Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Definition of Repentance

You would think that after a 45 minute walk followed by some wrestling with the golden then a good breakfast that a dober-pup would be ready to settle down and let me read some Calvin.  Fat chance!  I had to abbreviate today's reading because of the insanity going on in my house.

Calvin does a thorough job in defining repentance.  First of all, it is inseparable from faith - like hope.  Even though you cannot separate them, repentance and faith are unique from each other.  Calvin writes, "As faith is not without hope, yet faith and hope are different things, so repentance and faith, although they are held together by a permanent bond, require to be joined rather than confused."  He then looks at the Hebrew and Greek words translated as repentance in the Bible.  In Hebrew, the word is derived from "conversion or return."  In Greek, from "change of mind or of intention."  In order to have true repentance, one must first have a true fear of God.  This repentance "consists in the mortification of our flesh and of the old man, and in the vivification of the Spirit."

He then begins describing three major points about repentance.  The first two I read today, the third will have to be tomorrow.  The first point Calvin makes is that "when we call it a 'turning of life to God,' we require a transformation, not only in outward works, but in the soul itself."  He then cites multiple Scripture passages demonstrating this transformation.  Ezekiel 18:31 describes the necessity of having a "new heart and a new spirit."  We must also follow God with ALL of our heart and ALL of our soul.  Look at the book of Deuteronomy and the repetition of the idea of serving God with all our hearts and all our souls.  We must also have true repentance in what Moses described as a "circumcision of heart," (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6).

As previously mentioned, a man must have an earnest fear of the Lord in order to have true repentance.  Calvin writes, "repentance proceeds from an earnest fear of God.  For, before the mind of the sinner inclines to repentance, it must be aroused b thinking upon divine judgment."  Calvin speaks of the degrees of severity in which God inflicts punishment on men.  Sometimes He uses "prickings" to get cause a sinner to become aware of his laziness and to get him to turn back to God.  Other times, he uses severe punishments on the wicked to demonstrate what will be waiting for them.  "Therefore, the depravity of our nature compels God to use severity in threatening us.  For it would be in vain for him gently to allure those who are asleep."  Fear of the Lord is also necessary to properly focus us on worship of Him.  If a man is virtuous and is praised by the world but he does not worship God, then he is an abomination for not giving God his right and honor.

Tomorrow's reading: 3.3.8-3.3.11

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