Friday, July 23, 2010

Rejection of the Substitution of Man's Merit for Christ's

One of the former youth at our church one time told me in a Bible study that her Bible teacher at school taught them that Calvin invented predestination.  Apparently the teacher had not read Ephesians 1:4-5 before, because she would have seen the word "predestination" included here by Paul who lived 1500 years before Calvin.  She would have then recognized that Calvin did not invent predestination, but God did.

Christ is the sole foundation of our faith.  1 Corinthians 3:10-11 reads, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." He is the beginning of our faith and He is the perfecter of our faith.  Calvin asks the questions "What sort of foundation have we in Christ?  Was he the beginning of our salvation in order that its fulfillment might follow from ourselves?  Did he only open the way by which we might proceed under our own power?"  Sounding much like Paul, he answers his own questions, "Certainly not."  According to 1 Corinthians 1:30 Christ became our wisdom from God, our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption.  We get these gifts from nowhere else.  Calvin quotes Ephesians 1:4-5, "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."    Our salvation and all good gifts come from God alone.  "In brief, because all his things are ours and we have all things in him, in us there is nothing."

Calvin next tackles Roman doctrines which take away from Christ's might and honor.  They taught that man can perform all sorts of "'moral' good works" which are pleasing to God, even before they are engrafted into Christ.  "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life," 1 John 5:12.  How can someone who is dead perform good works on his own?  Or Romans 14:23b reads, "for whatever is not from faith is sin."  If there is no faith, than no good works can arise.  All works without faith are sinful.  Calvin writes, "Therefore, as soon as you become engrafted into Christ through faith, you are made a son of God, an heir of heaven, a partaker in righteousness, a possessor of life; and (by this their falsehood may be better refuted) you obtain not the opportunity to gain merit but all the merits of Christ, for they are communicated to you."

Roman theology does not believe in justification by faith, but they speak of man being justified by "formed faith."  This concept is that man is justified through his good works which come out of faith.  They are mistaken in believing that good works can come out of free will, through which they believe all merit exists.  Of course Calvin paraphrasing Augustine writes, "all our merit is but of grace and not obtained through our sufficiency but wholly comes to be through grace."  This Roman theology takes away reliance in God's mercy and places it on man's works.  "Finally, while they repeatedly inculcate good works, they in the meantime so instruct consciences as to discourage all their confidence that God remains kindly disposed and favorable to their works."

The final section contains two parts, both are mostly quoted Scripture.  The first half is the example that Christ showed us as the fulfillment of piety and holiness.  The second half is Scripture which give consolation for the faithful.  One of my favorites is Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," (KJV).

Tomorrow's reading: 3.16.1-3.16.4

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting on this~ it reminds me of my old school where our teachers taught us to hate Calvinists because they were "crazy".
    God has since changed me, for which I am glad.


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