Encouragement on the Path of Righteousness

Enjoyed this excerpt by John Calvin posted at Ligonier.

There are two main parts to the instruction from Scripture on the Christian life that follow. The first is that a love of righteousness—to which we are not naturally prone—must be implanted and poured into our hearts. The second is that we need some model that will keep us from losing our way in our pursuit of righteousness. Scripture contains many arguments to encourage us on the path of righteousness.

To begin with, what better foundation can Scripture give for the pursuit of righteousness than to tell us we should be holy because God Himself is holy? Moreover, when we were scattered and wandering like sheep, lost in the maze of the world, God found us and gathered us to Himself. When we contemplate this relationship between ourselves and God, let us remember that holiness is the bond of our union with Him. Not, of course, because we enter into fellowship with Him by the merit of our own holiness. Rather, we first of all, cling to Him, and then, having received His holiness, we follow wherever He calls us. For it is characteristic of His glory that He has no fellowship with sin and impurity. Holiness is the goal of our calling. Therefore we must consistently set our sights upon holiness if we would rightly respond to God’s calling. To what purpose did God pull us out of the wickedness and pollution of this world—wickedness and pollution in which we were submerged—if we allow ourselves to wallow in such wickedness and pollution for the rest of our lives? more

Difficulties in Scripture

calvinIn truth I should be attempting something like emptying the sea if I wished to examine and enumerate one by one all the scandals which wretched men devise for their own destruction out of the teaching of Scripture. For it is not simply a matter of their making a blind assault if they run up against some difficulty, but, having freely given their minds to the matter, they become agitated by all the rough features, as if their one satisfaction in life lay in tormenting their minds with thorny questions. For they carefully note anything that shows the slightest sign of being irrational, and criticize it sharply, so as not to give the impression that they can be made to believe all that easily. If there is also any appearance of disagreement and contradiction in several Scripture passages, they seize on it eagerly, and by collecting all the examples of that kind, they make a great fuss about their own shrewdness. Besides, men like that are afflicted by an almost incurable disease. For although it makes them feel ashamed not to know something, yet they cannot bear to learn anything. But because by their boasting they upset people who are very often simple but otherwise quite capable of being taught, it was necessary to touch on that part of scandals, not that they can be disposed of in a few words, when even a lengthy book would not be enough to deal with them. But, in the first place, all of us need to take heed, so that in reading Scripture we keep to the way the Spirit of God points out to us; and for those who are aspiring to come close to Christ, it will certainly be a plain, consistent way. In the second place, we should not have a desire to be or to appear clever by complicating difficult questions. Finally, if we find something that is strange and beyond our understanding, do not let us be quick to reject it. That many people let their ignorance develop immediately into aversion is a fault deserving severe censure. But, in fact, the man who says that any divine pronouncements which he himself does not understand are not God’s oracles at all has little reverence for God. For what is that but assessing the infinite wisdom of God by the small measure of our mind? It is like using a finger to measure the whole world! But if we acknowledge that Scripture has come forth from God, then we should not be surprised if it contains many things that are beyond our understanding. To sum up, in religion this is the way and order of wisdom, to strive earnestly for a right understanding with the obedience of faith.

John Calvin (Concerning Scandals translated by John W. Fraser)

Without the Gospel…

John Calvin (07/10/1509 – 05/27/1564):

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe…

HT: Scotty Smith