Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Holy Spirit

It is hard to believe that we are starting book 3 already today.  The first two books seem to have flown by.  The title of book 3 is "The Way in Which We Receive the Grace of Christ: What Benefits Come to Us from It, and What Effects Follow."  Naturally, Calvin is starting with how this grace is received and who bestows this grace upon us.

It is imperative that Christ is in us.  "First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us."  In order to share in the grace that the Father gave to Christ, He must dwell in our hearts.  We must strive for a closer relationship with Christ.  Calvin tells us, "reason itself teaches us to climb higher and to examine into the secret energy of the Spirit, by which we come to enjoy Christ and all his benefits."  It is through the Spirit that we are united with Christ and with the Father.  Calvin refers back to 2.15.2 and Christ's anointing in this section.

Christ was endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a unique way: "that is, to separate us from the world and to gather us unto the hope of the eternal inheritance."  In the Bible translation Calvin used, there were references to the "Spirit of sanctification," (1 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:2, Romans 1:4) which is a title that demonstrates one of the attributes of the Spirit on all living creatures.  Calvin begins referring to other titles for the Spirit here in this section even though the next is devoted to it.  In Romans 8:9, Paul speaks of the "Spirit of the Father" and the "Spirit of Christ."  "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (NKJV).  Calvin says that there is nothing absurd in ascribing to the Father certain gifts received from Him and other gifts to Christ when received from Christ.

In Scripture there are many titles given to the Holy Spirit.  They include:
  • the spirit of adoption
  • the guarantee and seal
  • life
  • water
  • oil
  • annointing
  • fire
  • spring
  • hand of God
The principle work of the Spirit is faith.  It is through the work of the Spirit that we have faith in God and Christ.  "But faith is the principal work of the Holy Spirit.  Consequently, the terms commonly employed to express his power and working are, in large measure, referred to it because by faith alone he leads us into the light of the gospel, as John teaches: to believers in Christ is given the privilege of becoming children of God, who are born not of flesh and blood, but of God [John 1:12-13]."  The Spirit is our source of faith and our teacher (or Schoolmaster as Calvin says).

Tomorrow's reading: 3.2.1-3.2.4

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