Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16- Holy Spirit and Holy Scriptures

(Picture of Geneva Bible 1560 edition- English translation with Calvin's principles)

3/16- Calvin on the Holy Spirit and Scripture

“I Came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom but on God’s power.” (I Corinthians 2:3-5)

Calvin: Thus, the highest proof of Scripture derives in general from the fact that God in person speaks in it. The prophets and apostles do not boast either of their keenness or of anything that obtains credit for them as they speak; nor do they dwell upon rational proofs. Rather, they bring forward God’s holy name, that by it the whole world may be brought into obedience to him. Now we ought to see how apparent it is not only by plausible opinion but by clear truth that they do not call upon God’s name heedlessly or falsely. (I.7.4) For scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know.”

The Brief Statement of faith says, “The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles rules our faith and life in Christ through scripture.” The scripture means nothing without the Holy Spirit illuminating it and applying it to our lives. Scripture may be the Word of God, but it is like the womb of Mary until the Holy Spirit moves upon it conceiving Christ. Calvin still believed in tradition. But tradition had to be tested by scripture itself, and tradition was secondary to scripture. Sola scriptura was the motto of the reformation meaning the authority is not the pope nor the church, nor the ancient writings of the fathers, but all is tested with the scripture.
The scripture was inspired by the Spirit, the Spirit illuminates scripture, and the scripture inspires us by the Holy Spirit. The Roman Catholics on the one hand, were saying the pope and tradition were important along with the scriptures. The AnaBaptists on the other hand, were saying we should listen to the Spirit even when what they thought was the spirit spoke against scripture. For Calvin, the Spirit inspired scripture and illuminates and applies scripture- but God never contradicts Himself.
Today in the church there are many who are saying we can ignore scripture to do what we feel is right. The classic example is the ordination of (unrepentant, practicing) homosexual debate. There are really few people who think that the scriptures (both Old and New Testaments) don’t forbid acts of homosexuality. But many are saying we can ignore the scriptures because the spirit is moving us in other directions. Calvin would retort that God is truth and truth does not contradict itself because it is convenient, expedient, or popular. The Spirit does not say one thing in scripture and another thing later. One of the tests for a false prophet in Deuteronomy was if that prophet said something that was against the law.
The Holy Spirit speaks through scripture, and scripture is our only standard. If we toss out scripture in our lives and in our church, we are tossing ourselves out into the storm, letting the winds of doctrine blow us everywhere without a rudder. Worse, we have lost the real ability to discern God's will.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, inspire us through your inspired Word. Help us to hear and respond to you.

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