Category Archives: John Calvin

14 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Instructed in Righteousness

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

suggested further reading: Matthew 15:1–9

If we regulate our lives by the instructions contained in Holy Scripture, we will be justified. But the doctrine of men is but folly and an abomination to God. So it is not without cause that Paul says Scripture is given for instruction in righteousness.

He says that to be good divines, we must live holy lives. The Word of God is not given to teach us how to be eloquent and subtle, but to reform our lives so that the world may know we are servants of God. If we wish to know whether a person is profiting by the gospel, examine his life. A man may know how to talk and may make a fair profession of godliness, yet his life reveals that he does not live in accordance with the written Word of God.

Paul tells us that we must make the Word of God our counselor so that we may walk aright and form our lives by it. Thus, he says, “the man of God may be perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17). So we must be instructed in righteousness and reject the invention of men, for God is not pleased with that. Men wish to serve God according to their own notions and bring their own works into account, but God will not allow that.

Seeing such impudent boldness in men that they cannot keep themselves within the bounds that God has set for them, Paul points out the disease so that it may be healed. He says that, if we have the Word of God in our hearts, we shall be upright in life and equipped unto all good works.

for meditation: Righteousness is defined by God. The only way to learn righteousness is to listen to God’s Word rather than the ideas of men. We are constantly surmising what would be the right thing to do or say without consulting Scripture. This should not be so. We must bring the Word to bear on everything we do and let it show us what righteousness is. How can you practice this today?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 337). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

13 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Reproved by the Word

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

suggested further reading: Ezekiel 18:19–32

Let us understand what Paul means by saying that Scripture is given to us for reproof. If we would be well instructed in the school of God, we must confess our guilt, be pricked to the heart, and be reproved for our faults.

When the Word of God is rightly expounded, the faithful are edified, but if an unbeliever comes into the church and hears the doctrine of God, he is reproved and judged. Though the unbeliever is wrapped in darkness and is pleased with his own ignorance, God so enlightens him in Scripture that the unbeliever sees the misery and wickedness in which he has lived. He sees his deplorable situation by hearing the Word of God. He sees the heavens open and realizes that he was not made for this life only but to be exalted to a higher station. Thus unbelievers are convicted by God’s Word.

To make this more clear, Paul says the secrets of the heart are disclosed by Scripture. We know that when the Word of God is buried, no one takes heed of it or applies it to himself; our hearts remain in darkness. What, then, must we do? We must apply the Word of God to ourselves and be awakened out of sleep. We must no longer forget God or the salvation of our souls. Rather, we must search the very depth of our hearts and examine our entire lives so we may be ashamed of our filthiness and become our own judges. In that way we may avoid the condemnation that God has prepared by his own hand for us.

That is what Paul means by the word reproof.

for meditation: Though an unbeliever may realize he is less than perfect, he has no idea of the extent to which he has rebelled against the Creator. Only when the Word of God is applied to a person’s life does he realize how deep and wide is his corruption. We must not shrink from this reproof, painful though it may be. Let the Word reprove you and drive you to Christ for salvation.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 336). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

12 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Used by the Lord

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 2 Timothy 2:20

suggested further reading: 3 John

Let us submit ourselves to God’s providence in the church, for if we become angry and peevish and say everything is out of order, we shall not be excused. Let us be fully resolved that, despite Satan, God will be glorified. Moreover, let us learn to practice this doctrine so that when we see nothing but blemishes among us, stumbling blocks are not removed as they ought to be, there is not as much honesty as there should be, people shut their eyes for fear of seeing the light while pretending they do, and when there is not enough rigor and severity used to keep them in order, we should mourn, and, if possible, correct such irregularities.

We must not think that, because we see these disorders in the church of God, it is utterly destroyed and our Lord Jesus Christ is unable to do anything. Rather, we must consider that, though the wicked disfigure the beauty of the church, though they defile and pollute it, yet God will still be glorified. After they have troubled the church long enough, God will bring them to an end and show himself as their judge.

Therefore, let us be patient, knowing that we have a wonderful God who works by such means that he causes even the devil and wicked men to praise him. It is true that the devil will always show himself as a deadly enemy to God’s glory and will endeavor by all means to tread it underfoot, but in all of this, God will turn wickedness into good.

So it goes with the wicked who try to bring all things into disorder and to take charge of the kingdom of God among us, razing out the remembrance of God’s name. When they have done all they can, they will still remain vessels.

for meditation: You may be familiar with George Herbert’s words: “No sooner is a temple built to God, but the devil builds a chapel hard by.” If the Holy Spirit is working in our churches, we ought to expect opposition. To face no opposition from Satan and his seed is a bad sign. How can you more effectively respond to opposition in your church as well as persecution in your personal life in a way that glorifies God?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 335). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

11 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Walking Unworthily in the Church

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 2 Timothy 2:20

suggested further reading: Obadiah

Here Paul tells us we ought to be earnest and zealous in endeavoring to put away all stumbling blocks to worshiping God in his house. If we see evil in the church, it must be purged; it must be quickly cut off and not allowed to grow. We must earnestly want the temple of God to remain pure and clean. Nevertheless, we may need to suffer some things to remain which cannot be taken away. When we cannot remedy such wrongs, we must mourn them.

However the world may go, we ought not to distance ourselves from the church of God under the pretense that people in it do not walk as they ought. Therefore, when we see inferior vessels in the church of God, let us not grieve and cite them as a reason to withdraw ourselves from church. Rather, let us persevere.

Paul shows us that, though the wicked strive to bring the name of God into reproach and dishonor, they will not cease to serve his glory, for God will turn their wickedness into goodness. When we look at the wicked, we see they were made to dishonor God, to destroy the reputation of his majesty, to abolish his justice, and to turn things upside down so that the world may have no more knowledge of him.

That is their goal, and the devil pushes them forward, but they do not cease to be vessels in God’s house. That is to say, God will find a way to use them in such a manner that he will be glorified by them. This does not excuse their wickedness or allow them to cloak themselves with a mantle as though serving him, for he well knows this was not their wish or intention.

for meditation: Some people will stick with a church no matter how far it strays from the truths of Scripture. Others will abandon a church because the people let them down or because of more minute issues. When we consider our local church, we must find a balance between these extremes. We must not expect ministers, elders, deacons, and other church folk to be free from sin. Let’s not judge the church by imperfect sinners, but by its perfect head, Jesus Christ. When church members implement this, sound churches will have much more peace in their ranks.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 334). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

10 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Taking the Name of Christ

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 2 Timothy 2:19

suggested further reading: John 10:1–21

We cannot take the name Christian upon us, we cannot say that we belong to the children of God and are of his church, unless we have been delivered from our filthiness.

If a person calls himself the servant of a prince and yet is a thief, shouldn’t he be doubly punished because he abused the title that did not truly belong to him? Behold the Son of God, who is the fountain of all holiness and righteousness! If we try to hide ourselves and cover all our filthiness, is not it so much more shameful if we do so under his name? Does not this horrible sacrilege deserve the most severe punishment?

It is true that, whatever pains we may take to serve God in pureness, we do not cease to be wretched sinners, full of blemishes, and to have many wicked imperfections in us. But it is a right affection if we desire to do well; if we hate sin, though we falter, seeing our purpose is good; and if we strive to go forward in the fear of God and in obedience to his will. Jesus Christ then accounts us as though we were just; he frees us from all our faults and does not charge them to our account. The faithful, though they are not entirely perfect and though they have many sins, are considered to be God’s children. Jesus Christ considers it no dishonor that they are called by his name, for he causes the goodness that is in them and through his grace makes them acceptable to God.

Let us, then, mark well what the word Christian means, for those who claim that title are members of the Son of God! Christ was pleased to accept us, so we must cleave to him in all righteousness, for he has received all fullness that he might make us partakers of his grace.

for meditation: Departing from iniquity is the lifelong calling and pursuit of true Christians. Are you intimately involved in this pursuit? Do you long and strive to walk in the King’s highway of holiness on a daily basis?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 333). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

9 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Shunning Vain Babbling

But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 2 Timothy 2:16

suggested further reading: 2 Peter 2

When Paul speaks of vain babbling, he means talk that impresses curious men. We see many who take great pleasure in vain questions and seem to be ravished by them. These babblers do not openly speak against the truth, but they despise it as something too common and base, as a thing for children and fools. As for them, they think they know some higher and more profound matter. They are at variance with what would be profitable for them.

Therefore, let us weigh well the words of Paul. He says to shun vain babblings, for they offer nothing but fine rhetoric and exquisite words to give credit to him that speaks and to show that he is well learned. None of this should be received into the church; it must be banished.

God will have his people edified, so he has appointed his Word for that purpose. Therefore, if our purpose is the salvation of people that they may receive nourishment by the doctrine that is taught them, it is sacrilege to do otherwise, for in that we pervert the pure use of the Word of God. The word profane is set against that which is holy and dedicated to God. Whatever is holy pertains to the magnification of God and increases our knowledge of his majesty whereby we may worship him. It draws us to the kingdom of heaven or takes our affections from the world, and leads us to Jesus Christ so that we may be grafted into his body.

On the contrary, when we do not feel the glory of God, when we do not desire to submit ourselves to him, when we do not know the riches of the kingdom of heaven, when we are not drawn into his service to live in pureness of conscience, when we do not know what the salvation means that was purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ, we belong to the world and are profane.

for meditation: Trends and fashions come and go, and the desire for anything new is always powerful. Preachers are not exempt from this temptation. When preaching from a book that has been read and preached for thousands of years, we are tempted to find something novel to say, and, in the pursuit of that goal, to veer into vain babbling. Let us lift up prayer for our preachers that they might be kept from this and would bring us the full, unadulterated, timeless Word of God.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 332). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

8 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Called to his Holy Purpose

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9

suggested further reading: Haggai 1

When God gives us a token of his goodness, it is so that we should hope for more from his hands and wait till he brings to pass what he has begun in us. If God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, do we think that he will leave us midway in the execution of it? When he has showed us our salvation and given us his gospel, whereby he calls us to his kingdom and opens the gates for us, do we think he will leave us here, and mock us, and deprive us of his grace, or make it unprofitable? No, no; rather, let us hope that he will bring his work to a perfect end.

Let us proceed with good courage, for God has already displayed his power toward us. Let us not doubt that he will continue it; that we shall have perfect victory over Satan and our enemies; that God the Father has given all power into the hands of Jesus Christ, who is our head and captain; and that we may be partakers of it. Thus we see Paul’s meaning here. God has witnessed, and we know by experience, that he will never fail us in a time of need. Why is that? He has already saved us in calling us to the gospel and redeeming us from sin.

That we may profit by this doctrine, let us first know that, whereas God has given us the knowledge of his truth, it is as if he had already shown us that we belonged to his heavenly inheritance and that we were of his flock. If we are persuaded of this and resolved of it, we shall go forward in the cause, knowing that we are under his protection. He has sufficient strength to overcome all our enemies, which makes our salvation sure.

for meditation: If you are his child, God has called you to some type of service in his kingdom. Whatever that calling is, it will not always be easy, no matter how much passion you have for it. When you realize that you cannot go forward on your own, you need not fear that God will abandon you. He called you according to his purpose and grace, and he will sustain you with that grace. Do not be discouraged; he will see you through.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 331). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

7 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Called to Suffer

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. 2 Timothy 1:8

suggested further reading: Acts 5:17–42

Let us not deceive Jesus Christ in the testimony we owe him by closing our mouths when it is needful to maintain his honor and the authority of his gospel. When we see people afflicted for the cause of God, let us join with them and help them in their affliction. Let us not be shaken by the tempests that arise, but let us always remain constant in our purpose and stand as witnesses for the Son of God, seeing he is so gracious to use us in such a good cause.

Let us mark well whether men suffer for their sins or for the truth of God. When we see those who are oppressed, we must not despise them lest we do injury to God, but we must ascertain for what cause they suffer. If they have walked in good conscience and are blamed and tormented because they serve God, this is enough to remove whatever the wicked world can say against them. Therefore Paul says, Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel.

No person would not willingly escape affliction, for this is human nature. Though we confess without pretense that God bestows a singular grace when he enables men to bear affliction and maintain his cause, yet not one of us would not willingly draw his neck out of persecution. For we must look at the lesson given by Paul, who says that the gospel brings troubles. Jesus Christ was crucified and his teaching is joined with many miseries. He could, if it pleased him, cause his teaching to be received without any resistance. But the Scripture must be fulfilled: “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Ps. 110).

for meditation: We are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in this world, no matter what the cost. This can be very difficult to incorporate into our Christian life, but it is necessary if we are to take up our cross and follow him. In what ways has God made you “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel”?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 330). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

6 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Receiving Christ in the Supper

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17–34

When the apostle tells us to withdraw from all wicked affections, he calls us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Must not we then take pains to come unto him in the Holy Supper? Let us solemnly meditate upon this subject.

Let us see how we are disposed, for God will not have us come to him in the Holy Supper as liars and deceivers. Let us see if we are disposed to receive God, not as a guest that travels by the way, but as one who has forever chosen us for his dwelling place, and as one who has dedicated us to himself as his temples so that we may be like a house built upon a rock. We must receive God by faith and as those who have been made truly one with our Lord Jesus Christ.

We should so examine and cleanse ourselves that when we receive the Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ, we may be more and more confirmed in his grace, that we may be engrafted into his body and truly be made one with him, and that all the promises we perceive in the gospel may better be confirmed in us. We must know that we live in him as he dwells in us, and that God owns us and takes us for his children.

We should be most earnest to call upon him and trust in his goodness, so he may so govern us by his Holy Spirit, and that poor ignorant creatures may through our example be brought to the right way. For today we see many people who are walking in the way of destruction. May we pay attention to what God has confirmed to us; that he would be pleased to show his grace, not only to one city or a little handful of people, but to reign over all the world so that everyone may serve and worship him in spirit and in truth.

for meditation: How do you receive Christ in the Holy Supper? Do you focus by faith on the Lord Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection? How do you continue to grow in Christ after the Supper has been administered?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 329). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

5 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Living in the House of God

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15

suggested further reading: Ephesians 4:1–16

Let those who are appointed as ministers of the Word of God know that they not only deal with people but are accountable to him who has called them to this high office. Let them not be puffed up with the honor and dignity of their position but know that they shall be so much less able to excuse themselves if they fail to walk uprightly. If they fail to serve him as they ought, they will commit horrible sacrilege and have a fearful vengeance of God prepared for them.

First, we are taught to do our duty. Because God has honored us in our unworthiness, we ought to labor to fill the office to which we are called. The church is called the house of the living God. That ought to awaken us to walk rightly. Why, then, do we sleep in our sins? Why do we run into wickedness? Do we think that God does not see us? Do we think we are far out of his sight and from the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Let us remember that the Word of God is preached to us, that God dwells among us, and that he is present with us. As our Lord Jesus Christ says, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). We also are told, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).

So then, however often the devil attempts to rock us to sleep, to tie us to the vanities of this world, or to tempt us with wicked lusts, we ought to remember and set before our eyes that God dwells in the midst of us and that we are his house.

for meditation: Those who labor in gospel ministry are held by God to the highest standards, for they are ambassadors of God. They should tremble at the responsibility they hold and look to Christ for the strength to be faithful in their work and life. If you are a minister, you should think long and hard about these things. If you are not, you should pray long and hard for those who are called to minister to you.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 328). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

4 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Praying with Holy Hands

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8

suggested further reading: Ephesians 3:14–21

When we pray, let us learn to renounce everything that God does not allow, knowing that our salvation is in him alone. Let us put all our trust in him, believing that he will aid and assist us in all our troubles and afflictions, for if we do not pray in faith, although the ceremony may be good in itself, the prayer will be vain and superfluous.

Those who lift up their hands to heaven while remaining fastened to things on earth, condemn themselves; for they come before God solemnly declaring that they seek him, while at the same time remain attached to things below. They say they put their trust in him, but at the same time trust in themselves or some other creature; they pretend to be lifted up to heaven by faith, even as they drown in earthly pleasures.

Let us therefore learn that, when we pray to God, we must be void of all earthly cares and wicked affections, knowing there are many things that hinder us from coming to God. When we lift up our hands to heaven, it must be for the purpose of seeking God by faith. We cannot pray rightly unless we withdraw ourselves from the cares and wicked affections of the flesh.

Now let us fall down before the face of our good God, confessing our faults and praying that he will forget them and we may be received by him. Let us also pray that he will strengthen us and sanctify us from day to day by his Holy Spirit until we may wholly cast off all our imperfections and sins. Since this cannot be done as long as we live as mortals, let us pray that he will bear with our infirmities until he has utterly put them away.

for meditation: Praying by faith is the thermometer of our spiritual life. How sad that we often find prayer such hard work! Let us ask God to forgive all our prayerlessness and strive to remember that prayer is an extraordinary and merciful gift of God. Consider William Bridge’s words: “It is a mercy to pray, even though I never receive the mercy prayed for.” But if unanswered prayer can be sweet, how much more answered petitions! Joseph Hall quipped, “Good prayers never come weeping back, for I am sure I shall receive either what I ask or what I should have been asking for.”[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 327). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

3 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Offering Ransom for All

Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:6

suggested further reading: Revelation 7:9–17

Jesus Christ has not only proclaimed glad tidings but has also sent forth his apostles and ministers to preach and publish peace to the entire world. He has done this to assemble the Jews, who were near to God by reason of the covenant and the solemn pledge made to their fathers, but who still needed reconciliation through Jesus Christ the Redeemer.

These glad tidings were afterward directed to those who were afar off, even to the poor Gentiles. They also received the message of salvation and the peace of God, and were assured that God so loved them that he forgave all their sins. Thus the wall of partition was broken down and the ceremonies destroyed by which God had differentiated between the Jews and the Gentiles. Why did this happen? Because this salvation belongs to the entire world without exception.

We therefore have this clear teaching that it was necessary for our Lord Jesus Christ to make atonement for our sins and that by his death he has purchased our redemption. We must, then, come to the truth set forth in the gospel so we may enjoy the blessings contained therein. We may not say that God is changeable because it pleased him to hide the witness of his gospel from the Gentiles for a while, and afterward preached it throughout the world, for he had already determined this in the counsel of his own will.

Let us therefore be convinced that it is our duty to worship and reverence him with all humility, for this is the greatest wisdom we can possess.

for meditation: What an amazing reach the gospel has, laying hold of the ends of the earth! And what a blessing that, on the Last Day, people shall bow before Jesus from every tribe, nation, and race! Does the glorious catholicity and universality of the church move you to praise God? Does the love of Christ who gave himself as a ransom move you to pursue and support mission work? In what ways are you presently reaching out to others, far and near?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 326). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

2 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Easing Doubt of Salvation

Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4

suggested further reading: 2 Corinthians 7

When it pleased God to draw us out of the darkness of unbelief and to give us the light of the gospel, he did not look at any service we performed or at any virtue we possessed. Rather, he called us, having chosen us before all time.

Paul says in Romans 8 that in knowing God, we must not take the glory for it, for the calling of the faithful rests upon the counsel of God. We see how far the Lord makes known to us what he decreed before we were born. He touches us with his Holy Spirit, and we are engrafted into the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the proof of our adoption, the pledge given us to erase any doubt that God takes and holds us as his children. For by faith we are made one with Jesus Christ, who is the only begotten Son of God, unto whom belongs the inheritance of life.

When we know that according to his unchangeable election God has called us to himself, we are eased of any doubt of our salvation. Jesus Christ says that no man takes from him those whom the Father has given him (John 10:28). What has the Father given to Jesus Christ but those whom he has chosen and whom he knows are his?

Seeing that God has given us to his Son, to be kept and defended by him, and that Jesus Christ promises that none of us shall be lost, and he will exercise all the might and power of the Godhead to save and defend us, is not this a comfort surpassing all the treasures of the world? Is not this the true ground upon which all the assurance and certainty of our salvation is settled?

for meditation: The famous Westminster Assembly of the 1640s concluded that there are three grounds of assurance of personal faith: one primary ground—the promises of God; and two secondary grounds—evidences of grace and the witness of the Spirit. What an encouragement it is that God’s promises in Jesus Christ are the richest and fullest ground of assurance! What use do you make of God’s promises in coming to assurance of the truth and of your own salvation?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 325). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

31 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Praying in the Spirit

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:18

suggested further reading: John 16:17–28

Paul says we must pray at all times in the Spirit. That means all hypocrisy must be excluded in prayer.

We know that many people mumble when they come to God. It is their lips or the tips of their tongues that perform this duty, which is not the way that God wills us to pray and call upon him. He does not approve of such supplications; rather, he abhors them because when we pray senselessly to him in mere pretence, we commit a kind of sacrilege. It is necessary for our prayers not only to be made with our mouths but to come from the bottom of our hearts.

We do not have the power to pray rightly in ourselves, so it is necessary for the Holy Spirit to work in us. Therefore Paul uses the word Spirit to show that we must beseech God to govern us in such a way that he may thoroughly touch us so we may pray to him as we ought. He will accept our prayers when he sees in them the signs of his Holy Spirit.

We must always remember what Romans teaches, that we do not know what to pray for (Rom. 8:26), for it is something that exceeds our understanding. Though most of us fail in that respect, some imagine they perfectly know how and what to pray to God. Such opinion only shuts the door upon us unless we know our faults and infirmities and immediately resort to the remedy. Therefore it is most certain that we shall never be earnestly disposed to pray to God unless he governs us by his Holy Spirit.

for meditation: Our prayers are so imperfect that it is a great comfort to know that Christ is beside the throne, sanctifying our words and interceding for us. As Calvin says, we often pray with our lips and not our hearts. Oh, that God’s people would pray in the Spirit! Imagine what could happen with such a chorus of prayer like that.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 323). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

30 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Praying Constantly

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:18

suggested further reading: Ezra 9

The more advanced we are in faith, the more earnest our zeal should be in calling upon our God, acknowledging and confessing that our salvation lies in his hand and that all good things come from him. Since we are so slothful in that respect, Paul sets before us two words, prayer and supplication, to express that we must not coldly go about this prayer but be touched to the quick to continue it with the kind of perseverance that does not grow weary.

It is true that God tells us through his prophet Isaiah (65:24) that he will hear us even before we cry out to him, and his hand will be ready to help us before we even have opened our mouth. But that is said to us not to encourage us to be slothful but to show us that God will not permit us to be kept waiting after we have called upon him, as though he were loath to help us. To prove that, he acts even before we call on him. We find that true by experience.

Nevertheless, he wants us to yield a true proof of our faith by praying to him. For the right way to show that his promises have been powerful in us is that, as soon as we are touched with any grief or affliction, we go straight to God and unburden our hearts to him. That is affirmed in other passages of Scripture, such as Psalms 50:15 and 62:8.

We see now how we must take advantage of God’s Word, which assures us that God will never fail us. He assures us that by seeking him, we will certainly find what we ask for. So the prayers that we offer are keys to unlock the treasures that God reserves for us and will not keep from us. We must open the way to those treasures by praying.

for meditation: Rather than engaging in protracted discussions of the necessity of prayer, we should humbly bow to the clear command and expectation of Scripture. We should pray often and always, knowing that prayer grounded in God’s promises is the key that unlocks the way to God’s treasures. If you are spiritually downcast or emotionally depressed, try using this key. For your encouragement, read the section in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress that so beautifully tells how Christian escaped from the dungeon of Giant Despair.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 322). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

29 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Joined Together by the Lord

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:33

suggested further reading: 1 Peter 3

Peter expressly says that when a man is too harsh and rigorous to his wife, and the wife becomes so cross that he cannot cope with her nor is she willing to submit herself as she ought, then their prayers are hindered (1 Peter 3:7). It is as if the apostle says, “Wretched people, what are you thinking? Are you not very miserable in seeing that the gate is shut against you and you cannot invoke God? What will become of you when you cannot put yourselves in the hands of your God?”

God loves concord between husbands and wives and bids them come to him. When a husband behaves peaceably toward his wife, and the wife also does her duty, the Lord says, “If you call upon me, I will give ear to you as if you prayed out of one mouth.” Seeing that our Lord calls us to him for our good and for our salvation, commanding us to call upon him with a pure heart, must we not be possessed by the devil and take leave of our senses if we do not accept such a profitable condition?

Therefore let us note that, if a husband intends to discharge his duty, and the wife similarly, both of them must have an eye to God, accepting their marriage as from him, and assuring themselves that they did not meet by chance but were joined together by the Lord. For it was God’s intent that the husband should be a companion to his wife and receive her as part of himself, and that the wife yield the degree of honor to her husband that belongs to him and submit herself to him as to her head.

for meditation: Marriage is an ordinance of God, and every individual marriage is a part of God’s plan. It is not something to be entered lightly. Great love and many prayers must grace the marriage if it is lived to the glory of God. When marital strife hinders prayer, it does not take much to start a downward spiral that can end only in shipwreck.

What condition is your marriage presently in? Are you arguing with your spouse more than you are complimenting him or her? If so, your downward spiral has already begun. Begin immediately to study your calling in marriage from Ephesians 5, and pray for grace to look at yourself rather than your spouse, asking, “How can I be a better husband?” or “How can I be a better wife?” Consider asking others for help. Don’t let your marriage degenerate if you can possibly help it.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 321). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

28 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Caring for Each Other

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. Ephesians 5:29

suggested further reading: Isaiah 54

If we gave full attention to the prophet Isaiah’s argument in Isaiah 54, we would be more moved by the exhortation that is set down here: no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it.

Consider the care that each one of us has for himself; how tenderly we nourish all the parts of our body, even to the little toe of the foot (so to speak), how carefully we watch that nothing is lacking, and how prudent we are in every respect so that if any part of us is ill, we endeavor to find a remedy to keep ourselves in good health. Would that everyone of us really thought in that way, for it would surely be a means of teaching us to do likewise to our neighbors, or other people.

Much more this admonition ought to affect the attitude of fathers to their children, children to their fathers, husbands to their wives, wives to their husbands, and similarly we in the mutual relationships into which it has pleased our Lord to join us in a close bond.

If anyone responds to this, saying, “None of this applies to me,” it necessarily follows that you do not belong to the family of mankind. For, as I said before, God has created and nourished us so we should all be like one lump. For though there are many fingers and sinews in a person’s body, that does not stop them from being all one thing, nor is any one member hindered from nurturing another as well as himself.

for meditation: Think about the amount of care you invest in yourself. How would your relationships with others (especially your husband or wife) change if you cared for them with the same care that you show yourself? If you get something in your eye, for example, you immediately work on relieving your discomfort. Do you treat your spouse this way, too, providing him or her immediate attention when trouble comes?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 320). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

27 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Loving as Christ Loved

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25

suggested further reading: Matthew 19:1–12

Now let husbands consider well what they owe to their wives: that they should be as dear to them as their own lives. Even so, they will not reach the perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ but follow a great way behind him.

For their part, wives must bear in mind that since God’s will is that marriage should be a type of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, they will be much too ungrateful if they do not submit themselves as God calls them to their husbands. At the same time, Paul means to magnify God’s goodness toward us and the love that Jesus Christ has borne us in saying that he gave himself for us. Therefore, let us acknowledge that Christ’s love comes to us by the free mercy of God his Father, and that our Lord Jesus Christ had respect to nothing but our miseries when he showed himself so merciful in helping us.

If we keep these things in mind, we shall be moved as husbands and wives to obey each other without disputing. Then, too, we shall be set afire to glorify God and acknowledge with our mouth and by our whole life how much we are indebted to him. In this we show that God not only has released us from condemnation and drawn us out of death but also has condescended to give us his well-beloved Son as a pledge of his love. Jesus Christ has willingly become the pledge and ransom to acquit us before God, so that the devil also might not have anything against us. For Satan is our adversary, and we are subject to him until our Redeemer sets us free from the devil’s bondage.

for meditation: If Christ has forgiven the sins of his people, how can they refuse to forgive the sins of others, especially of their spouses? Christian husbands must remember how much they have been forgiven, and be forgiving of their wives. In addition, they should be willing to sacrifice themselves for their wives, just as Christ did. A healthy marriage is founded in Christ. Husbands, are you reflecting Christ in your marriage by leading your wife in love and submitting to God?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 319). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

26 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Dual Submission

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:22

suggested further reading: Psalm 45

When Paul writes about wives owing subjection to their husbands, we should note that this subjection is twofold. Man was already the head of the woman before the sin and fall of Eve and Adam (1 Tim. 2:13). In showing that it was not fitting that the wife should rule in equal status with her husband, Paul says that the man did not come from the woman but the woman from the man; she is thus a part of his body.

God could have created Eve of the earth, as he did Adam, but that was not his will. Rather, he joined the man and the woman together in such a way that the man knew that his wife was his own substance and flesh and was thereby induced to love her. Likewise, the wife, knowing she was of no other being than the man, bore her subjection patiently and with voluntary affection.

If the hand, being a member of the body, should refuse to stay in its own place and should insist on settling itself upon the crown of the head, what would be the result? Thus, if we look back to the creation of the man and the woman, the husband ought to be induced to love and cherish his wife as himself; and the wife, seeing she was taken out of the substance of the man, ought to submit herself quietly to him as her head.

for meditation: Before the fall, Eve gladly submitted to her husband and Adam gladly led her in love and righteousness. Today, because men and women are corrupted by sin, this order is often abused by men who do not love their wives as Christ loved the church. Nevertheless, wives are called to live in obedience as a display of God’s mercy and long-suffering by submitting to their husbands in all that is lawful. Wives, are you living in submission to your husbands, under God?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 318). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

25 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Giving Thanks for Everything

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

suggested further reading: Psalm 100

Let us see if we do not have reason to bless God in all our adversities. First, whatever happens to us, he so supports us that if he should touch us in good earnest with a single finger of his hand, we should be overwhelmed at the first blow. Seeing that we keep going is a sign that he spares us. Have we not cause, then, to thank him for that?

Second, when he turns the chastisements that he sends us to our benefit, he purges us so we make continual progress to the kingdom of heaven. Similarly, he lifts us high because we are too much tied to the world, so that we shall be gathered together to come to the full perfection that is prepared for us in heaven. When we see all this, do we not have reason to praise our God, even if we are full of grief, care, fear, and doubts? It is indeed so, even if our own ingratitude hinders us. So much more, then, it behooves us to carefully note what Paul tells us here, namely, that we have reason to praise God without end and without ceasing.

If our mouth is sometimes stopped with grief, so that we seem to be barred from praising God and cannot apply ourselves freely to it, let us understand that God never shows himself so severe and rigorous toward us that he does not assuage all the bitterness that is in our afflictions so that he may draw us to himself and we might thank him and glorify him.

Since we receive no grace except by means of our Lord Jesus Christ, who also turns to our welfare the corrections that we have to suffer for our sins, therefore we should render thanks unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

for meditation: To give thanks always for all things is a great struggle for all believers and a great grace that God alone can grant. Meditate on how these thoughts can help us as believers to be more thankful in all things:

  • All things that come upon us derive from the hand of our heavenly Father.
  • Our heavenly Father makes no mistakes.
  • If we are his children, all things shall work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).
  • All that transpires in our lives serves to God’s glory.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 317). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.