The Prayers of J. Calvin (24)

Calvin PreachingOn this Lord’s Day we continue our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in 2015 – last on Sept.20, 2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah (Baker reprint, 1979). Today we post a brief section from his twenty-third lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 6:1-9, which includes Calvin’s commentary on v.8, ”Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.”

…It is then the same as though God was stopping in the middle course of his wrath, and saying, ‘What is to be done? Shall I destroy the city which I have chosen?’ He then attributes here to God a paternal feeling….

God is not indeed subject to grief or to repentance; but his ineffable goodness cannot be otherwise expressed to us but by such mode of speaking. So also, in this place, we see that God as it were restrains himself; for he had previously commanded the enemies to ascend quickly the walls, to overturn the towers, and to destroy the whole city; but now, as though he had repented, he says, Be instructed, Jerusalem; that is, ‘Can we not yet be reconciled?’

It is like the conduct of an offended father, who intends to punish his son, and yet desires to moderate his displeasure, and to blend some indulgence with rigour. Be then instructed; that is, ‘There is yet room for reconciliation, if thou wishest; provided thou shewest thyself willing to relinquish that perverseness by which thou hast hitherto provoked me, I will in return prove myself to be a father’ (pp.323-324).

And this is the prayer that concludes this lecture:

Grant, Almighty God, that since Thou kindly invitest us to repentance, and urgest us also by setting before us examples of thy wrath, – O grant, that we may not continue perversely disobedient, but render ourselves tractable and submissive to Thee, so that we may not meet with that dreadful severity which Thou didst threaten to Thine ancient people, but anticipate the wrath which Thou didst formerly denounce on them; and may we thus with a pious heart return to Thee, that we may find by experience that Thou art ever a propitious Father to sinners, whenever they return to Thee, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen (p.327).

Now Available! New RFPA Book: Gottschalk: Servant of God

gottschalk-cmeyer-2015Now that the Reformed Free Publishing Association has released their latest title – and a very special one at that! – we can reference the post they made today on their blog.

Here is the first part of that post, along with an image of the cover; follow the link below to find out more and to order the book.

This looks to be one you will want to add to your personal or family library, or give as a gift this Christmas season.

For several years the RFPA has discussed publishing books for younger readers and Gottschalk: Servant of God represents our first effort. This book is intended for junior high and high school ages. Because the story is intriguing and the history of Gottschalk is not well-known, adults will also enjoy this book and find it profitable.

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — Now Available! New Book: Gottschalk

Why a book on this Medieval monk? In part, this is how the author answers that in her introduction:

God was protecting his church, preserving her, leading her, guiding her. No, she was not forgotten. God was leading her throughout all of history, sometimes at a crawl, sometimes at a trot, and sometimes at a grueling gallop – but he was with her all along. Such is the comfort we receive from the story of Gottschalk. God preserves his church. As Gottschalk would say in his characteristic way, ‘It is obviously seen brighter than the sun and is more clearly apparent than daylight’ (x).

The book is enhanced by the beautiful illustrations done by the author, Mrs. Connie Meyer (see the sample pages on the RFPA blog post). Throughout are drawings from the times (Middle Ages), maps, and other period pictures of places and people.

In addition, the author has included an appendix with a sample of Gottschalk’s writings. These include some of his poetry and his Shorter Confession. Here is a short excerpt from his “A Hymn to God the Life-Giver”, in which the truth of sovereign electing grace shines plainly:

Thou dost increase and infuse
The faith which Thou dost grant
To whomsoever Thou dost choose.
Still more, Thou cleanest lepers
Polluted in their shame,
Ungodly men are righteous,
Made clean in Thy pure name;
Together with the Father and His beloved Son,
Thou recreatest souls,
All those of Thine elect,
And when Thy work is done,
Thy glory lights each one.

Published in: on November 17, 2015 at 10:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Christ Made Our Sin; We, His Righteousness

2-Corinthians_5-21This morning we will celebrate the holy Supper of our Lord in our home church. Our bulletin shows that our pastor will be preaching from the familiar passage in 2 Cor.5:21 – “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

The following is John Calvin’s interpretation (partial) of this text as found in his commentary on this epistle (Baker ed., vol.20, p.242):

     …Righteousness, here, is not taken to denote a quality or habit, but by way of imputation, on the ground of Christ’s righteousness being reckoned to have been received by us. What, on the other hand, is denoted by sin? It is the guilt, on account of which we are arraigned at the bar of God. As, however, the curse of the individual was of old cast upon the victim, so Christ’s condemnation was our absolution, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah liii, 5).

…The righteousness of God is taken here to denote – not that which is given us by God, but that which is approved by him…. Farther, in Romans iii. 23, when he says, that we have come short of the glory of God, he means, that there is nothing that we can glory in before God, for it is no very difficult matter to appear righteous before men, but it is mere delusive appearance of righteousness, which becomes at last the ground of perdition. Hence, that is the only true righteousness, which is acceptable to God.

Let us now return to the contrast between righteousness and sin. How are we righteous in the sight of God? It is assuredly in the same respect in which Christ was a sinner. For he assumed in a manner our place, that he might be a criminal in our room, and might be dealt with as a sinner, not for his own offenses, but for those of others, inasmuch as he was pure and exempt from every fault, and might endure the punishment that was due to us – not to himself. It is in the same manner, assuredly, that we are now righteous in him – not in respect of our rendering satisfaction to the justice of God by our own works, but because we are judged of in connection with Christ’s righteousness, which we have put on us by faith, that it might become ours.

Pierre Viret: The Angel of the Reformation – Reviewed by Kevin Rau

Kevin Rau assisting in the Seminary library.

Kevin Rau assisting in the Seminary library.

Kevin Rau, who has been helping me in the PRC Seminary library now for several months, is also an avid reader. I don’t believe a week has gone by that he has not taken home a book he has seen while putting books away on the shelves. A good reader is Kevin. And a good writer, for he has also contributed to the Young Calvinists’ blog.

Sheats_pierre_viret-2012After his latest read, I asked him if you would be willing to write a short review of it for this blog, and he not only consented, he sent me one tonight! So, that’s what we post this evening, for the benefit of all of you.

Thank you for this, Kevin. It is a fine, brief introduction to a lesser-known Reformer – Pierre Viret.

God uses many people to reform His church. Some of these people, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin are really well known, whereas others are more obscure.

Pierre Viret is one of these lesser known individuals. He was born on May 6,1531 in Orbe, Switzerland and was converted to Protestantism during his college years. God used his preaching to convert his own parents, among other people. I recently came across this man while working in the Protestant Reformed library and found out that he was an influential figure in the Swiss Reformation. I learned more about him by reading a book entitled: Pierre Viret: The Angel of the Reformation by R.A. Sheats (Zurich Publishing, 2012, 323 pp., hardcover).

This title comes from the peaceful disposition that he had in spite of facing illness, the death of his first wife and a daughter as well as church controversies. He had many enemies, especially when he tried to reclaim the power of excommunication from the state and take it to the church. In spite of this he was acknowledged to be a godly man, even by his enemies. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

This is an interesting book that shows Pierre Viret’s life and his long ministry, as well as his close relationships with John Calvin and William Farel. He displayed sound, biblical theology. The chapters are mostly short, yet informative. I recommend this book to anyone interested in a lesser-known Reformer that God used to build His church in Switzerland and France.

From the publisher’s website you will also find this brief description of the book and its author:

Pierre Viret (1511-1571), the son of a tailor, was born in the town or Orbe, eighteen miles north of Lausanne, Switzerland. Though raised in obscurity, he grew to become a crucial Reformed leader during the infancy of the Protestant Reformation in Frnch Switerzerland. Viret, together with his closest associates John Calvin and William Farel, formed the Swiss Triumvirate, the three leading Reformers in the French-speaking world. Know as the Angel of the Reformation because of extraordinary Christian character and temperament, Viret was a model pastor during his ministry in Lausanne, Geneva, and France. Most of his ministry was served in Lausanne where he developed the Lausanne Academy. That institution would later relocate and become the Genevan Academy. after almost thirty years’ ministry in Lausanne and Geneva, Viret spent his last ten years in fruitful ministry in France as the leader of the French Reformed Church. His theological output was immense, with over forty books to his credit. In his day he was a leading authority on political theory, applied Biblical law, economics, and apologetics.

This publication, undertaken in honor of the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of Pierre Viret, marks the first time of the availability of a full biography of Pierre Viret to the English speaking world. In this biography R.A. Sheats brings to light the fascinating history and life of this important early reformer of the Protestant Reformation. Also contaminating [sic] a lengthy chronology of Viret’s life, a detailed listing of his books, and over sixty pages of illustrations and maps, Pierre Viret: the Angel of the Reformation will be an excellent tool for researchers, scholars, and those interested in the Swiss and French Reformation.

Author  R.A. Sheats resides in Florida. She is currently engaged in the translation of Pierre Viret’s original works from 16th century French into modern English.

Introducing the 2015 “Standard Bearer” Reformation Issue

RefDay-post-tenebras-luxOn this Reformation Day 2015 we may call your attention to the annual special Reformation issue of The Standard Bearer, just out and coming to your mailbox or digital device (ours came in the mail yesterday).

The November 1, 2015 issue focuses on the pre-Reformers God raised up to bring light in dark times and prepare the stage of the church and world for the full reform of His church. You may remember that one of the mottos by which the Reformation era is known is the Latin expression post tenebras lux – after darkness, light. With that in mind the editors decided to give this special issue the theme “Pre-Reformation Light in the Dark Ages.”

Prof.R. Dykstra (one of the editors) provides this brief summary of what the issue is about:

What comes to mind with the term “Middle Ages”? Perhaps dark and dreary lives. Perhaps castles and knights. Perhaps crusades.

For church history, what may come to mind is a seemingly endless parade of corrupt popes. Surely all Reformed readers think of the apostasy and corruption in the church that required the most significant Reformation the church has ever had –1517, and Martin Luther. There is, however, more to the Middle Ages than immediately meets the eye.
The goal of this special issue is to introduce some key church figures of the Middle Ages. Though the age was indeed one of astounding ignorance, wickedness, and apostasy, God preserved His church, and God preserved the church’s foundation, that is, His truth, as it centers in Jesus Christ. This issue will bring to light some of the men and movements that God used for His sovereign purposes to that end. Most readers are aware of the noteworthy pre-reformers – Wycliffe and Hus. We invite you to learn about a few others.

Be instructed, be encouraged, and give thanks for the evidence that the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world gathers, defends, and preserves His church, and that He did so also in the Middle Ages.

Below is the cover of this special issue, with the table of contents. You will find a fascinating collection of articles inside the magazine.

SB-Reform-Nov-2015To receive a copy and/or subscribe to the “SB”, visit the home page.

Two Rare Reformation Books

In the PRC Seminary library we have a rare book cabinet, which contains among other special books two rare books with roots in the Reformation. These will be the focus of our Reformation remembrance post for today.

The first is a 1618 edition of John Calvin’s Institutes in LatinInstitutio Christianae Religionis published in Geneva. You may recall that Calvin’s final and fullest edition of the Institutes was in 1559, and it appears that this is the Latin of that edition. The edition we have, then, is only 59 years after it first appeared – quite a treasure.


Calvin’s “Institutes” – 1618

It is also evident that the volume we have has been rebound and that the title page has been reproduced, though the rest of the contents look original and are intact.

Title page of 1618 "Institutes"

Title page of 1618 “Institutes”

The second volume is a 1652 edition of Martin Luther’s quaint and famous Tabletalk, printed by William Du-Gard in London. Only, the title page of this edition carries a little different title than the one we are accustomed to: Dr. Martini Lutheri Colloquia Mensalia: or Dr. Martin Luther’s Divine Discourses At his Table….

M.Luther's "Discourses"

M.Luther’s “Discourses”

Title page of Luther's "Tabletalk"

Title page of Luther’s “Tabletalk”

While I do not know how or from where we obtained the 1618 edition of Calvin’s Institutes, this edition of Luther’s Tabletalk bears the stamp of Mr. Justin Kortering from Holland, MI, the father of Rev. Jason Kortering, an emeritus pastor in the PRC. But, of course, I would still like to know from where he obtained it. Perhaps his son knows the “rest of the story.”

Inside pages of Luther's "Discourses"

Inside pages of Luther’s “Discourses”

I hope you enjoy this look at these rare Reformation volumes in our Seminary library. Stop in some time and you may look at them more closely.

Published in: on October 29, 2015 at 4:42 PM  Leave a Comment  

Calvin’s Wisdom (and Reformation Truth) – G.Miller

Calvins-wisdom-GMiller-1992One of my favorite books in my personal library is a collection of John Calvin quotes edited by Graham Miller titled Calvin’s Wisdom: An Anthology Arranged Alphabetically (Banner of Truth, 1992) – a book I have had for 21 years now.

The beauty of the book is that it lets Calvin speak for himself, under a variety of subjects. So for this Wednesday of Reformation remembrance week, we will let Calvin speak on several topics of great importance to that great movement of God to restore His church to her roots and to the truth of the gospel.

The Bible

Our wisdom ought to consist in embracing with gentle docility, and without any exception, all that is delivered in the sacred Scriptures. Inst. I: xviii.7

It is the foundation of all true religion to depend on the mouth or word of God; and it is also the foundation of our salvation. Jer.III:460

They who wish to build the Church by rejecting the doctrine of the word, build a hog’s sty, and not the Church of God. Is.IV:148

The Church

There are three things on which the safety of the Church is founded, namely, doctrine, discipline and the sacraments. Tracts I:50

Let us not doubt that there will always be a Church; and when it appears to be in a lamentably ruinous condition, let us entertain good hope of its restoration. Is.III:389

God begets and multiplies his Church only by means of his word. It is by the preaching of the grace of God alone that the Church is kept from perishing. Ps.I:388,389

Justification by Faith

Justification…is the principal hinge by which religion is supported. Inst.III:xi.i

The safety of the Church depends as much on this doctrine as human life does on the soul. If the purity of this doctrine is in any degree impaired, the Church has received a deadly wound. Tracts I:137

Satan has laboured at nothing more assiduously than to extinguish, or to smother the gratuitous justification by faith, which is here…asserted [Gen.15:6]… Abraham obtained righteousness…by imputation. Gen.I:405

Roman Catholicism at the time of the Reformation

Their whole doctrine contains nothing else than big words and bombast, because it is inconsistent with the majesty of Scripture, the efficacy of the Spirit, the gravity of the prophets, and the sincerity of the apostles… It is…an absolute profanation of real theology. Past.Epp.174

What is the worship of God in the papacy in these days but a confused jumble, which they have thrown together from numberless fictions? …fabricated by the will of man. Ezek.II:310

The whole of Popery …is built on ignorance of Christ. Col.177


Salvation ought to be ascribed exclusively to his election, which is of free grace. Is.IV:21

Every part and particle of our salvation depends on God’s mercy only. Four Last Bks of Moses II:319

We must seek all the parts of our salvation in Jesus Christ; for we shall not find a single drop of it anywhere else. Past.Epp. 335

Sovereignty of God

That time is most fit for God to work when there is no hope or counsel to be looked for at man’s hands. Acts I:268

As we ought to presume nothing of ourselves, so we should presume everything of God. Dedication to the Institutes

God on high governs all things in such a manner as to promote the benefit of his elect. Is.III:395

Martin Luther: 7000 Sermons – Steven Lawson

Source: Martin Luther: 7000 Sermons by Steven Lawson | Ligonier Ministries Blog

As we reflect on the significance of the great Reformation of the 16th century this week, we turn today to this Ligonier post by Dr. Steve Lawson on the importance of preaching for the magisterial Reformer Martin Luther.

MLuther-SLawsonThis is an excerpt from Lawson’s book on Luther, The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther (Reformation Trust, 2013).

This is the opening paragraph of the post; find the rest at the Ligonier link above. Still better, obtain and read the book. :)

In the tempestuous days of the Reformation, the centerpiece of Luther’s ministry was his bold biblical preaching. Fred W. Meuser writes: “Martin Luther is famous as reformer, theologian, professor, translator, prodigious author, and polemicist. He is well known as hymn-writer, musician, friend of students, mentor of pastors, and pastor to countless clergy and laity. Yet he saw himself first of all as a preacher.” Luther gave himself tirelessly to this priority. E. Theodore Bachmann adds, “The church … is for Luther ‘not a pen-house, but a mouth-house,’ in which the living Word is proclaimed.” Indeed, Luther wrote voluminously, yet he never put his written works on the same level with his proclamation of God’s Word. He maintained, “Christ Himself wrote nothing, nor did He give command to write, but to preach orally.” By this stance, Luther strongly underscored the primacy of the pulpit.

Jan Hus – Pre-Reformer and Martyr

With this week ending with Reformation Day 2015 (October 31 – anniversary #498!), we will make the great Reformation of the 16th century the focus of our posts this week.

286-1_Page_43And we begin with a pre-Reformer, Jan Hus (Jan of Husinec or John Huss, 1369-1416), from southwest Bohemia in the Czech Republic. C.P Hallihan has a thorough study of Hus in the summer issue of the Trinitarian Bible Society’s Quarterly Record (July-Sept. 2015), [to be continued in a later issue] and it is from this article that I quote.

We quote Hallihan from the end of his article, where he is treating Hus’ trial on Protestant heresy charges before the Roman Catholic Council of Constance in 1415.

Hus should now confess his errors, promise never to hold or preach them and retract them publicly. Hus declined, not insolently but firmly. As no errors had been proved from Scripture, how could he confess or retract them? He declared to John of Chlum,

…If I was conscious that I had written or preached aught against the law, or gospel, or Mother Church, I would gladly and humble recant my errors. God is my witness. But I am anxious now as ever that they will show me Scriptures of greater weight and value than those which I have quoted in writing and teaching. If these shall be shown to me, I am prepared and willing to recant.

The Council laboured to obtain recantation. To bring pressure they publicly burned his books and declared a Bohemian associate as heretical for teaching Communion in two kinds. To Prague University Hus wrote,

I, Master John Hus, in chains and in prison, now standing on the shore of this present life and expecting on the morrow a dreadful death…find no heresy in myself, and accept with all my heart any truth whatsoever that is worthy of belief.

With a paper cone on his head inscribed ‘heresiarch’ he went to the stake, 6 July 1415. Being dead, his bodily remains, stake and chains were burnt again; the heart being found separately was held on a stick over these last embers.

…To his ‘Faithful Bohemians’ Jan Hus wrote,

I am trusting that God will raise up others after me, braver men than there are to-day, who shall better reveal the wickedness of Antichrist and lay down their lives for the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will grant eternal joy both to you and to me. Amen. (pp.48-49).

What an amazing testimony! Shall we thank the Lord for raising up this godly pre-Reformer?!

By the way, you may also look for a fine article on Hus in the upcoming Standard Bearer, Nov.1, 2015 – the annual special Reformation issue. This one focuses on the Middle Ages and the pre-Reformers. Look for it soon in your mailboxes!

Prayers of the Reformers (8) – J. Calvin on Worship

JCalvinPic1The following prayer of John Calvin for purity of worship is found in the profitable collection of prayers titled, Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press in 1958 (p.60).

This too is fitting as we end the Lord’s Day in God’s house of worship.

Grant, almighty God, inasmuch as Thou hast deigned to gather us into Thy church, that we may never turn aside in the least from the purity of Thy worship. May we always regard what pleases Thee, and learn to direct our doings and our thoughts in obedience to Thy truth, and worship Thee purely both in spirit and in external forms that Thy name may be glorified.

May we retain that purity which Thou commendest to us, that we may be indeed members of Thy only-begotten Son.  As Thy Son has sanctified Himself on our account, grant that we may also through His Spirit be made partakers of the same, until He at length will gather us into His heavenly kingdom, which He has obtained for us by His own blood. Amen.


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