So, unless I am greatly mistaken, the Jewish people are still waiting for a messiah. They believed (and still believe) that Jesus was not the messiah, instead that He was a blasphemer. This view I find to be quite absurd, for several reasons. First of all, Malachi 3:1 says, “‘I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the LORD Almighty.” This, of course, is referring to Jesus. Now, how can the Jews still be waiting for Jesus if the temple was never rebuilt after it fell in 70 A.D.? Also, Psalm 22:16 says, “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.” The entire chapter of Psalm 22 is a prophecy about Jesus. Considering this an much more evidence, how can God’s chosen people still be waiting?
Now, in this chapter Calvin argues that good works are not ours, but God’s, and that we do nothing good of ourselves. Now, I have to disagree with that point, for a couple reasons. First of all, I think that since men are made in the image of God, we have some shadow of God’s character. I believe that this shadow for most people includes the will to do good. Now we are, of course, corrupted by sin. However, many people experience satisfaction from doing good and experience the will to do it. I also question whether a work is good if you are not the one doing it. If my friend Noah took control of my body and used it to do community service, would that be my deed or his? His, of course. Now you can argue that since God is an absolute good being that my point would be invalidated, but I’m not so sure about that. Now, if Noah gave me a suggestion to do community service and I decided to go along with his decision, then that would be my choice and therefore my good work. Additionally, Ephesians 2:8 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Why would the Bible prevent us from boasting if we do not have anything to our name to boast about in the first place?
Why does suffering happen? If God is really good, why does He let bad things happen to good people? This doesn’t seem fair. Well there are a couple of core problems with this reasoning. First of all, it is unfair to assume that bad things are happening to good people. How many good people are in this world? Zero. There are no people in this world that are not tainted by sin. Also, God did not create suffering. However, He uses it as a microphone to speak into people’s lives. As C.S. Lewis says, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in out pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
“The question, therefore, is does man, after determining by right reason what is good, choose what he thus knows,and pursue what he thus chooses?” Basically, the point that Calvin is making here is that while every man would undoubtedly want eternal blessedness, without the Holy Spirit none aspire to it. This, of course, is quite presumptive. Additionally though, this addresses a core problem. Do people need to be led by the Spirit to be saved? If so, is there really free will?
I will have a couple of posts about free will since that is a controversial topic concerning the Calvinists. So far, Calvin has introduced the concept of free will, saying that we as humans are incomplete, and that we cannot have any virtue without God’s help. He said that this essentially means that there is no other way to God, herein raising a question as to how free this will is. If our only two options are God or death, then what would stop us from automatically picking God?
Knowing yourself is one of the most vague expressions that I have ever heard. However, deep beneath the hippie slang and spiritual connotations there is some real truth to that statement. First, how do you know yourself? Well, you really have to take some time to examine your character and ask God what you can do to improve spiritually. If you know yourself and your faults then you will be able to improve and become another person. The Bible also says to love your neighbor as yourself. If you know yourself and your faults then you can even help others with their similar problems.
First of all, I would like to say that Institutes of the Christian Religion was over 1000 pages long, and I did not read the whole thing. However, the sections that I did read provoked some good thought and I was pleased about what I read. Sadly, I was not able to get to the part of the book that distinguishes the difference between Calvinism and other more common Christian denominations, but nevertheless I did learn a couple things.
Job 1:6-12, “One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.’Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” The thing that is odd about this passage is that Satan presents himself to the being that threw him out of Heaven, and got permission to tempt Job. This just testifies to God’s power, that His worst enemy would come to Him for permission to do something. I’m sure that some of you have done more research into this verse than me, so please feel free to leave a comment below with your opinions on this passage.
When earlier I discussed the innate knowledge of God that Calvin talked about, I asked myself, “Where is this knowledge of God contained?” Well, today Calvin gave his answer to that question, the soul. The soul is a very obscure topic, and I would like to be able to read a little more into this topic and post about it later. If you have any comments about a soul, please post them.