Monday, April 12, 2010

Christ Is Revealed in the Gospel

Calvin begins chapter nine by writing about prophecies related to Christ in the Old Testament.  The law was in place to point God's people of the Old Testament to Christ.  He writes also of our advantage that we have in the fact that we have the fulfillment of the prophecies to witness.  It is like knowing the end of a mystery novel at the beginning.  Once we know "whodunit," the clues that are gathered throughout the novel become much easier to interpret.  Calvin writes, "Not that the teaching of these things was useless to the ancient people or without valie for the prophets themselves, but because they did not come to possess that treasure which God has transmitted to us by their hand!  For today the grace of which they bore witness is pit before our very eyes.  They had but a slight taste of it; we can more richly enjoy it."  The law and the prophets pointed to God revealing himself in Christ.  But when Christ came, many did not recognize him.  Calvin addresses this with the help of 2 Corinthians 4:6, "Paul elsewhere teaches, that God, who 'ordered light to shine out of darkness, now has shone in our hearts to give the light on knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.'  For when he appeared in this, his image, he,as it were, made himself visible; whereas his appearance had before been indistinct and shadowed.  All the more detestable and base, then, is the ungratefulness and depravity of those who are blind at midday!"

Christ is revealed in the gospels.  Calvin writes about the word "gospel," that it refers "to the proclamation of the grace manifested in Christ."  In the gospel, we have both fulfillment of God's promises to us and forgiveness of our sins.  "He has in his flesh accomplished the whole of our salvation."

We are not left out of the promises of the Old Testament.  I had a minister who used to remind us that the Bible in its entirety is OUR story.  It is not just the story of the Jewish people.  It is not just the story of Christ and his apostles.  This is our family, therefore it is our story.  We have been grafted into the family tree through our faith in Jesus Christ.  In fact, when we believe in Jesus, "we at once pass from death unto life."  Therefore, God's promises to his people become his promises to us.  "Although, therefore, Christ offers us in the gospel a present fullness of spiritual benefits, the enjoyment thereof ever lies hidden under the guardianship of hope, until, having put off corruptible flesh, we be transfigured in the glory of him who goes before us.  Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit bids us rely upon the promises, whose authority with us ought to silence all the barkings of that unclean dog (Cervetus)."  There is a difference in the way we perceive the promises of the Old Testament.  Calvin writes, "Only, we must note a difference in the nature or quality of the promises: the gospel points out with a finger what the law foreshadows under types."

There are still those today who wish to say that God changed dramatically with the coming of Christ, and salvation is received differently for his people.  Calvin addresses this by saying, "But the gospel did not so supplant the entire law as to bring forward a different way of salvation.  Rather, it confirmed and satisfied whatever the law had promised, and gave substance to the shadows."

Finally, Calvin wrote about John the Baptist.  He is really the last Old Testament prophet.  Calvin wrote that he "stood between the law and the gospel, holding an intermediate office related to both."  Calvin interpret
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s Matthew 11:11 to mean that John was lesser than Christ's apostles since he did not witness the resurrection.  John even considered himself only a "'voice,' as if he were beneath the prophets."  Calvin concludes by saying, "But what John began the apostles carried forward to fulfillment, with greater freedom, only after Christ was received into heaven."

Tomorrow's reading: 2.10.1-2.10.6

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