Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Importance of Scripture

Chapter 6 deals with the importance of Scripture for rightly seeing God.   We can see God all around us in his creation, but our vision is so impaired that we can not see him as he really is.  It is only through the Scriptures that God has revealed himself in a way that we can truly understand him.  Calvin writes, " Scripture, gathering up the otherwise confused knowledge of God in our minds, having dispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God.

Scripture gives us two types of knowledge about God.  First, Scripture teaches us that God is the Creator of all things.  There would be nothing without him.  Second, Scripture teaches us that God is the Redeemer of his people.  There would be no salvation without him.  God being the Creator is dealt with in this first of the four books of the Institutes.  God being the Redeemer will be covered in the second book.

God gave his Word to the patriarchs through multiple means.  His word has been handed down to the generations which have followed.  When the patriarchs received the Word from God, they knew it to be true and from God himself.  They recorded what they received.  Later, prophets interpreted the Word for his people.

True religion comes from the studying of Scripture.  God commands us multiple times to study Scripture frequently.  Calvin writes, "Now, in order that true religion may shine upon us, we ought to hold that it must take its beginning from heavenly doctrine and that no one can get even the slightest taste of right and sound doctrine unless he be a pupil of Scripture."  We need to be focused on the study of Scripture if we have any hope of having true religion.

We easily and frequently fall into error without Scripture.  We still fall into error with Scripture, but without it we have no hope.  "For errors can never be uprooted from human hearts until true knowledge of God is planted therein."

Scripture is a clearer way that God communicates with us.  He shows himself to us in the heavens and earth, but we pay no attention or misunderstand him.  It is only through Scripture that we can begin to understand God.  Calvin uses the example in John 4 of the Samaritan woman who knew not who she was worshiping because only the Jews offered worship to the true God.  Calvin concludes chapter 6 with, "For, since the human mind because of its feebleness can in no way attain to God unless it be aided and assisted by his Sacred Word, all mortals at that time - except for the Jews - because they were seeking God without the Word, had of necessity to stagger about in vanity and error."  Without the Word, we do not rightly know God.

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