Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vengeance vs Chastisement

Welcome to morning two from the Calvin Center in Hampton, GA.  Frankly I am a little surprised after all the hard work in the hot sun yesterday and staying up way past my bedtime that I was able to get up at 5:40am Eastern time.  Thankfully my bed is so uncomfortable that I could not sleep anymore therefore I got up even before my alarm went off this morning.

Something that Calvin continues to hammer home in this morning's reading is that when Christ paid the penalty for our sins, absolutely nothing else is required.  We cannot earn forgiveness from God.  He points out that the word "apolutrosis" that Paul used in Romans 3:24 and other places means not just "redemption" but it signifies "the very price and satisfaction of redemption."  Augustine wrote, "What is propitiation before the Lord but sacrifice?  What is the sacrifice, but what has been offered for us in the death of Christ?"  His sacrifice was for the complete remission of our sins.  Some may argue that the Old Testament sacrifices could be classified as "works" in order to receive forgiveness.  Calvin simply tells the reader that these were sacrifices and not works.  The sacrifices were pointing to the unique sacrifice that Christ gave for us.

God exercises two types of judgment on all people.  For those who are among the reprobate, he exercises a judgment of vengeance.  For those who are among the elect, he exercises a judgment of chastisement.  His vengeance comes out of His wrath.  His chastisement comes out of His love.  Just like a parent's love for a child, God chastises His people for their own good.

God's vengeance serves to punish the reprobate and give them a preview of things to come.  God's chastisement serves to correct the elect.  He uses this chastisement to correct His church.  Augustine wrote, "What you suffer, what you complain about, is your medicine, not your penalty; your chastisement, not your condemnation.  Do not put away the scourge if you do not want to be put away from the inheritance...Know, brethren, that all this misery of humankind in which the world groans is medicinal pain and not a penal sentence."  Chastisement is not punishment.  It is correction.  It is to prevent us from committing future sins.  God's vengeance is punishment. 

As believers, we should never lose heart and feel that God is punishing us, that His chastisement is too severe, or that it will last forever.  God does this for our own good because He loves us and wants to refine us.  It may even seem at times that His chastisement of His people is more severe than His punishment of the reprobate.  This punishment will last for all eternity where our chastisement is for a moment.  We are being "called back to the way of salvation."  Calvin makes an interesting point in saying that temporal and everlasting penalties are the same.  "Whether the penalty is everlasting or temporal makes no difference.  For wars, famines, pestilence, diseases, are just as much curses of God as the very judgment of eternal death, when they are inflicted to the end that they may be the instruments of the Lord's wrath and vengeance against the wicked."

Tomorrow's reading: 3.4.35-3.4.39

No comments:

Post a Comment

Presbyterian Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf