“…when things seem tough and against all reason, what God has ordained means more to us than anything our brain can apprehend.” ~ J. Calvin

crucifiedandrisencover-JCalvin-2020What we learn here is that God’s will should stop us in our tracks and hold us in check, so that when things seem tough and against all reason, what God has ordained means more to us than anything our brain can apprehend. Our whims and fancies must thus be trodden underfoot once we know that God has other plans. It is part of the obedience of faith to think of God as wise and as having authority to do everything as he wishes. And if we have contrary views, we should know that they are mere smoke and emptiness. God knows all things: nothing is hidden from him and his will is the measure of all wisdom and righteousness.

The fact that we reason to the contrary reflects our ignorance, for as we know, God’s wisdom is infinite, while we have scarcely three drops of common sense in us. Men should not be surprised if God does not behave the way they like. Why not? Because we are poor fools. As long as our mind and reason have the upper hand, we are quite senseless. Therefore since we cannot fathom the bottomless depths of God’s judgment, let us learn to worship what is hidden from us – worship it, I say, humbly and reverently, confessing that all that God does is entirely right and just, even though we do not understand how it is so. That is one point. [pp.42-43]

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…Let us therefore learn that, whenever the story of the passion is told to us, we should sigh and groan, since the Son of God endured so much suffering for us. Yet at the same time let us also tremble before his majesty until it should be revealed to us, and let us resolve that, when he comes, it will be to make us taste the actual fruit which he obtained for us by his death and passion.

Let us fear also lest we are among those whom he threatened when he said ‘Hereafter you will see [the Son of man seated at the right hand of God’s power.’] For the wicked and reprobate will discover how terrible is God’s seat, and how great is his power when he rises up to destroy them. When Paul sets out to describe the condemnation of the wicked and those cursed by God, he says that they will tremble before his infinite majesty and will be terrified by his sight (2 Thess.1:8,9).

Since this is so, we should humble ourselves before the Lord Jesus, and not wait until we visibly see the majesty he will display at his last coming. Let us by faith contemplate him today as our king, the head of the angels and of every creature, and let us welcome him as our sovereign ruler. Let us ascribe to him the honour due to him, knowing that because he is given to us by God his Father for wisdom, redemption, righteousness and holiness (1 Cor.1:30), we must ascribe to him all praise, and must draw from him fullness that will truly satisfy. Let us be sure we pay this honour to our Lord Jesus Christ, even though we do not yet see his judgment seat.

May we contemplate him with the eyes of faith, praying that God may enlighten us by his Holy Spirit and so strengthen us that we may call upon him in time of need. And may we be so lifted up above this world, above all thought and understanding, that we may exalt Jesus Christ today as he deserves. That, in brief, is what we must remember. [51-52]

Both parts are taken from the third sermon of John Calvin, “Arrest and Prosecution” (Matt.26:51-66), in the newly published collection of his sermons on Matthew 26-28 titled Crucified and Risen (Banner of Truth, 2020) “newly translated from the French of 1558 by Robert White.”

Both of these quotes struck me as timely and relevant as I read this sermon today. The first one in the light of the great crisis facing the nations and man’s attempt to trust his own reason, plans, and power to get him through it. And the second quote in the time of reflecting on Christ’s suffering and death, and this being the Lord’s Day, another celebration of His sovereign Lordship and victory. Truly, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev.5:12).

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