prayer. Through prayer we express the desires of the new person. We show and see our new love. We can start to understand how God is using us in His sovereignty to accomplish His will when we pray. It is a sweet moment to come to God in prayer for any reason when we know we are being obedient to Him in our prayers. Our obedience is worship.

We are free to think our thoughts, feel our feelings, and do our deeds, but only in the will of the Creator in as much as He has ordained. We could go our entire lives without ever being enlightened to this reality. Many people do go on feeling, thinking, and doing without ever knowing the reasons behind it. Their lives remain a mystery to them. It is like a big uncertain, unfolding story where they are the unqualified masters of their own destinies. We could go on believing we are the masters of our own destinies. Matter of fact, Hollywood loves to promote this ideology. (A very good reason to be suspicious) A cast die does not land, a bird doesn’t fall dead from the sky, and man doesn’t direct his steps, God has determined all things. This doesn’t diminish our experiences or dull our feelings. If anything it should give us great peace as we go on about our days. “…And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose…” The two ideas do not conflict. They are not mutually exclusive. Just because we might not understand exactly how this works doesn’t mean that it doesn’t. So I encourage you to go on praying out of obedience and love towards God. After all it is for our good to do what He has willed.

Theology

Theology

Doing-theology1Theology

Theology is a Greek word that means, “The study of God.”  The first part of the word is, “Theo” from, “Theos” (Θεός) which is Greek for god.  The second part of the word is, “logy” from the Greek word, “logia” (λογία) which means, “The study of.”  So to the Christian the word, “theology” specifically is the study of God.  This is different for the lost person.  They look at theology as a study of some deity that may or may not exist.  In the secular world there are colleges and universities that have classes teaching this, dare I say, “Study of god.”  Their sources are like ours, as far as many of the texts go, but they don’t know the true God, and as such study Him with incorrect presuppositions.  It is imperative that Christians start with proper presuppositions.

First and foremost, is that God is the originator of all things, known and unknown to us.  This includes what can be learned.  All knowledge comes from the LORD.  Our ability to reason, use logic, remember, recall, convey, communicate and feel all comes from God.  We would not be able to know anything if He did not will it to be.  This seems basic, but there are books of theology that never assert this truth.  Think about this for a moment.  What does a tree know of God?  What does a child know of God?  What does a lost person know of God?  What do you know of God?  Read through those questions again and ponder the implications of each one of them, replace the, “what” with, “how.”  God is a communicative Creator.  We know this by His inclusion of the attributes essential to communication being integral to our faith and existence.  Without those attributes we could not know God the way He intended.  He planned to give us the progressive revelation of His word, in the form of the Bible.  He planned for us to be able to write, read, and relay the knowledge of Him and His good message.  We can know Christ the eternal God through what is written therein.   So it is supremely important that we ascribe God the Creator, primacy in originating all things, including theology.

We must not ascribe attributes to God that He Himself does not affirm in His word.  This would be a very dangerous endeavor.  We would be making a god for ourselves, which is not the same as the true God who reigns supreme over all creation.  Idolatry is, and has been, an insidious and cancerous evil.  It substitutes a counterfeit god who cannot save us.  The attributes or perfections of God that are taught in His word reveal to us the things that can be known by us of Him.  Let us study theology then, in true faith and repentance, humbly approaching the feet of God, giver of all things.