Through the Institutes in 2009

5 01 2009

Calvin 500With 2009 being the 500th anniversary of one of Christianity’s greatest theologians, John Calvin, I (along with many others) plan to read through his monumental and foundational work on theology, Institutes of the Christian Religion.  The reading schedule starts today and continues through the year, with sections to be read 5 out of every 7 days.  If you’d like the reading schedule, you can get a pdf version here.  Also, the guys over at Reformation 21 are doing daily postings that correspond to the reading schedule.  As I can, I too hope to post thoughts and comments on the reading, here at Out of the Miry Clay.


Living for God’s Glory…part 3

17 10 2008

One of the most glorious (and controversial) doctrines that the Christian faith teaches is the doctrine of divine election.  Calvinists hold to the view that God’s election to salvation is unconditional, a free action of God’s sovereign will.  However, this teaching doesn’t sit well with many.  Some see such a description of God’s work in our salvation as a violation of the human will, viewing the Calvinistic explanation as unfair and unjust.  I hope that the following quotes, again taken from Joel Beeke’s new book Living for God’s Glory, will encourage you to really look at and examine this rich and powerful doctrine, allowing them to drive you back to the Scriptures and see what God teaches regarding His sovereignty and our salvation.

“God loves one graciously, such a Jacob, and passes by another justly, such as reprobate Esau.  This is the essence of Calvin’s view of predestination, which includes both election and reprobation.  Calvin teaches that God’s election is always sovereign and gracious; none of the elect deserve to be elect and to enter heaven.  At the same time, God’s reprobation is always sovereign and just; none of the reprobate will be unjustly damned to hell.”  -Joel Beeke

“The believer who knows his own heart will ever bless God for election.”       -J. C. Ryle

“We may better praise God that he saves any than charge him with injustice because he saves so few.” -Augustus Strong

“God the Father elects His people on the basis of His eternal, overwhelming, sovereign affection for them. Why did He love them? Because He chose to do so. Sovereign, unchangeable love is the ultimate joy and reality of the universe.” -Joel Beeke

“Eternal love devised the plan; eternal wisdom drew the model; eternal grace comes down to build it.” -Henry Law

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Living for God’s Glory

13 10 2008

Recently I have been reading through the new book by Joel Beeke titled Living for God’s Glory: an Introduction to Calvinism.  Beeke’s work explains the history of this system, demonstrates its biblical foundation and examines its wide influence on the Church and culture.  One element I’ve really enjoyed is the book’s rich examination of God’s work in our salvation.  So, over the next week I thought I’d share some quotes from the Beeke’s work that have impacted me and got me thinking, specifically as it relates to a God’s work and role in our redemption.

I thought I’d start this series this morning with Beeke’s explanation of the heart of Calvinism.  He sees it as a Theocentric system, in which all doctrine, study, and practice is ultimately aimed at manifesting the glory of God.  He writes:

Calvinists define all doctrine in a God-centered way. Sin is horrible because it is an affront to God. Salvation is wonderful because it brings glory to God.  Heaven is glorious because it is the place where God is all in all.  Hell is infernal because it is where God manifests His righteous wrath.  God is central to all of those truths.

As Calvinists, we are enamored with God.  We are overwhelmed by His majesty, His beauty, His holiness, and His grace.  We seek His glory, desire His presence, and model our lives after Him.

Other Christians say that evangelism or revival is their great concern, and these things must concern us greatly, of course.  But ultimately, we have only one concern: to know God, to serve Him, and to see Him glorified. That is our main objective.  The salvation of the lost is important because it leads to the hallowing of God’s name and the coming of His kingdom.  The purifying of society is important because it helps us do God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven.  Bible study and prayer are important because they lead us into communion with Him. (pg. 42)

I truly appreciate this focus.  Although I do not believe that Calvinism is the only theological system to stress the glory of God, I am thankful for how thoughtfully and carefully Calvinistic theologians down through the years have worked so many issues of life and faith through this “Theocentric” grid.  The puritans were prime examples of this approach truly fleshed out in all of life’s facets. This doctrinal foundation, brought to bear on the Christian life, has often produces disciples who are biblically humble and rightly joyful as they see their lives framed by Someone far greater than themselves.  This is a commendable quality that Christians from all theological approaches should seek to embrace.

Under a Necessity of Sinning?

17 07 2008

For your consideration: an explanation of man’s condition apart from the grace of God…

Man, since he was corrupted by the fall, sins not forced or unwillingly, but voluntarily, by a most forward bias of mind; not by violent compulsion, or external force, but by the movement of his own passion; and yet such is the depravity of his nature, that he cannot move and act except in the direction of evil.  If this is true, the thing not obscurely expressed is, that he is under a necessity of sinning.
– John Calvin