Tuesday: Windows into the Reformation

Tim Challies posts from one of George Whitefield’s sermons on taking advantage of a sermon delivered:

1. Come to hear them, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty.

2. Give diligent heed to the things that are spoken from the Word of God.

3. Do not entertain even the least prejudice against the minister.

4. Be careful not to depend too much on a preacher, or think more highly of him than you ought to think.

5. Make particular application to your own hearts of everything that is delivered.

6. Pray to the Lord, before, during, and after every sermon, to endue the minister with power to speak, and to grant you a will and ability to put into practice what he shall show from the Book of God to be your duty.

HT: Timmy Brister


“Moreover, although our mind cannot comprehend God without rendering some honor to Him, it will not suffice simply to hold that there is One whom all ought to honor and adore, unless we are also persuaded that he is the fountain of every good, and that we must seek nothing elsewhere than in him. This I take to mean that not only does he sustain this universe (as he once founded it) by his boundless might, regulate it by his wisdom, preserve it by his goodness, and especially rule mankind by his righteousness and judgment, bear with it in his mercy, watch over it by his protection; but also that no drop will be found either of wisdom and light, or of righteousness or power or rectitude, or of genuine truth, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause. Thus we may learn to await and seek all these things from him, and thankfully to ascribe them, once received, to him. For this sense of the powers of God is for us a fit teacher of piety, from which religion is born. I call ‘piety’ that reverence joined with the love of God with the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him-they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.”

-John Calvin, Institutes, 1.2.1

This week’s Window on the Reformation is taken from the introduction to Grace and its Fruit, which contains selections from John Calvin on the Pastoral Epistles. This excerpt concerns Calvin’s death.

Calvin’s health continued to decline; he suffered from several afflictions and was often confined to his bed. Despite his failing health, however, he managed to continue his preaching, lecturing, and dictating. Even when his body was miserably weakened, his mind remained sharp, and he was able, before his death, to finish the last of his commentaries, on the book of Joshua. The ailing Reformer preached his last sermon early in February 1564. Thereafter he was sometimes carried to the service of worship, but spoke only a few sentences. During these months of suffering, his colleague Theodore Beza recounts that, even while tormented by so many diseases, he was never heard to utter a word unbecoming to a Christian. He would only raise his eyes towards heaven and say, “O Lord, how long?”

Several days before his death, a few of Calvin’s friends gathered in his house for a last supper with him. Beza recalls that “His whole body was so emaciated that nothing seemed left but spirit.” He died on 27 May 1564, just a few days before his fifty-fifth birthday. Throughout Geneva there was great sadness. The republic had lost a wise and loyal citizen, the church lost a faithful preacher and caring pastor, and the college an incomparable teacher. Almost all the population of Geneva attended his funeral. He was buried without unusual ceremony in a simple, unmarked grave, as he had requested, in a public cemetery in Geneva.

John Calvin, more than any other leader of the Protestant Reformation, created patterns of religious and political thought that would dominate Western culture throughout the modern period. His greatest legacy, however, was his recovery of the doctrines of grace, which he bequeathed to future generations through his commentaries and published sermons. In his will he testifies, “With my whole soul I embrace the mercy which [God] has exercised towards me me through Jesus Christ, atoning for my sins with the merits of his death and passion, that in this way he might satisfy for all my crimes and faults, and blot them from his remembrance.”

For this week’s Window on the Reformation, meditate on this daily devotion for the evening of August 7th by Charles H. Spurgeon:

“Satan hindered us.”

1 Thessalonians 2:18

Since the first hour in which goodness came into conflict with evil, it has never ceased to be true in spiritual experience, that Satan hinders us. From all points of the compass, all along the line of battle, in the vanguard and in the rear, at the dawn of day and in the midnight hour, Satan hinders us. If we toil in the field, he seeks to break the ploughshare; if we build the wall, he labours to cast down the stones; if we would serve God in suffering or in conflict—everywhere Satan hinders us. He hinders us when we are first coming to Jesus Christ. Fierce conflicts we had with Satan when we first looked to the cross and lived. Now that we are saved, he endeavours to hinder the completeness of our personal character. You may be congratulating yourself, “I have hitherto walked consistently; no man can challenge my integrity.” Beware of boasting, for your virtue will yet be tried; Satan will direct his engines against that very virtue for which you are the most famous. If you have been hitherto a firm believer, your faith will ere long be attacked; if you have been meek as Moses, expect to be tempted to speak unadvisedly with your lips. The birds will peck at your ripest fruit, and the wild boar will dash his tusks at your choicest vines. Satan is sure to hinder us when we are earnest in prayer. He checks our importunity, and weakens our faith in order that, if possible, we may miss the blessing. Nor is Satan less vigilant in obstructing Christian effort. There was never a revival of religion without a revival of his opposition. As soon as Ezra and Nehemiah begin to labour, Sanballat and Tobiah are stirred up to hinder them. What then? We are not alarmed because Satan hindereth us, for it is a proof that we are on the Lord’s side, and are doing the Lord’s work, and in his strength we shall win the victory, and triumph over our adversary.

It’s truly amazing when you read the Reformer’s from the 16th Century and realize that much of what they wrote could have been written last week. At Enjoying God Fellowship we are a fellowship of believers committed to enjoying God together. I wanted to share some words from the great Reformer, John Calvin, and his thoughts on fellowship among followers of Jesus Christ. The following is taken from Calvin’s Institutes 3.20.38 and his exposition on the Lord’s Prayer:

“Our Father”: a form of address that sets us in the fellowship with the brethren.

However, we are not so instructed that each one of us should individually call him his Father, but rather that all of us in common should call him our Father. From this fact we are warned how great a feeling of brotherly love ought to be among us, since by the same right of mercy and free liberality we are equally children of such a father. For if one father is common to us all [Matt. 23:9], and every good thing that can fall to our lot comes from him, there ought not to be anything separate among us that we are not prepared gladly and wholeheartedly to share with one another, as far as occasion requires.