Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Intercession of the Saints, Part II

Calvin completes his refutation of the false doctrine of the intercession of the saints in today's reading. Apparently there were some in the Roman church who used a passage from Genesis as their Scriptural proof for the intercession of the saints.

  The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
      Bless the lads;
      Let my name be named upon them,
      And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
      And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
(Genesis 48:16, New King James Version)
Calvin quickly explains that this has nothing to do with calling upon the fathers to intercede for Jacob, but he is asking God to remember His servants and the covenant that He made with them. I did get a laugh when Calvin referred to those who did not understand this as "blockheads." I thought that only Charlie Brown was a blockhead!

We are told in Scripture about particular prayers by the saints being heard by God. Some apparently believe that it is because these people were saints is why God heard their prayers. Calvin writes, "But some are obviously influenced by the fact that we often read of the prayers of the saints being heard. Why? Because they prayed, of course." How simple can he make it? God heard their prayers because in faith they prayed. Not because they were someone special who God particularly listens to, but from the simple fact that they did pray. He continues, "Let us also, therefore, pray after their example that, like them, we may be heard." Calvin highlights a passage from James, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit," (James 5:17-18, New King James Version). Elijah was like us, he was not a superhero or anything. He earnestly prayed to God, and things happened.

Calvin wraps up his refutation of the intercession of the saints here. Much of it hearkens back to his rules for prayer. He encourages his readers to look to Scripture for examples of prayer. It is out of faith that we should call upon God. "Finally, faith grounded upon the Word is the mother of right prayer; hence, as soon as it is deflected from the Word, prayer must needs be corrupted." He again states that no where in Scripture are we taught to call upon the dead in our prayers, but Christ is the one true Mediator for us.

Tomorrow's reading: 3.20.28-3.20.30

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