January 15, 2007

John Calvin on Those Who Hear the Gospel and Those Who Don't

For here he meant to show, that the Devil must needs possess those that make none account of God’s mercy, that is uttered in our Lord Jesus Christ, and daily offered us in his Gospel. For look how oft the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is preached unto us, and the infinite goodness of our God talked of: so oft is this message renewed unto us, that our Lord Jesus Christ calleth us unto him, to the end we should forsake the world and being out of all hope in ourselves, fasten and settle our whole trust in him. Sith it is so: it is good reason that we should not reject the grace of God. And Saint Paul in saying so, meant to call back such as had gone astray before, and to show them the way, as if he had said, whereas the poor ignorant souls that never heard the word of the Gospel might be excused: we must needs be worse than damnable, seeing we refuse the grace of God when it is offered us: for it smelleth of such an unthankfulness, as can by no means be excused. Saint Paul therefore doth here make mention of those whom our Lord Jesus Christ calleth to the hope of salvation by his Gospel, and yet do still welter in their own wretchedness, and become brutish, not knowing whither there be a better life or no: or else of such as are sufficiently tormented with inward heartbiting, and yet seek no remedy nor comfort. Yet notwithstanding, all they to whom our Lord Jesus Christ hath not preached his Gospel, shall not fail to perish without mercy. They cannot defend themselves by ignorance: I say that all the heathen folk and Idolaters that ever were, must have their mouths stopped. And what shall become of us then, which have had our ears beaten daily with the message that God sendeth us: which is that he requireth nothing but that we should be drawn unto him, whereunto he encourageth, yea and beseecheth us, as we have seen in 2 Corinthians 5:20? Is it not a great shame for us, that God should so far abase himself in the person of his only son, that he should beseech us? Let us fall to atonement, saith he. And what hath he done on his side? What hath he offended us? Nay contrariwise, we cease not to provoke him daily against us, and yet he cometh to say unto us I will fall to atonement with you, whereas notwithstanding there is nothing but spitefulness in us, we be like little fiends, and to be short, we be damned and forlorn, and yet cometh he to seek unto us, and desireth nothing but to have the atonement made.
Calvin, Sermons on Galatians 14th Sermon, 2:20–21.

One quick note:

Since the term "atonement" is so frequently used of Christ's satisfaction itself (of the accomplishment) considered apart from the application, some may not see what Calvin is saying in the last portion of the quote. He's saying that God desires to apply Christ's work unto the lost sinner that hears the external call with the result that their sins are covered/forgiven, i.e. to have atonement made.


1 comment:

David Ponter said...

Oh I thought it meant hair-trigger.

Thanks for the clarification. Tho I still like hair-trigger: as in hair-trigger Ponter, ready to zap black and white Reformed fundies with a shots from my Calvinator blaster. ;-)

And dont you forget it!

Ps, G'day David Hewitt. I was interested in following along with your discussions. Here is something provocative to think about: we can show you from C Hodge, Dabney and Shedd and Calvin, refutations for all the distinctive claims someone like Owen makes regarding limited imputation/expiation.

Whats more, all these works are reasonably readily available to you or any person. Thus the idea that we are taking them out context or revising them, can be dispensed within seconds.

Take care,