Thursday, April 16, 2009

4-16- Nothing or Everything

(John Calvin's birthplace in Noyon, France- now a museum)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.


I am the vine you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; Apart from him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) With him all things are possible. (Luke 1:37) 27And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)

Calvin: Each of us must, then, be so stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness as to attain at least some knowledge of God. Thus, from the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and — what is more — depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone. To this extent we are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God; and we cannot seriously aspire to him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves. (I.1.1)

For Calvin, any good that we do is by God’s grace and for God’s glory. He was deeply aware of the sinfulness and depravity of human beings. We are depraved of our ability to do good in and of ourselves. Apart from God we can do nothing. So a huge part of our task as human beings is to recognize our situation of inability. But the second part of this is to recognize God’s ability. So we must die to ourselves (mortification) by self denial and bearing our cross. Self denial and bearing our cross enable us to see that apart from Christ we can do nothing.
But the ability to live to God is done by the resurrection power of God. The wisdom, virtue, abundance of every good and purity of righteousness are experienced as we rely not on ourselves- but on God.
This is not the same thing as saying that we can’t do anything. Rather it is saying that apart from God our works are temporary, meaningless, and useless. We do not recognize our nothingness by self-deprecating ourselves. We recognize our nothingness by resisting temptation (relying on God), and facing our problems (relying on God). Temptations and sins bear so heavily upon us that we cannot resist them in and of ourselves. Our problems, worries, and concerns bear down upon us so that we have no strength of our own left to bear up. The resurrection power of God is the power to resist temptation and bear up with hope against our problems.
It is the power to do something that will lest. The power of God gives us the hope that nothing is impossible with Him- not because of who we are- but because of who God is.

Calvin was very strong at this point- the glory goes to God, for God gives us the ability to do all things.

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