Monday, February 1, 2010

My God is better than your gods

Scripture has placed God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, above any and all other gods.  Although we know of him through all of creation, he is "more intimately and also more vividly revealed through his Word." 

Many of his attributes are spelled out in Scripture.  Calvin in particular cites Exodus, "Jehovah, a merciful and gracious God, patient and of much compassion, and true, who keepest mercy for thousands, who takest away iniquity and transgression..."  (Battles translating from Calvin's citation of the Vulgate).

I encourage you to read Psalm 145 right now.  Calvin calls this Psalm a sum of all God's powers.  There is no power listed that is beyond human comprehension.  Calvin also cites Jeremiah and his listing of three of God's attributes: mercy, judgment, and justice.  Calvin writes, "Certainly these three things are especially necessary for us to know: mercy, on which alone the salvation of us all rests; judgment, which is daily exercised against wrongdoers, and in even some greater severity awaits them into everlasting ruin; justice, whereby believers are preserved, and are most tenderly nourished.  When these are understood, the prophecy witnesses that you have abundant reason to glory in God" (Battles translating from Calvin's citation of the Vulgate).

Calvin then goes on the attack against all other gods.  God has revealed himself to all.  "Indeed, it is true that the name of one God was everywhere known and renowned.  For men who worshiped a swarm of gods, whenever speaking from a real feeling of nature, as if content with a single God, simply used the name 'God'..."  Calvin then talked about writings of early church theologians Justin Martyr and Tertullian which address this same topic.

True religion has been corrupted by sin.  Other gods interfere with true worship of the one true God.  Calvin writes, "Habakkuk, when he condemned all idols, bade men seek God 'in his temple' lest believers admit someone other than him who revealed himself by his Word."  Calvin and Habakkuk present an interesting point.  How many people do you know that believe that they can worship God just as well away from church doing their own thing on Sunday mornings as anyone else can do who is in church participating in corporate worship?  Can they really?  Calvin thinks not because of the distractions of the idols that surround us. 
Tomorrow, it looks like Calvin addresses what he perceives as idols that are sometimes contained within the church.

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