Monday, May 31, 2010


Having our new four-legged family member has been challenging.  Tomorrow I go to work for the first full day since she arrived here.  We shall see how our morning routine goes tomorrow.

Today (after several days of waiting) we finally arrive at chapter 3 on repentance.  Calvin starts off by telling us that the sum of the gospel consists in repentance and the forgiveness of sins.  This comes straight from Luke 24:47 and Acts 5:31.  Calvin writes "both repentance and forgiveness of sins...are conferred on us by Christ, and both are attained by us through faith."  If either repentance or forgiveness is excluded from a discussion of faith, that discussion would be incomplete.  Repentance not only follows faith, Calvin says it is "born of faith." 

Repentance is spoken of throughout the Gospels.  Christ and John the Baptist both preached the same message, "Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"  (Matthew 3:2, 4:17).  Paul also preached a message of repentance as told in Acts 20:21.  Calvin deduces that Christ was preaching that since the Kingdom of God was near, we must repent and be forgiven of our sins.  But, we do not repent until we recognize that we belong to God.  "But no one is truly persuaded that he belongs to God unless he has first recognized God's grace."  Also, Calvin tells us in this chapter that attempts to earn forgiveness through exercises in penance like the Anabaptists are nothing but folly.

Next, Calvin covers two parts to repentance: mortification and vivification.  Mortification, or contrition, is the laying low of man.  This is the recognition of the sin by the man followed by the sorrow of his soul and dread of divine judgment.  Vivification is the desire that comes afterward to live a holy life, free from the sin and punishment of the sin previously committed.

There are examples of penance throughout Scripture.  Some of the examples Calvin uses is from the Old Testament: Cain, Saul, Judas, the Ninevites, and King Hezekiah.  In all these examples (and more) the offending party was fearful of divine punishment and did something to try to earn God's grace such as putting on sackcloth, fleeing, or worse.  Calvin also calls this "repentance of the law."  He then writes of the "repentance of the gospel" where the sinner clings to Christ and the forgiveness he promises us.  It is through Christ that forgiveness is granted and the sinner is comforted.

Tomorrow's reading: 3.3.5-3.3.9

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