Monday, February 2, 2009

February 3- Calvin and The Sovereignty of God

February 3

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth, and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!” The four living creatures said “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Calvin [1541 letter to Farel upon his return to serve in Geneva]:Had I the choice at my own disposal, nothing would be less agreeable to be than to follow your advice [to come back to Geneva to preach]. But when I remember that I am not my own, I offer up my own heart, presented as a sacrifice to the Lord. Therefore there is no ground for your apprehension that you will only get fine words…I have no other desire than that, setting aside all consideration of me, they may look only to what is most for the glory of God and the advantage of the Church. I submit my will and my affections , subdued and held fast, to the obedience to God.

The concept Calvin had of God effected all other things. God was sovereign, majestic, and worthy of all that we have. God is in control of all things, knows all things, and He alone is worthy of worship.
After the sovereignty of God is established, the other parts of Calvin’s thinking falls into place. In terms of human beings (anthropology) humility and obedience is the best response as humility is a proper response to God’s greatness. In the area of sin, for Calvin, idolatry is the root of all sin because it takes away from the majesty of God. In the area of salvation, it is God’s choosing or election and predestination that is more important than our choosing. Infant baptism is an illustration of God’s grace and majesty claiming us when we have no power to claim God ourselves.
Troeltsch points out “To Calvin the chief point is not the self-centered personal salvation of the creature, and the universality of the Divine will and love, but it is the Glory of God, which is equally exalted in the holy activity of the elect and in the futile rage of the reprobate.”
Most Presbyterian ministers have heard of the question often asked in years past “are you willing to be damned for the glory of God?” This question basically is a question of where our focus lies. Is it in our own salvation, or in upholding the honor, majesty, and glory of God? In some ways it is a theoretical question like the medieval scholastic, ‘How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?” It is non-sensical and in that sense shouldn’t be asked.
But it does make the point that our salvation, our glory is not as important as His glory.

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