Calvin on: the Sacraments – part 1

John Calvin

John Calvin

1. “Akin to the preaching of the gospel, we have another help to our faith in the sacraments, in regard to which, it greatly concerns us that some sure doctrine should be delivered, informing us both of the end for which they were instituted, and of their present use.

First, we must attend to what a sacrament is. It seems to me, then, a simple and appropriate definition to say, that it is an external sign, by which the Lord seals on our consciences his promises of good-will toward us, in order to sustain the weakness of our faith, and we in our turn testify our piety towards him, both before himself, and before angels as well as men.

We may also define more briefly by calling it a testimony of the divine favour toward us, confirmed by an external sign, with a corresponding attestation of our faith towards Him.

You may make your choice of these definitions, which in meaning differ not from that of Augustine, which defines a sacrament to be a visible sign of a sacred thing, or a visible form of an invisible grace, but does not contain a better or surer explanation. As its brevity makes it somewhat obscure, and thereby misleads the more illiterate, I wished to remove all doubt, and make the definition fuller by stating it at greater length.”

3. “From the definition which we have given, we perceive that there never is a sacrament without an antecedent promise, the sacrament being added as a kind of appendix, with the view of confirming and sealing the promise, and giving a better attestation, or rather, in a manner, confirming it. In this way God provides first for our ignorance and sluggishness, and, secondly, for our infirmity; and yet, properly speaking, it does not so much confirm his word as establish us in the faith of it.”*

*That is, the sacrament cannot make the promise of God objectively more certain, but it can make our faith in God’s promise subjectively more certain. God’s Word is always absolute, strong, unchangeable, and “settled in heaven”; but our faith, throughout this life is always relative, weak, changeable, and frequently in need of confirmation and assurance. Thus we properly distinguish between the objective certainty of God’s Word, and the subjective certainty of our faith.

-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 4, Chapter 14, Sections 1 & 3

Crown of Thorns: Reversing the Curse

And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. -Mark 15:17 ESV

After the fall, God told Adam that the ground would be cursed and it would bring forth thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:18). When Christ was crowned with thorns, He was taking upon Himself the curse of sin, not just for humanity,but also the curse of Creation. In His death, Christ absorbed the curse and sin. In His resurrection, He defeated sin, death, and the grave, and reversed the curse that had subjected creation to futility (Rom. 8:20-22). It is then with this that we can further understand why Mark records Jesus as commissioning His disciples with a charge to, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” – Mark 16:15 ESV

Helpful Links

Reversing the Fall and Setting Creation Free by Vern Poythress

Reversing the Curse? by Peter Leithart


Rantings on…hersey, apostasy, abominations, idolatry, false teachings, etc…

There are alot of good churches out there in this country. There are alot of bad churches, bad theology, which is actually probably anthropology, and there is just alot of stuff that makes me want to scream in utter confusion.

A guy named Todd Bentley, with tatoos up and down his arms, looking like an ex-con who just realized the easiest con in the book is duping stupid Christians for all of their money, is in Lakeland, Florida “healing” people and calling it “revival”? Right. No. No false prophet here.

Osteen…nuff said.

Rob Bell and his ambiguous language talking about everything and nothing all at the same time while wasting no time in wasting your time…

Christian Pornography is now cool, I guess. Hey if it helps your marriage, who cares if God calls it “immoral.”

The disgusting marketing of literally anything and slapping a bible verse or a fish or a cross on it and selling it to Christians…PUKE!!!

all this and more can be seen at www.alittleleaven.com and at www.sliceoflaodicea.com.

For He Must Reign… part 3: Acts 2:22-26

Another passage that is worth considering that adds to our understanding of Jesus’ reign at the right hand of God, and in particular, paralleled with the throne of David is Acts 2:29-36.

29“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

30“And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE,

31he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.

32“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.

33“Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

34“For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:

THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
35UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES
A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘

36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.” (NASB)

Seeing that This quote is pretty long, I would just briefly mention the Peter makes the direct connection of Christ’s resurrection and ascension to the Right Hand of God with the Throne of David. The Promise of the Davidic Covenant said that there would always be a descendant upon David’s Throne.

In v. 30, Peter refers to the Davidic covenant, which states that David would always have a descendant to sit on his throne. Because God had made that promise to David, when David spoke of his flesh not seeing decay in Psalm 16, Peter knew that that passage was referring to Christ and his resurrection. Therefore, Christ, who is of the line of David, is now eligible for the role of sitting on the Davidic throne forever because of the fact that he is resurrected from the dead and lives forever.

Peter then concludes, in his reference to Psalm 110, that Christ, who was exalted to the Right Hand of God (ascension), the place where all his enemies are being made his footstool, has now been made “both Lord and Christ.”

Jesus Christ is reigning NOW as the Davidic King, and long awaited Messiah. This is obviously is contradistinction with Dispensationalism which claims that the Davidic Covenant has to be fulfilled “Literally” and therefore Christ has to sit on a literal throne in literal Jerusalem for a literal 1,000 years in the future. Then, and ONLY Then, will Christ truly be the King and the Lord.

I think I’d rather get my hermeneutics from Peter who says that Christ is sitting on David’s throne Now and is ruling Now as both Lord and Christ.

For He Must Reign… – part 2: Coming on the Clouds (Mt. 26:64; Dan. 7:13-14; Ps. 110)

In Matthew 26:63-64, Jesus is being questioned by Caiaphas the high priest. Caiaphas asks Jesus, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God?” Jesus’ reply has been misunderstood by many, thinking that he is speaking of his second coming. Jesus acknowledges that Caiaphas is right, that Jesus is the Son of God. Undoubtedly the high priest understood Psalm 2 which speaks of God’s Son as being King over Zion. Thus, being understood by the high priest as we understand it today, that Psalm 2 is a messianic Psalm, Caiaphas knew that the messiah, the King of Israel, was to be the Son of God (which explains why the sign above the head of Jesus on the cross read, King of the Jews).

Jesus acknowledges that Caiaphas was correct, and then continues to exegete himself from two other O.T. passages, Psalm 110, and Daniel 7. Using a combination of these two texts (in which he intertwines them both together to form one new text in which to derive one meaning), Jesus refers to himself in v. 64 as the Son of Man, obviously a reference to Daniel 7:13,14. Jesus then refers to Psalm 110:1, and says that he would be sitting at the right hand of God. Continuing on, Jesus then goes back to Daniel 7 and speaks of his coming on the clouds of heaven. How are we to understand this? Let’s first look at Daniel 7, since we already dealt with Psalm 110 above.

Daniel 7:13,14 says:

13  “I kept looking in the night visions,
         And behold, with the clouds of heaven
         One like a Son of Man was coming,
         And He came up to the Ancient of Days
         And was presented before Him.
    
14
“And to Him was given dominion,
         Glory and a kingdom,
         That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
         Might serve Him
         His dominion is an everlasting dominion
         Which will not pass away;
         And His kingdom is one
         Which will not be destroyed.
(NASB)

            As I mentioned above, many people, when they read Matthew 26:64, when Jesus refers to his “coming on the clouds of heaven”, they take that to mean his second coming. But let us notice something plain as day, and that is, in Daniel 7:13, what direction is the Son of Man going on the clouds of heaven?

“I kept looking in the night visions,
         And behold, with the clouds of heaven
         One like a Son of Man was coming,
         And He came up to the Ancient of Days
         And was presented before Him.”

The Son of Man in Daniel 7 is going up, up to the ancient of days, not coming down. And when in the gospel accounts, did Jesus go up? At the Ascension. This Daniel 7 passage is not speaking of the second coming of Christ, but his Ascension to the right hand of the Father. And notice what the Son of Man receives at his coming up to the Ancient of Days, verse 14,

“And to Him was given dominion,
         Glory and a kingdom,
         That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
         Might serve Him
         His dominion is an everlasting dominion
         Which will not pass away;
         And His kingdom is one
         Which will not be destroyed.”

            So when Jesus, in Matt. 26:64, speaks of his coming on the clouds of heaven, we can now understand Jesus to be referring to His enthronement as King, and his being given a kingdom. This is congruent with Psalm 110 which Jesus also refers to in Matt. 26:64. As we have already seen, God the Father tells His Son that he is to sit at His right hand until all his enemies are made his footstool. Jesus directly connects these two passages, Psalm 110 and Daniel 7, explaining that he is the Son of Man who will be going up to the Ancient of Days to be seated at the right hand of the Father, where he is given his everlasting kingdom, which is characteristic of all his enemies being made his footstool. This is why the Caiaphas tore his robes and said that Jesus was a blasphemer, and why the sign “King of the Jews” was put over his head while he was on the cross.

Resurrected Son of God: Seth and Jesus

Chapter 5 of Genesis provides us with an intersting concept regarding the “Sons of God.”

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth

Notice that Adam is made after the likeness of God (v.1). Also note Adam’s son is not Cain, nor Abel, but Seth, who is made in the likeness and image of his father Adam, who is made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, Seth, and his descendents, are Sons of God (Gen. 6:2).

After the fall, Cain, a son of God, was born. The Text literally reads, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man, the LORD.” (Gen. 4:1)

Eve was recognizing the promise of God to bring about her seed to crush the head of the serpent. She thought He was to be the redeemer. He was not.

Abel was then born, who was also a son of God. Cain proved himself not be (a son of God), as well as not worthy of eternal life, and murdered his brother Abel, who was a true son of God. Then Seth is born, who is the true Son of God. It is through him and his descendants that the godly  line carries on and brings “redemption” to the world.

We see here in this story, Abel, a son of God (though proving himself not to be), killing his brother, another son of God (who truly was). The Jews were sons of God, but proved not to be by their killing of the true Son of God, Jesus. But with the “New Birth” of Seth (another True Son of God), “people began to call on the name of the LORD” (Gen. 4:26). And in that we see a type of “Resurrection from the dead”, in Seth arising after the death of Abel. The end result is that people began calling on the Name of the LORD.

Hence, the Two resurrected Sons of God who brought redemption to the world are Seth and Jesus.

For He Must Reign… part 1: Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15:23-25

          Beginning in verse 23, Paul says that Christ was the first-fruits of those who will be resurrected to life, i.e. “shall be made alive” in verse 22. Paul then says that those who belong to Christ will be resurrected to life at his second coming.

Verse 24, Paul says “Then comes the end,” or literally “Then the end.” Paul is saying that after Christ comes and raises to life those who are His, the end is what comes next. Paul immediately describes what happens at the end, i.e. at His coming, and that is that Christ “delivers the kingdom to God the Father.” But before Christ can deliver the kingdom to God the Father, a prerequisite must first be met, that being that He “destroys every rule and authority and power.” This truth can be concluded with the use of the word “after.” “After” Christ destroys every rule and authority and power, He will then deliver the kingdom to God the Father.

Verse 25, Paul begins by making an argument for what he just previously said. He begins his argument or explanation, by the word, “For.” Paul proceeds to tell the Corinthians why it is that, v.24, the end will come after He destroys every rule authority and power and then hand over the kingdom to God. His reason is found in an allusion to Psalm 110, in which Paul says, “For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet.” Psalm 110 reads, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” Paul’s explanation for why it is that Christ must reign until all enemies are put under his feet, is because Psalm 110 says that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God until God makes all his enemies his footstool. Paul makes an explicit connection with Christ reigning in v.25, and with sitting at the right hand in Psalm 110. The two phrases are synonymous for Paul. Christ is right now, sitting at the right hand of God, reigning, having all his enemies being put under his feet, i.e. he is presently, actively, destroying every rule and authority and power until the last enemy is finally destroyed, and that is death, v. 26.

Martin Luther’s comments on verse 25 are interesting, and I think clearly represent what Postmillennialist today are saying,

He must reign in order to gather all the children of God, as Scripture declares elsewhere. Therefore He must first complete His kingdom and not annihilate His enemies before He has brought all into His kingdom who belong there. Following that, He will destroy everything at one time and lay about Him. In the meantime He lets His Word be preached, and He governs Christendom spiritually with Word, Sacrament, faith, and Spirit amid his enemies, who oppress us and harass us; and He preserves and protects us against these with the sure consolation that He will put them completely under His feet at that Day; in fact, He has already begun to do this, and He does it daily. For through the Gospel and through Christendom He strikes the factious spiritually, repels the devil, dethrones the tyrants, subdues the raging and raving of the world, deprives sin and death of their strength and might, etc. This is His work which he pursues and in which He engages until the Last Day, only that He now does this piecemeal and by degrees. Then, however, He will knock the bottom out of the barrel and put an end to everything at one time” (128-129).

This allusion to Psalm 110 is the driving force behind this passage and is essential in accurately understanding what Paul is teaching in this passage concerning the nature and timing of the Kingdom of God and of Christ’s reign. There are other passages that support this eschatological structure, and it is also, I submit, the predominate understanding of Jesus Himself concerning His own mission, as well as that of Luke, and how he interprets Peter in Acts 2. I will set out to show from various N.T. texts and their allusion to O.T. texts that they prove the above exegesis is consistent with the rest of the N.T. at a later time.

Helpful Links:

Defense of Postmillennialism by Gregg Strawbridge

He Must Reign by John Piper