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Archive for January, 2009

I have been reading through Calvin’s Institutes along with the Reformation 21 “Blogging the Institutes” this year and found the following passage by Calvin (Book 1, Chapter 9) to be very thought-provoking…

“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…”

We see the same thing all the time today.  One needs only attend a few home Bible studies in most churches to encounter any number of people who staunchly affirm “God told me…” apart from the Word of God.  Calvin argues strenuously against this, stating that there is no ongoing and meaningful experience of the Spirit apart from the Word of God…

“…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praises those who attentively study the doctrine of the prophets (2 Pet. 1:19), though it might have been thought to be superseded after the gospel light arose), and, on the contrary, that any spirit which passes by the wisdom of God’s Word, and suggests any other doctrine, is deservedly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?…”

Modern translation… Spend more time in the Word if you want to receive the benefits of the Holy Spirit.  Calvin goes on to elaborate his understanding of this topic…

“…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 (Luke 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,” (1 Thess. 5:19, 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.”

Commenting on this passage from the Institutes, Phil Ryken writes at the Reformation 21 blog,

“It is characteristic of Calvin’s theology in general and of his Institutes in particular to give strong affirmation to the person and work of the Holy Spirit.  Generally speaking, Calvin does not do this by treating the Third Person of the Trinity as a separate topic of doctrine, but by highlighting the Spirit’s work in connection to every other subject that he addresses.  Calvin makes such a connection here, in his teaching about the Word of God.  Because of their strong emphasis on the unique and indispensable authority of Scripture, the Reformers were sometimes accused of placing too much emphasis on the Bible, and thus of failing to heed Paul’s warning that “the letter kills,” whereas “the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6).  Yet Calvin rightly understood that the best way to let the Spirit do his life-giving work is to teach more Scripture, not less.  Remember that the Spirit gave us the Word to begin with, and that he is present in power whenever the Word is truly and faithfully preached.  The way to experience the Spirit’s work, therefore, is not through some experience apart from Scripture, but by hearing his voice in the reading and preaching of the Spirit’s very own Word” (emphasis mine.)

You can read the rest of Dr. Ryken’s comments and/or join the ongoing reading of the Institutes here (http://www.reformation21.org/calvin/2009/01/blog-16-193-1111.php .)

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Mathew 26:36-39 (ESV) 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37  And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38  Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

 

The following video is an excerpt from C.J. Mahaney’s message “The Cup.”  Watch it and be reminded of the grace of our God in Jesus Christ…

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Sovereign Grace Ministries is offering discounts on their books and music for the month of February.  The books include various offerings from C.J. Mahaney (one of  my favorite devotional authors), as well as many others.  Their music is exceptional… Christ-centered and God-honoring.  (I particularly like “Valley of Vision” and “The Cross-Centered Life.)  It is some of the best worship music out there.

You can read about it at Bob Kauflin’s website… found here http://www.worshipmatters.com/2009/01/crazy-sovereign-grace-music-and-book-sale/ .

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Dr. Art Azurdia III is a powerful speaker.  I have been been greatly blessed through listening to many of his sermons.  Here is a brief clip from one of his sermons where he lays out, in all its exquisite beauty, the truth that God saves bad people… people like you and me…

“…God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8.)

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Dr. Ray Ortlund writes…

     ““One anothers” I can’t find in the New Testament… Humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, correct one another, corner one another, interrupt one another, run one another’s lives, confess one another’s sins, disapprove of one another . . . . “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32″

 

Feel convicted?  Remember that conviction is a gift of God’s grace.  Embrace it and confess your sin… trusting that God is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, for Jesus Christ is the propitiation for all our sin (I Jn 1:9-2:2.)

I have found Dr. Ortlund’s blog to be very encouraging… convicting… and, most of all, Christ-centered.  Check it out for yourself.  You can find it here http://christisdeeperstill.blogspot.com/ .

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Tim Challies has a helpful post on spiritual gifts.  Here is an excerpt…

“Often when I hear people speak of spiritual gifts they do so in this manner. “I have the gift of [insert gift here] and my church has no way for me to serve in that way.” Or “I know what my gift is and I am looking for ways to use it.” To these people I would suggest that they may have an inaccurate or incomplete understanding of the way the gifts work. The way to properly exercise spiritual gifts is not to be willing only to do what you’ve determined is your gifting, but to do anything that the church needs to have done, and to do it with joy and excellence. And as you do that, you may find that God gifts and equips you for something far outside your comfort zone.”

You can read the whole thing here http://www.challies.com/archives/christian-living/searching-for-the-spiritual-gifts.php .

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Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven?

Jesus does (see Jn 14:6…)

But according to a recent study by the Barna Research Group, more and more American evangelicals are rejecting this crucial doctrine.

Dr. Al Mohler weighs in on this issue in a recent post which is worth reading.  You can find it here http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=3106 .

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