Sunday, March 14, 2010

God's Grace

Calvin picks up where we left him yesterday in a discussion about God's grace and our wills.  He addresses the prayers of David and Solomon in the Old Testament.  David specifically prays for God to "create" in him a "clean heart" in Psalm 51.  Calvin writes, "Therefore, taking on the role of a man estranged from God, [David] justly prays that whatever God bestows on his elect in regeneration be given to himself.  Therefore, he desired himself to be created anew, as if from the dead, that, freed from Satan's ownership, he may become an instrument of the Holy Spirit."

It is God alone who acts in us to do good.  We cannot do good without him.  Jesus told us this in John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (NKJV, emphasis mine).  Later, Paul tells us in Philippians 2:13, "...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."  For we cannot do good on our own.  God is the one who both gives us the will and the ability to do good.  "The first part of a good work is will; the other, a strong effort to accomplish it; the author of both is God.  Therefore we are robbing the Lord if we claim for ourselves anything either in will or in accomplishment.  If God were said to help our week will, then something would be left to us.  But when it is said that he makes the will, whatever of good is in it is now placed outside us."

God's grace is (thankfully) irresistible.  No doubt you have heard of irresistible grace from any sort of discussion of TULIP.  Calvin defends the idea of grace being irresistible in this section.  He writes, "For the apostle does not teach that the grace of a good will is bestowed upon us if we accept it, but that He wills to work in us.  This means nothing else than that the Lord by his Spirit directs, bends, and governs, our heart and reigns in it as in his own possession...  Now Christ's saying ('Every one who has heard...from the Father comes to me' [John 6:45, cf. Vg.]) be understood in any other way than that the grace of God is efficacious of itself.  This Augustine also maintains.  The Lord does not indiscriminately deem everyone worthy of this grace..."  When God's grace is given to us, our hearts are so changed that we cannot help but accept it.

I am running late for worship this morning thanks to "springing forward" an hour.  The rest of today's reading will be discussed tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow's reading: 2.3.11-2.3.14 

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