Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Christ, Our Mediator and Head of the Church

Chapter 6 of book 2 is a real change in topic and tone for Calvin.  Up until now in book 2, I have felt that Calvin is focusing totally on the depravity of man and how our wills are in bondage.  Chapter 6 is now focusing on Christ himself.  No doubt we are fallen, but now we have hope through Jesus Christ our Mediator and Redeemer.  Calvin writes, "Therefore, since we have fallen from life into death, the whole knowledge of God the Creator that we have discussed would be useless unless faith also followed, setting forth for us God our Father in Christ."  Because we have fallen into sin, our knowledge of God as our Father has become corrupt.  We are blinded by sin and even when we contemplate the universe, we still do not recognize him as we should.  "And as all our senses have become perverted, we wickedly defraud God of his glory."  God has crammed the universe with innumerable miracles which we ought to recognize as the wisdom of God, "But because we have profited so little by it, he calls us to the faith of Christ, which, because it appears foolish, the unbelievers despise."  The idea of salvation coming to us through the atoning death and resurrection of Christ does not align with our human inclination, we mush embrace it.  "Surely, after the fall of the first man no knowledge of God apart from the Mediator has had power unto salvation."

The next section deals with God's people before Christ's incarnation and how without Christ there is no faith.  Even the sacrificial system established in the Old Testament "plainly and openly taught believers to seek salvation nowhere else than in the atonement that Christ alone carries out.  I am only saying that the blessed and happy state of the church always had its foundation in the person of Christ."  Calvin cites a number of Old Testament passages which point to one Head of the church which was fulfilled in Christ.  I Samuel 2:10, 35 contain two examples: “He will give strength to His king, And exalt the horn of His anointed” and "Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever."  The word "anointed" is translated as "Messiah" or "Christ" in the Bible that Calvin is using for his quotes.  There are examples about David and his descendants both in I&II Kings and in David's own words in Psalms.  "But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.  And He built His sanctuary like the heights,  Like the earth which He has established forever.  He also chose David His servant,  And took him from the sheepfolds; From following the ewes that had young He brought him, To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance." Psalm 78:68-71.  This is an example of Scripture declaring that God has chosen his people, but also pointing toward a leader for his people.  This leader is finally fully realized in Christ.

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Tomorrow's reading: 2.6.3-2.6.4

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