Calvin on Scripture

March 30, 2007

Scripture has its authority from God not the church.

But a most pernicious error widely prevails that Scripture has only so much weight as is conceded to it by the consent of the church.  As if the eternal and inviolable truth of God depended upon the decision of men! (1:75)

The apostles had authority prior to the church because the apostles and prophets were the foundation of the church [see Ephesians 2:20] (1:75)

In order to accept Scripture as Scripture we need the witness of the Holy Spirit.  Calvin does acknowledge that there are rational proofs that God speaks in Scripture – proofs that should be accepted by all but the most hardened.  Yet, he clearly states that without the work of the Holy Spirit, no proof will be enough to convince them.

The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason.  For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded. (1:79)

Calvin concludes that Scripture is “self-authenticated” by the Holy Spirit and not by proof and reasoning. 

And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. (1:80)

Bonus word regarding “new revelation”.  This is not set in a context of modern claims that God still gives prophecy, but it seems to apply.

Now daily oracles are to sent from heaven, for it pleased the Lord to hallow his truth to everlasting remembrance in the Scriptures alone [cf. John 5:39] (1:74)


Knowing the Bible to Know God

March 29, 2007

Here are some reasons from Calvin’s Institutes why we need the Bible to know God:

Without the Bible we might seek out false gods:

“God, the Aritificer of the universe, is made manifest to us in Scripture, and that what we ought to think of him is set forth there, lest we seek some uncertain deity by devious paths.” (1:71)

The Bible makes faith unambiguous

“For by his Word, God rendered faith unambiguous forever, a faith that should be superior to all opinion.” (1:71)

The Bible preserves the truth of God forever

“Finally, in order that truth might abide forever in the world with a continuing succession of teaching and survive through all ages, the same oracles he had given to the patriarchs it was his pleasure to have recorded, as it were on public tablets.” (1:71)

The Bible keeps us from falling into error about God

“Suppose we ponder how slippery is the fall of the human mind into forgetfulness of God, how great the tendency to every kind of error, how great the lust to fashion constantly new and artificial religions. Then we may perceive how necessary was such written proof of the heavenly doctrine, that it should neither perish through forgetfulness nor vanish through error nor be corrupted by the audacity of men.” (p.72)

Brothers and Sisters if we want to know God we need to be diligent students of the Bible. It is the place He reveals Himself clearly. We also must thank Him graciously giving us the Bible. Without it, we would be lost in a fog of darkness and confusion.

Quotations taken from the McNeill, Battles 2 vol. edition.

True Faith

March 26, 2007

Mark 9:24 has one of the most genuine confessions I have ever read: “I believe, help my unbelief.”  This cry for faith comes from a father whose son is assaulted and tormented by demon.  The disciples can’t help.  He is beginning to fear that no one can.  Yet, he hopes.  He hopes that Jesus can.  So, in the face of his fears, he shouts out, “I believe, help my unbelief.”

Here is what James Edwards has to say about this in his commentary on Mark (p.280).

True faith is always aware how small and inadequate it is.  The father becomes a believer not when he amasses a sufficient quantum of faith but when he risks everything on what little faith he has, when he yields his insufficiency to the true sufficiency of Jesus. . .True faith takes no confidence in itself, nor does it judge Jesus by the weakness of his followers.  it looks to the More Powerful one (1:7) who stands in the place of God, whose authoritative word restores life from chaos.  True faith is unconditional openness to God, a decision in the face of all to the contrary that Jesus is able.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus is more than able. He is compassionate.  He will respond when we cry out to Him with even the weakest faith, I believe, help my unbelief.

“Evangelical Courage”

March 22, 2007

Bill Ascol offers this helpful definition and call to evangelical courage in Dear Timothy:

By evangelical courage I mean that unconditional commitment to minister the gospel with compassion, regardless of the consequences and no matter the cost. (p.137)

He does an excellent job explaining why we need this type of courage to minister to the various type of people God entrusts to our care.  Pastors must courageously fight the temptation to become impatient with the immature; to give up on the wounded; to refuse to seek and restore the erring and wandering; to focus only on the maturing.

Pray that God will bless your church with a courageous pastor.

In Christ

Pastor Mike

An Encouragement for Pastors to Pray

March 21, 2007

A minister who is not a man of piety and prayer, whatever his other talents may be, cannot be called a servant of God, but rather a servant of Satan, chosen by him for the same reason that he chose the serpent of old because he was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.  What a monster, oh God, must that minister of religion be, that dispenser of the ordinances of the gospel, that intercessor between God and His people, that reconciler of man to his Maker, if he sees himself not as a man of prayer. (Dear Timothy, p.105)

May God raise up a mighty generation of pastors who are known as men of prayer.

Scripture Memory Plans

March 20, 2007

If you are interested in starting a Scripture Memory program, I recommend using John Piper’s Fighter Verse System. You can get the current week’s from Desiring God here , or you can see a whole year’s worth here (you might need to do a search on fighter verses, I can’t seem to link the exact page directly). I would add the following review system.

  • Add the assigned verse each week to your daily review list.
  • Once you have six weeks worth on your daily list, begin moving them to a weekly review. I do this by moving the oldest verse on my daily list to Monday. Once I have six weeks worth I begin adding to Tuesday.
  • Don’t forget to add a new verse to your daily list as you move one off!
  • Once you have filled every day of the week, begin moving your oldest weekly review verses to a monthly or quarterly review plan.
  • I’ve been using this system since the beginning of the year and find it very manageable. If you use Outlook or a PDA you can put the verses into a repeatable task to remind you. Plus, if the verses are in the notes of the task, they are always there to review.

If you are already memorizing scripture and want to begin memorizing whole books of the Bible I recommend reading this article.

Remember, having a review system is the key.

In Christ

Pastor Mike

Encouragements to Memorize Scripture

March 19, 2007

Here are some encouragements to memorize scripture that I found in Dear Timothy.  They are in the chapter by Andy Davis.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 we are commanded to “impress” the commandments of God upon our children. We are to teach our children wherever we are, whenever we are with them. It will be very difficult to fulfill these commands if we are not memorizing Scripture (see p.88)

“Sanctification occurs when you have totally immersed your mind day after day, month after month, years after year in the constantly flowing truth of Scripture.” (p.89)

John 15:7-8 reminds us that if we remain in Christ and His words remain in us, we will bear fruit. Memorizing scripture allows God’s Word to abide in us in ways that simple Bible reading and study do not. (pp.90-91)

Tomorrow, I will have some suggestions on Scripture memory plans and review.

In Christ

Pastor Mike