Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4-21 Perseverance

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Calvin: There is no other reason why some persevere to the end, while others fall at the beginning of the course. For perseverance itself is indeed also a gift of God , which he does not bestow on all indiscriminately, but imparts to whom he pleases. (2:5.3). “The righteous …will be remembered forever.” [Psalm 112:6.] And
another, “The Lord will redeem the souls of his servants.” [Psalm
34:22.] For the Lord often leaves his servants not only to be troubled by
the lust of the wicked but to be torn and destroyed. He lets good men
languish in darkness and filth, while the wicked almost shine among the
stars. And he does not so cheer them with the brightness of his
countenance that they enjoy lasting happiness. For this reason not even
David disguises the fact that if believers keep their eyes fastened upon the
present state of things, they will be smitten by very grievous temptation,
as if there were for innocence neither favor nor reward with God. So very
greatly does impiety prosper and flourish, while the company of the godly
is oppressed by disgrace, poverty, contempt, and every kind of cross!
“My foot,” David said, “had almost stumbled, my steps had well-nigh
slipped …while I was envious of the prosperity of fools, while I saw the
good fortune of the wicked.” [Psalm 73:2-3 P.] Yet he concludes his
statement: “I pondered whether I could understand this, but it is a torment
to my spirit, until I shall go into the sanctuary of the Lord and perceive
their end” [Psalm 73:16-17] [II.10.16]

This week in Calvin’s life was one of his roughest. This was the week that he was kicked out of Geneva in 1538. Calvin hadn’t wanted to go to Geneva in the first place, and went primarily because Farel threatened him with God’s wrath if he didn’t answer God’s call. But after answering the call, Calvin was told by the Council in Geneva to go somewhere else. So this week in my blogs we’ll look at suffering and perseverance. Before we look at suffering, let us look at our resolution to persevere in suffering, and perseverance in general.
There is perseverance through suffering and there is perseverance to salvation. For Calvin, these things are not necessarily separate, just distinctions in the same act. When we persevere through suffering, we are making it closer to the end. Perseverance through both suffering and to salvation is a gift of God.
Today some are giving up on their faith. There are so many pressures. There are many skeptics out there who would encourage you to doubt just for the sake of doubting. There is not the external supports to the faith as there once was. When I was a child the public schools in the south basically supported the Protestant church beliefs. But now (right or wrong) there is little support. Many are giving up because the churches are wavering on their belief themselves. Churches have been dividing at rapid rates since the mid-1960s. It is not a conducive atmosphere for peace and inspiration. So some just stay home.
Calvin has a word for us today. In his day the church was divisive. Every doctrine of the church was thrown into question (which is why heretics like Servetus were springing up). Sometimes the best people were being kicked out of church (as Calvin was kicked out of France and then Geneva). On top of that there was little physical comfort in Calvin’s day. While Calvin lived to 54, the average person of his time lived to about 40. There was no heat, ac, lights, indoor plumbing, antibiotics, washers/driers. It was hard to get access to the best of writings (no google searches back then). There were no computers much less typewriters or copying machines to help with writing. Yet Calvin wrote voluminously. Calvin persevered through his wife’s death, at least three miscarriages, rejection of his writings, being mocked by those in Geneva and those outside. He lived in fear for his life. He had very few possessions at all. Yet he persevered to the end. He is a living testament to perseverance. Calvin believed that the passages in scripture that spoke of the good being blessed must be interpreted in the light of persevering to heaven. While it is possible that God blesses in this life, the ultimate blessing is found in heaven (II.10.16). I believe Calvin's perseverance warrants that we listen to what he has to say.

Prayer: Help us, O God to not give up. Give us grace to persevere in the face of temptation, sin, and the headaches of life.

1 comment:

  1. Have you seen the new Calvin resources posted at calvin500.com? I thought you might be interested!